Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Great Novel from Kristin Billerbeck!

Kristin Billerbeck has been one of my favorite authors since I fell in love with Ashley Stockingdale several years ago. I was super-excited about the opportunity to review her latest novel, A Billion Reasons Why.

Katie's ex-fiance comes back into her life asking for a favor after nearly a decade-long absence. As she heads back to her hometown of New Orleans, she must face her family and her past and decide if she will continue to live in bondage to her past failures or move forward and live the life God has in store for her.

A Billion Reasons Why lived up to all of my expectations and was absolutely delightful! Kristin's style pulls readers in from the very first page. I always feel like I'm friends with the characters by the end of her books. I found that I absolutely could not put the book down once I started it! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys chick lit!

5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
Katie McKenna had resolved to live a quiet life, marry a practical Christian man, and leave all her “worldly” desires behind. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She has the perfect life—a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiancĂ©, Dexter.

But then in walks Luc DeForges, the handsome ex-boyfriend who’d broken her heart. After graduating college and rejecting Katie, Luc cornered the organic food market and became one of the most eligible multi-millionaire bachelors. But now he’s back and asking her to go home to New Orleans to sing at his brother’s wedding. She hasn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’s invested too much to give into them now.

When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. Katie inhales deeply and reminds herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.

Katie’s boyfriend, Dexter, is a practical man. As Katie’s roommate Eileen offers, “Katie, no matter how many entries you put in that book, Dexter is not going to be a romantic. I mean, fine, you’re going to marry him. He’s a good man. I just don’t want you to be disappointed. No matter how many junior high school hearts you draw next to his name, Dexter is going to order you what the Internet says is the proper gift for each anniversary. He’ll probably have a program created that does it for him.” But Dexter is safe. He’ll be a good dad. He’s very intellectual. He’s punctual. He’s everything she needs in a husband.

And Dexter will propose as soon as she gets her grandmother’s ring from her mom. And Luc will provide her with a free trip home for just that purpose. Plus, she needs to go home to New Orleans. It’s her last chance to find out why Luc tossed her from his life like a banana peel off the back of her father’s pickup. Love is a decision. A choice. All the leading experts said so, and she’d decided she would love Dexter in a way that honored and respected him. The way she’d loved Luc left her worn out and depleted, like an empty air mattress. Then what use was she? She’d get her ring and closure as well. Then nothing would stand in the way of her life with Dexter.

But what if God has more in store for her? What if God’s desire for her is a heart full of life? Can the passions she had as a young woman, which led to many of her past mistakes, still have a place in her life?

About the Author
Kristin Billerbeck is a successful novelist from northern California. She has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beneath the Night Tree

Everything seems to be coming together in Julia's life. She enjoys her job, likes her college courses, is in love with a wonderful man, and is learning how to be a good mom to her son and her younger brother. When she receives an email from her son's father, her entire world is tilted upside-down. One thing after the other continues to upset the perfect life Julia has always dreamed of and thought she finally had in her reach.

Beneath the Night Tree by Nicole Baart was surprisingly refreshing as far as Christian fiction goes. Much more than just a simple romance, readers will feel the depth of emotion of Julia and her "dysfunctional" but well-loved family. Themes of trust and hope were prevalent throughout. I especially loved the relationship between Julia and her grandmother. I enjoyed the style of writing as well, and Nicole Baart has earned a spot on my list of new favorite authors.

This is the third book in a series about Julia. However, it also stands alone. I highly recommend this novel and will be reading others by Nicole Baart in the (hopefully near) future.

5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
Do I have a child? Julia DeSmit knew she would face the question eventually, but she didn’t expect it now. At twenty-four, she is finally content with the way her life has unfolded. A single mother to her son and young brother, she works at the local grocery store while chipping away at a two-year degree. All her free time is spent with her unorthodox family—her boys, her grandmother, and her boyfriend of five years. It’s not perfect, but Julia is happier than ever.

So when she receives the cryptic e-mail from her son’s father, Julia’s world is turned upside down. She hasn’t heard from Parker since he left her in a college parking lot nearly six years ago. But one look at her son—the spitting image of his father—is enough to convince her that, for better or worse, Parker is a part of their story. Faced with this new reality and an unexpected tragedy, Julia begins a tightrope walk between what was and what is, what she hopes for and what will be.

About the Author
Nicole Baart was born and raised in a small town in Iowa, where she and husband now live with their three young sons. After the adoption of their second son, Nicole discovered a deep passion for global issues and is a founding member of a nonprofit organization that works with a church and orphanage in Liberia.

Nicole is the critically acclaimed author of three novels. After the Leaves Fall was published in 2007 and was followed by a sequel, Summer Snow, which was a Christy Award finalist. That was followed by The Moment Between, Nicole's first stand-alone novel.

She also has one of the best author blogs I've ever read. Reading her blog moved this book up in my "to-read" stack. Visit her Web site at

Monday, January 24, 2011

Clarification ...

Okay ... Based on Debra's comment on my last post, I suppose I do need to give a bit more information so you can make your suggestions.

We are planning on taking a 9-10 day trip to the Northeast US. We plan to fly to Baltimore, spend 3-4 days in Washington, DC, take a train to Philadelphia, spend 2 days there, take a train to NYC, spend 1 day there, take a train to Boston, spend 2-3 days there, and fly home. We're pretty set on using public transportation while we're in each city but have also considered renting a car for a day if we decide to get out of the city to see anything.

We're planning on going in March, so it won't be super-warm, but hopefully won't be too cold either. Of course, we could end up with lots of snow everywhere we are. :)

We like good food, are very patriotic (therefore, are looking forward to all the awesome historical sites), and are not that into art museums. We want to keep to a fairly low budget, but are building in a splurge or two ... just haven't decided what those will be yet. I lived in NYC for 3 months, so that's totally covered. Just need some help on the other three cities. :)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Need Your Help!

We're thinking about taking a little (big) vacation in the not-so-distant future. We've actually been thinking about it for quite some time and we're about to take the plunge.

I'm looking for "must see" places and "to-die-for" restaurants. Remember, we're on something of a budget. But we do want to work in as much as we can and have a few special treats along the way.

So ... Boston? Philadelphia? Washington DC?

Can't wait to hear what you guys come up with!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Save the Date

Update [1/27/11]: Congratulations, Alanna! Enjoy Save the Date!

What a great book! I really enjoyed Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones. Alex needs a wife to boost his ratings before the election. Lucy needs money to save her home for girls aging out of the foster care system. They're a totally unlikely match, but they need each other's help.

This was the first book I've read by Jenny B. Jones, and I loved her writing style. The plot moved quickly and Jones interjected lots of humor throughout. The characters were truly likable ... even as they dealt with personal struggles from their past. The author did a fantastic job of weaving the character of God throughout the entire book as well. It was a bit predictable (as many romance novels are) but I liked it anyway. Overall, it was a super-quick read, funny, and purely enjoyable.

Plus, the good news is that Thomas Nelson sent me an extra copy for some unknown reason. So I'm going to pass it along to one of you! So what do you need to do? Follow the blog and comment on this post by Wednesday, January 26 @ 11:59 pm. That's it. Easy enough, right? (I will only ship in the US.) Good luck!

4 stars

About the Book
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"?

About the Author
Jenny B. Jones writes Christian Fiction with equal parts wit, sass, and untamed hilarity. When she’s not writing, she’s living it up as a high school teacher in Arkansas. Since she has very little free time, she believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuit such as watching E!, going to the movies and inhaling large buckets of popcorn, and writing her name in the dust on her furniture.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Praying for Joanne

I've read about this on several blogs over the past few days and feel compelled to pass this along to all of you prayer warriors out there.

Joanne (AKA The Simple Wife) suffered a massive stroke on January 11, 2011. Her daughter found in her their basement and she was "shaking violently." She was rushed to the hospital where they ran several tests. She had surgery to remove a blood clot in her brain and is now in a medically induced coma. Please join me in praying for this family: Joanne, husband Toben, children Audrey and Emma, and many other friends and family.

Her husband is keeping everyone updated on Joanne's condition on her blog if you're interested in more details.

They are specifically praying and asking others to pray Psalm 46 for her ...

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
"Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Tandem by Tracey Bateman

Tandem by Tracey Bateman was NOT what I expected, and I was extremely disappointed. It took me about three chapters to even figure out what was going on with the story line. Once I did, I realized that the book is actually a vampire story. Please hear me say that I don't necessarily have a problem with vampire stories. (I've never read the Twilight series, but don't have an "issue" with them.) However, I do have a problem with THIS vampire story. It was billed as a Christian book, but to be honest God was not mentioned much or a major focal point of the book. The vampires were a bizarre twist to the book and added a very creepy and spooky element. I love a good mystery / suspense book as much as (maybe more than) anyone. However, I don't like feeling like things are going to jump out and get me and I don't like reading/watching things simply to scare me. I just don't feel like those are the things I need to fill my mind with, so to be totally honest I didn't even finish the book. I read the first 76 pages and put it down.

The vampires/creepy/spooky aspect aside, I just didn't feel like the part I read was even well-written. The author switches back and forth between two seemingly unrelated story lines and it took a while for me to connect them together. I really wanted to like the plot and the main character. But the truth is that the main character was just not that likable ... I couldn't connect with her.

I would not recommend this to anyone.

1 star

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Will you take a minute and rank my review?

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann

A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann has been in my "to read" pile for a while but made it to the top at the recommendation of a friend. It. Was. Wonderful. Noelle is running and wants to start her life over. She finds safety and new friends at a ranch in Colorado. Brothers Rick and Morgan Spencer both try to help Noelle heal and eventually both develop feelings for her. Noelle must choose between the brothers, but also deal with her feelings about God in order to find the healing she so desperately craves.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Rush of Wings!!! The author does a fantastic job of telling a romantic story that keeps you in suspense until the very end. The characters really come alive and their emotions were so real. The entire book points readers to faith in Christ in a way that is neither cheesy nor unrealistic. Rick finds joy in his faith but also struggles to trust in Christ in the midst of struggle. Noelle has a complete disdain for the faith of Rick's family and alternates between curiosity, disgust, unbelief, and awe of the God that they worship. I was truly sad to get to the end of this book and am already in search of another book by Kristen Heitzmann (perhaps The Still of Night, which follows up on Rick's brother?)! Bethany House is quickly becoming my favorite resource for new Christian fiction!

Note: This book was originally published in 2003 and was re-published with a new cover in 2010.

5 stars

About the Book
Though her panic is real, Noelle St. Claire is uncertain what danger she is fleeing. Fragmented images and slivers of memory have driven her to abandon her wealthy, sheltered life in New York for the hope of a haven—remote and safe.

Noelle's arrival at the Rocky Mountain horse ranch owned by Rick Spencer and his brother Morgan causes more than a little stir. Beautiful, vulnerable, yet strangely secretive, Noelle is an enigma the two contrasting brothers seek to unlock. But as their attentions breach the wall she hides behind, the past becomes a menacing threat from which Noelle can no longer hide.

About the Author
Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including Freefall, Halos, A Rush of Wings, and the Christy Award winner Secrets. She and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church. Visit Kristen's Web site at

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Bake Fest 2010!

I meant to post this before the holidays were over, but never got around to it. I'll go ahead and post now, though. Enjoy!

Bake Fest is a tradition that is now in its third year. We put together a menu, gather ingredients, set aside a large chunk of time, and bake until our little hearts are content. Two years ago, our co-workers were the beneficiaries of our sweet treats. Last year, our neighbors and family received excellent baked goods. This year, we decided to go big or go home and held Bake Fest the day before we had a Christmas Open House. We both took off the entire day before, ran to the grocery to buy the final few ingredients, ate lunch, and started the baking. We only took a break long enough for me to go to a work party, and then went right back to it. We finally "finished" around midnight and put off everything else (including the final cleaning) until the next morning. Overall, I think it was a total success!

In the event that you are looking for some new ideas for sweet treats at your house, here is what we made.

Chocolate Bark
This is one of my holiday favorites. A recent article in Real Simple gave some clues to tons of ingredients that you could mix and match. As we were running out of steam when I started on the chocolate bark, we went simple with white chocolate and crushed candy canes. Love, love, love!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels
A Christmas classic in our house. Again, we went simple with white chocolate. No sprinkles or brown chocolate drizzle this year, but you can decorate any way you choose.

Peanut Brittle
We used a recipe that a friend of Josh's family gave them, and it's the only peanut brittle I like. It doesn't stick to your teeth and is super easy to make!

Chocolate Trail Mix Clusters
These were easy to make. I liked them okay. (The semi-sweet chocolate was a little bitter. I think it would be better with milk chocolate or white chocolate.) I don't think any of our guests even tried them. Oh well. I will try a new variation on this next year.

Alton Brown's Sugar Cookies
My husband wanted me to make this recipe, so we gave it a shot. The cookie itself wasn't that fantastic. (Sorry, Alton!) It needed more ... something ... I'm just not sure what. Maybe more sugar. With chocolate frosting, they were better, but just not fantastic. I'll try another recipe next year.

Paula Dean's Gooey Chocolate Cookies
These are super easy and stay soft and yummy for at least a full week after you bake them. The base is a cake mix and you just mix a few other things in. They are really pretty dipped in powdered sugar and everyone will think you slaved over them. (Which now, you all know, I did not.)

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Again, super easy. I had a Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie bag mix in my pantry and looked for other things to toss in to jazz it up a little. I added 6 oz of chocolate chips and a couple of handfuls of craisins. Super yummy and not too difficult.

Chocolate Mint Brownies
These were a favorite in my house growing up. This was the first time I made them myself, and I finally understand why Mom only made these for special occassions. Because they're three layers, there is a good deal of "wait time," but they're really not that hard. Mom used to make the brownies, put on the mint layer later in the evening, refrigerate overnight, and put the final layer the next day. You just need about an hour of refrigeration to make sure the final layer sets before serving. Personally, I like them cold but they're fine to be left on the counter as well.

Strawberry Cake Bites
This was another recipe that was a little labor-intensive. However, based on the compliments we received, I think it was well worth the time. I will not wait until midnight to do the last step again. You can use any cake mix flavor you like. Plan ahead, and make sure you have enough time for the cake to cool completely. I dipped half in chocolate almond bark and half in vanilla almond bark. I still can't decide which I liked better.

So our guests wouldn't go straight into a sugar coma, we also had peanuts, pretzels, crackers, and a cheeseball. I went "easy" and bought the cheeseball from a local bakery. My husband actually made two kinds of crackers (one with rosemary and one with parmesan cheese and garlic), which were incredible! And he surprised me when I got home from my work party with a carrot cake, which everyone LOVED. (He was really excited that he was able to use Grandma's instructions and bake a cake that tasted pretty much exactly like hers.)

Don't worry. We intend to do this again next year. I've already decided on a few things for the menu. We may have to do this mid-year too so I can test a few new recipes out! Happy baking!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's time ...

It's time to choose another verse! How did you do with your first verse over the past two weeks?

Here's Beth's post for today, if you're keeping track through her blog. She also announced yesterday that there is now an app for your iphone/ipad/ipod so that you can have your verses with you even if you don't have your spirals.

Anyway. On to the next verse. What's your verse for the next two weeks?

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7, ESV

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Masquerade by Nancy Moser

I loved Masquerade by Nancy Moser! Charlotte and her maid Dora embark on a trip across the ocean to America looking for love and a new life. While on the ship, Charlotte devises a plan to fulfill her family obligation while still having an adventure ... they will switch places. Charlotte will go out on her own in New York City, while Dora will take on the role of society girl courted by one of the wealthiest bachelors in America. Will they realize that God's plans are better than their plans? Or will they continue on their own paths?

I enjoyed every minute of reading this book! Moser did a wonderful job researching fashion, customs, etc., for this time period in both England and America. I really enjoyed a section at the end of the book that explained the fact behind some of the characters, places, and customs mentioned throughout the book. She also did a wonderful job developing the characters and allowing them to grow throughout the story. This also was not entirely predictable from beginning to end as many romance stories are. Several twists were thrown in that kept me guessing as to how things would be resolved in the end.

Nancy could easily write more about some of the supporting characters. I would love to read more about them and will look forward to reading more by her in the future!

5 stars

About the Book
1886. Charlotte Gleason embarks from England with conflicting emotions. She is headed for New York to marry one of America's wealthiest heirs--a man she has never even met. When her doubts gain the upper hand, she swaps identities with her maid Dora. She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. But what begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl becomes a test of survival beyond her blackest nightmare.

For Dora, it's the chance of a lifetime. She is thrust into a fairy tale amid ball gowns and lavish mansions, yet is tormented by the possibility of discovery--and humiliation. And what of the man who believes she is indeed his intended? Is this what her heart truly longs for?

About the Author
Nancy Moser is the author of three inspirational humor books and a eighteen novels, including Mozart's Sister, Just Jane, and Time Lottery, a Christy Award winner. She is an inspirational speaker, giving seminars around the country. She has earned a degree in architecture; run a business with her husband; traveled extensively in Europe; and has performed in various theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She and her husband have three grown children and make their home in the Midwest. Read more about her books at

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my fair and honest review.


I'm itchin' for a little more ... community ... on this lovely little blog. Based on my blogger "stats" quite a few people pop over to read any given post, and I'd love to know who you are! Please post a comment to say "hi" ... especially if you're a secret reader. :)

More community coming soon to a blog near you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Hope you guys enjoyed the "12 Pearls of Christmas" series that I posted back in December. Just wanted to let you know that a winner was selected for the giveaway. Here's one last post that they sent for me to post. Enjoy!

A great Hawaiian saying is "Imua!" which means to move forward with confidence and courage. It's a great word for the upcoming new year as we explore new opportunities and perhaps face fears.

This week, I put into practice "imua" by facing my fear of ziplining. Yes, I stepped off a wooden platform to soar across 1800 feet of the world's fifth largest caldera located in Kauai. Encouraged by my teenage daughters, I faced my fear of not being in control of my destiny and took a leap of faith.

The excellent guides, Mitch and Chris of Outfitters Kauai prepared us well for our ultimate "black diamond" zipline adventure. We did several practice runs on what I thought were "big ziplines" but little did I know what was really awaiting. The guides constantly reminded us that the most important lesson we all needed to learn to be safe was to "trust our gear."

True wisdom that I needed to hear. For too long in life, I have "held on tightly" when what I should have done was to "let go and let God." He provides "the gear" that we need to sustain us through the difficult moments of life as we soar across jungles.

So I guess my advice would be this: "Face your fear and trust God's gear." IMUA!!

What fear do you need to face this year? What have you been holding on too tightly? What does "imua" mean to you?

Margaret McSweeney is the founder of Pearl Girls (, the host of Kitchen Chat (, and an author. Her book, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, was published in 2009. Margaret is fast at work on a fiction manuscript (or three) and can be found blogging at From Finance to Fiction (

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sweet, Light Reading

Double Shot by Erynn Mangum is the third book in the Maya Davis series. I was looking for a light, easy read for my impending snow day and this was a perfect choice! Double Shot seems to pick up right where Cool Beans and Latte Daze (the first two books in the series) left off. However, the novel definitely stands alone if you haven't read the first two.

Maya, recently engaged to her long-time friend Jack, is in the midst of planning her wedding. With the help of her mom, best friend Jen, and sister-in-law Kate, all the details start coming together.

The story is sweet and an easy read. Maya, Jack, Jen, and the other characters are very likable. I appreciated that Maya constantly struggles with not letting the wedding plans take over her life. She still seeks out opportunities to share the gospel with her non-Christian friends from work and reaches out to new people in her small group. She also battles with anxiety and fear as circumstances threaten to interrupt this happy time. Friendship, family, and faith in God are obvious themes in this book. The book is fairly predictable and doesn't develop the plot or the characters too deeply. But it was enjoyable and I would recommend it if you're looking for a quick read.

I think that this book is technically billed as young adult fiction. However, I would recommend this book for adults and older teenagers (mature, upper level high school students). There aren't any controversial topics in the book; I just feel like books about adults (vs. teenagers) are better suited for older age groups.

4 stars

I received a free copy of this book from NavPress in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How's it coming?

Just wanted to check in and see how the Scripture memory is going!!! We're halfway through the two-week period on the first verse of the year, so hopefully those words are soaking into your minds and hearts. I know Romans 15:13 is working on me!

I've been absolutely amazed at how quickly I have been able to memorize this verse. Even with a bunch of words (hope, peace, joy, trust, hope, power!) that I was originally getting confused about which one came when, the Lord has allowed me to hide this verse in my heart.

Two things that really helped me with this particular verse (because of all the confusing words) are: word pictures and motions. It sound ridiculous, I know, but it's what worked for me this time.

The other thing I've done this week is tell literally everyone I know that I'm really committing to Scripture memory this year and telling them that they have permission to ask me for my spirals and quiz me ... any time. Now THAT'S accountability! And I welcome it.

So ... keep it up. I can't wait to hear how it's going for you!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Lightlings by R. C. Sproul

The Lightlings is another wonderful children's book by R. C. Sproul. Charlie asks his grandfather why he is afraid of the dark. His grandfather tells him a wonderful story about the lightlings (fairy-like creatures) who once lived with the King of Light. They sinned and ran from the king, causing them to live in the dark. Until one day the King of Light sent a baby as his gift to the lightlings. This precious story ties two familiar "stories" from the Bible together perfectly. I loved how the author pulls these stories together to teach about redemption in Christ. So many children's books simply tell one single story from the Bible and leave it separate from the bigger picture ... this book ties it all together. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful as well! I would highly recommend this book!

4 stars

I received a free copy of this book from The Reformation Trust in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I just read a soap opera ...

I kept thinking, "this is a soap opera," while I read Softly and Tenderly by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck. About two-thirds of the way through, the main character describes her life in the exact same way. Good to know we were on the same page!

Jade's life is falling apart. Guilt and shame from bad decisions in her teenage years, a rocky relationship with her mom, her in-laws' failing marriage, struggles with anxiety, the inability to conceive, her mother's impending death, her husband's addiction to pain pills ... and then she learns about her husband's infidility the week before their marriage and the son that was conceived as a result. As a new Christian, will Jade rely on her own ways or will she turn to Christ?

This is "chick lit" at its best. I found myself falling in love with this crazy, trouble-ridden family and wanted everything to work out for them. The story evoked real emotion in me and I found myself tearing up several times. The struggles were real. Jade questions her faith repeatedly as she faces trial after trial. I actually liked that things weren't tied up in a neat package at the end. That's how life is. But ultimately, I felt that there was a great message of hope in spite of her circumstances.

This is the second book in the Songbird trilogy (Sweet By and By available now and Love Lifted Me available Winter 2012). I am anxiously awaiting the conclusion to this gripping story.

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange from Thomas Nelson Publishers for my fair and honest review.

Blog Mooch: Declaring His Marvelous Deeds

This is an amazing story from a blog I stumbled upon recently. Isn't it amazing to know that God knows our name and gives us life and identity in Christ? And that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life?! Jesus, thank You for making me a new creation in You!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a great day and perhaps taken a few minutes to reflect on last year and look forward to next year! We're not really "New Year's people." By that, I mean we don't ever have big plans for New Year's Eve, we don't really set resolutions (recipe for failure, in my opinion), and we don't eat the traditional New Year's meal. However, we did have a great evening with friends last night, and I've spent a fair amount of time over the past few days in reflection and evaluation of the past few months. I'm looking forward to the next year!

Earlier I mentioned a desire to work on Scripture memory this year and it's time to start! All of you are my accountability, so here goes. Beth's post is here if you want to read what she wrote. I was SO encouraged by the 4,605 comments that have been posted by women who are committing to memorize Scripture this year as well! I would love for any/all of you to join me in this endeavor in 2011. If you do, please reply to these posts throughout the year and let me know. It would greatly encourage me!!!

And my verse for the next two weeks ...

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13, NIV

Feel free to ask me how it's going if you see me around!
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