Saturday, March 31, 2012

My 2012 Reading Challenges

At the beginning of the month I said I wanted to join some more reading challenges. Now it’s the end of the month and I haven’t joined any officially but I’ve certainly been looking at the many ones out there and have enjoyed reading how other bloggers are progressing in the challenges.

So here are all the challenges I’m joining:

There are four levels to this challenge: Lady In Waiting 1-3 Books, Earl 4-6 Books, Prince 7-10 Books, Queen 12+ Books. I’m definitely going for Queen and beyond. Since I love historical fiction I’m bound to read way more than 12. :-)

  1. The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz
  2. Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake
  3. The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie
  4. The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck by Kathleen Y'Barbo
  5. Cassidy by Lori Wick
  6. Maire: Fires of Gleannmarra by Linda Winsor

There are three levels to this challenge: Level 1 (Gold): Read a book from every country that won a medal. (A total of 26 countries) Level 2 (Silver): Read a book from every country that won a Gold medal. (A total 19 countries) Level 3 (Bronze): Read a book from every country that won Gold, Silver AND Bronze medals. (15 countries)

I love the Olympics and this challenge caught my eye because it is so unique plus you have four years to finish it…well if you started back in 2010 you’d have four years. I’m not sure if I’ll go back in time very far to see what I can cross off. We’ll see. And I’m definitely going to try for gold.

Here’s the list of the 26 countries that won medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics (* means the country got gold, silver and bronze medals):
  • Australia - Gold & Silver (no Bronze)
  • Austria *
  • Belarus *
  • Canada *
  • China *
  • Croatia - Silver & Bronze (no Gold)
  • Czech Republic - Gold & Bronze (no Silver)
  • Estonia - Silver (no Gold or Bronze)
  • Finland - Silver & Bronze (no Gold)
  • France *
  • Germany *
  • Great Britain - Gold (no Silver or Bronze) - Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden
  • Italy *
  • Japan - Silver & Bronze (no Gold)
  • Kazakhstan - Silver (no Gold or Bronze)
  • Latvia - Silver (no Gold or Bronze)
  • Netherlands *
  • Norway *
  • Poland *
  • Russia *
  • Slovakia *
  • Slovenia - Silver & Bronze (no Gold)
  • South Korea *
  • Sweden *
  • Switzerland - Gold & Bronze (no Silver)
  • United States *

This is simply a fun way to see where the stories take place that you read by pinpointing them on Google Maps. I actually started this last week and started putting a few books on there. It’s kinda hard to figure out where a fiction story takes place.

View My book travels in a larger map

I wonder how many geography based challenges I should join. Because the Around the World in 52 Books sounds fun but I don’t know if I can manage that many books from around the world. Most of my books thus far have taken place in America. Which is certainly helpful in completing the 50 States Challenge.

The goal of this one is simple – read a book that takes place in each of the 50 States. And I've thrown in the territories and DC.

American Samoa
District of Columbia
Kentucky - A Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz
Minnesota - Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Ann Baumbich 
Mississippi - The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Missouri - Forever After by Deborah Raney
Montana - Sabrina by Lori Wick
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico - Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergen
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northern Marianas Islands
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Texas - A Texan's Honor by Shelley Gray
Virgin Islands
West Virginia

Can you tell I like geography and traveling? To add a bit of variety here is a challenge with two parts that Abbi over at Christian Novels is doing.

A-Z Challenge
Read a book and a author for each letter of the alphabet

B- Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble
C- The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz
F- Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Ann Baumbich
G- The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie
S- Sabrina by Lori Wick
T- A Texan's Honor by Shelley Gray
W- Word's Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart

B- Charlene Ann Baumbich
C- Jamie Carie
F- Laura Frantz
G- Shelley Gray
W- Lori Wick
Y- Kathleen Y'Barbo

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Texan’s Honor by Shelley Gray

A Texan’s Honor by Shelley Gray. Abingdon Press, 2012. 320p. Series: Heart of a Hero, #2 (9781426714634) 

When I started reading this I forgot it was book two in a series, but I don’t think it mattered. The main character of the first book didn’t play a part in Texan’s Honor but did appear in flashbacks. The story didn’t play out as I had expected it would and it had a couple surprises and twists in it.

Will McMillan survived the Civil War under the command of Clayton Proffitt (the main character of the first book) and now in 1874 finds himself as an undercover agent who has successfully infiltrated the notorious Walton Gang. For almost two years he has been a part of the band in order to bring them and those that aid and abet them to justice. He’s very close to fulfilling his mission when a train robbery does not proceed as planned and a woman is held hostage.

As third in command Will takes charge of Jamilyn Ellis, the young, innocent and pretty hostage. Scout is second in command and while a deadly killer, he doesn’t cotton to killing or abusing innocent women and children, so he backs Will up and keeps her from the other gang members. He even hints that Will should escape with her to protect her from the others when the situation on the train starts to get dicey.

One reviewer thought this a rather dark story with lots of bad guys. I didn’t find this to be the case though. It is a poignant tale of the depths of human depravity and the transforming power of love, forgiveness and grace. Only problem though is that it’s not God’s love, forgiveness and grace that does the transforming, but rather a woman’s. Which isn’t exactly realistic and likely.

Now I’m not saying that a woman can’t inspire a man to be a better man. After all Proverbs 30:18-19 (NIV84) says, “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:… the way of a man with a maiden.” In Wild at Heart John Eldredge’s thesis is that “in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. … There is nothing so inspiring to a man as a beautiful woman.” (p. 9 & 15)

But in the end it is only God’s transforming grace that can be the catalyst for the type of transformation we see begin to take place in one guy’s heart. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Corinthians5:17-18 NIV84)

Another message that the story makes clear is that everyone has worth and matters. Several people struggle with this in different ways and the author does an excellent job showing that. I really enjoyed this story and can’t wait to read book three because that story will be about Scout who played a big part in this book. Overall a fun, clean, adventure packed read.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergen

Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergen. Waterbrook Press, 2002. 240p. (9780307730107)

I was unsure how I would like this story – after all it’s about a woman saying goodbye to her mother who has had Alzheimer’s for a very long time and is now dying of congestive heart failure. Doesn’t sound like a very happy or uplifting read. But it is.

Krista Mueller has had a rough life – she never knew her father, her grandparents died when she was 10, her mom was emotionally distant and then during her teen years became noticeably mentally unstable. It wasn’t until Krista was in college that her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Charlotte was over 40 when Krista was born and hadn’t had an easy life either. Krista never understood her mother and had never tried to understand her. But now Charlotte is dying and Krista realizes she needs to find some healing and let her go.

Dane McConnell is the director of the nursing home and a childhood friend of Krista. They even dated in high school, but something happened between them and then Krista could never bring herself to get too close to him again. Even though he still deeply cares for her.

Dane found an old Christmas song book amongst Charlotte’s possessions with journal entries in it. Through the handful of entries Krista allows herself to think about her mom’s life from a different perspective and find healing.

The story jumps between the present and the past frequently and it’s rather confusing. Krista is a history professor so she remembers facts and events that took place around the time of each of her mom’s journal entries. Which is neat, but it’s hard to follow the timeline.

I would have found it helpful to know at the beginning that Charlotte was over 40 when Krista was born and that the story takes place in about 2002 (when the book was originally written – it was first published under the title Christmas Every Morning). So now you know. Hope it helps.

There are a few sweet kisses and the reader is told of some immoral choices and an instance of sexual abuse but no details are given. It’s a sweet story of a daughter trying to understand her mother. It’s a sad story of a woman once full of life now close to death. It’s a realistic story of a woman coming to grips with her painful past and figuring out how to face her future.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston

Roadside Assistance by Amy ClipstonRoadside Assistance by Amy Clipston. Zondervan, 2011. 288p. (9780310719816)

I started this back in September when browsing a bookstore with my best friend. Sadly I didn’t have time to finish it – only got to around page 50 or so. But I wanted to find out what happened to Emily when she found herself uprooted from her small home, her car, her school and her friends. And I finally got that chance when my sister brought it home over spring break.

Emily’s dad, Brad, is a car mechanic and owns his own garage where Emily has spent many a day over the course of her seventeen years. She would much rather have grease under the nails than polish on them. But Emily’s mom just passed away from cancer and the bills have eaten up all of their savings plus their house and business. So they move to Uncle Chuck and Aunt Darlene’s house in a fancy neighborhood (Uncle Chuck is a banker) while her dad searches for a job and pays off their debts.

Whenever Emily has spent time with her dad’s sister and family she feels like they want to change her and don’t and won’t accept her for who she is. Her aunt wants to change her hair and clothes and her choice in makeup (little to none) and her grandma only talks about her cousin. Her cousin Whitney, who is a cheerleader, who makes good grades and who is constantly held up as a model to follow.

Needless to say Emily is not thrilled about the move. But once she gets there she finds that life might not be that bad after all. The boy next door (who happens to be quite cute) has an old car that he is trying to restore and a garage full of tools. Plus he’s a great listener and genuinely wants to help her find the faith she lost when her mother died.

That’s one thing I really liked about Roadside Assistance, it wasn’t full of platitudes people say when someone loses a loved one. Amy Clipston does an excellent job chronicling Emily’s pain and grief and anger at losing her mom. While also dealing with moving to a new place, starting her senior year at a strange school and needing boy advice.

Another aspect that I really liked was how everyone else in the story had a part to play and lessons to learn themselves. But the best part is Emily’s talent and love for working on cars. Specifically Chevys. It adds a fun and unique angle on the story, she isn’t your typical 17 year old. And stereotypes don’t hold for several other characters as well.

It’s clean with a couple of kisses. Personally I think high school romance is silly because it rarely lasts so why go through all that heartache. But to each his/her own. I enjoyed this story and I think teens would connect well with Emily.

Here's the book trailer:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie

book cover of The Guardian Duke by Jamie CarieThe Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie. B&H Publishing Group, 2012. 311p. (9781433673221)

I don’t like reading books in a series when I have to wait for the next books to come out! But I suppose that shows that it’s a good story. Last week I won a copy of The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie and it came in the mail today! And I read it this evening. Fun story!

But it’s a series! And book two doesn't come out until July! And book three not before September! I don't like waiting that long to find out what happens. Sigh.

Writing a description of the story and then a review is going to be hard to do while avoiding spoilers. The video trailer for the book is spot on: 

The back cover description seems accurate but it exaggerates some things and parts don’t seem to fit this book (but it might fit the series). So here’s that description:
Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But the heart-driven Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment. Believing her parents are still alive, she travels to faraway lands to follow clues that may lead to their whereabouts.

Gabriel, pressured by the regent’s ulterior motives, pursues Alexandria across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.

When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure will pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them.

“She travels to faraway lands” is certainly an exaggeration because in this book she only goes to Ireland which is hardly very far from her home in northern England. “The regent’s ulterior motives” seems so sinister – which isn’t how it’s portrayed in the story. He’s just very concerned since Lady Alex’s parents are/were seeking something of importance to the kingdom.

And the last sentence…hmmm, it’s clear God has plans for each of them, but they’re not exactly seeking earthly treasure. Or if it is slowly switching to that, most of the book she’s intent on finding her parents and he’s intent on finding her.

I really liked the Duke, while his sudden deafness is strange, the author does a great job portraying his fears and frustrations regarding his lack of hearing. But I like his character and his search for knowledge. We don’t see that side of him at the beginning because he his dealing with his health and adjusting to being deaf, but slowly we learn that he is a force to be reckoned with. Can’t wait to learn more about him.

Lady Alex while a fun character seemed unreal to me. Yes, she’s desperately looking for her parents. Yes, they are investigators and she wants to be like them. Yes, she’s grown up in the care of two old servants on an island where she knows everyone and is safe.

But that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t know that a young lady never travels alone and most certainly does not go off by herself to strange cities and foreign countries. Especially in the early 1800s. It’s simply too shocking. But I do love how she charms just about everyone she meets. Only in a book could Lady Alex be so free and innocent in who she trusts and how quickly and completely she trusts them.

The supporting characters are excellent. Mistress Tinsdale is just the sort of friendly innkeeper you’d expect to meet in Killyleagh. And Montegue is the guardian angel Lady Alex needs. Literally. He’s so secretive and knows way more than he’s letting on.

Jamie Carie does a great job pulling the reader into Lady Alex’s search for her parents and the Duke’s search for Alex. It’s half “will she find clues to her parent’s whereabouts?” and half “will he find the clues we know are there to her whereabouts?” Makes for a fun mix. But what a cliffhanger at the end! The next book can’t come soon enough.

Here’s a neat video about Killyleagh: 

It’s a very clean read with a sweet touch of romance – primarily through letters. And I think I managed to avoid any spoilers. :-) I'd give this 4 stars.

Disclosure: I won this book in a giveaway on the author’s blog. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top Ten TBR this Spring

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books On My Spring To-Be-Read list 

Maire by Linda Windsor
Except I read this last night and finished it this morning. But today is the first day of spring so I'm leaving it here. By the way, I loved the story. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
So many people are reading this. And a friend wanted my opinion on it. Still waiting for it from the library though.

Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love
I read another book with a very similar title and loved it, which I guess is a silly reason to be first attracted to this book. But it sounds interesting. Thus it's on this list.

Tea with Hezbollah by Ted Dekker & Carl Medearis
This has been sitting in my room for months now waiting patiently to be picked up. Good thing the church library doesn't charge overdue fines. I even started reading it yesterday. Promises to be a very interesting book.

Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
I'm really looking forward to reading this. The premise is quite interesting and the first few chapters I was able to read on Google books were quite good. I'm so glad I won a copy during the fb author chat! Can't wait for it to arrive!

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer
So many people recommended this book or this author in the Goodreads clean romance group that I feel compelled to find out for myself just how good it is.

Something about Davy Crockett. Any recommendations?
I got the Disney miniseries DVD for my birthday and it made me want to learn more about this American hero. Got any suggestions?

Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings 
Ok, I'm really cheating this time, it was on my list but I read it over the weekend so before spring officially arrived even though the weather has been spring-like for weeks. Here's the review

A Texan's Honor by Shelley Gray
It just sounds interesting. And the cover is rather cool. Plus trains remind me of Europe and of Grampa a bit. Plus I have a Netgalley copy waiting for me.

Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren
This is a Blogging for Books ebook so I'd better read it :-) And I think it will give a good look at what caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease is like.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

    cover image of Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina JenningsSixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings. Bethany House, 2012. 368p. (9780764209901)

    Back in February I shared that this book was available as a free ebook on Amazon (part of the daily specials) but I hadn’t had a chance to read it until yesterday. There were several reasons I was looking forward to reading this book (and was thrilled to get it for free): 1) lovely cover, 2) it’s a Ruth & Boaz story, so of course it’s good, 3) the author is having a Facebook chat party next week (more about that at the end).

    With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay. Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

    My review
    I really enjoyed this book and did not want to put it down until I knew how the author was going to resolve the story and bring Rosa and Weston happily together. Because you know they’re going to. Even though unlike in the story of Ruth and Boaz, Rosa is not seeking a husband when she asks for help. And we learn quickly that Weston hasn’t gotten over the death of his first wife five years ago.

    I didn’t expect Louise Gardner, Rosa’s mother-in-law, to be so cheerful and optimistic. After all Naomi was quite bitter. But it doesn’t detract from the story, Louise is a good lesson on moving on and overcoming grief. The extended Gardner family really loves and cares for each other. They must have all been heartbroken when Louise and her family originally moved away.

    The aspect of the story that I enjoyed most was learning about and watching Rosa. She’s new to the culture and tries very hard to behave according to the cultural norms of 1870s Texas. Which isn’t always easy. Regina Jennings does an excellent job illustrating how easy cultural misunderstandings occur. One such misunderstanding occurs during the dance, my favorite scene.
    Mexican dancer in big flowing skirt

    Overall this is a wonderful story. It’s a clean read. A couple of times I was confused about who a character was, but that probably was my fault for reading it so late at night and not due to any negligence on the author’s part. I’d give it at least four stars.

    Go read it! Durham CountyCedarville UniversityGreene CountyFind it at a library near youBuy it from CBD (ebook); Buy it from B&N

    I'd appreciate it if you voted for my review on Amazon and gave it a thumbs up at CBD (scroll down, mine should be the first review you see). Thanks!

    This month there are several opportunities to win e-readers, books and other fun stuff from several authors. And they are all having Facebook chat parties to go along with the drawings. Last week I participated in my first chat party and won a book! :D So fun. Here’s the link to the Facebook event for this book (3/27 at 8pm EST). And click below to go to the drawing for Sixty Acres and a Bride PLUS a Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi (you can enter by email, facebook or twitter).

    Disclosure: I received this ebook for free from Amazon when it was one of the daily specials. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Several Great Giveaways

    I don't have a great track record of winning contests or drawings, but that doesn't stop me from entering them! And there are several great giveaways happening right now and ending soon:

    Katie at Legacy of a Writer has two giveaways going on! One is for Prize of my Heart by Lisa Norato (ends 3/18/12) and the other is for The Messanger by Siri Mitchell (ends 3/25/12). Both sound like very interesting historical fiction. is giving away two copies of El Rey: A Novel of Renaissance Iberia by Ginger Myrick.The cover isn't as interesting as the above two, but it sounds like a truly fascinating and well researched historical fiction.Ends March 22, 2012

    Kara at My Thoughts and Reviews has a whole bunch of neat books she's giving away to one fortunate person. She's going to draw a name tomorrow, Friday March 15th, so hurry on over.

    Anne at Stuff & Nonsense II is giving away Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley. Just about every review I read about this book says that it has great humor and makes you laugh out loud. Ends March 19th.

    And now for what I think is the best giveaway of the week: Author Jamie Carie is giving away a copy of her book The Guardian Duke, a beautiful music box, and a Celtic Woman CD. Ends midnight Friday, March 16th. 

    Wish you all the best in these giveaways!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Ann Baumbich

    Finding Our Way Home: A Novel by Charlene Ann Baumbich. WaterBrook Press, 2012. 318p. (9780307444738)

    I was both excited and tad nervous about reading this as it is my first ARC (advanced readers copy) that I have received from Blogging for Books. It was exciting to get a free book to review in the mail and I was a tad nervous because I wasn’t sure if I’d like the story; it’s always easier to write about something you like.

    Well I needn’t have worried. I really enjoyed the story and read it in three sittings over two days. Plus it’s fun to read a book that isn’t even for sale yet. Went on sale today actually.

    Goodreads summary:
    When principal ballerina Sasha Davis suffers a career-ending injury at age thirty-eight, she leaves her Boston-based dance company and retreats to the home of her youth in Minnesota. But Sasha’s injuries limit her as much as her mother’s recent death haunts her. Concluding she can’t recover alone, Sasha reluctantly hires a temporary live-in aide.

     Enter the ├╝bercapable Evelyn Burt. As large-boned as Sasha is delicate, Evelyn is her employer’s opposite in every way. Small town to Sasha’s urban chic, outgoing to Sasha’s iciness, and undaunted where Sasha is hopeless, nineteen-year-old Evelyn is newly engaged and sees the world as one big, shiny opportunity.

     Evelyn soon discovers Sasha needs to heal more than bones. Slowly, as the wounds begin to mend and the tables tilt, the two women form an unlikely alliance and discover the astounding power of even the smallest act done in the name of love. Finding Our Way Home is a story of second chances and lavish grace.

    My review:
    When the summary said it was a story of “second chances and lavish grace” I was expecting it to be a story of God’s grace – His saving grace. But it’s not, it’s a story of the grace people extend to one another and the grace we receive to live another day and find our purpose in life. Not that any of that is bad, I was just expecting a bit more “Christian” book.

    The only thing I really didn’t like was how much Sasha valued her ballerina snow globe which she called “Our Lady of Dance”. Her mother had given it to her as a child and she would touch it before every performance for good luck and to help her perform better.

    In the story it’s as if Sasha and the snow globe ballerina were mysteriously connected – four times one of the ballerina’s appendages mysteriously falls off and each time Sasha also experienced some unusual pain. There are a couple other times the ballerina does something unusual. A bit too superstitious for my liking.

    I loved the friendship that forms between Sasha and Evelyn and how much each of them learns throughout the book. This isn’t a story just about Sasha, it’s also very much about Evelyn. Baumbich did a great job writing Evelyn’s character – she loves learning, is cheerful, bouncy, tries to control her tongue, and has a couple life lessons to learn.

    I also really like another character – so patient and persevering. But I can’t tell you who it is because that would spoil the surprise on page 23. Don’t go flipping ahead now!

    It’s a pretty clean book – although there is some passionate kissing between Evelyn and her fianc├ę and it’s clear that he wants more. But Evelyn stands by her convictions. (Go Evelyn!) And we’re told that a married couple enjoy themselves once or twice. Few details are given – just enough to let you know that married lovemaking is very sweet [and is the best kind].

    Go read it! Find it at a library near you; Buy it from CBD (ebook also available)

    I'd also appreciate it if you voted for it on Amazon or gave it a thumbs up on CBD (scroll down, mine should be the first review you see).

    Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    I've been tagged!

    I was tagged by Abbi from ChristianNovelsAnd by Kara at My Thoughts and Book Reviews! Thanks for tagging me ladies!

    The Rules
    If you are tagged, post 11 random things about yourself. Answer the questions the tagger asked you, then create 11 new questions for the people you tag, and go to their blog and let them know they've been tagged.

    11 Random Things:
    I’m going to skip this part since I’m answering two sets of questions.  

    Abbi’s Questions:
    1. Indoors or Outdoors? I’m usually indoors, but I certainly like the outdoors too.

    2. What is your biggest pet peeve? Not really sure if this is my biggest pet peeve, but it does bother me when people pronounce mature [ma-toor] instead of [ma-chur]. Even though both are accepted by dictionaries.

    3. When you die what is the one thing you most want to be remembered for? That Christ shined through me and that I was a good friend.

    4. On a plane, do you like the aisle, middle, or window seat? Why? Definitely the window seat – I like watching the take off, landing and the earth far below (or the clouds or the mountain peaks poking through the clouds).

    5. Paperback, Hardback, or ebook? Paperback

    6. If you could meet one person, living, dead, or fictional, who would it be and why? It’d be quite interesting to meet Noah – his grandfather was alive when Adam & Eve were alive, plus he lived through the greatest catastrophe the world has yet seen and he could settle once and for all all the questions about dinosaurs.

    7. Favorite Classic? Pride and Prejudice

    8. What are you favorite TV shows and movies? My cousin got us hooked on Downton Abbey last Christmas. But I don’t usually watch TV, so this is quite the exception. As to movies…period dramas, Disney classics, and old movies (black & white, and techicolor) are all good.

    9. What is the best gift you have ever received? God’s forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross

    10. If you were given 3 wishes, one for you, one for your community, and one for the world, what would they be? I would like a paying job in a library overseas (with State side experience), for my community I would wish retroactive lower college/university tuition costs so that all my friends wouldn’t have any college debt, and for the world I would wish the end of sex trafficking.

    11. What is one book that you love to recommend to people? It depends on what they like to read or are interested in! I’ve recommended the Last Jihad series by Joel Rosenberg to several people in the past few months.

    Kara’s Questions:
    1. What’s your favorite part(s) of blogging? Reading the books. :-)

    2. Which do you love more- cats or dogs? Hmmmm…cats?

    3. What is something you collect or something you wish you had more of? I wish I had more bookshelves to hold all my books.

    4. Do you play video games, which ones? Nope.

    5. Name an activity you enjoy doing with your family. Traveling

    6. If you could meet one celebrity for lunch, who would it be? I don’t follow celebrities, but a famous person I’d love to meet is George W. Bush (and his wife, Laura).

    7. What’s your dream vacation? Trip around the world in 80 days

    8. Name about 5 books on your wish list and/or to be read list (books you want versus books you already have).
    - Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (and I would like to own the first two books in the series)
    - Before You Meet Prince Charming: A Guide to Radiant Purity by Sarah Mally (I saw this book many years ago and thought it would be interesting, still haven’t found it or read it though...)
    - I'd like to read one of Georgette Heyer’s books (several of them were recommended in the Goodread Clean Romances group and by Becky over at Becky’s Book Reviews)
    - I’d love to own every single Karl May book – even if I don’t think I’d ever read them all.
    - A copy of the complete Sherlock Holmes, preferably exactly like the one I read when I was 12 or 13

    9. What has been your favorite review so far this year? That’s a hard question. I’m assuming this means which of my reviews I liked best. Chalice was a fun book. I really enjoyed Lori Wick’s Big Sky Dreams series and writing those reviews.

    10. What website(s) do you visit most? Facebook, Google, Blogger (in that order according to my Chrome homepage)

    11. What do you prefer, ebook or print book? Definitely print
    11 Questions for you:
      group of question marks
    1. Favorite fruit:
    2. If you could have any four people over for dinner who would you invite and what would you serve?
    3. Top three genres you read:
    4. Why did you start blogging?
    5. Three Thanksgiving dishes your family always has (other than turkey, apple & pumpkin pie)
    6. Describe the perfect spot for reading:
    7. Most meaningful answer to prayer you’ve experienced:
    8. What is one place you really want to visit and why?
    9. If you could live in any era, what time period would you live in, and why? (“borrowed” from Holly)
    10. Four books you intend to read but probably won’t actually ever get around to:
    11. If you were stuck on an abandoned island for one year and could take five fiction books with you, what would they be? (“borrowed” from Melanie)
    People I’m tagging
    Seems like most people I would tag either tagged me, were also tagged by my taggers or were the ones who tagged my taggers. So here are some of the blogs and bloggers who inspired me:

    • Abbie at Abbie's Reading Corner (found this blog when researching blogging last fall, discovered several new books amongst her reviews)
    • Becky at Operation Actually Read Bible (the first Christian book review blog I found last fall and because our Christian fiction reading tastes are similar I browsed her entire blog history looking for books to add to my to-read list; plus I love the green color scheme)
    • Julie at Second Grade Style (thank you Julie for your enthusiasm and support when I started thinking about blogging!)
    • Emily at Town{Homemade} (how do you have time for everything you do? You are amazing.)
    • ~CrazyFarmGirl~ (inspired me to join Blogging for Books)

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Top Ten Favorite Covers

    Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

    I've seen this meme on several different blogs and thought it sounded fun. Some past lists are quite creative which is why I decided to join in on this. For example a year ago they did: Top Ten Characters you'd want as family members

    This week however the topic is Top Ten Favorite Covers. Which might be difficult for me because once I read a book I really don't care what the cover is. Although I am guilty of judging a book by it's cover when deciding whether to read it or not.

    I'm so grateful for Goodreads, this would have taken much, much longer otherwise:

    There is no order of preference. Just alphabetical order. :-) Here's the run down:
    • Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry. A very nice cover and a fun story too! Read my review
    • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Love this story. And the cover.
    • Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz. Lovely cover and captivating story. I read it last fall and plan on writing the review soon.
    • The Damascus Way by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke. I liked some books in this series, can't remember if this was one of the good or not-so-good ones though. The entire series has beautiful covers.
    • Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr. A cute story that I picked up a second time based on the cover (I'd forgotten that I had read it a few years prior).
    • Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. A childhood/youth favorite. And it has a fun cover.
    • Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. This one is coming out in April! All the covers in this series are absolutely lovely.
    • The Second Duchess by Elisabeth Loupass. I haven't read this yet and can't remember why I labeled it to-read. But I really like the cover. Which is why it's here. 
    • These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Another childhood favorite. My sister wore out the biding because she "read" this book so much - just because she liked the cover and pictures so much.
    • Winnetou by Karl May. Loved Karl May's books when I was a teen. And the Winnetou series is one of his best. And this is my favorite cover of that series.

     Now hop on over to The Broke and Bookish to see other blogger's favorite covers.

      Monday, March 5, 2012

      Monthly Reflections - 2/2012

      At the beginning of February I wrote a post summing up January's book reviews. This is not a new concept in the blogging world and since then I've discovered Christian Bookshelf Reviews who started Monthly Reflections - a post dedicated to what you accomplished in the prior month and what you hope to accomplish in the coming month.
      Hosted by: Christian Bookshelf Reviews
      I reviewed a lot more books in February than I realized! Only 7 in January, but got to 11 in February. And I had 3 posts about free books or giveaways happening elsewhere. I read 12 books. Joined the 2012 Reading Challenge - I'm hoping to read at least 99 books this year. Thus far, I've read 17 according to Goodreads. I also signed up for the Fairytale Giveaway Hop which will take place end of April.

      My reviews:
      Books I read:

      Seeking Persephone
      Gods and Kings
      Princess of the Midnight Ball
      Wagered Heart
      The Amaranth Enchantment
      Princess of Glass
      Forever After
      The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck: A Novel
      Wonderland Creek
      Tuesdays at the Castle

      In March I hope to:
      • Join Net Galley and some other review programs
      • Read at least 13 books
      • Review a majority of the books I read, plus a few that I haven't gotten to yet
      • Write some more reviews for Multnomah/Blogging for Books
      • Join some more reading challenges
      • Update the look of my blog with help from my friend Nate over at
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