Sunday, December 22, 2013


Each Christmas we have two traditions I’d started with my children. One of them is purchasing them an ornament for the tree each year. But this isn’t just any random ornament. No, it’s one specially picked out for each child for that particular year. Something that represents something they did that year, or liked.

Some years, the idea came quickly. They played a sport for the first time or started an instrument, started Brownies, like a certain famous person. Though at times it’s been challenging to find the right ornament when I knew exactly what I wanted, other times it was hard to think of something special, something that stood out for that year.

One year when my youngest daughter was very small, she copied EVERYTHING her sisters said and did. Not able to think of anything for her that year, I finally decided on the perfect ornament.

A cat! That’s right. A cat…a copy cat!

Another year I knew exactly what I wanted to get my girls but for the life of me couldn’t find it. That was the first year they were into Webkinz. I looked everywhere, including their site, willing to pay any price at that point. So after realizing it just wasn’t going to be, I decided to make them myself. That’s right, I took a picture of them, laminated them, punched a hole through the top and tied a ribbon on it and there you have it. A Webkinz ornament. And the best thing was it cost me nearly nothing, and I was able to put two of their favorites on it as well as their names and the year it was given like I always do.

Once the girls move out and establish a home of their own, their ornaments will go with them. Each year they have such fun unwrapping them, and remembering why they received that specific one before hanging it on the tree.

Here’s what I picked for 2010:

Callie, who plays drums in band and jazz band at school, and was excelling in it received a drum set ornament.

Bryanna, who adopted her very own dog, Hammie from Collie Rescue of Greater IL, received a dog ornament that looks a lot like him. I was astonished to find such a likeness.

MacKenna, who discovered the Titanic that year, and was fascinated in watching clips of it on Youtube, received a ship that looks surprisingly like the Titanic. What a find that was.

I must say God definitely had his hands in that year’s pick because they were quite the find.

So, what kind of traditions does your family have during the Christmas Season?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Title: Show Me A Sign
Author: Susan Miura
Publisher: OakTara (October 14, 2013)
Pages: 144

Several years ago, my teenage daughter got me hooked on YA (young adult fiction). Since then I've been repeatedly blown away by not only the content of the stories, but the writing, and SUSAN MIURA'S, SHOW ME A SIGH, is no exception.

Right from the start, I was drawn in. I love MS. MIURA'S voice, her humor, and her spot on accuracy to capturing a male teen character. I'm a mother of four, three girls and a boy, and it's not uncommon when reading a novel that I cringe when an authors secondary character is a child of any age. More times than not, they were not successful in capturing the true essence of a kid, whether that be a two-year old or a seventeen-year old.

Nathan Bolivan attends a high school for the hearing as well as the non-hearing. He's had his eyes on Haylie Summers, who's both beautiful and deaf. His excitement of their upcoming first date is quickly turned upside down when he discovers Haylie has gone missing ... and he's a suspect.

Haylie Summers is abducted, tie-up, and blindfolded. Frighten, and not able to hear her captors only adds to her uneasiness. As she remains imprisoned, she wrestles with the answers to the questions swarming around in her head. Why is she being kidnapped, and by whom? Would she make it out alive, or would she never see her family and friends, again?

SHOW ME A SIGN is wonderfully handled in first person between the two main characters. There's just the right amount of suspense, mystery, love, humor, and faith all wrapped up into a believable and powerful story. The flow is natural, with a captivating pace and plot. The humor is refreshing, the characters are three-dimensional, and the writing brilliant.

Though I enjoyed all of the characters, I'd have to say that aside from Nathan, his best friend Alec, is my favorite. He's fun and likeable. MS. MIURA did an incredible job incorporating a teen British boy. With the One Direction craze going on in the teen world today, her timing could not have been better. I loved the interaction between Nathan and Alec. Natural, funny, and entertaining.

Start to finish, there wasn't one thing I'd change in SHOW ME A SIGN. As an aspiring author, I tend to edit as I read. A true sign to a brilliant storyteller is the ability to incorporate all the aspect of what goes into writing a great story, and that MS. MIURA has accomplished. I may be long past my teen years, but you can bet I'll be looking for her next book.

Sunday, December 1, 2013



Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:
Personal blog:

I also am part of several other blogs:
Stitches in Time:
Barn Door Book Loft:

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

About the book: How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance. This novel was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest and is receiving raving reviews! Release date was October 21, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

The link for the book which is
on SALE NOW is:

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

Carole Brown

Chapter One


Twenty years earlier

The shadow creatures on the wall shook their wings and legs. Heads with horns nodded. Scary, dark faces watched.

The little girl clasped her floppy-eared rabbit against her chest and stared into the dark.

“Mmm …” Mommy’s murmur reached to her through the walls, and the giggles from her mother tiptoed in, shooing the fear away.

Whoosh. She blew out a breath and squeezed her rabbit tighter. “Mommy has a friend with her, Ramsey. She loves me just like I love you and will give me hugs in the morning after the man leaves.”

Ramsey said nothing. She ran her fingers over his face and could feel his black button eyes staring at her, trusting her to protect him.

“And she’ll read to us and I’ll sit on her lap and we’ll snuggle—all of us together.” She nodded and tugged on Ramsey’s left ear then rolled over.

Real live whispers and laughter floated into the room.

Opening her mouth in a wide yawn, she patted Ramsey’s tummy and whispered again, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.”

“Please. That hurts.”

“Mommy?” The little girl frowned but her eyes wouldn’t open. Just like they did when she and mommy put cucumbers slices on their eyes. 

“Stop it—”

             Rubbing at her eyes the little girl sat up. Mommy had never sounded like this before, and neither had any of the men—the men who brought flowers and candy and money.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Title: The Christmas Box
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 9, 2012)
Pages: 87

Before I purchase or read a book that I purchased on a whim, I go to Amazon and read a few reviews. Typically, a couple of the five star as well as the one star reviews, getting a feel for both spectrums. The few negative/one star reviews that I read for THE CHRISTMAS BOX, didn’t deter me. Why they believe the book to not be good wasn’t concerning enough. The second thing I do is go inside the book and read a few paragraph to get a feel for the authors writing style.

If there was ever a book I was glad to have not been swayed by the bad reviews, it’s THE CHRISTMAS BOX by RICHARD PAUL EVANS. Wow! One would think it much easier to write a novella, but when in fact it’s harder. With a full-length novel, you have pages of words to convey your story. With a novella, not so much. It takes a skilled writer to pull off a novella that contains all the elements required to make a great story, and that’s exactly what RICHARD PAUL EVANS has accomplished in this wonderful short story.

Richard works hard to keep his family afloat with a shared business, while his wife cares for their soon-to-be four-year old daughter, Jenna. When his wife Keri spots an ad in the newspaper for a live-in family to make a lonely widow - Mary Perkins - meals, along with doing a few odd jobs, they are quick to apply, having outgrown their cramped apartment.

Richard and his family are quickly welcomed into Mary’s home where they soon become a family. There are secrets discovered in the attic, and even greater lessons to be learned.

THE CHRISTMAS BOX will keep your interest, wanting to read the next page before you’ve completed the one your reading. It will capture your heart, your soul, make you smile, and make you weep.

As I began to read THE CHRISTMAS BOX, I didn’t have high hopes for a well-rounded story with only 87 TINY pages. I certainly didn’t expect to be in awe of MR EVANS writing. But that’s exactly what happened. The way he strings words together with brilliant descriptions that flow naturally, is nothing short of amazing. RICHARD PAUL EVANS storytelling is of one that I will not only be reading to learn the craft of writing, but seeking out his future novels.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Title: The Fireman’s Homecoming
Author: Allie Pleiter
Publisher: Love Inspired (May 21, 2013)
Pages: 224

When I discovered the first book in the Gordon Falls series by ALLIE PLEITER, FALLING FOR THE FIREMAN, I knew I’d be reading the series. A story about a black sheep son, THE FIREMAN’S HOMCOMING didn’t disappoint. If I had to choose between the Gordon Falls books thus far, I’d say THE FIREMAN’S HOMCOMING is my favorite.

Clark Bradens moves back to his hometown after years away to take over his father’s position as fire chief. One may think it was joyfully handed to him, but having been the town’s bad boy, Clark finds himself needing to win over the residence.

Melba Wingate left her life in Chicago to move back to the town she grew up in so she could be there for her ailing father. Believing her biggest hurdle was dealing with her father’s failing health, she is shocked by a secret she discovers. A secret that threatens everything she knows, along with the growing attraction to the town’s former bad boy, Clark Bradens.

If there’s one thing I can count on in a ALLIE PLEITER book, its humor. Not only are they well written, with a wonderful plot, she comes up with so many great lines she’ll have you shaking your head, wondering how she manages to do so.

MS PLEITERS ability to write both historical and contemporary is remarkable. However, I must confess I have a strong fondness for her historical.

THE FIREFIGHTER’S MATCH is the next in the Gordon Falls series and next on my list to read.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


As soon as I heard about THE LAST SONG coming out, I knew I had to see it. I was pleasantly surprised by Miley's acting. I think she did a great job. It was an amazing story. Having watched a few of Nicholas Sparks movies, I know to expect something amazing ... except when I read the book first.

After seeing A WALK TO REMEMBER several times, I finally made the decision to read the book. The first I've read by Nicholas Sparks. Though it was well written and a good story, I could not believe how different it was from the book. I mean really different.

I guess I should have then known when I decided to see DEAR JOHN after reading it, how different the movie would from the book. What a letdown, though I'm sure it would have been good if I didn't have the book to base if off of.

Why, oh why do authors let this happen! Or movie directors for that matter. If a book is a hit, why in the world would you change it? And I don't mean minor changes, I mean major changes. It makes me wonder which I should pick between, because clearly reading the book AND seeing the movie isn't working ... for the most part. 

So what are your thoughts?

Monday, October 21, 2013


I love books. Love to read. Love the look, the feel, the smell of a book. Being a visual person, the cover of a book holds great importance. It can totally capture my attention, or cause me to look the other way.

Another aspect of a novel is a trailer. Though at times they can be disappointing, for the most part, I like to see what the main characters looks like. Even if that means the author posting pictures on their website of a famous - or not so famous – person that they envisioned to play the role.

I ran across the book trailer for Karen Kingsbury’s book, FIFTEEN MINUTES. Up until that point, I hadn’t heard of the book. After viewing the trailer, I was hooked. It has to be one of the best trailers I’ve seen, equivalent to that of a movie trailer. If every book had a trailer comparable to FIFTEEN MINTUES, I have to believe they’d sell many more copies.
What are your thoughts on book trailers?


Thursday, October 17, 2013


I was at Wal-Mart the other day and couldn't believe all the Duck Dynasty stuff. Then I spotted Duck Dynasty Devotionals, for him and for her (I was at the book section, what a surprise.). It brought a smile to my face. How wonderful is it that finally a TV show, especially a reality one, is producing a positive impact, with good morals. We are so overdue for this world. I have yet to watch it, just because I don't really watch TV, only stuff like The Voice, American Idol and such, but from what I've sensed from what I've caught glimpses of, it's a great combination of faith and reality, in that it's not some goody-goodies living a "religious" life, but good old, normal people trying to live in a Godly manner.

Wow, I love these guys! Tears. How amazing. Only God! What an inspiration to all.

Friday, October 11, 2013


October 2013 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Yuletide Twins by Renee Andrews -- Pregnant with twins, Laura Holland needs a friend and a job, but she gets--a town she adores, a job she cherishes and a guy she loves. However, it may all go Christmas, unless someone--maybe even a Secret Santa--decides this is the Christmas for miracles. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired)

Merry Humbug Christmas by Sandra D. Bricker -- A Merry Humbug Christmas features two holiday romance novellas from hilarious and heartwarming author Sandra D. Bricker. -- the perfect gift to yourself or someone else at this most wonderfully stressful time of year. (Contemporary Romance from B&H Publishing)

The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman -- Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife. And most days, she finds herself taking the buggy to her brother, Adam's home. Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. But God's plans are different from Annie's and she may not finish the quilt in time. And, it may hold a far greater significance that she ever imagined. (Contemporary Romance from Abingdon Press)

Healing Grace by Beth Shriver -- The Touch of Grace trilogy series is about three faithful women who, when faced with three separate hardships, are torn between the men they love and staying true to themselves. Even in a world where retribution is almost expected, the Amish demonstrate that all can be pardoned, by following their vow of no resistance which shows the deep-rooted forgiveness within them. (Contemporary Romance from Realms[Charisma Media])

The Dawn of Christmas by Cindy Woodsmall -- Sadie Yoder enjoys her freedom away from home but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it's time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan-but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together? (Contemporary Romance from Waterbrook Multnomah [Random House])

Romantic Suspense:

Severed Trust: The Men of the Texas Rangers, Book 4 by Margaret Daley -- As Sadie Thompson is pulled into doing something about the growing problem, she becomes involved with Ethan Stone—a Texas Ranger who suspects the drug ring reaches far beyond the high school. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press)

Warning Signs by Katy Lee -- When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town's number one suspect—the high school's new principal-doesn't fit the profile. Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence-and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen's help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced-permanently. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired)

Danger in Amish Country by Marta Perry, Diane Burke, Kit Wilkinson -- Love and Danger collide in three new Amish novellas: Fall from Grace by Marta Perry, Dangerous Homecoming by Diane Burke and Return to Willow Trace by Kit Wilkinson. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired)

Thread of Suspicion by Susan Sleeman-- Can private investigator Dani Justice find the expert hacker framing Luke Baldwin for espionage before the hacker succeeds in ending her life? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired)

Historical Romance:

Perfectly Matched by Maggie Brendan -- Anna Olsen knows it's time to leave her sister's increasingly crowded house and start a life of her own. Following her sisters' examples, she becomes a mail-order bride, and after a short correspondence with clock maker and jeweler Edward Parker, she moves to Denver to become his wife. Almost immediately it's painfully apparent that Anna and Edward are very different. Anna is a free spirit who would rather be painting and enjoying the company of friends than cleaning house. Edward is a consummate perfectionist who, on their wedding day, hands Anna a list of chores that need to be done around the house daily. Can this mismatched couple see past their differences to a harmonious future? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley -- She's a Pinkerton detective. He's working undercover for Wells Fargo. Neither has a clue about love. (Historical Romance from Thomas Nelson)

A Bride for Noah (Seattle Brides) by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith -- Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith, beloved authors of the Amish of Apple Grove series, team up again in an exciting new series for devoted fans and new readers. It's 1851, and Evie Lawrence is penniless and heartbroken after a failed romance. When a kind elderly man announces his plan to move west and make his fortune, Evie jumps at the chance to go with him and start a new life. She says goodbye to the only home she's ever known and sets out for the Northwest. There she meets Noah Hughes, a handsome young man who has gambled everything he owns on the chance to make a fresh start. (Historical Romance from Harvest House)

A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears -- Set in 1876 Kansas, a love story reminiscent of Love Comes Softly meets poignant romance in the style of Deeanne Gist. "Melissa's writing put me in mind of Janette Oke's sweet prairie romances but with a bit more edge, which I found compelling...I loved it." - Mary Connealy (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Soul of the Rose by Ruth Trippy -- Celia is searching for her own sense of hope after the tragic death of her closest friend. Moving in 1876 to work in a Massachusetts bookstore to start life afresh, she soon catches the eye of not one, but two men: the elite but unkempt Edward Lyons and the charming law student Charles Harrod. One is hiding from his past and from God. The other promotes a religious belief Celia had never before considered. (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press)

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky -- Two worlds . . . one calling. Will Julia return to her missionary work in exotic India, or should she follow her heart and stay on as governess at the magnificent country estate of Sir William Ramsey? Fans of Downton Abbey and the Edwardian era will love the romance of The Governess of Highland Hall where the divide between upper and lower class meets the spirit of faith, hope, and trust. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook Multnomah [Random House])

Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts -- When World War II breaks out, Miriam's fiancé, Henry, is drafted and sent to a conscientious objector camp. But when Henry feels called to fight on the front lines, he goes against the Amish church to follow God's will - forcing Miriam to choose between the rules of her religion and the leading of her heart. (Historical Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Medical Suspense:

Heart Failure by Richard L. Mabry, MD -- When her fiance's dangerous secrets turn her world upside down, a beautiful doctor must choose between her own safety and the man she loves--and thought she knew. (Medical Suspense from Thomas Nelson)

General Contemporary:

On a Summer Night by Diane Dean White -- A nightmare witnessed between two young women, and one couldn't forget or forgive. Kate had never told her husband about the experience that changed their lives forever in southern Florida. Maybe it was time to tell him her story. (General Contemporary from CrossLink Publishing)

General Historical:

A Reluctant Courtship by Laurie Alice Eakes -- A woman without a prospect. A man without a homeland. Can love give them a future? (General Historical from Revell [Baker])

Gideon's Call by Peter Leavell -- Tad, a very clever slave boy, comes of age as the American Civil War intrudes on the tropical sea islands of South Carolina. But his desire to better himself is obstructed by the color of his skin, until Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream, but the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, no leadership, and little hope for the future. This is the story of how a boy grows into a man. (Literary Historical from Worthy Publishing)

The Earl's Ward by Carolyn R. Scheidies -- Turned out of the village, Angella has nowhere to go, but when the Earl rescues her she wonders if things have taken a turn for the better...or the worse. (Historical from Heartsong Presents)

Speculative Fiction:

Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran -- A scientist, marooned on the International Space Station, races to develop a vaccine for a deadly virus her brother unleashes on Earth at their father's Christian marriage seminar. (Speculative Fiction from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Title: Gunpowder Tea (The Brides Of Last Chance Ranch Series)
Author: Margaret Brownely
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 8, 2013)
Pages: 352

GUNPOWDER TEA is the third and final book in THE BRIDES OF LAST CHANCE RANCH series. If you have not read the first two, I suggest reading them as well, though each certainly stands alone. If I had to pick, DAWN COMES EARLY is my favorite of THE BRIDES OF LAST CHANCES RANCH series.

Miranda Hunt, a Pinkerton Detective, answers an ad for a heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch as Annie Beckman. After all she’s perfect for the job. No Pinkerton expects to be married, and that’s exactly what the ad is looking for. It’s the ideal opportunity to find the Phantom, and prove that a woman is up for the task.

Wells Fargo detective, Jeremy Tagger is working undercover when he first encounters Ms Beckman. Little does either of them know, they are both working towards the same goal. To apprehend the Phantom, who rumor has it, is said to be hiding out at the Last Chance Ranch.

Not into mushy romances, then GUNPOWDER TEA by MARGARET BROWNLEY is the novel for you. MS BROWNLEY has an amazing ability to weave a unique story together with feisty characters. Add in a little bit of drama, mystery, action, and humor and you have GUNPOWDER TEA.  

I loved the information at the end of the story, ACCIDENTAL DETECTIVE. How intriguing to learn a bit of the past after reading a fictionalized version. Also included is some history on GUNPOWDER TEA, along with a recipe for GUNPOWDER TEA BREAD. How fun is that.  
*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Title: The Cowboy’s Christmas Courtship
Author: Brenda Minton
Publisher: Love Inspired (September 17, 2013)
Pages: 224
I just can't help myself. When I spot a BRENDA MINTON book at the store, I grab it. If I'm in the middle of reading a book, I'm suddenly inspired to complete it so I can get started on MS MINTON'S book. Her books NEVER sit around my house unread for too long.

Life has not been easy for Layla Silver's. After losing her parents, she's forced to grow up, thrust into the responsibility of raising her younger brother. She's always been a strong independent person, but with mounting bills, and her brother going through a rebellious teen stage, she feels herself faltering.

As Gage Cooper heads home for the first time in months, he runs into Layla Silver's. The girl he used all those years ago to get to her friend. He wants to make amends for the things he's done wrong in his life, and Layla is on the list of those he needs to ask for forgiveness. So why once she gives it to him, does he feel he needs to stick around and do all he can to help her?

MS MINTON is at the top of my list of favorite authors. As a storyteller, she never disappoints. As I've stated in many, and I do mean many reviews, she is an amazing writer. Love her plots, writing style, and characters as they come to life through written words. I always connect to her main, as well as secondary characters. She delivers great lines, never leaving the reader disappointed, and with satisfying endings.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Title: Just One Of The Guys
Author: Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Harlequin HQN (August 21, 2012)
Pages: 384

I’ve only read a couple of KRISTAN HIGGINS noels, and would certainly read more if they were “cleaner”. MS HIGGINS doesn’t only have the ability to write engaging stories, but well written ones (Yes, there’s a difference).

I admit the first book I attempted to read of MS HIGGINS, I didn’t get far. The foul language and main characters lax attitude towards sex, being the reason. As a Christian, I don’t get where the need to incorporate either comes into play. I was pleasantly surprised to discover JUST ONE OF THE GUYS was toned down - at least initially - so I was able to enjoy it. However, I’d still like to see both disappear altogether. I believe it takes a strong writer to do so. Much stronger then own who allows it.

Trevor Meade is part of the O’Neil family, just one of the guys, and that’s all he’ll ever be to Chastity O’Neil That’s if he doesn’t want to risk losing her.

Chastity has grown up in a home full of men, with four brothers, all heroes, serving others. Trevor Meade works with Chastity’s father and brothers on the fire department. To Trevor, she’s just one of the guys. To Chastity, he’s her first love.

What I like about JUST ONE OF THE GUYS:

·       The epilog was good, needed to wrap up loose ends. Always a good choice.

·       Glad the author addressed Matt, Chastity’s brother. If not, she would have owed her readers a second book to tie up his story.

·       Loved what path she took for Chastity’s father, not going the predictable outcome.

·       Loved following the stories of Chastity’s brothers, Matt and Ryan, and their outcome.

What I didn’t like about JUST ONE OF THE GUYS:

·       The ending, literally the last two pages. I wasn’t “wowed” with Trevor’s revealing of his love. I felt it could have been handled differently, impactful rather than seemingly tossed together.
MS HIGGINS spot on details to firefighters and those that are related to them is to be admired. Yes, I’m one of them. A spouse of a firefighter/paramedic. I’ve read other stories with the main character as a firefighter, and they don’t compare. I have no doubt the authors did their homework, but one just cannot create a realistic feel unless lived.

I didn’t take to Chastity’s character right away. She’s tall (I’m just 4’9”), very toy boyish “just one of the guys”. Maybe a little too much. As I became engrossed in the story, she grew on me. Written in first person, the reader isn’t treated to the other characters deep point of view, but MS HIGGINS did a fine job getting her readers – at least this reader – to know the other characters.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013


William Faulkner, born 25 September 1897, died 6 July 1962
The 10 Best William Faulkner Quotes On Writing
  1. The best fiction is far more true than any journalism.
  2. If a story is in you, it has to come out.
  3. Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other. 
  4. In writing, you must kill all your darlings.
  5. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
  6. The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.
  7. A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others. 
  8. The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies. 
  9. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky. 
  10. Read, read, read. Read everything— trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window. 

Monday, August 26, 2013


Title: Gunpowder Tea (The Brides Of Last Chance Ranch Series)
Author: Margaret Brownely
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 8, 2013)
Pages: 352

GUNPOWDER TEA is the third and final book in THE BRIDES OF LAST CHANCE RANCH series. If you have not read the first two, I suggest reading them as well, though each certainly stands alone. If I had to pick, DAWN COMES EARLY is my favorite of THE BRIDES OF LAST CHANCES RANCH series.

Miranda Hunt, a Pinkerton Detective, answers an ad for a heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch as Annie Beckman. After all she’s perfect for the job. No Pinkerton expects to be married, and that’s exactly what the ad is looking for. It’s the ideal opportunity to find the Phantom, and prove that a woman is up for the task.

Wells Fargo detective, Jeremy Tagger is working undercover when he first encounters Ms Beckman. Little does either of them know, they are both working towards the same goal. To apprehend the Phantom, who rumor has it, is said to be hiding out at the Last Chance Ranch.

Not into mushy romances, then GUNPOWDER TEA by MARGARET BROWNLEY is the novel for you. MS BROWNLEY has an amazing ability to weave a unique story together with feisty characters. Add in a little bit of drama, mystery, action, and humor and you have GUNPOWDER TEA.  

I loved the information at the end of the story, ACCIDENTAL DETECTIVE. How intriguing to learn a bit of the past after reading a fictionalized version. Also included is some history on GUNPOWDER TEA, along with a recipe for GUNPOWDER TEA BREAD. How fun is that.  
*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013



It’s not often I give a review as such, and in doing so I’m taking a risk. A risk because I often receive backlash from others on my Amazon reviews in the form of a comment. They don’t get the importance of good writing and an author’s voice, and for me, I can typically spot it in the first pages of a book. In most cases, that’s not going to change unless someone else wrote the first pages for the author. If anything, their writing will deteriorate from there, having given their full attention to the first pages to capture their readers and becoming laxed from there.

If the writing is just okay, I will give it a fair chance and read several chapters. But if the author isn’t handling the dialogue well, is telling instead of showing, and has flat, one dimensional characters, I’ll stop reading. Life is too short, and I have WAY too many books waiting to be read.

Only after years of writing, reading fiction, as well as non-fiction on the craft of writing, attending writing meetings, working with a writing mentor, etc, have I evolved to not completing a novel. In the past, when I was naive about what good writing embodies, I thought it was just me and my poor reading skills, that I was having such a hard time muddling through the story.

Now I know better.

They say writing is subjective. What one may love, another may hate. Though I believe you need to follow the basic writing rules, the genre, storyline, and authors voice are subjective. But no matter, I believe in most cases, behind the words are hard working, dedicated, passionate writers. And for that, I watch MY words when writing a review.

The reason I chose to write a review for THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN is because I felt obligated to let potential readers know my thoughts, regardless of how many pages I read. The pages I read provoked me to speak out. I felt I was able to get a good sense of the writer’s voice and writing ability, therefore able to speak out as to my opinion on the matter. I also wanted to let reader that would be offended by profanity, know what they were in for.

I didn’t feel my review was negative or detrimental to the author, but the reverse. I believe it to be a positive. After all I expressed my opinion on how well I thought he wrote. It was the plot and the use of foul language that had me stopping, and those are issues that are subjective. I don’t believe my review will stop anyone that would enjoy Mr. Williams writing from purchasing his books. But what it might do is prevent bad reviews by stopping those that would feel the same as I, from wasting their money and feeling the need to post a negative review.


Title: The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Volume One of Bobby Dollar
Author: Tad Williams
Publisher: DAW Hardcover; First Edition edition (September 4, 2012)
Pages: 400

I hesitated in whether or not I should write a review for THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN by TAD WILLIAMS, after reading only a mere six pages. Typically I give a book, what I would consider a fair chance before stopping, by reading the first seventy or so pages. By page seventy there isn’t much hope for things to turn around. An author’s voice or writing style isn’t going to change at that point. Either you like it or you don’t. Like they say, writing is subjective.

I admit I’m a visual person, and thus I’m often either captivated or turned off by the cover of a book. The title is the next thing that will catch my eye. I don’t always read the synopsis, loving to be surprised, especially when it’s a book by one of my favorite authors. With a new author (new to me) I will often read the first page or two when provided to get a glimpse into their writing. I should probably also mention that I’m a Christian fiction writer and reader, though I do read some secular books.

With that said, here are my thoughts on THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN by TAD WILLIAMS:

-Great writing
-Unique concept for a story
-Great cover
-Great title

-Way too much foul language
-Not sure if I like where the storyline is going

The reason behind my stopping at page six was the foul language. I’m not so frail I can’t handle a little bad language, but when there are more then I can count on my hands in the first six pages, and what I consider the worst of words, I just can’t stomach it. With each foul word, I’m taken out of the story.

I could have not bothered to give a review at all, but that’s not me. What little I read, in my opinion, was good writing. For the author’s sake, I wanted to make that known. The other reason is to let those that would be offended by foul language, know that this would not be a book for them.

Review from Tad Williams website:


Bobby Dollar would like to know what he was like when he was alive, but too much of his time is spent working as an extremely minor functionary in the Heavenly Host as an afterlife investigator and advocate for the recently departed. And now he’s stepped into the middle of something that has both sides very nervous — an unprecedented number of missing souls.

A new chapter in the war between Heaven and Hell is about to open, and Bobby is right in the middle of it. Someone has summoned a truly unpleasant Babylonian demon that’s doing its best to track him down and rip him to pieces. His opposite number on the case is arguably the world’s sexiest she-devil, and Bobby has feelings for her that Heaven definitely does not allow. And somehow he has to find out who he was before he becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of power that could end in the destruction of the entire human race.

Three books are planned for Tad’s new fantasy-fueled thriller series: The Dirty Streets of Heaven (September 2012), Happy Hour in Hell, and Sleeping Late on Judgment Day. Each book will be somewhat shorter than Tad’s usual epic length fare, and although part of a series, each may be read as a stand-alone novel.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I started seriously drawing around the age of 5 when I began making my own coloring books.

I dabbled in drawing & painting in various mediums and found pen & ink to be my favorite. I concentrated on detailed sketches in ink until I mastered the technique using Rapidograph pens.

Sue graduated from the U of PA, Kutztown in Advertising/Art. She worked in the advertising field for over 15 years. During this time she continued to draw homes for people, usually to be given as gifts. Soon Sue was illustrating for builders, architects and Realtors all over the United States. She's been at it now for over 25 years winning several awards for my pen and inks at various art shows.

Sue has exhibited in N.J., VA, CA & IL in the past but now only participate in art shows in the Chicago area. She will post listings of my shows in this site. I hope you will stop by & say hi sometime.

Visit Sue's website at,

Dude attempts to be a brave and heroic hunter alongside an experienced beagle hunting pack but soon finds he would much rather make friends with his prey than hunt them!

'Dude the Hunter' is the first in a series of fun-loving books for children about a sweet, ordinary beagle who lives a tremendously adventurous life - if only in his dreams.

Friendship, kindness, compassion, understanding, reassurance, humor, and just plain old fun are all in here!

Note to Parents. This book has a concentration on first to third grade vocabulary words. It will help guide your children through important learning experiences with antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, and compound words.

For a chance to win an autographed copy of DUDE THE HUNTER:

For each of the following, your name will be entered into the drawing:

1) Leave a comment with your email address or check back later for the winner. If you won, you’ll need to email me your information.
2) Become a follower on this blog.
3) Leave a comment on my Youtube video.

Make sure to let me know with your comment what you’ve done.

I can only ship in the US. Drawing will be done on August 20th, 2013. Please check back to see if you've won if you didn't leave your email address. If I don't have your email address and haven't heard from you by the August 23rd, 2013, I'll draw another name

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I’m so excited! I have several stories I contributed to, STORIES OF FAITH AND COURAGE FROM PRISON, due out November, 9th, 2012.

Here's what Amazon has to say about STORIES OF FAITH AND COURAGE FROM PRISON:

This inspirational book is a collection of true stories laid out in a daily format; one per day for 365 days. Each story will tell about a work of God in the lives of those who have experienced some aspect of prison. A single scripture verse will accompany each writing, pointing to the hope and truth found in God’s word

While incarcerated, many inmates spiritually hit bottom and come face-to-face with the choices they have made. Thankfully, God uses Christian volunteers, prison chaplains, family members, outside friends, Christian pen pals, and other inmates, to share His love and truth with the lost behind bars. Regardless of how they are offered hope, inmate’s testimonies, along with their daily walk challenges, are moving and inspirational.

You will read amazing stories including Brandon, a prisoner who had a prayer warrior mother, and was also visited by a Christian volunteer. Brandon came to Christ while incarcerated, and witnessed constant gang activity behind bars, including preying upon the youth on the outside. Since his release, Brandon often risks his life in his ministry of intervening in the lives of youth who are at risk to become involved in gang activity.

The battle for the souls of inmates is fierce. One female prisoner said, “When I first arrived at prison in 2002, Christianity was openly practiced and Satanic practices were underground. Now it is just the opposite.” This inspirational book will remind Christians of their admonishment by Jesus to visit the imprisoned, to pray for them, and to share the gospel with them (Matthew 25:36). These collective, true stories will especially touch those who are uncomfortable with prison ministry, helping them to develop compassion for the shunned souls of society.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Title: Into The Whirlwind
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
Pages: 384

Sigh! I do so love ELIZABETH CAMDEN’S books. MS CAMDEN is one of the few authors I adore so much that I don’t need to know the title, see the cover, or be familiar with the synopsis of her new release. Nope. I just flat out purchase it, no hesitations, even when I have a pile of books to be read filling my bookshelves.  
Mollie Knox’s 57th Illinois Watch Company is a victim in the path of the fire that spread throughout part of Chicago, leaving destruction in its wake. Her father’s building may be in ruins, but that didn’t deter Mollie from taking what she was able to save and start anew.
Zack Kazmarek, an influential Chicago attorney, has secretly admired Mollie Knox’s for years. In the mist of escaping the great fire, Zack and Mollie are thrown together. Zack does little to hide his attraction to Mollie, while she does little to help it along. She may be intrigued by Zack Kazmarek, but their differences won’t allow them to be a suitable match - at least that’s what Mollie attempts to convince herself of. 
INTO THE WHIRLWIND only strengthened my love of MS CAMDEN’S writing. What a delight to discover the story revolves around the Chicago Fire. Living only an hour from the city my entire life, I’ve known of the tragedy, yet admittedly with little detail.

INTO THE WHIRLWIND took me on a journey back in time, so real I felt I was reading it in the newspaper as the horrific event unfolded. I was fascinated by the history, getting a glimpse of what the people of Chicago must have gone through. Things I could never imagine. So intrigued, I looked up several videos on the internet regarding the historical event.
What makes MS CAMDEN’S novels so amazing is the way she weaves history, well thought-out characters, an amazing plot, and a unique unfolding of the story together. The majority of romances have a set sequence of events, predictable to say the least. MS CAMDEN breaks the pattern in a refreshing way that only an amazing writer can pull off.
To say that I love her writing and will be looking for more novels by her in the future is becoming redundant. But yeah, can’t wait for the next adventure.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


This is what happens when
a writer attempts to take a nap.
At least that's what happened to me.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Bride Wanted by Renee Andrews Troy Lee has been writing letters to his future bride since he was a boy. Still, she's never been more than words on a page...until now. When he meets Destiny Porter, he thinks he may have finally found the woman he's been waiting for. But Destiny came to Claremont with a single purpose-to get Troy's permission to print his letters in her magazine. Yet once she lays eyes on the handsome Southern man, Destiny knows she's in trouble. She can't help dreaming about being Troy's bride. But will he still want to be her groom when he finds out who she really is? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired)

Healing Hearts by Margaret Daley -- After surviving a tragic accident, little Madison Winters is in desperate need of comfort. And social worker Abbey Harris has the perfect solution. With the help of her cherished therapy dogs, Gabe and Cottonball, Abbey soon coaxes a smile from Madi-and her workaholic guardian. Dominic Winters is heartbreakingly handsome and is hurting just as much as Madi. But it might take more than wagging tails to get the brooding businessman to open his heart. With the help of a matchmaking little girl and two sweet dogs, Abbey and Dominic may get a second chance at love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired)

Contemporary Women's Fiction:

Bless Her Heart: Class Reunion Series by Debby Mayne -- As Priscilla Slater's 15-year class reunion approaches, she decides to attend out of curiosity... and to flaunt her latest achievement-taking her business to a national level with the possibility of a TV show. As if getting ready for the event and putting up with the pranks of her former classmates isn't enough, Pricilla's hometown visit is further complicated by her parents' separation. Eager to escape the painful reality of her childhood home, Priscilla bolts as soon as a call from New York brings good news. But returning to New York means returning to Tim, Priscilla's best friend and business pal who has been impatiently suggesting their relationship should be more than a friendship. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Abingdon Press)

General Contemporary:

This Dance by Jerusha Agen -- When tango dancer Nye Sanders lost what she loved most, she thought she would never survive the agony. Two years later, Nye has learned to live with the pain. She has a new career and life that have nothing to do with the world and faith she left behind. Not about to repeat mistakes of the past, Nye thinks she can dictate a painless future by staying within the walls of her emotional defenses. She doesn't plan to meet a handsome lawyer or an elderly landowner-two men who will make her face love and the God she can't forgive. (Contemporary from Write Integrity Press)

General Historical:

Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma -- In the twilight of the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, the Germans have taken everything Cornelia had to give, even what was most precious to her. Now Gerrit Laninga-a man who puts God and country above all else-arrives at her house, needing help. She is terrified for herself and terrified for her family, but most of all, terrified of the pain she might feel again if she allows herself to love Gerrit. Cornelia must decide if saving a stranger's life is worth risking her own. (Historical from Thomas Nelson)

Historical Romance:

Shenandoah Crossings by Lisa Belcastro -- Journey back in time with Tess Roberts as she seeks adventure on the high seas during the American Revolution hoping to escape the heartache of her present-day life. Her plans go awry when the one man she'd hoped to leave behind tracks her down with every intention of forcing her to his will. (Historical Romance from OakTara)

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden -- After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Farmer's Bride Collection by Debby Mayne, DiAnn Mills, Susan K. Downs, JoAnn A. Grote, and Ellen Edwards Kennedy -- Love is in season as you journey into rural America's history and witness the harvest of romance through six delightful stories. From Minnesota to Florida, New York to Kansas, and Ohio to Louisiana, heroic men and women make sacrifices in order to create a home, nurture the crops, and secure a future for the next generation, but sometime romance is almost an afterthought. Can love also grow down on the farm? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Fired Up by Mary Connealy -- While someone's trying to make Dr. Dare Riker go up in smoke, Glynna Greer, the diner cook who turns every meal into a burnt offering and the overworked doctor are firing up a romance that might end up burning them both. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Pattern for Romance by Carla Olson Gade -- Honour Metcalf's quilting needlework is admired by a wealthy customer of the Boston Mantua-maker for whom she works. In need of increasing her earnings, she agrees to create an elaborate white work bridal quilt for the dowager's niece. A beautiful design emerges as she carefully stitches the intricate patterns and she begins to dream of fashioning a wedding quilt of her own. When Honour is falsely accused of thievery and finds herself in a perilous position, merchant tailor Joshua Sutton comes to her aid. (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press)

On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin -- Homesick WWII flight nurse Lt. Georgie Taylor arrives in Sicily and strikes up a friendship with Sgt. John Hutchinson, who longs to become one of the Army's first pharmacy officers. When Georgie and Hutch's lives back home fall apart, can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Whispers from the Shadows by Roseanna M. White -- The daughter of a British general, Gwyneth Fairchild barely saves her life by fleeing London aboard a ship to America. Her goal is to find refuge with the Lane family in Maryland, having been told by her father she could trust them. After meeting their son, Thad Lane, she wonders how safe she truly is when she discovers that they trade in a dangerous commodity--espionage. Not long after Gwyneth finds refuge in his city, Thad Lane experiences the tug of love, though he fears it may blur lines of loyalty. But at this moment, with the British advancing on Washington and Baltimore, they have only their shared faith in God as a shield about them. (Historical Romance from Harvest House)

Roping the Wrangler by Lacy Williams -- Schoolmarm Sarah Hansen longs for a family of her own. But horse trainer Oscar White is the last man she'd consider. Still, she can't help noticing the care he shows three motherless girls and the gentle way he helps Sarah overcome her fear of horses. Too bossy by half-that's the Sarah that Oscar remembers from their teenage years. Yet as a former orphan, he finds the little Caldwell sisters-and their pretty teacher-getting under his skin. Could the tender heart Sarah's always hidden tame a once-reckless wrangler? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired)

Millie's Treasure by Kathleen Y'Barbo -- From their first meeting atop the Memphis Cotton exchange, where Pinkerton/inventor Kyle Russell is testing his flying machine, to their pursuit of pirate treasure and the escaped criminal Will Tucker, the Pinkerton and his Memphis belle find solving puzzles to be the least of their challenges in this historical romance with a dash of Southern Steampunk. (Historical Romance from Harvest House)

Historical Suspense and Mystery:

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering -- Drew Farthering, mystery lover and heir to the family manner, has to track down a killer and win the heart of American debutante, Madeline Parker. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Dark Road Home by Elizabeth Ludwig -- Ana Kavanagh's only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen. At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger--his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors--all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? (Historical Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense:

Carolina Reckoning by Lisa Carter -- When 30-something housewife, Alison Monaghan discovers proof of her husband's infidelity in a photograph with a mysterious woman, she must decide how to confront Frank when he returns home from work. But Alison may not get that chance. Frank never makes it home. And now she is the chief suspect in his murder. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press)

Fatal Inheritance by Sandra Orchard -- In the face of mounting threats, a grieving granddaughter fights to hold fast to the family farmhouse she's inherited, but can her childhood-crush-turned-cop help her find her way home? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired)

Dangerous Waters by Sandra Robbins A young woman seeks the help of her former fiancé to solve the nineteen-year-old cold case of her parents' murder. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired)

Contemporary Suspense:

Memory's Door by James L. Rubart -- The prophecy brought them together. But the Wolf has risen, and now their greatest battle begins. The four members of Warriors Riding have learned to wage war in the supernatural, to send their spirits inside people's souls, to battle demonic forces, and to bring deep healing to those around them. But they are all struggling. Now the second part of the prophecy has come true. The Wolf is hunting them and has set his trap. He circles, feeding on his supernatural hate of all they stand for. And he won't stop until he brings utter destruction to their bodies . . . and their souls. (Contemporary Suspense from Thomas Nelson)

Young Adult:

Dark Halo by Shannon Dittemore -- One halo brought sight to Brielle; another offers sweet relief from what she sees. (Young Adult from Thomas Nelson)