In my Mailbox Monday...

This is my first Mailbox Monday...what a fun idea! I have seen these posts all over, but I believe the 2 originators are Marcia at The Printed Page for Mailbox Monday and Kristi at The Story Siren for In the Mailbox. I included both hosts because most of these are books I purchased myself. I received 4 books in the mail this week and purchased another four at Ollies!!
The books I purchased (all for $4 or less!!) are:
  • Jacob's Way by Gilbert Morris,
  • When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin,
  • Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore & Lynn Vincent,
  • Unseen by T.L. Hines

The books I received in the mail include Love finds you in Snowball, Arkansas by Sandra D. Bricker, which I won in a giveaway that she hosted on her blog. Thanks so much Sandra!

And as I've mentioned in an earlier post I ordered the entire Daughters of Boston series by Julie Lessman, and they arrived this week! I am so looking forward to these books, which include A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed and A Passion Denied! I have read wonderful things about them, and because I have "met" Julie here in the blog world (see previous link), they will mean so much more!


Olympics and Scripture

I love the Olympics! The competition, the stories, the excitement, I enjoy every bit. I cringe or gasp at each fall. I fight tears at the wins and the backstories. I sit at the edge of my seat awaiting scores and results. It is an exciting two weeks, but that's all it is for me: two weeks every two years. For the athletes involved, it is their life. Every day, (I would even hazard to guess that every hour) they think about the goal of getting there, of winning that gold! Their lives are ruled by the game and the training. (What they eat and drink, how much they sleep, how much they work out, lift weights, practice, and compete.) They live a regimented, restricted life that to these athletes is well worth the sacrifice to reach their goal. They overcome injuries, setbacks, and losses.
So often what I see in the world reminds me of scripture, and such is the case with the Olympics. Words we commonly hear in Olympic headlines include determination, training, overcome, goal, and reward. Paul writes frequently of goals and races, and in the sermon on the mount, Jesus says "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven." Matthew 5:12a

A few of the other scriptures that we can apply to the Olympics and learn from follow.
Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The world watches the Olympics, literally! This drives some athletes, but they must focus on their event and their goal. They look to past medal winners for inspiration. We must focus on Jesus and look to the many examples in His Word for inspiration.
Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider my self yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Athletes must not think about past mistakes and losses, or even of past wins; they must push forward, not stopping until they have accomplished that for which they came. Our works do not grant us salvation, only the grace of God achieved on the cross can do that; however, He has beautiful blessings awaiting us if we follow Him, pressing forward to that for which He has called us: loving Him, serving Him, furthering His Kingdom.
1 Cor 9:24-26
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

These athletes train hard, and the best of the best do receive their medal. A beautiful and worthy prize it is, however it is not eternal! God promises us eternal life through His son, Jesus; and as if that were not enough, He offers eternal rewards. We must train--through prayer and scripture, obeying God's Word and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Each race is different, but with His guidance, He will get us to the finish line and our promised reward in Heaven!!


A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick

Set in the early 1900s this Christian historical centers around Jessie Gaebele who has a heart for photography. She finds herself working for Mr. F.J. Bauer in his studio and darkroom, learning the techniques. As time passes, Mr. Bauer suffers debilitating illnesses at two separate times, leaving Jessie and her friend Voe running his studio, while he recovers at home with his wife and children. Jessie proves more than competent as she excels at both the art and business side of studio photography. She branches out and encourages F.J. to do the same, (photographing at a parade and wedding). The conflict is that working closely with "Mr. B," as they sometimes call him, proves to be dangerous ground for Jessie.
The historical detail in this novel was interesting and educating. Kirkpatrick deals with subjects such as the beginning stages of photography with its related illnesses and women's roles during that era. We see motor cars and horse drawn carriages, and there is a scene including President Taft.
I found the main plot line a little slow moving and was more engaged in the side stories involving both the Gaebeles with little Roy, and the Bauers with their past and present trials. The secondary characters were well developed and added depth to layers of the story. I appreciated Jessie's transformation and growth in her faith although it felt a little fast at the end of the book.
Kirkpatrick creates believable characters in illuminating settings. Readers learn about history and human nature as well as the beauty of grace and second chances.
I am glad that there will be a follow up book, An Absence So Great due out later this year. There were a couple of unanswered questions and unresolved problems, especially in the engaging side stories that I hope to see addressed!

Teaser Tuesday...

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Well I just finished a book last night, so this teaser is from one I pulled off the shelf this morning: Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish.

Teasers are from page 137:
"The pit fire had burned out during the night, and by midmorning the
ashes, though they still held enough heat to stick to the bottom of
Abbi's sandals, were cool enough to allow her to ease into the hole
and unload her pottery. Janet hung socks in mismatched pairs on
the rusted clothes tree cemented in the center of her own backyard,
steeling glances Abbi's way."


God Blesses through Blogs!

I found a great blog called "Operation Encourage an Author." I love that the goal is to encourage authors who so often uplift us, the readers. The feature author last week was Julie Lessman. Her books include the Daughters of Boston series, and upcoming A Hope Undaunted. Readers were given the opportunity to ask Julie a question. Being new to the blogging world, it is thrilling to be able to interact with people who we would not normally come into contact. God blessed me through our exchange, and I was so touched that I wanted to share it. Here is our discussion"
Text Color

(Me) Well, I have never read Julie Lessman before, but I recently asked the question on my new blog "What is your favorite Christian fiction book?" My first response was the Daughters of Boston series, so I had to check it out! It looks like I would love them. My question is do you have a scripture that you consider your life verse and why?

(Julie) WOW, MEGAN!!! I am SO blessed to hear that people actually voted for my series on your website -- VERY COOL!! THANK YOU for sharing that with me! :)

And I am VERY excited that you plan to read my books as well and will now give you my standard warning -- PLEASE begin with book 1, A Passion Most Pure, because this is really a series that needs to be read in order to get the most out of it due to several big surprises, okay?

You asked: Do you have a scripture that you consider your life verse and why?

Gosh, I have SO many life verses because I need SO much help in my life, but if I would have to choose just one for various things, it would be as follows:

The verses I PRAY the most (every day!!) would be Psalm 139:23-24, which are: Search me, O God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting.

The verses that calm my fears the most would be ALL of Psalm 23, which I have memorized and often lull myself to sleep saying when I am upset about something.

And my verses for 2010?

#1) Proverbs 4:25-27: Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left;turn your foot from evil.

#2) John 3:30: He must become greater; I must become less.

GREAT QUESTION, Megan, and thanks again for stopping by!


(Me) JULIE, I just wanted to say thanks for your response. A friend of mine in Bible study suggested Psalm 139 to me this week to focus on...And it just gave me chills/brought tears to my eyes to see it here. And your verses for 2010 really apply to what He is working on in me...WOW! What a confirmation from the Lord! Thank you so much. I can't wait to read your books, as God is using you to touch people's lives even separate from them!!!

(Julie) WOW, Megan, talk about "chills/tears"!!! Don't you just LOVE when God does that to confirm something to you??? I am SO glad that He is fine-tuning each of us through His Word, but especially through Psalm 139, at least for me and apparently you too!

But I'll post a warning here for you and everyone who attempts to pray Psalm139:23-24 (Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.)

WARNING!!! If you attempt to pray this on a daily basis, please know that you will have to stop fairly soon thereafter because TRUST ME ... he WILL nail you to the wall with various "offensive ways" that He sees in you, so BE PREPARED!! I periodically have to cease praying it because sometimes I just need a breather ... :)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the books, and I would love to hear what you think when you are done if you want to contact me through my website.

Thank you SO much for your encouragement, Megan, and have a blessed weekend!


Isn't wonderful how God uses people even when they are unaware. He directs one person to a blog in which someone will confirm a scripture already given. I love it!
Actually, Proverbs 4:25-27 has direct applications to where I am in my walk with the Lord as well. I am working on "Practicing the Presence," being aware of Jesus and the Holy Spirit's presence and working in every aspect of my day. I must keep my eyes on Him at all times. I must learn not to turn to the distractions of the world. Again, I just love how God works. Isn't He Amazing!
I have ordered Julie's series of books and am eagerly watching the mail for their arrival! I am almost disappointed that I have 9 books I need to read and review by the end of March because I want to stop everything and read her series as soon as it gets here! For now I will fulfill my responsibilities while eagerly awaiting the time I can break open A Passion Most Pure, the first in the series.


A-Z Challenge

How about this challenge: A-Z reading challenge. You can choose 26 titles or 26 authors starting with all the letters of the alphabet; or for the ultimate challenge 52 books with A-Z titles and A-Z authors! Very neat idea; however I'm thinking it would be pretty difficult. I think I may attempt this one; I love the challenge. I'm going to start out with a list of both titles and authors (not duplicating between lists. I actually do not expect to read all of these, but I wanted to make out a tentative list for both. So here it is; red indicates completed.

Here's what I've got so far:

Against All Odds by Irene Hannon Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate
Blood Ransom by Lisa Harris Oak Leaves by Maureen Lang
Created to be his Helpmeet by Debi Pearl Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth Qi by David Aikman
An Eye for An Eye by Irene Hannon Ruby's Slippers by Leana Ellis
Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick Seeing Things by Patti Hill
Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher Things Worth Remembering by Stark
Her Inheritance Forever by Lyn Cote Unwilling Warrior by Andrea Boeshaar
Inheritance by Tamera Alexander Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle
June Bug by Chris Fabry Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish
Kiss by Ted Dekker EliXer by Davis Bunn
Love Finds you in Liberty, Indiana by Dobson Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson
Michal by Jill Eileen Smith DMZ by Jeannette Windle

Andy Andrews's The Heart Mender Linda Nichols' Not a Sparrow Falls
CD Baker's Crusade of Tears Mark Andrew Olson's The Assignment
Amy Clipston's A Gift of Grace Parrish's Offworld
CJ Darlington's Thicker than Blood q
Everson's This Fine Life Francine River's Her Mother's Hope
Miralee Ferrel's The Other Daughter Sharon Souza's Every Good and Perfect Gift
Deanna Gist's Beguiled Ann Tatlock's The Returning
Irene Hannon's In Harm's Way u
Jacob Israel's The Calling Jennifer Erin Valent ??
James David Jordan's Forsaken Bonnie K. Winn's Lone Star Blessings
Karen Kingsbury's Take One Christine LynXwiler's Promise Me Always
Michael Landon (and Kelley)'s The Silent Gift y
Siri Mitchell's Love's Pursuit Z


Christy Award Reading Challenge

Okay, I found another challenge. I know you're probably thinking "enough is enough," Right? Well, I have to support the Christian book awards! So this one is a must! The Christy Award Re ading Challenge has many entry levels, ranging from Christian Fiction Newbie to Hardcore. I am going to start in the middle at the 4th tier, which is 7-9 winners. I am going to mix-n-match years because I have read some already. You can see all the levels of entry and a full list of titles here.
The winners that I've read are: Unashamed by Francine Rivers, Hidden Places by Lynn Austin, The Guardian by Dee Henderson, Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin, Dogwood by Chris Fabry, From a Distance by Tamera Alexander, Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner, The Brethren by Beverly Lewis, Madman by Tracy Groot, Whence Came a Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs, Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann, Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer, and River Rising by Athol Dickson.
Other nominated titles I've read include The Battle for the Vast Dominion by Bryan Polivka,Thomas, Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson, The Proof by Austin Boyd, Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee, Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock, Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin, River's Edge by Terri Blackstock, Last Light by Terri Blackstock, Shade by Olson, My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay, The Pawn by Stephen James, Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet, and Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller.
For this challenge, I am reading 7-9 (or more) winners. This is actually pretty easy for me because I already have probably 20 of the assorted winners in my to read pile. Some of the titles I'll choose from are: A Bride Most Begrudging by Deanne Gist, This Measure of Lady by Deanne Gist, This Heavy Silence by Nicole Mazzarella, The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello, Vanish by Tom Pawlik, Thr3e by Ted Dekker, Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin, Fire by Night by Lynn Austin, Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin, A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin, Plague Maker by Tim Downs, Transgression by Randy Ingermanson, King's Ransom by Jan Beazley and Thom Lemmons, The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock, William Henry is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke, I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke, The Rook by Steven James, Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky, Remembered by Tamera Alexander, and A Place Called Wireglass by Michael Morris . That is 10 winners from various years. I may switch some of those out, depending on what I am in the mood for at the time.

There is another great Christian book award program called the ECPA. I am thinking about hosting a spring/summer reading challenge for these books. Look for a future post!


VOICE: a devotional thought for readers and writers

I pay close attention to voice when reading and writing. The voice of a book adds to its message and impact; it often determines who will read and enjoy the book and who won't. It adds to character development and mood. The voice makes a huge contribution in all aspects of a book, but what about voice in our daily lives. During Bible study today, we discussed David and Goliath. Everyone around David was afraid and discouraging. David knew God, and he knew himself. He listened to the voice of truth (which reminds me of the Casting Crowns song), and God used him to defeat Goliath and rescue the Israelites.

There are many messages and voices that we face everyday: from our family and friends, from random people we come into contact, from media, and from the Lord. Which voice we listen to shapes our lives; it shapes what we do and who we are. Many messages may make sense; many are even factual, but are they true! (eg...fact: I messed up again...truth "His mercies are new each morning, I am forgiven.") The Bible says Jesus is the Truth! If we do not know Him, how can we recognize which voice to follow. We must follow the Holy Spirit's voice, through scripture and prayer and stillness.

Then there is the voice we speak; do we use our true voice, or the one that we think others want to hear. Again, without Jesus (the Truth), how can we know who we are or what our true voice sounds like. What "voice" do you live when no one sees you but God? How do you think He wants to refine that voice? Does your voice lead others toward the Truth or away from Him?

What voice do you listen to? What voice do you speak? Is it focused on the Truth?


Review and GIVEAWAY: Against All Odds by Irene Hannon

Against All Odds is the first in the romantic suspense series, Heroes of Quantico. I was lucky enough to receive two copies of this book, so I have a brand new one to giveaway. This is one you want to win; I really enjoyed it.
Monica Callahan is estranged from her diplomat dad, but when someone wants to get to him, she is targeted. The FBI Hostage Rescue Team is assigned to keep her safe. She is less than cooperative with Evan Cooper (Coop) and his partner when they explain the situation, but after a threat reaches her home she realizes the need for the protection. The book follows the story of her, Coop, and of her dad in the Middle East.
The heart of this book lies amidst the tension and suspense, in the relationships. Communication is important to Monica, but there hadn't been much of that between her and her dad. This situation leads her to realize her part in their lack of relationship. In addition to the father-daughter relationship, there is also a friendship and attraction between Monica and Coop. Finally, there is a new faith relationship.
This book is endorsed by the popular Dee Henderson, who is one of the most followed of this genre. Against All Odds is a great book. It kept me engaged and anxious to find out what happened next. Monica's faith carries over in her life, and it touches those around her. It was suspenseful, but it had a strong theme and application. I am exited to read the next book, An Eye for an Eye.

To enter the giveaway contest, please do the following:
1. become a follower
2. leave a comment, letting me know what your favorite Christian fiction book is (or if you don't have one, leave a recommendation in this genre or in your favorite)!
Winner will be chosen using random.com and the number of your comment.
Due to shipping, contest is limited to residents of North America.
Contest open until Feb 28. Winner will be emailed and announced here on March 1.

WINNER Announced

Through random.com, I have a winner for the Take Two Giveaway...Jane Maritz (MoziEsme)!! Visit her websites at http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/


An email has been sent notifying the winner, and a new giveaway will be announced soon!


CFRB: Forgiving Sean by Jessica Adriel

Forgiving Sean
by Jessica Adriel

This month, CFRB presents Forgiving Sean by Jessica Adriel.

I have just joined the Christian Fiction Review Blog, and this is the book they are touring right now. I did not get to read it, but it is now on my wish list! (I'm going to download the free chapters from Adriel's website tonight.) Forgiving Sean is the second book in the Chatham series; the third book is due out this summer. In the first book Drawing Marissa, Marissa Gladstone's dad dies. She starts a relationship with Sean Moffit, but he skips town three years later leaving Marissa, pregnant with a ring on her finger and no explanation. Marissa is reintroduced to Hawke Davies, who it seems shows her the love she needs. In Forgiving Sean, Hawke proposes to Marissa, but after losing her dad and Sean, she is hesitant and afraid to hurt again. To make matters more complicated, Sean returns home. He wants Marissa back and she needs to know why he left. There is a bit of competition between Sean and Hawke, and both have confessions to make. Marissa is stuck in the middle and in need of God's grace to help her forgive and move toward the future He wants for her.

About the Author:
(from CFRB)
Jessica Adriel is a licensed minister, author, mother and speaker. She spends her days penning books, preparing talks and delving into the world of teenagers. Her gifts of communication and compassion were noticed early on when she composed over 800 poems during high school and yet spent a great deal of time with volunteer efforts. A native to New England, it was Jessica's tragic stint of car accidents, assaults and a four year career in modeling that inspired her to write 'real life' novels that impact teenagers. Today Jessica inspires and ignites teens to find their God given purpose through her books and challenging seminars. Her stories provide a bridge between today's generation and the pressures of media and peer pressure which lead teens in the wrong direction. Armed with a plethora of stories and a deep love for God, Jesus introduces her audience to Christ in unconventional, yet very powerful ways.

Visit the author's website and

check out the
Free Chapter Downloads.

Forgiving Sean and Drawing Marissa at

Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.


GIVEAWAY by Bloggy Blog Designz

Since I'm new to the blogging world, I still have a lot to learn. This type of giveaway is very exciting to me!

Bloggy Blog Designz is doing it all over again! They are giving away blog designs and all kinds of goodies. Plus ALL entrants will receive 15% off their purchase! Be sure to check out their website (www.BloggyBlogDesignz.com) for more information, or to enter yourself. The giveaway will close on Feb 14 at midnight.

Seeing Things by Patti Hill

This was a fun read with strong characters and an even stronger message. Birdie Wainwright has macular degeneration with a large grey blur in the middle of her vision. If that were not enough she starts seeing things. It starts with flowers, but when the field of flowers is in place of her stairs, she takes a tumble and breaks an ankle. Her son brings her to his house to recover. Living in her sons house allows her a view of the troubles there. She makes new friends and develops a new way to pray for family. AND Huckleberry Finn makes frequent visits. Between her dog, her vision, and her hallucinations, she causes some trouble. But the Lord uses her to make some needed changes in her family's lives.
Seeing Things was the first of Patti Hill's work that I have read, but from the prologue I knew I would enjoy it. Hill's writing is unique and fresh like the first buds in spring, promising growth and entertainment. Each character down to the smallest of parts was believable and real. She has created some of the most three dimensional characters I have read in quite some time. Birdie's voice was solid and real. She reminded me a bit of my grandmother. The storyline flowed smoothly with a strong Christian worldview. The power of prayer and sacrificial love were strong themes in this novel, and I am sure to remember the example of how Birdie "lowered her family through the roof" to Jesus in prayer. I loved this book and I'm passing it on to my mom this week!


Take One by Karen Kingsbury

Working in a bookstore for 8 years has proven that Kingsbury is one of the biggest names in the genre. She has a huge following and not without reason. She has published 53 books, with 2 more due out this year. Like Dandelion Dust has been made into a movie and A Thousand Tomorrows is currently in production. She writes contemporary stories of life, love, families, and relationships. Her novels are believable, and readers can relate to the characters. Of those characters, the Baxter family is perhaps the most cherished. They make a beautiful contribution to this new Above the Line series.
The main story in this novel is about Chase and Keith making an inspirational movie. The two served on the mission field together until they felt God leading their mission field to the movie industry; however, they face many trials and setbacks trying to produce their movie. On the sidelines, they make friends with the Baxters; and Keith's daughter, Andi, is Bailey Flanagan's new roommate in college. (Bailey is also from the Baxter books.) Because I had read the other three series, I found myself more engaged in Bailey's story (at least at the beginning). As I got to know Chase and Keith, I loved seeing their faith tested and proved through each new difficulty. I appreciated the message that following God's will may not always be easy. The enemy will try to stop you, but through prayer, the Lord accomplishes His will in His way. Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" And I say "Amen!"
As with other Kingsbury novels, Take One is a clear description of life and relationships. The characters are well-rounded; we get to know their weaknesses. Many of the situations they face are similar to ones we all have experienced. The story was emotionally engaging, and I can't wait continue the series!

Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher

I finished this one before I started this blog, but I wanted to go back and review it so that I would have all of my 2010 reading list reviewed here. I like Travis Thrasher. I got one of his books from the library a while back (Admission) and after finishing it, pulled all the titles we had at the bookstore into my hold pile. This is the second book I've read by him. It was entertaining, but not my favorite. I like suspense and mystery, but horror is really not my thing. Thrasher spins a good tale; he is definitely a skillful writer. Ghostwriter was scary, but a little too dark and gory for my personal taste.
Bestselling author Dennis Shore loses his wife and finds he cannot write anymore. He winds up selling a stolen manuscript, later that choice haunts him, literally. Cillian Reed, the author of the manuscript confronts Dennis and begins to stalk him. Throughout Dennis is searching for hope. I did not find a strong message of Christ, but rather images of heaven and his dead wife giving him that hope.
I have not given up on Thrasher as even in this novel, he proved he is a talented writer. I think I will stay away from any classified as horror for now. I'm not completely convinced that there is such a thing as "Christian horror," if you can suggest a book that would change my mind...Please do. I'll try it out and let you know what I think here!


Adventures in Cake Baking...

I have been talking to my kids about baking a German chocolate cake for my husband, Martin, for Valentine's, and today we are snowed in...so today was the adventure! But first a little background. I have two kids. Sierra will be 5 in May, and Boston just turned 3 last month. They love baking. So here it goes...We started out arguing over who got to stand on who's stool and ended up with no stools! I discovered that I only have one round cake pan, so I was going to have to bake one at a time. This was not looking good. The kids stirred the lumps out of the mix and spilled on the dining table. Then they helped me crack the eggs :) After that, Boston got bored and I started mixing. He came running back to the kitchen upset that his balloon tiger from the Carnival last week had come undone. So I recreated it, a little lopsidedly! Meanwhile, Sierra turned the mixer back on "to help," only the mixer was not in the bowl, so batter splattered everywhere. Now-- the wall, the toaster, the counter, and three extra bowls (that I had mistakenly left out) all needed washed, not to mention our clothes! While I made an initial wipe down, Boston snuck a spoon out of the drawer and headed toward the batter, with a knowing grin on his face! Finally one cake was in the oven, and the kids were distracted. I sat down to the computer.
When the first cake was finished, I started working on the filling and (all moms out there, feel free to ask "what were you thinking!?!") I asked the kids if they wanted to help clean up! They each pulled a chair up to the sink and reached for the faucet. As Sierra went for the sprayer, I lovingly reminded them not to splash each other. (Sierra is helping me write this, and she wants me to add that I did not want splashed either. This is true!) Well, five minutes of them cleaning up led to me sending them upstairs to clean themselves up, while I took the second cake out of the oven. I went to the sink to assess the damage, did I mention I was wearing socks, and of course I stepped into a large puddle. Wiping that up, I then finished the dishes that were good and wet and soapy!! Leaving everything to cool, I started this documentation of our exciting adventures in cake baking. Now the question...should I let them help icing it!?!


Books, Books, and More Books

I love books. Most people who know me actually tease me about my, ahem, "problem." I have tons of books, and because I pass on all but my absolute favorites, most I still haven't read. Yet I cannot help myself when it comes to getting more. The bookstore where I worked recently closed, so naturally I bought a couple, or 3 or 4 boxes of books. Last night my husband came upstairs from the basement, where most of my bookshelves are located, and he said "Do you know how many books you have?" With a smile on my face, I very cleverly replied "well... a lot!" He said "I think you have over 600 books down there!" Now that is an exaggeration, all be it a small one. This morning I counted my Christian fiction, and there were over 300 titles. I didn't count any non-Christian titles, non-fiction, or young adult titles. My amazon wishlist is 20 pages long or more, and I only included first in a series. Yesterday I ordered four books, and imagine my surprise when the mailman shows up today with a package that looks suspiciously like books. My eyebrows rose as I opened the package and found 4 different books that I received to judge for a contest (that I forgot I had signed up for). My day is made. Many women swoon over shoe sales, but give me a bargain book store or an Ollie's and I'll shop for hours, browsing titles, reading covers, double checking what I already having. With the good sales, I usually end up assigning priority levels. Must haves go in the cart, really wants in the seat of the cart, not necessary-but it looks pretty good on table in front of me, and I guess I could live without has to be returned to the shelf. Then I start over again, reading the synopsis, checking out the writing and switching piles until I've narrowed it down to a respectable pile of 5 or 6, sometimes 7 if the price is good. Do you think I have a problem yet? To be fair, I received many of my bonuses in books at the books store, so much of my pile was free. And I do look for sales and discuss my purchases with my husband first. He may shake his head and accuse "You are never going to read all those." I don't think the accusation is accurate, but if I don't...Books make great gifts, Right!?!


Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark

Things Worth Remembering was an touching story about redemption. It stresses the importance of forgiveness in both the offender and the offended's lives. Written in alternating mother and daughter points of view, you learn of a relationship gone astray nine years ago. The story covers the week prior to daughter Maisey's wedding. The tension is high between the two women, and as the week progresses they each remember moments before and after their relationship changed. Thus we learn how they have changed, and in a pivotal confrontation, we learn why.
At first I wasn't sure if I liked the voices; I felt Kennedy (the mother) was a bit whiny, and Maisey just spoiled or selfish. However, the story progressed well, and as they started to remember and reveal, they each grew on me. I loved the secondary characters of Kennedy's husband and Maisey's fiance, and Luke and Marcus were crucial to the resolution.
I enjoyed having both main characters' perspectives. It added fresh layers to the plot and narration. This book does not fit the mold. It is unique and inspiring. My daughter is only 4, but I have dreams of what our relationship could be as she grows. Although Kendy and Maisey went through a very difficult experience, this book challenges you to work for it! I have Stark's Tender Graces on my shelf and hope it will be as well delivered as this one is. I would, without hesitation recommend Things Worth Remembering.


More Challenges

I'm new to book blogging and did not realize the number and variety of different challenges that are out there. I found a few more that I know I'll be able to finish. There are also some that I thought were pretty interesting, so I'll add them here too. Then we'll see if I get to them all at the end of the year! So, I've already talked about the 100+ books in a year, the 20 new-to-me Christian authors, and the 24 Christian historical fiction books.

I found the following challenges on theroyalreviews.blogspot.com. There are different levels of participation for each ranging from Curious (3 books), Fascinated (6 books), Addicted (12 books), and Obsessed (20 books). The challenges are: 1rst in series, 2cnd reading, Finish that series, Wish I'd read that, and the Chunkster reading challenge. For the 1rst in a series, I'll shoot for 6 books, which should be pretty easy for me. In the 2cnd reading challenge, you can read second in a series or second book by an author. I'm tempted to sign up for addicted and say I'll read 12, but to be safe I'll start with 6 here too. I'm also signing up for 6 in the Finish that series, and 6 in the Wish I'd read that challenge, which includes book's I've been wanting to read for a while, but haven't.

The chunkster challenge has it's own site chunksterchallenge.blogspot.com, and it's focus is large books, over 450 pages, with 3 levels being 3 books, 4 books, or 6 books. You can opt to read 3 books over 750 pages for this last category. This challenge started Feb 1, and I am sticking with 3 for this one.

The next challenge is Support your local library challenge, with 4 levels of entry. The first is the mini totaling 25 books from the library; the next is the Just my size with 50 books. Then there is the Stepping it up with 75 and the Super Size Me at 100. Seeing as how I have hundreds of books in my house yet to read, and this is not an exaggeration, I'll stay with the mini because I do love the library!

The next two are a little more complicated. What's in a Name? 3 challenge includes 6 books with specifics about the title. The six books all must meet a certain requirement about the title. The titles must include a food, a body of water, a name title(like queen, Mr. or Mrs., Lady, etc), a plant, a place name, and a music term. This was found on whatisinaname3.blogspot.com.
The TwentyTen reading challenge originated on bartsbookshelf.co.uk. For this challenge you read two books per 10 categories totaling 20 books. The categories are as follows. Young adult, T.B.R. (books already on your shelf to read), Shiny and New (books bought new from a bookstore in 2010), Bad bloggers (books you read based on the recommendation of another blogger...review should include link), Charity (books bought from a local charity shop), New in 2010 (published in 2010), Older than you (published before you were born), Win!Win! (books you need to read for another challenge), Who are you again? (authors you've never heard of), Up to you (make up your own rules).

All of these can overlap other challenges but now within themselves. A breakdown for me would be a total of 101 books for 2010, with 20 being new to me authors, 24 christian historical, 6 1rst in series, 6 finishing series, 6 second (either in series or by author), 3 with over 450 pages, 25 from the library, one with food in the title, one with a body of water, one with a title in the title, one with a plant, one with a place name, and one with a music term in the title. Two need to be young adult titles, 2 from my to be read pile, 2 bought new from a bookstore this year, and two bought from a charity store, 2 based on bloggers recommendations, 2 published in 2010, and 2 published before 1978, 2 by authors I've never heard of, and for the category I'm making up, 2 recommended by someone in a book store.

I will keep a running list of books I've read here, with the challenges that they meet...