Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading? January 31, 2011

This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

What I read last week:
- The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton
- Never Been Kissed by Melody Carlson
- Stars Collide by Janice Thompson

What I am currently reading:
- the Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis
- The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig
- Made to Crave, Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God not Food by Lysa Terkeurst
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumos
- Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

What I am reading next:
- Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate
- Lonestar Intrigue by Debra White Smith
- 10 Lessons from a former Fat Girl by Amy Parham

Reviews I posted last week:
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2011/01/stars-collide-by-janice-thompson-review.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2011/01/tapestry-of-love-by-rosy-thornton.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2011/01/never-been-kissed-by-melody-carlson.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2011/01/search-by-suzanne-woods-fisher-review.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2011/01/digitalis-by-ronie-kendig-review.html

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stars Collide by Janice Thompson (Review)


  • Paperback: 324 pages

  • Publisher: Revell (January 1, 2011)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0800733452

  • About the book:
    Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy don't just play two people who are secretly in love on a television sitcom--they are also head over heels for each other in real life. When the lines between reality and TV land blur, they hope they can keep their relationship under wraps. But when Kat's grandmother, an aging Hollywood starlet with a penchant for wearing elaborate evening gowns from Golden Age movies, mistakes their on-screen wedding proposal for the real deal, things begin to spiral out of their control. Will their secret be front-page news in the tabloids tomorrow? And can their budding romance survive the onslaught of paparazzi, wedding preparations, and misinformed in-laws?

    From the sound stage to a Beverly Hills mansion to the gleaming Pacific Ocean, Stars Collide takes readers on a roller-coaster tour of Tinseltown, packing both comedic punch and tender emotion.

    My Review:
    Stars Collide is a really cute funny Christian fiction book. I loved how each chapter has a unique heading. Kat's grandmother is a hoot even though she has the beginnings of Alzheimer's. Kat is a wonderful granddaughter in how she takes care of her and treats her with great respect even when she is not happy with her actions. I liked how Kat and Scott interact and their dialogue. All of the characters were interesting and the plot unique. The book flew by and I enjoyed reading it. It is the beginning of a new series called Backstage Pass. Kat and Scott are stars in a hit TV show so we get an insider look at the set and their lives. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Recommended. :)




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

    Thank you Donna at Revell for my review copy.

    Saturday, January 29, 2011

    The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton (Review)


  • Paperback: 352 pages




  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing (October 14, 2010)  




  • ISBN-13: 978-0755345571




  • A rural idyll: that's what Catherine Parkstone is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains in France. Divorced and with her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you're no longer just on holiday, and Catherine finds herself with unexpected battles to fight. French bureaucracy, the mountain weather, the reserve of her neighbours - and most unsettling of all, her own fascination with the intriguing Patrick Castagnol.

    The Tapestry of Love is the story of how a woman falls in love with a place and its people: a portrait of landscape, a community and a fragile way of life.

    My Review:


    I loved this book. It is kinda a slow book that I took days to read. I did not mind because I did not want it to end although I knew it had too. I really enjoyed reading it and savored it. I have the urge to take a walk outside hopefully where there are trees now. A trip to my local park is in order. lol

    The writing and descriptions are beautiful and I felt like I was there in France with Catherine. The plot line was interesting and different from what I normally read. Catherine is the main character and the book does revolve around what happens to her mostly. Her sister, children, neighbors, and of course Patrick are well developed secondary characters also. It is a book about the different types of relationships we have with others in our life and the development of them among Catherine getting used to living in a very different place. I love the bolded line about from the author's website because it does a good job of summing up the book.  It was a pleasant book to read. Highly Recommended. I can't wait to read more books by this author. :)


    About the author:

    Rosy Thornton teaches at Cambridge University. She lives in a village nearby with her husband and their two daughters.



    Thank you very much to the author for sending me a review copy. :)

    Never Been Kissed by Melody Carlson (Review)



  • Reading level: Young Adult

  • Paperback: 216 pages

  • Publisher: Revell (January 1, 2011)  

  • ISBN-13: 978-0800732592

  • From the Back Cover

    New School = New Chance for That First Kiss Summer is ending, and for once that doesn't seem like such a bad thing to Elise. She's hoping that starting fresh at a new high school will turn her first-kiss prospects around. New guys, new friends, and a new lease on life.
     
    What she wasn't counting on was all the new pressure--to hang with the right crowd, wear the right clothes, and date the right guy. Just when it seems she's on top of the world, everything comes crashing down. Could one bad choice derail her future?
     
     
    My Review:
    I thought this was an okay, fast, and easy young adult book. I read it in less than two hours. I did not really connect to any of the characters which might be because this book is written for the 10 and up group. It did tackle a topic that I know very little about, sex-texting. It also addressed peer pressure and the struggle to fit in as a high schooler. Elise lives with her Mom in an okay condo place. She is a junior at a new high school and the first day becomes friends with the in crowd. She thinks it is too good to be true and soon she is proven right. The plot is predictable and because of the topic not really enjoyable but overall well written and addresses a topic that needs to be discussed. I would recommend it for high school aged and up just because I am more conservative.  :)
     
    Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the True Colors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Visit Melody's website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

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

    Thank you Donna at Revell for my review copy.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Review)






    About the book:


    Fifteen years ago, Lainey O'Toole made a split-second decision. She couldn't have known that her choice would impact so many.



    Now in her mid-twenties, she is poised to go to culinary school when her car breaks down in Stoney Ridge, the very Amish town in which her long-reaching decision was made, forcing her to face the shadowed past.



    Bess Reihl is less than thrilled to be spending the summer at Rose Hill Farm with her large and intimidating grandmother, Bertha. It quickly becomes clear that she is there to work the farm--and work hard. The labor is made slightly more tolerable by the time it affords Bess to spend with the handsome hired hand, Billy Lapp. But he only has eyes for a flirty and curvaceous older girl.



    Lainey's and Bess's worlds are about to collide and the secrets that come to light will shock them both.



    "Beautifully written, 'The Search' is a skillfully woven story that takes readers through unexpected twists and turns on the long country road toward truth. Fans both old and new will find themselves immersed in this heartwarming--and surprising--tale of young love, forgiveness, and coming to grips with the past."

    My Thoughts:


    This is the third book in the Lancaster County secrets series. It can stand alone but I have enjoyed the whole series. Book two is actually my favorite although this one is good too. The only thing that annoyed me is Bertha changes or messes up the phrase or word often. It is played off as being cute but I did not like it. I was touched by Lainey's story. I liked how the characters all developed and grew throughout the story in particular Bess. There are a couple romantic plot lines that go on but I do not want to spoil anything so I am not giving away any details just to say I liked them. It is an Amish story and follows the pattern for the most part. The characters were still interesting and the writing was good. I recommend the entire series. :)



    There is a great contest (Ipad) but I can't get my html to work. You can click here for the details:

    http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/contest



    About Suzanne:


    In no particular order, Suzanne Woods Fisher is a wife, mother, writer, lifelong student of the Bible, raiser of puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, a gardener and a cook...the latter two with sporadic results.


    Suzanne has loved to write since she was a young teen. After college, she started to write for magazines and became a contributing editor for Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her family moved to Hong Kong for four years, just as the internet was developing, and she continued to write articles in a 44-story high-rise apartment, sending manuscripts 7,000 miles away with a click of a key.



    After returning from Hong Kong , Suzanne decided to give her first novel a try. For four and a half months, she worked on an antediluvian computer in a cramped laundry room. She didn't even tell her husband what she was up to. When the novel was completed, she told her family at dinner one night that she had written a book. "That's why there's no food in this house!" said her slightly insensitive sons.

    Undaunted...Suzanne found a small royalty publisher for that book and wrote three more (all earned multiple awards). With help from an agent, she now has numerous books under contract with Revell. Also look for Suzanne's Amish non-fiction, Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, a non-fiction book of stories and examples about the Old Order Amish, as well as Amish Proverbs, and coming in Spring of 2011, look for Amish Values for Your Family. The Choice and The Waiting are the previous books in the Lancaster County Secrets Collection.


    Writing, for Suzanne, is a way to express a love of God and His word. With every book or article, she hopes readers get a sense of what faith really looks like in the daily grind. She hopes they realize that life can be hard, but God is good, and never to confuse the two.



    Suzanne can be found on-line at: http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com/
    Click here to see other stops on the book tour:

    http://litfusegroup.com/Blog-Tours/the-search-by-suzanne-woods-fisher.html
    Link to buy the book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Search-Novel-Lancaster-County-Secrets/dp/0800733878/ref=sprightly-20





    Review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity Group.

    Digitalis by Ronie Kendig (Review)


    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Digitalis
    Barbour Publishing, Inc.(January 1, 2011)
    by
    Ronie Kendig




    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!



    This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series began in July 2010 from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.



    This is the second book in the series.



    ABOUT THE BOOK







    Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?



    If you would like to read an excerpt of Digitalis, go HERE.

    My Review:
    I thought this was a good romantic suspense book. It is the second book in the Discarded Heroes series. It can stand alone. The book drew me in and held my attention until the end. Colton and Piper do not have an easy time of it.  Colton is a member of Nightshade, a secret group that performs military like missions under the radar. He does that instead of being in the military anymore because of some serious PTSD. I felt really bad for him especially as he has the flashbacks. The action is great and descriptions seem pretty real. You can tell the author put in a lot of research. The characters feel real and I cared about what happened next. The plot was interesting and definitely unique. I look forward to reading the other team members stories. Recommended. :)

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    What's On Your Nightstand? January 25, 2011





    What's On Your Nightstand is a monthly meme hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the fourth Tuesday of every month. http://www.5minutesforbooks.com/

    It seems like every month I say how overwhelmed I am and this month is no different. The first picture are my review books. The others are mostly Steeple Hill books and the last picture are books I have from the library. I actually have more books in TBR that are not pictured. One of my goals for this year is balance. I have cut back on the number of review books I accept and I am trying to read at least one book from my old TBR every month. I am also buying a lot less especially the Steeple Hill lines. Its just too much and I love being a book reviewer. Last year I had a major reading slump and every time I try to read large amounts of books I get depressed so I am being more careful in what I read.  I am also possibly going back to school and taking a lot of Internet classes staring in April so I will have to change most of my habits. Getting fit and healthy has to remain a priority so working out takes a lot of my time.  I joined a lot of reading challenges and my goal is still 250 for the year. The first month is almost over and I have finished 12 books. Whew! I am trying to read a little every night so off to get ready for tomorrow and read a little. :)

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    It's Monday What Are You Reading? January 24, 2011

    This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
    http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

    What I read last week:
    - Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon
    - Digitalis by Ronie Kendig

    What I am currently reading:
    - Made to Crave, Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God not Food by Lysa Terkeurst
    - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumos
    - Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
    - The Ocean in the Closet by Yuko Taniguchi
    - Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

    What I am reading next:
    - Never Been Kissed by Melody Carlson
    Reviews I posted last week:
    http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2011/01/fatal-judgment-by-irene-hannon-review.html
    http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2011/01/double-shot-by-erynn-mangum-review.html

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    The Sunday Salon January 23, 2011

    The Sunday Salon.com

    * This weekend has flown by so quick.

    * Bloggiesta Ole! is this weekend and I have not accomplished as much as I wanted too.

    * I have written a review, cleaned out my email, cleaned out my google reader, and written this post. I need to update my sidebar for reading challenges and write some more book reviews. I am not sure how much I will do.

    * Friday my ears were acting up again and I have no idea what is wrong with them. When I talk it feels like I am in a tunnel and it echoes. I missed some of my workouts last week because of it and I am not a happy camper.

    * Saturday I cleaned in the morning and that afternoon had my hair cut then ran errands. That night I went to Pie Works and had bread sticks, salad, and pizza with my Dad, Sister, and Grandmother. Ick on calories again. I love pizza and its my favorite food but I think I need to cut back on it. lol

    * Today I have cleaned the house some, read some, blogged some, and eaten way too much. I do not know what it is about being at home all day that makes me want to eat. It's awful. My ears are acting up again after not doing it yesterday. I really hope I can do my workouts this week and get off these extra calories. It is common sense to just not eat them in the first place but that is easier said than done sometimes. Besides I have never had a lot of common sense. :) I really do not want to look like I did before or worse. Motivation is getting harder and harder to do what it takes. I need a permanent lifestyle change for it to stick.

    * Book wise I have read two books this weekend and I hope to finish a third tonight. Reading goal wise I am doing okay. I have not really gotten into the Count of Monte Cristo yet so I am a little behind on it but I built a little leeway time in so its still okay. I checked a lot of nutrition books out of the library so maybe I will practice some of the information I learn.

    * I hope everyone has a great week and lots of reading time. :)

    Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon (Review)

  • Paperback: 330 pages



  • Publisher: Revell (January 1, 2011)



  • ISBN-13: 978-0800734565


  • From the Back Cover

    "Extraordinary writing . . . a not-to-be-missed reading experience."--RT Book Reviews on Against All Odds (4½ stars, Top Pick)  

    U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward the cold hearted workaholic haven't warmed in the five years since she drove her husband--and Jake's best friend--to despair . . . and possible suicide.
     
    As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, he's forced to revise his opinion of her. And when it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in danger.
     
    Full of suspense and romance, Fatal Judgment is a thrilling story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

    My Review:
    This is the first book in the new Guardians of Justice series. It is a Christian romantic suspense book. The first part of the book had more romance than suspense but it was still a good book. I read the book quickly and was caught up in the characters and their lives. I did think the romance between  Jake and Liz developed a little quick in the beginning. It could have used more development. My one pet peeve was the four instances of using a phrase saying that the character used a bad word. I think the book would have been just fine without it especially since it did not fit the male Christian character from a previous story. I liked the plot and characters and the writing was good. I have read many of this author's books and liked them. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.  Overall a good book that I recommend. :)


    About The Author:

    Irene Hannon is the author of more than 25 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm's Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.

    For more information about Irene and her books, visit her website at http://www.irenehannon.com/

    You can read an excerpt of Fatal Judgement here (in PDF format)

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

    Thank you Donna at Revell for my review copy.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Rereading Quote and list of what I have reread

    "Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are’ is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread."

    - François Mauriac


    I have reread lots of books in my life. I love to reread I just don't have as much time as I used to. Here is a list of books I can remember rereading several times. I wonder what they say about me?

    1. The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett
    2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
    3. The entire Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery
    4. The Hawk and Jewel by Lori Wick
    5. The entire O'Malley series by Dee Henderson ( all of her books actually)
    6. The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
    7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (most of her books too)
    8. Every Storm by Lori Wick
    9. the What A Girl Wants series by Kristin Billerbeck
    10. The Canopy by Angela Hunt
    11. The McAllister Files series by Patricia Rushford and Harrison James
    12. The Angel Delaney series by Patricia Rushford
    13. The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi
    14. The Midtown Blue series by F. P. Lione
    15. Summer of My German Solider by Bette Greene
    16. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
    17. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    18. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

    Bloggiesta Ole! 2011



    Natasha of MawBooks is hosting this at http://blog.mawbooks.com/

    Brittanie:
    I have so much work I need to do to my blog that I have been putting off. I plan on doing some reviews, updating my reading challenges on my sidebar, and possibly finding a new template. I have to work tomorrow so I will not be able to do anything until Friday night. I have a lot to do this weekend so I plan to work on the blog for a while then accomplish something else and then come back. :)

    It’s already time for the fourth edition of Bloggiesta! Are you a blogger? (With apologies to those who are not).  If so, this event is just for you! Bloggiesta is scheduled for January 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. The beginning of the year is a great time to evaluate your blog, see how you’re doing, and get re-energized for the rest of the year!

    Some of you may be asking what is Bloggiesta? In short, it’s a blogging marathon.  A opportunity to cross those nagging items off of your to-do list and improve your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Our awesome mascot Pedro (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize) is ready to break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two!  It’s nothing short of an awesome fiesta!

    How to play:

    1. The date is Friday, January 21st  Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd. You can really start whenever you want within that time but official hours are 8am to 8am (wherever you are).  That is a total of 76 hours, the hours spent on the challenge do NOT need to be in a row. Use the entire 76 hour time frame and see what you can do with it.
    2. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it.  But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge. So stay up all night or sleep and take care of kids when you need to.
    3. When you start the challenge, come to this blog and  to the “starting line” post and link to your specific post about beginning the challenge which is posted on your blog. That way I’ll be able to track participants and know who’s really at the party.
    4. How many updates (if any) you want to do is up to you.  Make it work for you.  Personally, I like making a to do list and then crossing off items as I accomplish them.  There will be bloggers hosting mini-challenges as well.  These are great to learn new information.  To get an idea of the mini-challenges last time, check out the list.
    5. If you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #bloggiesta to join the chatter.
    6. Your final summary post needs to be posted no later than end of the day Monday, January 24th. Come back to the finish line and link to your specific summary post (again- can be that same post you’ve been updating).  Your summary should include the number of hours spent on the challenge, what you accomplished, links to mini-challenge hosts if you completed them and any other experiences you’d like to add.
    7. Sign the Mr. Linky now if you intend to join the fiest so I have an idea of how many people are participating. Subscribe to this blog, so you’ll be notified of  future bloggiesta posts.
    Go here to sign up:
    http://blog.mawbooks.com/2010/12/12/mark-your-calendars-for-the-4th-edition-of-bloggiesta/

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Angel Harp by Michael Phillips


    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Angel Harp
    FaithWords (January 26, 2011)
    by
    Michael Phillips






    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





    Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.



    ABOUT THE BOOK



    Widowed at 34, amateur harpist Marie "Angel" Buchan realizes at 40 that her life and dreams are slowly slipping away. A summer in Scotland turns out to offer far more than she ever imagined! Not only does the music of her harp capture the fancy of the small coastal village she visits, she is unexpectedly drawn into a love triangle involving the local curate and the local duke.



    The boyhood friends have been estranged as adults because of their mutual love of another woman (now dead) some years before. History seems destined to repeat itself, with Marie in the thick of it. Her involvement in the lives of the two men, as well as in the community, leads to a range of exciting relationships and lands Marie in the center of the mystery of a long-unsolved local murder. Eventually she must make her decision: with whom will she cast the lot of her future?



    If you would like to read the first chapter of Angel Harp, go HERE

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Another Great Quote on Reading


    “Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.”

    - Barbara Kingsolver

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Double Shot by Erynn Mangum (Review)

     


  • Paperback: 288 pages



  • Publisher: NavPress; 1 edition (October 29, 2010)



  • ISBN-13: 978-1615215492

  • From the Back Cover:

    Now that Maya Davis is engaged to her longtime friend and sweetheart, Jack, there should be no more worrying about the future, no more questioning God. Everything should be perfect, right? Actually, it’s just the opposite: Things are complicated. Where are they going to live? What kind of wedding do they want?

    And when Jack is offered a once-in-a-lifetime job in Seattle, things begin to unravel even more. Can Maya trust that God is in control even when things seem to be a disastrous mess?

    My Review:
    I loved this book. I can't believe this series is over. Double Shot is the third book in the Maya Davis series. It can stand alone but I recommend the entire series. I love all of this author's books. She has a great sense of humor which is trademark in all her books. There are a lot of humorous lines in the book which had me laughing. Although it can be classified as Christian Chick Lit there are spiritual lessons in the book like trusting God no matter what happens and learning to accept His will for our lives in it. Maya and Jack are about to get married but life is never that easy. The hurdles they face are ones we might face too like job changes. The characters literally come off the page and are real to us.  The characters and plot are interesting and unique. If you have read the whole series this book ties everything up nicely. I can't wait to read the next Erynn Mangum book. Highly recommended. :)

    About the author:

    Erynn Mangum plans her life around caffeine, but when she’s not tipping the coffee mug, she’s spending time with her husband, Jon, who she met and married since writing Miss Match, ReMatch, and Match Point. She also has a new baby boy named Nathan. She’s a graduate of both Christian Writers Guild courses.


    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    It's Monday What Are You Reading? January 17, 2011

    This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
    http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

    What I read last week:
    - The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher
    - Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer
    - Food Rules by Michael Pollan
    - Just as I Am by Virginia Smith
    - Sincerely, Mayla by Virginia Smith
    - Double Shot by Erynn Mangum

    What I am currently reading:
    - Made to Crave, Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God not Food by Lysa Terkeurst
    - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumos
    - Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
    - The Ocean in the Closet by Yuko Taniguchi

    What I am reading next:
    - Never Been Kissed by Melody Carlson
    - Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon
    - Digitalis by Ronie Kendig
    - Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Foodie Challenge January

    Joanna at http://lostinagoodstory.blogspot.com/ came up with this great idea.

    Whip up something new! is a monthly challenge for the many of of us who promise ourselves that we'll try new recipes and yet we end up cooking the same old things. Although it was inspired by organising those ripped/cut out recipes, if you don't have such a pile of paper to sift through, feel free to make something from one of your cookbooks or from the hundreds of fabulous cooking blogs. The point is to try cooking new things!


    This is how it works -

    Each month, you are asked to make (at least) one dish from a recipe that is new to you and to blog about it, whether it was delicious or not-so-much. The person who is hosting the challenge that month (yes, we have a rotation going on!) will make an introductory post with the possibility of leaving a link to the new recipe posts. The host chooses how to do this and will also do a wrap-up post at the end of their month. Other than that, they can run the challenge any way they wish during the month they're hosting, including mini-challenges and related events

    This is perfect for me. I am challenging myself to cook at least one homemade meal a week and hopefully try out new healthy recipes. Last week I made Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas using a McCormick Spice kit. It turned out good but if I make it again I will cut back on the amount of lime and orange juice used in it.  I am going to type up the recipe but you can buy the spices pre measured with the recipe at the store.

    Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas
    1 tsp. minced garlic
    1 tsp. minced onions
    3/4 tsp. ground cumin
    3/4 tsp. oregano leaves
    1/2 tsp. cilantro leaves ( I left out because I do not like this spice)
    1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
    1/4 cup each lime and orange juice
    2 tbsp. olive oil
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast cut into thin strips
    1 medium green or red bell pepper cut into thin strips ( I used red and yellow)
    1 medium onion thinly sliced
    8 flour tortillas ( I used whole wheat and they tasted good)

    Directions:
    1. Mix juices, oil, all of the spices and salt in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade. Place chicken in plastic bag or glass dish. Add remaining marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
    2. Cook and stir chicken in large heated skillet on medium high heat three minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet. Add bell pepper, onion, and reserved marinade. Cook and stir five minutes or until tender. Return chicken to skillet. Cook two to three minutes or until heated through.
    3. Spoon heated chicken mixture into heated tortillas. Serve with assorted toppings if desired. I used 2% Cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese, spinach leaves, salsa, and tomatoes.

    Love this quote on reading

    “Reading great books and reading them well is what is important. Meditative reading, reading which stops and ponders, reading which sees deep into reality—that is the kind of reading which profits. That kind of reading should never end for you. Growth and stimulation and transformation will never end for you. You will be in the company of the greatest minds and hearts for the rest of your life, and you will become their peers if you read for understanding and for life.”

    - John Piper, on the sanctifying power of books

    Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer





    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Courting Miss Amsel
    Bethany House (January 1, 2011)
    by
    Kim Vogel Sawyer






    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



    Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.





    ABOUT THE BOOK



    Edythe Amsel is delighted with her first teaching assignment: a one-room schoolhouse in Walnut Hill, Nebraska. Independent, headstrong, and a strong believer in a well-rounded education, Edythe is ready to open the world to the students in this tiny community. But is Walnut Hill ready for her?



    Joel Townsend is thrilled to learn the town council hired a female teacher to replace the ruthless man who terrorized his nephews for the past two years. Having raised the boys on his own since their parents' untimely deaths, Joel believes they will benefit from a woman's influence. But he sure didn't bargain on a woman like Miss Amsel.



    Within the first week, she has the entire town up in arms over her outlandish teaching methods, which include collecting leaves, catching bugs, making snow angels, and stringing ropes in strange patterns all over the schoolyard. Joel can't help but notice that she's also mighty pretty with her rosy lips, fashionable clothes, and fancy way of speaking.



    When Edythe decides to take her pupils to hear Miss Susan Anthony speak on the women's suffrage amendment, the town's outcry reaches new heights. Even Joel isn't sure he can support her newfangled ideas any longer. And if he can't trust her to know how to teach the boys, how can he trust her with his heart?



    If you would like to read the first chapter of Courting Miss Amsel, go HERE.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    It's Monday What Are You Reading? January 10, 2011

    This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
    http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

    What I read last week:
    - The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
    - The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher
    - A Woman and her Workplace by Rosemary Flaaten

    What I am currently reading:
    - The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher
    - Made to Crave, Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God not Food by Lysa Terkeurst
    - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumos

    What I am reading next:
    - Courting Miss Amsel by Kim  Vogel Sawyer
    - Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Series Challenge Season Five

    The Series Challenge Season Five is hosted by Kathrin at Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic.
    http://secretdreamworldofabookaholic.blogspot.com/2010/11/announcement-series-challenge-season-5.html

    The rules:1) The challenge starts January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011.

    2) You must read 3 or more books for this challenge.

    3) With these books, you should finish the series or at least be up to date with it.

    4) Crossovers with other challenges are perfectly alright, as are re-reads.

    5) Post a review on your blog and leave a link at the post I will set up on January 1, so I can keep track and others might find new series to enjoy.

    6) Have fun!

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

    Almost finished, really liking it so far. :)



    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    The Girl in the Gatehouse
    Bethany House (January 1, 2011)
    by
    Julie Klassen




    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



    Julie says: My background is in advertising and marketing, but I am blessed with a dream job—working as an editor of Christian fiction. I have been writing since childhood, but Lady of Milkweed Manor was my first novel. It was a finalist for a Christy Award and won second place in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards. My second novel, The Apothecary's Daughter, was a finalist in the ACFW Book of the Year awards. I am currently writing one novel a year.



    I graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoy travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends.



    My husband and I have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.







    ABOUT THE BOOK






    Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret.



    Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made.



    When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?



    If you would like to read the first chapter of The Girl in the Gatehouse, go HERE

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Christian Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011


    I am signing up for another challenge. I read quite a few Christian historical fiction books last year and I have a lot on my TBR shelves so hopefully this will get some of them off. :)

    1. The goal is to read and promote Christian Historical Fiction by reading at least 24 titles. That is two per month, but anyone who wants to commit to more or less is welcome to join in on the fun. Anyone can join. You do not need a blog to participate (for more details on how to participate without a blog just ask…). Now we have www.ChristianHistoricalFiction.com to promote discussion.

    2. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, and other formats are all allowed. As long as the book can by purchased it counts.

    3. Feel free to list a proposed lists of TBR (to-be-reads) but you can also list them as you go.

    4. Duplicates from other reading challenges can also count.

    5. Challenge begins January 1st through December 31st. Books started before count. *wink*

    Reading Challenge Addict


    This is a great challenge for me. At last count I have joined 28 reading challenges for this year. Yikes! I guess that means I will be signing up for the Out of This World level. lol I can't wait to see how many I actually finish at the end of the year. :)


    I am a Reading Challenge Addict.

    So we are challenging each of you who can also say that you also are a Reading Challenge Addict.

    We'll be giving away quarterly prizes and recognizing those who are meeting their own expectations by completing the challenges they've entered.

    How addicted are you?

    Easy as Pie: 1-5 Challenges (Entered & Completed)
    On the Roof: 6-10 Challenges (Entered & Completed)
    In Flight: 11-15 Challenges (Entered & Completed)
    Out of This World: 16+ Challenges (Entered & Completed)

    Rules:
    We're not making this a difficult challenge, actually, it's going to be very simple!
    This challenge will begin on January 1, 2011 and end on December 31, 2011.
    Write a starting post joining the challenge and outlining your challenges.
    Track all of your challenge accomplishments - good & bad.
    Stop by to join us in the mini-challenges, updates & extra giveaways throughout the year./li>

    http://readingchallengeaddict.blogspot.com/p/about.html

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Unexpected Love by Andrea Boeshaar

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

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


    Today's Wild Card author is:


    and the book:

    Realms (January 4, 2011)
    ***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


    In addition to writing, Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at conferences such as: Write-To-Publish American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Oregon Christian Writers Conference, Mount Hermon Writers Conference, and many other writers’ conferences. Andrea is also co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on the advisory board and was also CEO of the ACFW.


    Visit the author's website.

    Product Details:

    List Price: $12.99
    Paperback: 304 pages
    Publisher: Realms (January 4, 2011)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1616381922
    ISBN-13: 978-1616381929

    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


    Chicago, Illinois, September 4, 1866


    Do you think he’ll live, Dr. Hamilton?” The gray-haired man with bushy whiskers pondered the question for several moments, chewing on his thick lips as he weighed his reply. “Yes, I think he will,” he finally said. “Of course, he’s not out of the woods yet, but it seems he’s coming around.”


    Lorenna Fields breathed a sigh of relief. It had been two whole days with nary a sign of life from this half-drowned man, but finally—finally—he showed signs of improvement.


    “You’ve done a good job with this patient, Nurse Fields.” The physician drew himself up to his full height, which barely met Renna’s five feet six inches. “I don’t think he’d be alive today if you hadn’t given him such extraordinary care.”


    “Thank you, Dr. Hamilton, but it was the Lord who spared this man and the Lord who gave me the strength and skill to nurse him.” The old physician snorted in disgust. “Yes, well, it might have had something to do with the fact that you’ve got a brain in your

    head, Nurse Fields, and the fact that you used it too, I might add!”


    Renna smiled inwardly. Dr. Hamilton always disliked it when she gave God the credit for any medical advancement, especially the miracles. Yet Renna’s intelligence and experience weren’t typical of women her age, and she determined to use them to God’s glory.


    The patient moaned, his head moving from side to side.


    “Easy now, Mr. Blackeyes.” Renna placed a hand on the man’s muscular shoulder. “It’s all right.” She picked up the fever rag from out of the cold water, wrung it once, and set it on the patient’s burning brow.


    Dr. Hamilton snorted again, only this time in amusement. “Mr. Blackeyes? How in the world did you come by that name, Nurse Fields?”


    She blushed but replied in all honesty. “It’s his eyes, Doctor. They’re as black as pitch and as shiny as polished stones. And since we don’t know his true identity, I’ve named him Mr. Blackeyes.”


    “I see.” Dr. Hamilton could barely contain his laughter.


    “Well, I had to call him something now, didn’t I?” She wrung the fever cloth more tightly.


    “Ah, yes, I suppose you did.” Dr. Hamilton gathered his instruments and put them into his black leather medical bag. “Well, carry on, Nurse Fields.” He sounded tired. “If your patient’s fever doesn’t break by morning, send for me at once. However, I think

    it will, especially since we got some medicine and chicken broth into him tonight.”


    Renna nodded while the old man waved over his shoulder as he left the hospital ward.


    Returning her attention to her patient, Renna saw that he slept for the moment. His blue-black hair, which had just a slight wave to it, shone beneath the dampness of the fever. The stifling late summer heat of the room threatened to bring his temperature even higher.


    Wiping a sleeve across her own beaded brow, Renna continued to sponge down her patient. Poor Mr. Blackeyes had been found floating in Lake Michigan after a terrible storm the past Sunday. The crew of the passing ship that found him had thought he was dead at first. But they pulled him aboard anyway. The ship’s doctor immediately examined him and detected a heartbeat, so he cared for him until the ship docked in Chicago’s harbor. As soon as the sailors could manage it, Mr. Blackeyes was deposited at Mercy Hospital and admitted to the second floor and into Renna’s care. Now, two days later, he finally showed some improvement.


    Pulling the fever rag from the round porcelain bowl filled with cool water, Renna replaced it carefully across Mr. Blackeyes’s forehead. She could tell this man was different from the usual “unknowns” that the hospital acquired. His dark features somehow implied sophistication, even through several days’ growth of beard. And his powerful broad shoulders and muscular arms indicated the strength of a man accustomed to lifting or hoisting. And he was handsome, all right. A lady’s man, no doubt.


    “But who are you, Mr. Blackeyes?” Renna murmured, gazing down at him.


    As if in reply, the man groaned.


    Renna settled him once more and then slowly stood. She forced her mind to dwell on her other patients as she made her rounds through the sick ward, a large room with whitewashed walls and a polished marble floor. Eight beds, four on each side, were neatly lined in rows, leaving a wide area in the center of the ward.


    Moving from bed to bed, Renna checked each patient, thankful that this ward wasn’t full: only Mr. Anderson, suffering from a farming accident in which he lost his left arm; Mr. Taylor, who had had pneumonia but had recovered and would soon be released;

    and, finally, young John Webster, who had been accidentally shot in the chest by his brother. It appeared the wounded young man wouldn’t live through the night, and his family had gathered around him, his mother weeping.


    Taking pity on the Webster family, Renna set up several wooden screens to allow them some privacy. Then she checked on John. She could see death settling in. She was somewhat accustomed to the sight, as she’d trained in a Union military hospital in Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. Still, watching a life slip away never got easier. But in this case Renna took heart that the Websters were people with a strong faith. Young John would soon go home to be with his Savior.


    “Can I get anything for you, Mrs. Webster?” Renna asked the boy’s mother now.


    A tall, very capable-looking woman, she shook her head. Several brunette curls tumbled from their bun.


    Renna asked the same thing of the boy’s brother and father, but both declined.


    “I didn’t mean ter shoot ’im, Ma!” the brother declared. He suddenly began to sob.


    “Aw, I know ya didn’t mean it, son,” Mrs. Webster replied through her own tears. “It was an accident. That anyone can see!”


    “Tell it to Jesus, boy.” His father’s eyes were red, his jaw grizzled. “Give the matter to Christ, just like we done gave John over to Him.”


    Renna’s heart was with the family, but she suddenly felt like an intruder. The Websters needed their privacy. Stepping back, she gave them each a sympathetic smile before moving away.


    Walking to the other side of the room now, Renna sat down on the edge of Mr. Blackeyes’s bed and sponged him down again. Afterward, she checked his head wound—nearly a three-inch gash above his left ear. It had needed to be sutured, and Dr. Hamilton

    had seen to that when Mr. Blackeyes was first admitted. “Unknown Male” was the name on his chart. Most “unknowns” didn’t survive, so Renna was heartened that Mr. Blackeyes’s prognosis seemed promising.


    Now if only his fever would break. If only he’d regain consciousness and pneumonia wouldn’t set in.


    Momentarily closing her eyes, Renna prayed for God’s healing of this man. She had been praying earnestly for the last week. Why she felt so burdened for him, she couldn’t say, but she was.


    Suddenly an abrupt command broke her thoughts. “Nurse Fields? Nurse Fields, you may go. I’m on duty now.”


    Renna glanced at the doorway where Nurse Rutledge, the night nurse who was also her supervisor, stood. A large woman with beady, dark eyes, she had a no-nonsense way about her. That same stern disposition kept her lips in a perpetual frown.


    “As usual, your charts are in order.”


    Was that a hint of a smile? Renna guessed not.


    “You’re excused.”


    Renna replied with a nod. She didn’t dislike the night supervisor, although she wasn’t fond of the woman’s overbearing manner. Still, Nurse Rutledge was in charge. “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll just finish up here, and then I’ll be on my way.”


    The older woman came up alongside her. “The first rule in nursing is, do not get emotionally attached to your patients. You know that.”


    Renna rinsed the fever rag once more and draped it across Mr. Blackeyes’s forehead. “I’m not getting emotionally attached.” Renna felt her conscience prick. “I’m just . . . well, I’m burdened for this man. In the spiritual sense.”


    “Humph! Call it what you will, Nurse Fields, but I happen to think you’re much too emotional and far too sensitive. It’s a wonder you’ve lasted in nursing this long. Why, I heard from the other nurses on duty today that you were crying with the Webster

    family over their boy.” She sniffed in what seemed like disgust. “A nurse must never let her emotions get in the way of her duty, Nurse Fields.”


    “Yes, ma’am.” Renna endured the rebuke. She’d heard it many times before.


    Nurse Rutledge squared her wide shoulders. “Now, may I suggest that you leave your burden right here in this hospital bed and go home and get some rest? You’re due back here at six a.m., and I’ll expect you promptly!”


    Renna nodded. Then, with a backward glance at Mr. Blackeyes, she left the sick ward. She gathered her things and made her way to the hospital’s main entrance. Outside, she paused and breathed deeply. The air was thick and humid, but it was free from the chloroform and antiseptics that she’d smelled all day.


    She spied a hired hackney, and within minutes, Renna rode the mile to the home she shared with her parents. She was the oldest child in the family, but at the age of thirty, Renna was what society termed “a spinster.” Her two younger sisters were married and

    producing children galore, and her one younger brother and his wife were now expecting their first baby.


    Renna loved all her nieces and nephews. They filled her empty arms when she wasn’t nursing, and Jesus filled her heart. Time and time again, however, Renna was asked by a young niece or nephew, “Why didn’t you ever get married, Auntie Renna?” And

    her reply was always, “I never fell in love.”


    But the truth of the matter was no man would have her—even if she had fallen in love. The large purplish birthmark on the left side of her face deterred every eligible bachelor. The unsightly thing came down her otherwise flawless cheek to the side of her

    nose and then around down to her jaw, like an ugly purple horseshoe branded into her face. One would think she’d be accustomed to the gawks, stares, and pitying glances sent her way at social functions, but they unnerved her. All dressed up and looking her

    prettiest, Renna still felt marred and uncomely under the scrutiny of her peers—especially when she was in the company of eligible men to whom she was supposed to be attractive and charming. Renna never felt she was either of those.


    Nursing, however, was different. In the hospital Renna felt confident of her abilities. Moreover, her patients were usually too sick or in too much pain to be concerned with her ugly birthmark.


    Rather, they just wanted her care and sensitivity, and that’s what Renna thought she did best . . . in spite of what Nurse Rutledge said about her being too emotional and too sensitive. God in all His grace had given Renna a wondrous work in nursing, and it pleased her to be used in that way. What more could she want? And yet lately—lately Renna desired something more. Was it a sin to feel discontented after so many happy years of nursing?


    The carriage stopped in front of Renna’s house. She climbed out, paid the driver, and then turned to open the little white gate of the matching picket fence around the front yard. A slight breeze blew, and Renna thought it felt marvelous after her sweltering day on the second floor of the hospital.


    “Well, there you are, dear.” Her mother, Johanna Fields, stood with a pair of shears in her hand. She had obviously been pruning the flowers that graced the edge of the wide front porch. “You’re late tonight, Renna.” She studied her daughter. “Mr. Blackeyes? Is he . . . ?”


    “He’s still alive.” She stepped toward her mother. “Dr. Hamilton thinks he may even live, except he has an awful fever now. We’re hoping it breaks by morning and thatpneumonia doesn’t set in.”


    “Oh, dear . . . ” Mum shook her head sadly. “Well, we’ll keep praying, won’t we?”


    Renna gave a nod before Mum hooked arms and led her into the house.


    “I’ve made a light dinner tonight, Renna. Help yourself.”


    “I appreciate it, but I’m too tired to eat.”


    “But you need some nourishment.” Mum fixed a plate of cold beef, sliced tomatoes, and a crusty roll. “Here, sit down at the table.”


    Renna allowed her mother to help her into the chair. After one bite she realized how ravenous she was and cleaned the plate. Minutes later her sister Elizabeth walked in with her twin daughters, Mary and Helena. Delight spread through Renna as the girls toddled into the kitchen.


    “Hello, darlings.” She gave each a hug before smiling up at her younger sister.


    “Renna, you look exhausted.” Elizabeth shook her head vehemently, causing strands of her light brown hair to escape their pinning. “You’ll be old before your time.”


    “And what would you have me do? Sit around the house all day, twiddling my thumbs?” Seeing her sister’s injured expression, she softened her voice. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m more tired than I thought.”


    Elizabeth smiled. “All’s forgiven.”


    Renna struggled to her feet. Her entire body ached from her long shift. “I’ll have to visit another time. I’m going up to bed.”


    After bidding everyone a good night, Renna climbed the steps leading to the second floor. In her small bedroom she poured water from the large pitcher on her bureau into the chamber basin and then washed away the day’s heat. She pulled her cool, cotton nightgown over her head then took her Bible off the nightstand and continued her reading in John chapter 9. Renna realized as she read that physical ailments allowed God to show His glory, and she marveled as she read about the blind man who by simple faith and obedience regained his sight.


    She bowed her head. Oh, Lord, that You might heal Mr. Black-eyes. That You might show Your power to those who don’t believe by healing him. Renna paused to remember her other patients then. And please rain down Your peace that passeth all understanding on the Websters tonight.


    Despite the fact her eyelids threatened to close, Renna finished her Bible reading. She turned down the lamp as a breeze ruffled the curtains. Somehow Renna knew that John Webster would not be in her sick ward tomorrow morning. Nor would his family be there. Somehow Renna knew that John was with the Savior already.


    But Mr. Blackeyes . . . why, he might not be a believer. It pained Renna to think of him spending an eternity apart from God.


    Please heal him, Lord, she prayed as she crawled into bed. She allowed her eyes to finally shut, and the darkly handsome stranger who lay fighting for his life was the last person on Renna’s thoughts as she drifted off to sleep.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    It's Monday What Are You Reading? January 3, 2011


    This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
    http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

    What I read last week:
    - Yuletide Defender by Sandra Robbins
    - The Christmas Rescue by Laura Scott
    - Christmas Bodyguard by Margaret Daley

    What I am currently reading:
    - The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
    - Uncertain Heart by Andrea Boeshaar
    - Love Food Live Well by Chantel Hobbs

    What I am reading next:
    - Unexpected Love by Andrea Boeshaar
    - Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer
    - The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher
    - The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher

    Reading the Classics 2011 Challenge

    classics

    Butterfly Wishes is hosting the Reading the Classics 2011 challenge at
    http://butterflywishesformygirls.blogspot.com/2011/01/reading-classics-reading-challenge.html

    I am signing up as it fits one of my goals to read more classics this year. I want to read at least six including The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexdandre Dumas. :)


    -Starts January 1, 2011 and Ends December 31, 2011

    -Can be any Classic book, books from other challenges count as long as they are classics (so Jane Austen count towards your reading classics list)
    -Read as many or as few as you'd like no set limit.
    -Don't have a blog then just post your list in the comment box or email your list and I'll post it here.
    -Monthly Check Ins (amy I'm stealing your idea hope you don't mind)
    -You can even use classic books as read alouds to include your kids if you want.

    Love Food and Live Well by Chantel Hobbs

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

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


    Today's Wild Card author is:


    and the book:

    WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2010)
    ***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


    Chantel Hobbs is a life coach, marathon runner, personal trainer, wife, and mother of four. Her amazing story of losing two hundred pounds and keeping the weight off has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, Life Today with James Robison, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family Radio—and in People and First magazines. Hobbs hosts a weekly radio show and is the on-air fitness expert on the WAY-FM radio network. She is also a regular guest on the KLOVE radio network. Hobbs is a frequent speaker to women’s groups and makes personal appearances at fitness conventions. The developer of The One-Day Way Learning System and the author of four books, including Never Say Diet and The One-Day Way, Chantel lives with her family in south Florida.

    Visit the author's website.

    Product Details:

    List Price: $19.99
    Hardcover: 240 pages
    Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1 edition (December 14, 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0307457842
    ISBN-13: 978-0307457844

    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


    The Battle over Blue Jeans


    People, Here Is My Deal!


    For as long as I can remember, I have loved clothes and makeup. Even when I weighed close to 350 pounds, I experimented with trendy hairstyles while checking out the latest plus-size fashion catalogs.


    When I was in elementary school, I would spend afternoons with my sister Christy, sitting on the floor of the closet in the decked-out pink bedroom we shared. This was a supersized closet where we would set up our Barbie dolls for fashion shows. Because I had blond hair and Christy was a brunette, it was only natural for me to pretend to be Barbie and her to be Skipper, Barbie’s little sister. At least that’s how I sold the idea to Christy. As we grew up and began to put our dolls away, I still enjoyed being prissy, often spending way too much time in front of a mirror.


    Even as a young mother, I was a fashionista. I’ll never forget entering the hospital to have a scheduled cesarean to deliver my son Jake. I had spent the day before the delivery getting a pedicure and manicure and shopping for a matching nightgown set. Really, I did this! As I lay on the table in the operating room, the doctor arrived and started to chuckle. “Well, Chantel, I can see nothing about this is going to be a natural delivery.” All I could say was, “At least I left the false eyelashes at home.” I was only half kidding.


    One reason I went overboard with my appearance was because I loved hearing friends and family comment on how together I looked. Even while having a baby, I wanted to look great. But today, in hindsight, I feel seriously sorry for the woman I used to be. She was always exhausted from trying to maintain her unreal image. Plus, I knew deep down that I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself. My weight problem wasn’t going to vanish underneath fancy clothing and attempts to camouflage my problem areas. I really did know that owning an all-black wardrobe wouldn’t keep my body issues a secret.


    But back then I had convinced myself I needed to make a serious effort to look pretty from the neck up because I was too overweight for the rest of me to look decent. I rationalized that if I could highlight my best features, people would see my positive attributes and look past my greatest flaw: my obese body. At this point my life was one big head game.


    I’ll never forget the weekend I went on a business trip with my husband, Keith, to Bermuda. This was a dream coming true for someone who spent most days watching Barney and folding laundry. But when we started to pack, panic set in. Bermuda is one huge beach, and I knew I’d embarrass my husband if I wore a swimsuit in front of his bosses and work friends. On the other hand, this was Bermuda! It was a free trip and a chance to escape the zoo I called home!


    After we boarded the plane, I found my seat and immediately put a jacket over my waist. This was a trick I had learned from previous travel experiences, and it almost always worked. If I could hide where the seat belt was supposed to be, the flight attendant wouldn’t notice that mine was unbuckled. The truth is, I did this because I couldn’t connect the seat belt. I was too big around. This time, however, my system failed. As the attendant stopped by our row, she asked me to buckle my seat belt. As I struggled to latch it, she stood impatiently with one hand on her hip. I whispered that I was having trouble making it fit.


    So being the sensitive, tall, and freakishly thin woman she was, she shouted to her co-worker, “Could you look in one of the overhead compartments for a seat-belt extension?”


    I was mortified. I closed my eyes and tried to pretend the attendant was talking about someone else. A few moments later she handed me the hated seat-belt extension, and I fastened the thing as quickly as I could. I promise you, I could feel the pity of strangers as they witnessed my hame. But instead of shedding tears, I did what I had rehearsed in previous situations. I took a deep breath and grabbed Keith’s hand, squeezing it for dear life as the aircraft took off. My vacation is off to a great start, I told myself. I can’t wait to see what other embarrassing moments lie ahead.


    Surprisingly, our Bermuda trip ended up being the trip of a lifetime. The island was beautiful, the water was the clearest blue I had ever seen, and I felt beautiful for the entire week. Strangely, it was another young mother, the wife of one of Keith’s co-workers, who was mostly responsible.

    Each day I would get dolled up and make my entrance into the meeting room for the company’s group breakfast. This girl went out of her way to say something sincere and extraordinary about the way I looked, morning after morning. She would also ask me for fashion advice. By her looks, she didn’t need any, certainly none from me. Yet she still inquired and never in a condescending way.


    Best of all, she never breathed the dreaded words “You have such a pretty face.” The trip to Bermuda taught me the intense power we all have when we speak to someone, especially to a person who is feeling weak and vulnerable. Just by saying something simple and positive, we can brighten someone’s outlook, even if it’s only for a few seconds.


    For most of my life I had become accustomed to backhanded compliments. When it came to my weight and all my failed attempts to lose it, I had heard everything. I’d try yet another diet, and two weeks into it over and over I would hear from those around me, “Now keep up the good work.” And I would always think, Are you kidding? I’m trying here. Just tell me “good job,”

    and don’t worry about whether I lose another dad-gum pound. I get that you are letting me know I have a long way to go!


    Yet Another New Start


    Coming home from Bermuda, where I felt sincere acceptance, I had real hope. I felt different. I was relaxed, revived, and encouraged. I decided that I was ready to give weight loss another shot. As I set out to lose weight for the eighty-sixth time in my life, I felt prepared. I bought the latest diet book from Sam’s Club and a twelve-pack of muffins. I rationalized the muffin purchase by telling myself I needed to have one last hurrah.


    On Monday my plan was to go for it. I would try with everything in me not to let anything stand in my way. Of course, I didn’t see any need to crack open the new book I’d bought until the weekend was over! What would a few more days of indulgence hurt?


    Then Monday arrived, and I made my grand entrance at the gym. I even went back three days in a row. The only problem was that by the end of the week I was hanging out more than working out. I’d been trying to get David, the juice bar owner, to tell me his recipe for the yummy chocolate–peanut butter protein shake I was ordering every day. The first clue it wasn’t all that

    healthy should have been the chocolate syrup he poured in. But I told myself, if it’s made on gym property, how bad could it be?


    By the time the week ended, I had followed the plan in my recently purchased book and had my cheat day. Not surprisingly, I quickly indulged in an entire cheat weekend. However, I managed to get back to the gym the following Monday. The plan I was on was doable, and even with halfhearted efforts, I was slowly losing weight.


    After shedding about twenty pounds, I decided I needed some new clothes. This was kind of funny, especially since not one person had noticed that I had lost an ounce. As I said earlier, I’ve always loved fashion. But at this point, with my weight so high, I was stuck wearing mostly dresses and skirts. I just couldn’t face the prospect of trying to fit my behind into a pair of pants

    at Lane Bryant. But now, since I was feeling pretty good about myself and getting results, I headed over to the Coral Square Mall. I was there to hunt down a pair of blue jeans. Even if I had to lie down to zip them and not breathe while I wore them, I was determined to come home with new jeans.


    I picked up three pairs with plenty of stretch to take into the dressing room. Once the door was closed, though, no amount of sucking it in, squeezing hard, or holding my breath got the jeans up to my waist. I couldn’t make any of them fit. As I held the jeans up and looked in the mirror, I wondered how anyone could stand to look at me. I was a disgusting blob of pain and misery.


    I had left home that day feeling good about my progress. I was finally losing some weight. But after a few minutes in a dressing room, I wanted to die. How had I let myself become this pathetic mess of a woman?


    A few Cinnabons later I went home. Two weeks after my blue jean horror show, I found out I was expecting. A month into the pregnancy I miscarried due to a badly infected gallbladder, and I ended up having emergency surgery. I wondered if I would ever change my life or if I would die first. Death seemed like perhaps the only escape out of this prison.


    About six months later I had an unforgettable encounter with God. I was alone in my car, driving home from a meeting. I had reached my lowest point ever, and I let God in. I had known Him for years, ever since I had been saved from an eternity separated from Him. As a little girl in Sunday school, I had asked Jesus into my heart to save me from my sins. What I needed now, as a desperate, hurting, damaged woman, was to be saved from myself. I was still trying to run my own life.


    God had whispered my name through many embarrassing moments and hurtful situations; I just never answered. But that night, alone in my car, He finally got through to me. I experienced a supernatural intervention. And it compels me now to tell my friends, my clients, and my readers my Lazarus story.


    An Incredible Second Chance


    Remember the story of Lazarus in the Bible? When Jesus brought him back from the dead, and we’re talking dead as a doornail (he was four-days dead), I imagine all he wanted was to blow a trumpet and tell the world about his miracle. Today I feel a similar kind of zeal resulting from my own miracle. As I surrendered all the pain of my lifelong weight problem to God, my heart

    began a major shift. God gave me a deep desire to go to work. For the first time, I took on the task of losing the weight with Him in charge. I was no longer alone as I had been in the past. By allowing God, who never breaks a promise, to give me the strength, self-control, and focus I needed, how could I fail?


    Ten years later I am on the same course He set for my life that night. My life is still filled with unexpected moments, both tragedies and celebrations. But I have never looked back.


    After going on to lose two hundred pounds, I designed my own fitness and weight-loss program and became a certified Spinning teacher, personal trainer, and marathon runner. I love feeling strong, being healthy, and knowing I’m not a slave to my former appetites. Often I run into people I haven’t seen in many years. They may have known me as the overweight girl with a

    pretty face. And if I dare to attempt a reacquaintance, I am usually in for a good laugh.


    I’ll never forget one woman from a church I attended years earlier. I ran into her at the grocery store and tried to convince her who I was. “You aren’t really Chantel from West Lauderdale Baptist,” she insisted. I tried to get her to believe it was me, just an improved version. I think she finally accepted the truth, but it took awhile.


    I am proud of the woman I have worked to become. However, I am most thankful that God rescued me from a place where I had lost all hope. God’s care for me and His work in my life give me the strength to stay on course. Now, after writing four books and producing a learning system for weight loss and fitness, I can see that God continues to use me as a voice of real-life

    experience. A big part of my message is this: let me help you stop sabotaging yourself and your life. I know, from hard experience, how to overcome self-defeat. Every day I get to hear the stories of people who were losing hope, as I was, and now are finding the life they had dreamed of. I receive e-mails from women who have heard me speak, read one of my books, or heard me on the radio and now are surrendering their failed attempts to God. They are learning the truth and power of surrender and then doing the hard work of changing their lives.


    In my work of helping people reclaim their health, I never know what is coming next. Recently I got a call from my publicist. She was so excited she could hardly tell me the news. “While you are in New York later this week to do The Today Show and Fox and Friends, a major women’s magazine wants to set up a photo shoot.”


    I screamed. I couldn’t help it. Not only would the exposure help sell my book, but doing a photo shoot in New York, as the author of fitness books, was an experience I never dreamed I’d have. When I weighed nearly 350 pounds, an opportunity like this never entered my mind.


    I couldn’t wait, but I had to. It was still a few weeks away. As New Year’s came and went, I was more careful than ever about fitting in all my workouts and eating clean. (Clean eating is the best way for me to think about food that delivers maximum energy with a reasonable calorie content.) When the day arrived, a driver came to our New York hotel to take Keith and me to the shoot. In the previous week, I had given my measurements to a stylist. She informed me she would be shopping for the clothes I would wear for the photo shoot. To use a term from my Southern-rooted parents, I was in hog heaven! I used to be the woman who was embarrassed to tell anyone her sizes, and now I had someone else buying me clothes based on them! The great part was the freedom in sharing what size I was. For the first time, I felt no shame.


    When we arrived at the studio, I noticed that the loft where the photographer had scheduled the shoot was trendy and chic. It had sky-high ceilings complete with lots of lights and screened umbrellas to ensure perfect lighting. Taking up an entire wall was a buffet of food the magazine had catered for the event, my event! All of it was healthy fare with me in mind.


    As I entered a dressing room, fun music filled the air. A makeup artist and hairstylist began their magic. I listened while they talked about their past work. One had done Heidi Klum’s makeup not long before, and the other spoke of doing the makeup for big names on a major movie set. I was a little overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment. I felt like I was back to playing Barbie dolls with my sister.


    After hair and makeup were underway, the stylist had me try on all the clothes she had bought. We settled on a great pair of designer jeans with a sleek white sweater and a trendy hot pink top. I put on the heels she had purchased—a perfect fit—and some fabulous jewelry. Then I was whisked away to the main part of the studio. In that moment I felt like a million bucks.


    It was then the stylist asked me what I believed to be an insane question: “Where are your old blue jeans?” At first I couldn’t believe I had heard her right, but I knew what she was getting at. She said the creative director wanted me to hold up a supersized pair of pants in the photo to show the dramatic contrast represented by clothes I had worn in my previous life.


    I understood the point of playing up the shock value. Shoppers standing in line at the supermarket checkout would be amazed by the pants I had once filled out. But the idea that I would have to display a symbol of the old life I had left behind made me feel sick, like I had never lost a pound. How could I hold up a pair of jeans that represented my old humiliation?


    I explained to the stylist that not only had I not brought a pair of jeans but I didn’t feel comfortable doing this. As I held my breath, a few phone calls were made, and the shoot continued without the troubling reminder of my past. It turned out to be a great experience, and I was pleased with the photographs. However, I felt a little angry and upset with myself. Hadn’t I moved on past my old image? I could now fit two of me inside my old jeans, so why was this such a big deal? I also wondered if readers might have been helped by seeing me holding up the pants I used to wear. Why couldn’t I just smile into the camera with confidence even if I was standing behind a pair of my old jeans?


    I Will Never Return


    Back in my hotel room, I awoke in the middle of the night still thinking about the photo shoot. Finally I could see clearly what had offended me. Supersized blue jeans were a symbol of major pain in my life. Holding them up in front of me would not feel as if I was showcasing success. I was now on an exciting journey to share my life and my program to help other people. I had ditched the old jeans, just as I had ditched diets—and both of them for good! Sure, I will always be able to relate to the woman who desperately tries to zip up a pair of pants in a store’s dressing room. But I didn’t want to spend another special moment of my life sharing the spotlight with my former self. I had crossed the point of no return. I now knew without question that I would never go back.


    I have a completely new deal, one that focuses on living my new life, the life that God led me to when I fell into my darkest moment. The old me had long wanted to leave behind the constant torment of being overweight and undisciplined. That life is now over. My new deal is much sweeter than I dreamed was possible.


    You can have the same deal! You can start living a life of security and freedom. You can be released from the prison of defeat, failure, and negative self-image. And best of all, the new deal we’re going to explore is guaranteed to last.


    I won’t ever return to being the person I started out as. There is no going back. And I’ll show you how to take full advantage of the same deal!