Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

That's the thing about talking with someone, meeting with them, spending time in their presence, eventually it changes you. They leave an imprint on your life.

I love the imprint He leaves:)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Good Reason for a Day Off!

Hey all, I'm taking today off because of my crazy weekend. I went to Detroit with my girls for a church Fine Arts competition and got to watch them--and hundreds of other kiddos--use some amazing gifts for God. LOVE!

I'm also trying to whip up a cake and wrap up a present for my boy who'll turn 14 tomorrow. Wowza. Not quite sure how that happened.

But, best of all, I celebrated with my almost-twelve-year-old daughter yesterday as she was baptized!

Nope. Cannot beat that kind of busyness:)

So I'll see you back here on Wednesday. Enjoy your Monday, friends. Praying God's bottomless blessings on you!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade (and my monthly giveaway)

I have loved Becky Wade since her debut novel My Stubborn Heart. If you haven't read it, seriously, pick it up; it just happens to be one of my all-time favorite contemporary romances. After her debut, Becky started a series about the Porter family. Meant to be Mine is the second book in that series. Here's the scoop on it and we'll chat...on the other side:)

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

All right. Like I already mentioned, this is the second in the Porter family series, but by no means do you need to read the first. Oh, you'll want to, but you can start here too:)

I loved the premise of this book, because it completely hooked me the moment I cracked it open. Within a chapter, my heart was splitting for Celia, but I knew it was a romance so there had to be a Happily Ever After, and I was on a quest to find out how Becky would deliver it. She most certainly did not disappoint.

With her wicked flair for dialogue, Becky pulled me straight into the middle of Celia and Ty's world, quite often with some big laughs. The chemistry between the two is so undeniable, even Celia and Ty straight out speak to it on many occasions. But these characters have some major issues to hurdle, and that provides plenty of conflict and heart wrenching moments in the midst of it--the balance between serious and laughter perfectly measured.

One of the other things I really liked about this book had to do with the plot. Often when a character hides a pregnancy and the father returns on scene, the heroine continues to hide the fact that the child is his until the end. Once revealed, the on-going lie is used as a source of tension and conflict that ultimately pulls the two main characters apart. While Celia hid her pregnancy from Ty, she admits it straight off, and Becky used this different and unique angle to drive the story in a fresh way. I loved seeing Ty win not one, but two hearts of the women (ok, one woman, one girl) he loves.

I happily give Meant to be Mine 5 out of 5 stars. If you'd like to pick it up, you can find it here.

Now for a little about Becky. Here's her Would You Rather answer, because yes, as Becky aptly points out, I ask the hard-hitting questions here:)

Would you rather be:
a talking chipmunk
a flying squirrel

Becky's response?

You like to pose the hard questions, don't you Susan?  I'm used to "What inspired this novel?" and "What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?"  I'm stumped in the face of flying squirrel or talking chipmunk.  :)

If I were a talking chipmunk I'm worried that I'd be myself -- with all the same faculties -- only stuck in a chipmunk body.  Which sounds terrible.  So I'll go with the flying squirrel.  Squirrels are far smarter than my dog (who's always trying and failing to catch one), they seem cheerful enough, and the flying thing might be cool.

LOL. I agree, Becky, that flying thing would be cool! What do the rest of you think? Oh! And it's the end of another month so I'm doing another giveaway from my bookshelf. Scroll on down to the bottom of this post to check it out. 

Happy Friday everyone!

Becky makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and one adoring (and adored) cavalier spaniel. Her CBA debut, My Stubborn Heart, was a finalist in both the RITA and INSPY awards. Undeniably Yours kicked off her Texas-set Porter Family series. Her newest contemporary romance, Meant to Be Mine, has just hit shelves!

To learn even more about Becky, visit her website

April Bookshelf Giveaway: To say thanks to all of you out there who've "liked" or "followed" my sites (it's such a HUGE help) each month I'm giving away a book from my bookshelf. All you have to do is comment here, on my FB page, or on Twitter, and you'll be entered. I use a random picker to select a name. You have until Wednesday 4/30 at midnight to enter. I'll announce the winner next Friday, and if you're name is selected, you can pick one of the following books for me to send you! Click on their names to see my reviews:)
For Such a Time

Legacy & Love 

A Broken Kind of Beautiful

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

Sounds like an amazing exchange. One I think we come out ahead on:)

What dreams are you handing over today?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter is Not a Holiday

Ok, so technically, it is a holiday, but that whole idea got me thinking...

See, as we all put away our plastic eggs today, hang up our pretty dresses, and rush out to get good deals on candy, I can't help but really think that's not what this all is about. Easter was never meant to be a day to go on egg hunts and fill baskets with chocolate (though I am all about chocolate and we still play Easter bingo at our house)...Easter--Resurrection Sunday--is about celebration.

Celebration of LIFE.

Jesus, God, he's all about life. From making dry bones live again to raising Lazarus from the dead (and several others), to raising himself from the grave, he is constantly speaking life. John 10:10 even specifically says it's what he came to give us: abundant life.

And we can celebrate that every day. In fact, we should celebrate that every day, because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is alive, active, and available to us today. All we have to do is ask Him.

Ask Jesus into our hearts.
Ask him into our lives.
Ask him into the middle of our addictions.
Our sickness.
Our finances.
Our dreams.
Our celebrations.

The cross isn't merely a pretty symbol simply to be is the power of what Christ did for us two thousand years ago. And when we get that deep in our bones, we cannot help but burst forth in praise. We don't have to live defeated, because God didn't stop the story on Friday. We are meant to live in power, fullness, and freedom. Not because of anything we've done, but because of everything that he gave--that's what the cross reminds us of. And that's what we can carry with us all year long.

Not just on Easter, because Easter isn't a holiday, it's a celebration!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

So I'm going to be completely transparent here. I had another book scheduled to review today, but after reading it did not feel comfortable posting the review. This left today wide open with not much time to recoup as, well, my life is a tad crazy right now.

However...I know of an amazing author whose book came out this week. Which means I'm going to try something different with this week's bookshelf: you get to see what tops my To Be Read (TBR) pile. Here goes!

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the fa├žade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?

All right, here's the part where we normally chat about the book I'm reviewing, but since I haven't read this one yet, I can't do that. What I can do is tell you what an amazing author Katie is. She knows how to weave such depth into her stories with characters that literally leap of the page. I read her debut Wildflowers From Winter and immediately made room on my shelf for her. Her books are the ones that you'll stay up way-too-late to read and be happy you did. They are steeped in emotion, full of heart-fluttering moments, take you to tears and laughs...and always point toward God. Which is why I know I can put this book on my Bookshelf Friday without having read it, because Katie has gained my trust as a reader. I cannot wait to be able to pull it off my shelf and read it. Trust me, it'll be happening soon!

Oh, and just for fun, this week I'm starting a Would You Rather with the authors I have on my bookshelf--totally random and completely all in fun. I'd toyed with coming up with interview questions for people, but this game asks much more earth-shattering questions that I ever could. So here's Katie's question:

Would you rather be able to remember all your dreams forever OR be able to watch your dream on TV the next day?

I was worried I'd pull a question about eating worms or something, but I actually really liked that one:) So what did Katie say?

"As a girl who thinks dreams are fascinating, it is so hard to choose! I think I would have to go with the second option - being able to watch my dreams on TV the next day. Some of my dreams are so bizarre, it would be super entertaining to see them come to life on a screen."

I had to agree with her, as long as I could pick who was going to view my dream, too! What about you? What would you choose? And for anyone looking to pick up Katie's newest book, A Broken Kind of Beautiful can be purchased here.

Christy Award finalist and Carol Award winner, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband, their young son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

I'm so in love with this quote right now, I can't even say! Each sentence has another point I want to savor and dissect, but I think Ill just let you read it and do a little dissecting of your own:) 

Have a blessed Wednesday, friends.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Our Vantage Point

So I put this picture up on my author page a few months ago, but sometimes you just need to revisit things...

This is so where I've been with my writing lately. See, I've been working toward finishing my latest story, and I won't lie...I feel like writing's ugly stepsister. I question my ability, I worry I haven't got what it takes, I think the words I string together just plain old stink.

But God's been calling me on that attitude of late. Reminding me that it's nothing about my ability and ALL about his. Showing me that every time I step out in him, I'm beautiful. What I produce--the end product, lol--is gorgeous, because it's wrapped in HIM.

Which has made me check my tongue at the door. When those wayward thoughts come at me, instead of speaking them, I pull out my sword (the Word of God) and go to battle. I speak LIFE over my calling. I remember that in my weakness, he is strong. That he's called me to a purpose, and that everything HE creates (even the words he flows through me) is stellar.  No, not perfect, because my mistakes reflect his mercy and glory and keep me on my knees...but practically perfect in every way.

Yeah. That's Mary Poppins, but you get what I'm saying.

So today, I challenge you to become a warrior in your thoughts. Change your vantage point from the ugly stepsister to a fighter, and go after who you are in Christ.

Knock satan on his butt.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Love and Legacy by Paula Mowery

Paula Mowery has visited my bookshelf before. In the past she's written women's fiction, and her stories centered around blessing others. They were encouraging reads that made you think. Recently she tried her hand at her first solo romance, and that encouraging voice she writes with came through loud and clear. Something unique about her first romance Legacy and Love is that she's split the book into two stories. So let me give you a run-down, and we'll chat on the other side.

The Prayer Shawl
Sean Holland is a magazine reporter always looking for the next story. Hope Weaver is a pediatric nurse who shares Christ through making prayer shawls. The shawls are just the touchy-feely story Sean needs, even though he’ll have to endure Hope’s strong Christian beliefs to get it. An unexpected connection brings them together as a couple. But, can they find love if they don’t share their faith?

Alex Lyndon’s life has been a series of fits and starts with no finishes. She finds herself jobless and divorced. Now her only family, Granny Olivia, is critically ill. Chase Carson had to step into running the family business when his father died. The time is past due for him to visit Miss Olivia. Alex and Chase must go on a treasure hunt. Will each find purpose and love for their lives in the process?

I'll start with "The Prayer Shawl" as it was the first in the book. It took me a little bit to get into the story--and by little bit, I mean a couple of chapters--but I soon found myself immersed and flipping pages. I enjoyed the twists to this story and the developing relationship between Hope and Sean, along with Sean's continued movement back toward God. I struggled with a story element toward the latter half that pushed Hope and Sean together at a faster rate than I'd have liked, even though I understood the reason behind their decision. Still, other than that momentary blip, I truly enjoyed the two main characters, and their happily-ever-after left me smiling.

Now onto the "Inheritance". This story started out in the first person from Alex Lydon's point of view. Then it switched to third person for Chase's point of view. As a reader, I struggled with the swaps. What I didn't struggle with, however, was the budding relationship between Alex and Chase. I also enjoyed the hint of suspense in this story, because yes, I'm a sucker for mystery or suspense woven into romances. Overall, while I'd have preferred to have the entire story in either first or third person, I enjoyed it very much and again, was smiling at the end.

After closing the entire book, I found myself happy that Paula took the plunge into writing romance too, and hope she continues mixing them into her women's fiction. You can purchase Legacy and Love here and if you'd like to know more about Paula Mowery, here's a small tidbit and you can also visit her at

Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. In November of 2013, her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. Legacy and Love is her first solo romance.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Break!

So I'm taking a few days off to play with the kiddos, host a few sleepovers, and hopefully get a few more pages edited (like the entire second half of my book) since it's finally SPRING BREAK here! 

I'll be back Friday with a book review. Have a great few days and happy spring, everybody! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

Before I get into this absolutely amazing gotta-buy book, I need to tell you the winner of my March Bookshelf Giveaway! I put all my new likes, followers, and commenters into Random Thing Picker and Debby Radmacher, your name popped up! Take a look at my March Bookshelf, and I'll be contacting you later today to see which book you'd like:)

Now, onto today's book...

Oh my I'm reviewing Kate Breslin's debut novel. It's a retelling of the story of Esther set during World War II in Nazi Germany, and it sucks you in immediately. Let me give you the blurb and then we can chat.

In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.

Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp's prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

There was truly so much to love about this book. From the first page, these characters draw you in. Kate did a phenomenal job placing you not only into this time period but also into the camp of Theresienstadt. Although the story of Esther is a familiar one, when placed into another time period, intrigue and conflict abound. Along with love. This is one thing that surprised me the most, how Kate wrote Aric's character and showed his humanity, his struggles, and his heroism. And I loved, loved, loved that while I went in with preconceived notions of what things should happen, this book continually surprised me. I found myself often wondering how it would end--even though I knew the story it was based on.

Kate also shows the story from multiple point-of-views, which sometimes can throw me off, but in this story was used well. I never felt I was taken from Stella and Aric for too long, and seeing what was occurring through others' eyes only reinforced the main story line of their relationship.

By the time I was in the middle of this book, I knew it would find a permanent home on my bookshelf. If you loved Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, chances are great that you'll love this book too. A timeless story of God's amazing faithfulness retold, yet Kate managed to create an amazing love story of her own between two so unlikely people.

I happily give For Such a Time 5 out of 5 stars, and you can purchase it here.

If you'd like to learn more about Kate, please visit her at her website

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

I've heard this questions a lot lately, and I love this simple response to it. We want those that love us to do so because they choose to, not because they are forced to. So how can we expect God to do anything less? Therefore he must give us free is our choice to love and it's what makes love so sweet.

Happy Wednesday, friends:)