Treat Yourself to a Good Book in 2012!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Every year I try to make a list of the best books that I've read throughout the year and every year it gets more difficult to narrow that list down but that's a good thing right since that means I'm reading so many wonderful stories. Well once again I've decided since it's hard enough to pick a select few books that I loved that I'm not going to put them on a ranked list but just give you eleven (sorry...couldn't narrow it to JUST ten) of the books that I thought were amazing enough to earn spots on my keeper shelf. :-) I gave so many books 5 star ratings this year but here are a few that I REALLY REALLY loved. If you're looking to treat yourself to a book for the new year I'll just bet any of these will keep you thoroughly entertained.

So those are SOME of my picks, if you really want to see more of my favorite books just "friend" me on Goodreads. :-) I hope you all have a Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! Here are this years holiday carols as performed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether you're a "Steeler Girl" or not I hope they put a smile on your face.

All-American Romance: Come A Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Come A Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock
Copyright 2011
Grand Central Publishing
390 pages
ISBN: 9780446540155
My Thoughts:
I absolutely adore fiction set in the 1940s. Dorothy Garlock best-known for her American romance never disappoints with her timeless stories of love. Her latest novel from Grand Central Publishing entitled Come A Little Closer blends the turmoil of a nation recovering from war with a touch of small town and romance.

Christina Tucker a former nurse in Worl War II longs to continue her career helping people heal both physically and mentally so she agrees to take a position helping Dr. Samuel Barlow at his general practice. If she survives the trip to her new home she just may be able to fulfill her dreams. When Christina unexpectedly meets the doc's two nephews her desire to help goes beyond nurse/patient kinship and she must decide between two intriguing brothers both with their own shares of baggage.

If you're at all familiar with Ms. Garlock's stories you know that simple settings and complex romance are her style. In Come A Little Closer she delivers just that. While it was a bit frustrating that everything seemed to happen so quickly between Christina and the Sutter brothers, it was still enjoyable. Two antagonists who were completely unrelated but equally insane made for some very interesting situations for the Miss Tucker and the entire Barlow/Sutter family. I've come to the conclusion that romances feature some of the creepiest characters and Garlock's villains definitely get under your skin in a not-so-good way. This is a general market romance so there is a love scene but nothing over the top and some strong language but not so much that it turned me off to the story.

~3.5 out of 5 stars~

From the publisher:
America's Heartland, 1946. World War II has ended, and everyone is pursuing peacetime's bright promise with fresh energy and hope. Newly-arrived in a small Wisconsin town, Christina Tucker now dares to chase her long-cherished dreams: put her wartime nursing skills to use and reconnect with country life. But helping a shell-shocked veteran recover soon tests her determination and disturbs town memories best left buried. She has no choice but to turn to her patient's seemingly-irresponsible brother, Tyler Sutter. A restless ex-soldier, Tyler can't believe this pretty ladylike nurse can heal his family. Yet as Christina begins to understand Tyler's own fears, the two grow close, then closer still-as a terrible secret sparks one man's violent, vengeful spree. With both the guilty and innocent alike in harm's way, Tyler and Christina must face all their fears . . . or never live to see the future.

To learn more about the author visit her WEBSITE

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

Clash of the Titles: Meet 'n Greet Our Blog Alliance Members!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

~by Gail Palotta

Thank you to our blog alliance partners

Jessica Keller works from an office her husband set up for her in their Chicago home. Using a bright orange laptop she posts five days a week. She blogged big-time in college, garnering a huge following. She says, “It got to the point where people I didn’t know would walk up to me and start talking…about my life because they were addicted to my blog.” 

After graduation she ended that blog and went to work in the records department of law enforcement. She figured her blogging days were over, but she started writing novels. She thought about author blogs she loved and wanted to “create a place like that so…someday when a novel-length piece is published…” she’ll already have a blog.

Her blog reflects her love of baking, her communications and Biblical studies degree and her enthusiasm for books. She’ll read over one hundred this year. On Mondays she muses about life in general. Tasty Tuesdays give cooking advice and recipes. On Writing Wednesdays she shares her writing struggles and advice or hosts experts. Thick-of-it-Thursdays feature a spiritual message, and Fridays for Readers introduces new writers. At least once a month there’s a cookie give away. Yum.

During the past nine years she’s written articles, short stories and a novella and recently made the finals in three contests. When she isn’t writing she runs in 5K’s and mentors college-aged women. When asked for a random fact about herself she said, “I have two cats named for super heroes, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.”
Visit Jessica's blog here.

Carol Moncado blogs about life and writing from a big cushy chair in a basement in the Ozarks. She says the area “is slowly becoming my office/library.” She’s written on and off ever since she was a kid, seriously for the last two years. She blogs everyday attracting readers, other writers and friends who want to know a little more about her, her writing and the authors she likes. She says, “I try to have humor – and we all know laughter is the best medicine!I love to get comments.”

As for her writing, she’s currently blogging her way through NaNoWriMo. When she isn’t blogging or working on her own writing projects, she takes care of four children, reads and watches television. Her all time favorite show – NCIS.

When asked to share a random fact about herself she said, “When we moved into our first house, we moved on Friday the 13th to a house on Elm Street. We found and put an offer on our second [current] house on 06/06/06.”

Visit Carol’s blog here.

Marianne Evans started her blog, A Minute with Marianne, a little over two years ago. She says, “I loved the idea of chronicling my thoughts and expanding my writing platform…Call it ‘keeping up with the times.’” An added bonus. “It’s a blast…”

She posts almost once a week. A Minute with Marianne introduces readers to writers and books they may not otherwise hear about. Marianne says, “There are so many wonderful inspirational, Christian themed books out there. I love shining a light on them and getting the word out on new and exciting authors.” Her blog also covers writing inspirations, motivational tidbits, reviews and publishing news.

She keeps her blog casual with highlights on having fun, getting to know people and sharing a passion for great writing. When Marianne isn’t blogging, she writes.  She’s A Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence winner for Hearts Crossing. She was a 2011 finalist for Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year for Hearts Surrender. Marianne says she made the jump from secular romance to Christian Inspirational romance/fiction when “the call on her heart matched the ideas in her head.” Visit her blog here.

Christian Fiction Book Club: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December Book Pick: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Okay so as you may know I love history as a matter of fact I have a degree in it. One of my very favorite eras in the history of our nation is the Victorian Era. From the clothing, the attitudes, the transitioning of our nation and the mystique of the upper-crust society I love it all and anytime I can read a book that combines my love of all things Gilded Age with my other love, romance I'm thrilled. Siri Mitchell moved to my must-read list after her 2010 book, She Walks in Beauty. Not only is the cover amazing but the story between the pages is magnificent as well, it was definitely on my 2010 favorite books list and is still quite possibly one of the best books I've read period. When Joy and Serena @ Edgy Inspirational Romance were taking volunteers to lead up the December book club for this book I jumped at the chance. If you've read the book feel free to join in and even if you haven't you can still join in the discussion! So--let's dish!

Did you discover anything new about this time period? Did anything surprise or shock you?

Since the Victorian era is something I studied up on in high school and college nothing new about the period caught my attention while reading this but it did remind me just how much women had to suffer...for fashion. The corset scene in this book (or if you haven't read it, the famous corset scene from Gone with the Wind) makes me shudder. Within the very first pages just what it meant to be a "lady" in the 19th century is enough to make one's head spin! To have to whittle a 22 inch waist down to an 18 inch waist is almost unthinkable and to wear a corset with 600 bones in it 24/7 seems like pure torture. I don't care if girls wore corsets almost their entire lives, there is no way to get used to that kind of discomfort. I guess most of us today should be glad that corsets went out decades ago and all we have to put up with is underwire in our bras.

Fashions through the ages have often been created on the assumption that people aren't shaped correctly. What apparent flaws does modern fashion try to correct? What is today's ideal standard of beauty?

Almost every time you open up a magazine or even read the inserts in the newspaper you see things promoting some kind of women's fashion, advertisements for jeans that "hide the tummy" or "instantly slim you" or a bra that conceals that "unsightly" back bulge. There are sooo many products out there that suck it all in, push it up or even claim to burn it off that it's crazy! I'm pretty sure that modern fashion tries to correct anything and everything. Need proof? go HERE. I guess in some way the undergarments we wear are the 21st century's version of the corset. Heaven forbid if you wear that cocktail dress and you see even a hint of (dare I say it?) flab. Eeep. Don't you know you're supposed to look like a Victoria's Secret model? Even though as a society we are becoming more accepting of "curves" so to speak if you look at advertising and what we're bombarded with on TV and on the newsstand thin is still in.

***Even though I answered the questions pertaining to looks and fashion please feel free to check out the rest of the discussion questions HERE. I'd love to know what your thoughts are on the book or the time period it's set in. :-) If you set up a post on your blog please enter it on the Linky below!***

Clash of the Titles Historic Covers Champion: Spring for Susanna by Catherine Richmond

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

*by Michelle Massaro

Last week Clash of the Titles held their first ever Clash of the Covers. This fast-paced clash was different than their usual fare, because instead of judging the author's story, we judged how well their cover designs matched their theme or made us want to pick up the book. There were four books to vote on, from authors Cathy, Erica, Lacy, and Maggie. The books were Marrying Miss Marshal, Spring For Susannah, A Bride's Portrait, and Deeply Devoted.

It was a VERY CLOSE race and it saw enough voter participation to max out the scoreboards!

Some of the comments included:
Spring for Susannah - Susannah is aware of the man but she looks as though she could turn away, or turn towards him.
Marrying Miss Marshall seems to speak volumes about the heroine-just in her position.

The cover of A Brides Portrait, really sells the title by having the woman with a camera on it. Caught my attention.
I love cover C...looks like the "old west"!!!

Marrying Miss Marshal. Hmm, with that rifle laid across her lap, one wonders who's daring enough to approach her, much less marry her. Intriguing.
I loved A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City - it added so many components of the story into the cover besides just a profile :)

Love this (A) - it's intriguing. I'm not sure from the picture whether she's toting for justice, revenge, or protection. Makes me curious.

The Champion Book that was voted
Spring For Susanna, by Catherine Richmond

This week, COTT is sporting a holiday/winter theme with host Gail Pallotta. We expect it to be another huge turn-out so please join us. We'll cozy up to the virtual fireplace, egg nog in hand, and browse for books. In this case, it's okay to judge the cover. =)

We’ll be taking a break December 26 – January 6
And then come right back on January 9 with a new clash that will – literally – take your breath away! If you're an author, don’t forget to check upcoming open clashes and submit

A Seriously Suspense Filled Story: Attracted to Fire by Diann Mills

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Attracted to Fire by Diann Mills
Copyright 2011
Tyndale Publishers
410 pages
ISBN: 9781414348643
My Thoughts:
When it comes to romance Julie Lessman is queen, when it comes to fairy tales nobody weaves a tale like Melanie Dickerson but when it comes to suspense DiAnn Mills is your gal! In her latest Lone Star state romantic drama, DiAnn takes on the Secret Service and a killer with an agenda that could affect the state of the nation. With her trademark for writing a "good" bad guy and ability to keep a reader guessing Attracted to Fire is sure to please. I love her characters too but the hero prevented me from enjoying this story as much as I could have. Ash was too much of a jerk for me to like him anymore than a little even though he does improve by the conclusion of the story. The chemistry between Ash and Meghan felt forced. I think it would have been more natural for a friendship to develop rather than a full blown romance. If you're looking for a great romance you might want to pass on this but if you're looking for drama and an adrenaline rush I'd say this could be the book for you! Even though this wasn't an all-time favorite I still enjoyed it enough to recommend it to fans of the suspense sub-genre of Christian fiction books.

~3.5 out of 5 stars~

About the book:
Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

To learn more about the author visit HER WEBSITE

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

Free Preview: The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Friday, December 9, 2011

Like Amish fiction? Check out Cindy Woodsmall's Plain tale The Christmas Singing. I'm sure if you have a reader in the family this will make a wonderful holiday gift too. :-) I've read Cindy's books in the past and they've all been wonderful so I'm sure this won't disappoint!

The Christmas Singing (Chapter 1 Excerpt)

Clash of the Titles: Meet Christine and Pamela!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christine and Pamela!
A huge welcome to blogger and author Christine Lindsay! Christine is another extraordinary member of the COTT Blog Alliance. On Wednesdays she posts the COTT weekly article, and on Fridays she posts either an editorial/devotional or a review on a book. 

What's her blog like? Christine wants her blog to be somewhere a reader can find a true inspirational story to encourage their faith. For example, on her blog she has in book-length the entire story of her experience as a birthmother. From the moment she found out she was pregnant, to the relinquishment of her child, and to their reunion 20 years later.

Do not miss this testimony. Her birth-daughter, Sarah, modeled for the cover of Shadowed in Silk. Take a look at how it all came together—it's well worth the read.

I asked Christine who she is outside the realm of writing and publication and all that jazz.

"I am so ordinary, it's hilarious. I used to be an administrative assistant, going off to work in suits, high heels and makeup. Now that I'm following the labor of my heart (writing) I work in my home office and wear the closest thing I can get to pajamas—sweat pants and a sweat shirt.

"But there are times I have to go out and leave my beloved laptop behind along with my cat. Then I slap on some mascara, whip a comb through my hair, put on some decent slacks and head out the door with a cup of tea in my hands. I can drive with one hand and drink my tea with the other."
What "ordinary"? That's multi-tasking!
Why is she willing to give COTT space on her blog every other week?

I find the COTT alliance an energetic group of writers that inspire me. I love the fun and camaraderie with the clashes," she said. "And it gets the word out to readers of all the great Christian fiction that's available. They are a great group of people to be affiliated with. I consider it an honor."
The feeling is entirely mutual!

Book trailer

Meet Pamela S. Thibodeaux:

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

A great big welcome to Blog Alliance Partner Pamela S. Thibodeau. We're so pleased to have her aboard.

I asked this author and blogger where she finds inspiration for her blog, Pamela S. Thibodeaux—Blog.

"I must admit that, personally, I'm pretty burned out on topics…but I love showcasing other authors on Saturday Spotlight and hosting their virtual book tours. This helps me fill in when I can think of nothing to talk about. LOL!"

Honesty…I love it! (Also really glad to know I'm not the only blogger with this kind of problem…)

I'm always interested in why our Blog Alliance members choose to be members. Here's Pam's reason:

"I believe in what COTT is doing and frankly, any website that helps promote Christian authors—especially those who are new, unknown, small press or independently published—is a place I try to support. Doing regular posts for COTT helps me do just that."

Pamela's newest release, The Visionary, is an absolutely wonderful book, one I can whole-heartedly recommend. Without being offensively graphic, it deals with some pretty heavy issues of child abuse and its aftermath.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

The biggest challenge I face is not having my work accepted by the “Christian” publishers. As one reviewer said, “Though undeniably Christian, it is never dogmatic or insular; offering faith rather than religion.” (From Elizabeth Burton's review of Tempered Dreams for Blue Iris Journal) My books deal with issues in a way that is unacceptable in the traditional CBA market. Now that is not saying that my books are better than those published through traditional CBA publishers, only different. As I’ve said many times, everything that gives God glory deserves to be praised!

So true. And all I can think to say in response is a very sincere, "Amen!"

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally: A Story for Gals Who Love the Gridiron!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Copyright 2011
Sourcebooks Fire
284 pages
ISBN: 9781402262272
My Thoughts:
Okay let's face it I'm probably not in the female majority when I say I'd rather stay home on Sunday and watch the big game than go to the mall but it's true. I love football--always have, always will. I was raised on it and I live right smack in the middle of Steelers nation and in an area where everyone knows what WPIAL means. Friday night lights...yeah we live it here. That said when I got an email from Sourcebooks about a YA book centered around football and romance I jumped right on it and boy am I glad I did! Catching Jordan is, you know I have to say this, a touchdown!

In the age of dystopian fiction I've kind of gotten used to kick-butt heroines and it's all gotten a bit...blah. I'm so happy to say that Jordan, our girl in Catching Jordan is that kick-butt heroine but she's totally realistic and easy to relate to and absolutely refreshing! She doesn't fight for her life in some kind of sci-fi/futuristic world but on the football field as team captain and quarterback for Hundred Oaks High School. Since football is still a man's world Jordan has to work hard to maintain her status as team leader and potentially gain a spot on the best men's college team in the country.

Catching Jordan isn't simply about a girl playing football it's also about life as a teen. Jordan faces difficulties with friends, family and school that I'm sure just about every girl out there had face or will face in her life. While some points of the story were a little hard to wrap my head around, for instance the entire football team hooking up with various members of the cheerleading squad and nobody (including the cheerleaders) seeming to care I still really enjoyed the "reality" of the book. I absolutely love the chemistry between Jordan and Sam Henry (they are so cute together) as well as the sparks between Jordan and the new guy, Ty. Even if you can't decide if you're "Team Ty" or "Team Henry" I can guarantee that you will be "Team Jordan!" I didn't like some of the decisions that she made but in the end I loved that she decided to follow her heart and didn't give up her dream of playing college ball. There's just enough angst and drama to keep everything interesting and the perfect amount of humor and romance to keep it from being weighted down.

Catching Jordan is a great read for older teens and fans of young adult fiction who are looking for something different in a world full of paranormal and dystopian reads!

Note: Some strong language and alcohol use

~4 out of 5 stars~

About the book:
What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though- she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

To learn more about the author visit her WEBSITE

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

Girls Playing with Boys: Guest Post by Miranda Kenneally author of Catching Jordan

Girls Playing with Boys: According to statistics there are over 1,200 female high school football players across the country. What are some of the positives and negatives of blurring the lines between female and male sports? Do you support it?

* Girls can be just as strong and fast as guys. Why not prove it?
* If girls prove they are as awesome as guys on the field, they can prove they’re awesome off the field.
* I can’t wait until we have a female president of the USA.
Or even a Vice President!

* Girls’ body frames are more fragile than guys’. They get hurt more easily. I would be remiss if I didn’t say this.
* I don’t think there are any other negatives!

I definitely support girl power. One woman who truly impresses me is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. I bet she’d get along well with my character in Catching Jordan, Jordan Woods. Not only is Dr. Rice a beautiful woman, she’s smart and she followed her dreams. She loves football, and would love to be the NFL Commissioner one day. She’s not scared to be herself: unique. I’ve met her and heard her speak many times about how her ancestors from Alabama were sharecroppers. As an African-American woman, she had many hurdles to get past in her life, and I know she’s glad she took risks. Everyone should take risks, regardless of sex or race or background. Otherwise, we’ll never evolve as human beings.

I guess what I’m saying is, Yes. Most guys are stronger than most girls. But if girls keep trying and working hard, they’ll eventually evolve to become stronger – maybe even stronger than guys one day.

I very much relate to Dr. Rice. I grew up in Tennessee. Not many people in my family had been to college. Hardly anyone thought I’d succeed in life. My high school guidance counselor told me I probably wouldn’t make it at a big university in Washington, D.C., and then she encouraged me to go to a local community college instead.

But I disregarded her comments and did what I wanted to do.

You should never let anyone hold you back from your dreams. I certainly didn’t. Dr. Rice didn’t.

I’ve gotten way off topic here, so getting back to girls playing sports generally played by boys. I think girls should play the sports they want to play, while keeping safety in mind.

If we all don’t try to improve or move beyond the status quo, the human race will only move backwards.


Please check out the trailer for Catching Jordan. I loved this book and will be posting my review later today so be sure to stop back and check it out!