Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Reviews: February’s Backlist: 2 in 1 Review

Alongside my usual new release reviews, I’m trying to squeeze in more books from my backlist. Here are the books I read this month. Have you read any of these books yet or are you planning?
*All links unless otherwise stated will take you to Goodreads

219A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears
Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn’t even in town when she finally arrives.

Axel’s business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend’s mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store–where she quickly proves she’s much more adept at business than he ever will be.

The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams–or if God has a new dream in store for them both.

My Review: I absolutely loved this one!!! The first one was good, but this one was my favorite of the series so far. I was surprised at the twists and turns the story took along the way.
Rating: 5 stars

222Pride and Prejudice in AUDIO

Pride and Prejudice is a beloved classic for a reason. You either love it, or you don’t, or you know you need to give it a try, so I’m not going to review the book. Suffice it to say that all things Austen rank highly with me. I enjoy the romance and the old-fashioned language. But I do want to share the audio version that I’m listening to and the great deal I had found.
If you’ve looked at the classics in audio, you would have found SEVERAL versions for a single book. Many reviews will point out that the more expensive versions are best. But I picked up this one dirt cheap and I’m loving every minute of it.
The original audible price is $14.95. But they had an option of buying the kindle version with it (which turned out to be free) THEN buying the audible version at a discount. My records show that I paid less than $2 for the audio. And I have I mentioned that I’m loving it?! I’d give this audio 5 stars but at this price, I’d give it 10 stars! 😉
Here are the two links I used when buying. Always, always, always preview the audio to make sure the narrator is pleasing to your ears. Be sure to double check prices before pushing any buttons because prices can change. And if you’re looking to pick up the audio at a discount, be sure to pick up the ebook version first and click on “add the audio.” Ebook and Audio

Posted in Uncategorized

Fiction Diner: Roasted Broccoli

This was another recipe I had found on Pinterest countless times. I’m a major broccoli fan, so I knew I had to try it. 


Sadly roasted broccoli wasn’t my favorite way to eat broccoli. I love roasted potatoes, but I prefer my broccoli either raw or boiled. But give them a try! You may enjoy them more than I did!

Fresh broccoli, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Toss chopped broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and lay out onto a baking sheet.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.
Roast in the oven at 375 until broccoli is tender.

99Novel Quote: 

“No woman is worth six dogs.” ~ My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas

Lol This is hands down the best line I’ve read in ages.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fiction Diner: Bell Pepper Eggs-in-a-Hole

I ran across these on Pinterest and just had to give them a try. I even have a couple of tips for you. I give them 10 stars because they are simple, delicious, and fun. 


These are as simple as they look. No long list of ingredients or tedious directions to follow. 
Select fresh bell peppers and slice.
Place a slice of pepper into a HOT non-stick pan.
Crack egg into the center of the pepper.
Season and let cook.
Remove from pan and sprinkle with cheese.

I made it two ways: with yolk and just egg whites. So feel free to pick your favorite.
The egg tried to escape from under the pepper. I had to hold the pepper down on the pan while pouring the egg in. It’s best to crack your egg into a small bowl so you can pour it into the pan with one hand.

48Novel Quote: 

“God owes you nothing, and yet He made you His daughter. You are a child of the King; it is His image you bear. King Louis marked you with judgment, but the King of Kings covers you with grace. Whose mark will you now display?” ~ The Mark of the King

Wow! Just wow!


Posted in Uncategorized

52 Week Challenge for 2017


As we wrap up 2016, many of us look into 2017 and consider what types of changes we’d like to make. I don’t want to talk about flimsy New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I want to present a weekly challenge. This is something that I’ve found real results with over the years. And here’s the fun part about this challenge, YOU decide what your weekly challenge will be. 
If you’re anything like me, there are several areas that you’d like to see some changes in. I’ve created a list of ideas, but I would recommend that you only choose one, or two at the most. The more changes you attempt to make at once, the less likely you are to stick with any of them. If you want to take on more than one challenge, consider waiting two months before adding the next challenge. 

Here’s how this works: 
Instead of trying to alter every day, this weekly challenge is set up so that you only have to do it ONCE a week. This gives you more flexibility and hopefully, less burnout.
I recommend keeping a journal for your weekly challenge. This may sound weird, but I think you’ll come to appreciate it down the road. A journal will help you remember what you’ve done as well as helping you to see at a glance how far you’ve come this year. Sometimes we forget about the progress we’ve made but the journal will be like your sash full of badges or your sticker chart. Seeing what we’ve done helps to motivate us when we consider giving up.

Challenge Ideas: 

Memorize Scripture: Pick 1 new verse every week of the year to memorize. Write down in your journal which verse you’re working on each week.

Read a Book: For those that desire to read more, turn off the tv and commit to reading 1 book every week. Jot down your books in your journal with the date or keep up with them on a specific shelf on Goodreads.

Take a Walk: This may sound silly, but if you’re like me and spend 90% of your time indoors, making an effort to step outside for some fresh air and a quick walk once a week may do wonders for your attitude, spiritual development, and creative mindset. You can jot down your location, time, and/or weather for your walk in your journal.

Read a Book of the Bible: If you struggle with daily Bible reading, consider taking on the challenge of finishing a whole book of the Bible each week. Make sure to write down the books you finish in your journal for accountability.

Visit the Gym: Maybe you haven’t made the habit of regular gym visits. But challenging yourself to visiting at least once a week will get you off to a good start. Write down the time you spent and what you did at the gym in your journal.

Craft: So many craft ideas and so little time! least that was the story before you challenged yourself to crafting something new for every week of the whole year. If your craft takes more than one week, it’s not a problem. Pick it up again the following week. The key is that you’re finally doing all the fun crafts that you’ve dreamed about. Don’t forget to jot down what you worked on each week in your journal.

Watch a movie: For some of us avid readers, we never get around to turning the tv on. I know people say that it’ll rot your brain out. But for me, I’ve found that a little downtime in front of the tube helps to renew my creative mind. And I happen to have a stack of favorite movies that I never make time for and a few tv shows on Netflix that I could indulge in. Keep track of your tube-time adventures with your journal.

Declutter or Deep Clean: Again, it can be difficult to get to everything on a daily basis. But adding 1 small job to your list once a week is much more doable. Unless you plan to kick your family out of the house for the year, you’re likely to forget what you’ve cleaned by June so make a quick note of it each week in your journal. Just flipping through your journal in July will leave you feeling accomplished.

Shoe Box: If you participate in the Christmas Shoe Boxes each year consider upping your game next year by purchasing goodies to fill one shoe box every week. You’ll have so many to turn in and bless so many more children at the end of the year. Since you’ll be collecting boxes, you may not need a journal entry on this one. 😉

Attend Church: If you’ve been lax in church attendance and hoping to change that, consider challenging yourself to attend at least one of the services every single week of 2017. You can write down the time of the service, date, and scripture preached in your journal. If you’re still looking for a church home and expect to visit more than one, don’t forget to document where you attended.

Visit/Lunch with a Friend: Busy schedules keep even the best of friends far apart. If you’d like to make more personal connections this year, consider challenging yourself to visit or meet a friend for lunch. Doesn’t have to be the same person. You could make a list of people you’d like to spend more time with and work down your list. It’ll be loads of fun. You can document who and where each week in your journal.

Color: With the coloring fad in full swing, you might have an abundance of coloring books on hand and yet little progress in any of them. If this is your story, consider challenging yourself to complee one new picture each week. You could date your pictures on the bottom or jot down what book and page number in a journal.

Visit the Elderly: Are you hoping to spread the cheer in 2017? Consider visiting someone in the nursing home or a local shut-in at least once a week. And don’t worry if you don’t know any. Just drop by the nursing home with a smile and see who you can meet or ask someone at the desk to point you to a person who doesn’t receive visitors. If snacks are appropriate for their diet, bring some when able. You can also check in with your church. They likely have a list of members who haven’t been able to get out or know someone who doesn’t. Being sick may keep you away at times so stock up on greeting cards for those weeks when you are forced to stay away. And don’t forget to document who you spent your time with each week in your journal.

Send a Note: Maybe you have a list of people you’d like to spend more time with but distance is an issue. Challenge yourself to send at least 1 email, card, or phone call to someone on your list each week. Make note of who and how in your journal.

Volunteer: Could your child’s teacher use a hand? How about another local organization? What about a single parent that could use a hand? Or parents that need a babysitter so they can get out? How about sending baked goods to your EMS, police department, ER, school office, child’s teacher, church office, pastor, or fire department? Do you know an elderly person who could use a hand with housework or yard work? If you’re hoping to offer more of yourself next year, challenge yourself to volunteer at least once a week. Make note of where and how long each week in your journal.

Try a New Recipe: Do you have a collection of cookbooks on hand? Or countless pins, links, and emails with recipes that you promised yourself you’d try and haven’t? Challenge yourself to trying at least 1 new recipe each week. Make note of the recipe, your thoughts on it, and where you found the recipe in your journal.
*I’ve actually done this one in the past and kept it up for well over a year. I feel like it’s time to start this one again so I’ll be working on this one in 2017 AND I’ll be blogging about it here! I’ve decided to title it, Fiction Diner. I’ll not only share the recipe that I chose but also my thoughts on it and one of my favorite quotes from a book I’ve read.

I’d love to hear from you! Where you inspired by any of the challenges listed here? Have something different you’d like to focus on? 

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review: NIV Bible for Teen Guys


The NIV Bible for Teen Guys, designed specifically for guys ages 13 to 18, is for real teenage guys with real lives. Packed with daily readings, highlighted promises of God, challenging insights, smart advice, and open discussion about the realities of life, this Bible is designed to help teen guys grow in their faith. The NIV Bible for Teen Guys is as serious about your walk with God as you are, helping you discover his will for all areas of your life, including relating to your family, dealing with friends, work, sports, girls, and so much more.

Features include:

Daily readings for teen guys by popular Christian male authors (Mark Batterson, Kyle Idleman, Mark Hall, Max Lucado, and more) Character profiles of men in the Bible Book introductions for each book of the Bible Highlighted promises of God: verses worth remembering A concordance for help in finding verses The complete text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV) of the Bible

I have a Life Application Study Bible that I love. When I picked up this study Bible, I was slightly disappointed not to see the commentary on every page. But that is my own fault for not understanding the differences in study Bibles. So what merits does the NIV Bible for Teen Guys have to offer? 

There is a book introduction at the start of each of the Bible books. It’s short and not exhaustive but still helpful for young men learning the ropes and setting.
They also offer up character profiles of various men found in the Bible. These pages are sprinkled throughout the book where the men appear in Scripture.
Then there are devotionals sprinkled throughout the book that were written by men and encourage teens to dig further into the passages as well as how to apply the teaching to their lives. I really liked these pages. There aren’t enough of them to read every day for a year. But they will enlighten the young men as they study. There are approximately 175 devotionals.
They boast of the highlighted promises of God but the highlighting isn’t easy to spot at a glance.
But they do offer some of the standards we come to expect to find at the back of the Bible such as a Table of weights and measures, Topical Index, and Concordance.

The hardback version I had reviewed is sturdy, but I understand that there are other options available including kindle and audio versions. The pages aren’t so see through that you can’t read it. I found the font and the black, grays, and yellow throughout the Bible easy to read and charmingly masculine.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving the NIV Bible for Teen Guys 5 stars and recommending it to anyone who enjoys the NIV version for the young men in their life.

~ I received a free copy from Book Look Bloggers. I was not compensated for my review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Gratitude, A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal

101Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal invites you to bring creative journaling and the calming act of coloring into your quiet time with God. This beautifully designed interactive prayer book from Tyndale’s Living Expressions collection helps guide your thoughts as you pray about concerns such as health, overcoming stress, personal relationships, and more. Gratitude gives you a way to celebrate and give thanks to God for the many blessings he provides. Filled with over 100 designs to color, plenty of space for journaling and sketching, and 40 needs-based prayers, Gratitude helps you express your devotion to God with your whole heart!

What I Loved: The Gratitude journal is very compact and easy to carry along with your Bible. The book itself is very well done. Tyndale used quality paper and lots of colorful designs. This journal is very different from your average coloring book or devotional. It’s a healthy blend of both. Some pages were 100% colored. Some are waiting for you to add the color. And some are a blend of both ideas with select images colored and others left blank for you.

Gratitude is a very thought provoking journal. Each page is a different theme and encourages you to meditate on God’s goodness in your life and even add your own personal prayers or notes to the pages.

What I Didn’t Love: With a coloring prayer journal, it’s hard to have enough space for everything. In this particular book, I would have liked to have seen more space for personal notes or prayers.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Gratitude 5 stars and I think it would make a great gift or an addition to your Bible study.

Visit Tyndale’s Living Expressions Page for similar products.

~I received a copy from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. 

Sample Pages:





Posted in Uncategorized

An Invitation to the Author Olympics


I might have mentioned my love for the Olympics last week. 🙂 Well, I wasn’t joking. Lol With the Olympics playing all night in my home and me sitting at the computer slaving away on the next great novel during the day, I was inspired to create a fun little game for us authors. We’re calling it the Author Olympics.

The idea is simple. At the start of your writing day, set your personal goals and divide them up between bronze, silver, and gold medals. For example, a gold medal would be the highest possible goal, silver would fall in the middle, and the bronze award would be the lowest amount that you would accept from yourself.
You don’t have to be in the writing phase to play along. You’re in charge of your goals so feel free to make them whatever you need. If you’re editing, you might want to count scenes or chapters. You could count topics or pages read if you’re researching this week.

We’re playing the Author Olympics on Facebook all week long. I encourage anyone who wants to participate to snag the meme on this page and post about your game and your medal count throughout the week on your Facebook page. Twitter fans, feel free to tweet. We’re using the hashtag, #authorolympics and encouraging each other along.

Have fun and happy writing!!

Posted in Uncategorized

Summer Library Scavenger Hunt

2I have the pleasure of working on my church’s library committee. So that means that I have yet one more excuse to surround myself with books and lots of them. 🙂  I’ve even spent the last few weeks shopping for books for the library. There’s nothing more exciting than buying books with someone else’s money! 😉

Libraries might offer hundreds of books, but you’ll not benefit from them if you never walk in and check them out. In a day and time where the prices are steadily climbing, it’s nice to know that someone still offers fun for the entire family for FREE. And with four kids, free is the best price.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve enjoyed your local library, allow me to give you some suggestions:
*Take a break and go alone. For busy moms or dads, slip over on your lunch break and enjoy the tall stacks of books and the comfy chairs.
*Visit your library when you have thirty minutes to kill between appointments. Why stay in your car on your phone when your library offers a change of scenery, a free book, and a “screen break?”
*Make it a treat for the kids! After a doctor/dentist appointment or shopping trip, take your kiddos to the library. It’s like sending them into a toy store…only you can take things home for free. 😉
*Make a day of it: Pack a picnic, head to the library to borrow books, take in a few hours of fun at the park, then enjoy your lunch followed by some reading time in the shade.
*Many libraries have summer reading programs already in place and offer prizes to young kids. If your library doesn’t offer anything or your young reader doesn’t read enough to earn them, consider giving them prizes yourself. A half-priced slush from Sonic would hit the spot or an ice cream cone for under a dollar would do the trick without breaking the bank.
*Pick a book to read together. There are tons of classics or favorites from our childhood that you can enjoy with your children. Maybe you’ve read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe but you’ve never read the rest of the series. This summer could be the year you sat down with you kiddos and enjoyed them. Read aloud in the shade of your backyard. Or read a chapter a day from multiple copies and discuss it over dinner. Listen to an audio version together in the car as you run errands all summer.
*Create a movie and book event. After reading the book, watch the movie together, complete with your favorite movie theater snacks, of course. 😉
*Make a book sundae. For every book your child completes, they earn a topping for their sundae. At the end of the appointed time, enjoy a family ice cream party together.

In case you STILL need some convincing, I created a Scavenger Hunt for my church library this summer. I’ll share it with you. I’ve also tweaked the original so if you have children, feel free to use the kid-friendly version.

The key to this particular challenge is to take advantage of your local library. So let’s pull out our library cards, find a book and a nice shady spot, and enjoy our summer!!

I’d love to hear from anyone taking the Library Scavenger Hunt Challenge. I’ll be playing along this summer. Within our church, we’ve decided the dates would run between June 1 – July 31. Of course, you’re welcome to work on the challenge longer but for the sake of this public challenge, we’ll work within those dates. I’ll be back to update you on my progress and ask for yours.
But remember, for this particular challenge, your reading material must be found in the library. Many libraries offer e-reader options. Call and ask for a link if you don’t already have one.
*If you want to save this scavenger hunt list to use for your personal TBR pile or to help clean off your e-reader, feel free to do so.

Adult Library Scavenger Hunt:
Find a book….
Written by a male author
Favorite color on cover
Set in a state or country you’d like to visit
1 word title
With a building on the cover
Published before the year 2000
Author’s last name starts with the same letter as yours
Read a Juvenile book
With a mystery
From a series
Written by your favorite author
Book over 400 pages long
Recommended by a librarian or friend
Novel that isn’t part of a series
Book set in a state you’ve lived in
Published in 2015-1016
Written by an author you’ve never tried
Historic fiction novel
With a form of transportation on the cover
Animal on the cover
Nonfiction book
Written by more than 1 author
Flower on the cover
Written by a female author
Main character’s first name starts with the same letter as yours

Kid-Friendly Library Scavenger Hunt:
Find a book…
Written by a male author
Favorite color on cover
Set in a state or country you’d like to visit
1 word title
With a building on the cover
Published before the year 2000
Author’s last name starts with the same letter as yours
Read a book with a friend or family member
With a mystery
From a series
Written by your favorite author
Book that has a movie made after it
Book chosen by the librarian or adult family member
Novel that isn’t part of a series
Book set in a state you’ve lived in
A new arrival or published in 2015-2016
Written by an author you’ve never tried
Fiction book/novel with historic setting
Form of transportation on the cover
Animal on the cover
Nonfiction book
Written by more than 1 author
Flower on the cover
Written by a female author
Main character’s first name starts with the same letter as yours

*Quick notes and rules: You can only use one book per slot. 
All books for the library challenge must be found in a library.
For some additional fun: Consider writing each scavenger clue on a slip of paper and drawing them out of a jar at random. 
Or since there are 25 scavenger clues, you could create a bingo sheet and try doing 5 in a row. 
Have fun!!!