Saturday, December 24, 2011


I received a copy of TYNDALE: THE MAN WHO GAVE GOD AN ENGLISH VOICE by David Teems from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. When I saw this offered on the website, BookSneeze, I was thrilled. I have always been interested in William Tyndale. I read a lot of novels and biographies on Henry VIII and his family, and William Tyndale is a prominent part of those stories. I had researched Tyndale on the Internet, but this book made the perfect resource. Each chapter flows smoothly like a novel. The easy-to-read writing style includes quotes and religious references. The historical details take you right back in time.

Tyndale played a central role to the Reformation, by translating the Word of God into English. For this, he was considered a “heretic” and his life was placed in jeopardy, yet he clung to his beliefs. Reading about his life and what brought him to his life’s works really opened my eyes to the man behind the “heretic.” This is a great book to use in a classroom as a supplement to religious or Tudor studies. It also makes a splendid gift for history fans. Although this copy has made it into my permanent collection, I will be picking up others to give to my uncle and mother.


Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I received a copy of WHY MEN HATE GOING TO CHURCH by David Murrow, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. This copy is completely revised and updated; incorporating parts from is other books, HOW WOMEN HELP MEN FIND GOD and THE MAP. I have not read those, so I cannot compare, but this book found me engrossed. Although not a novel, it read smoothly. Each section flowed into the next, comprising three parts, notes, and an introduction. At some parts, I laughed aloud – not because they were ridiculous, but because David Murrow writes in a comical way. In other sections, I found myself nodding in agreement.

I will not go into too many details about the reasons David Murrow gives for men hating to go to church, I will mention the one that stood out to me the most: many positions within the church, such as watching children for day care, are predominately for women. Men feel out of place, so they do not participate and volunteer as much.

This book made me study my own family structure. My mom is more interested in church than my father is, and my paternal grandmother attends every Sunday she can make. However, my maternal uncle is very involved, just like my maternal grandfather was. I am passing this book on to others, hoping it will also open their eyes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I received a copy of A YEAR WITH JESUS: DAILY READINGS AND REFLECTIONS ON JESUS’ OWN WORDS by R. P. Nettelhorst, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. This devotional follows 365 days, rather than certain months, so the reader can start it at any time. I find that helpful, so I do not have to wait until January 1. Each page includes a quote from the Bible and a few paragraphs of the author’s interpretation, taking you deeper into the words. The writing flows well, making it easy to read. I like to start my day with a reading while I lay in bed. It calms me after hearing the annoying buzz of my alarm clock. I also get to ponder each passage while I work throughout my day, and look forward to reading the next one. The passages are organized into different categories, such as Love and Hate, so I can ponder the entire section before moving on to the next.

This makes an excellent Christmas or New Year’s gift. My mother was delighted with my copy, which we share. I know that my grandmother and uncle would also this devotional. It is a great way to further bring Jesus into your day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I received a copy of AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER – THE PROMISE, PART ONE by Gene Luen Yang from Dark Horse Books. The television show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is still one of my favorites. I eagerly awaited it every week, and now I get to eagerly await THE PROMISE, PART TWO. PART ONE continues the storyline where the show left off – the four nations are being restored to harmony. The comic opens with Zuko’s concern over how many colonies the fire nation still has. Aang volunteers to peacefully remove them. The colonials do not want to return to the fire nation, however. Zuko faces a tough decision. He must decide to join Aang’s peace movement or leave the colonies as they are now.

The comic follows the same artwork, so it is like watching the show, but you can go back to read your favorite parts. The vivid pictures jump off the pages. It was fun inserting the voices from the television show to the characters. Best of all, the comic contains my favorite characters – Zuko, Mai, and Katara. The relationship between Aang and Katara continues. Of all the shows on television, their relationship is still my favorite, and it continues to blossom throughout this comic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I received a copy of THE GRACE EFFECT: HOW THE POWER OF ONE LIFE CAN REVERSE THE CORRUPTION OF UNBELIEF by Larry Alex Taunton from Thomas Nelson, via BookSneeze. As soon as I looked over the back cover, I was excited to start reading. The author, Larry Taunton, meets Sasha, an Ukrainian orphan. Atheistic theorists had shaped her, but with his guidance, she embraces God through the power of grace.

The book began a bit slow and dry. It felt more like a textbook, but the words were interesting, describing the goal of atheists , and leading into the debate about God, as driven by atheists versus Christians. From there, the story began, with Larry Taunton and his family in an airport. The actual story is well written enough to make you feel as if you are there with them. Larry Taunton writes with exhilarating voice and insight, bringing the people to life. Actual photographs are interspersed throughout the chapters, and each chapter begins with a quote from somewhere else, such as the Ukraine Travel Guide. Dialogue is woven amongst information, keeping the reading grounded in the truth behind the words. By the last page, I had tears in my eyes. It is definitely the type of book to pass on for others to read.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I received a copy of THE THREE TREES: A TRADITIONAL FOLKTALE by Elena Pasquali from Kregel Publications. Sophie Windham did the illustrations; they are colorful and intense, yet not too complex.
As someone with a degree in elementary education, I was excited to read the blurb on the back: A tale of hope and faith for Christmas, Easter, and always. There are not many picture books for children about Easter, so this will make a lovely addition to my library. As I read, I imagined different lesson plans to apply to the book. For example, the events could be researched in the Bible, and students could plant their own trees.

The story involves three trees. Two of the trees want more out of life, but the third is happy living on its hill. The first two trees are sad when they are not made into their dream jobs, but then realize they have greater purposes then they could have ever imagined. The first tree becomes the manger for baby Jesus, which ties in the Christmas aspect of the book. The second tree becomes a fishing boat that Jesus rides upon, and stills a storm. The third tree is also cut down. It becomes the cross Jesus is tied to, and after Jesus is seen alive again, the tree realizes it will “stand for ever, pointing to heaven. “ That ties in the Easter aspect.

After reading the book, I also read it to my young cousins. They enjoyed it, but as they aren’t too familiar with the Bible yet, they had difficulty linking it to Christmas, Easter, and Jesus. The book might be for older children, who already have a strong foothold in religion. My cousins were also confused about a few of the pictures. One cousin thought the people looked Amish, and another asked if they were pioneers. Overall, they liked the book enough to want to hear it over again, and one said she would ask for it for Christmas. This books is ideal for children and adults, so it makes a perfect story to read aloud.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I received a copy of THE ENCOUNTER: SOMETIMES GOD HAS TO INTERVENE by Stephen Afterburn, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. The book is about Jonathan Rush, a wealthy businessman in Florida who has never been able to deal with his mother’s abandonment. After a suicide attempt, he is advised to confront her in Alaska, the state he was born in, and finally put his rage behind him. He arrives in Fairbanks, Alaska, and begins tracking the woman who left him when he was four years old. Through a series of investigations that takes him from an orphanage to a burned cabin, Jonathan learns how to better communicate with people and realizes the value of friendship. Erica, a reporter, helps him on his way, as does an array of other complex characters. In the end, he learns the greatest gift he can give and receive is forgiveness. As I read the final chapter, tears sprang to my eyes. The book is both deep and touching. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the simplistic writing style. At times, I would have liked to see Jonathan’s emotion more, and some sentences seemed more telling rather than showing. I also figured out Mercy’s secret within a page of meeting her. Altogether, though, this is one of my new favorites.

It is less than two-hundred pages, so I was able to read it all in one evening. At the end, Stephen Afterburn included a discussion guide and the truth behind the story, for it is based on something real that happened to the author, adding another amazing level. I’ve already passed the book on to my dad. This is a perfect gift for family or friends.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I received a copy of A LASTING IMPRESSION by Tamera Alexander, from Bethany House. It is the first book in the Belmont Mansion series. I had never heard of Belmont Mansion in Nashville before. After reading this novel, though, I have added the mansion to my list of vacation destinations. The atmosphere sounds amazing, and I want to walk the ground just like the characters. I looked up the house online while I read, so I could picture some of the rooms. It brought the story even more to life.

The story involves Claire Laurent, an aspiring painter in New Orleans. Her father, owner of an art gallery, forces her to make forgeries for him to sell. When the art studio is broken into, one of his friends sends her to Nashville where they’ll start a new business. When she gets there, the man she’s supposed to stay with threatens her, and she learns her father is dead. Through the help of a reverend, she is hired as a liaison to Adelicia Acklen, one of the richest women in America. The fact that she is a real woman, and that author used some of her own letters to create dialogue for the character, cemented my love for the book. I felt as if I was traveling back in time, to a grand mansion inhabited by wonderful people.

Through twists and romance, A LASTING IMPRESSION kept me on the edge of my seat, eager to discover more. I even took the novel with me to work to read during my break and lunch. I look forward to reading the next installments in the series.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Daniel Livingston Interview, Part One

Hello, everyone! Slip on your paranormal cloak and join me for an interview with Daniel Livingston. In case you're not sure who that is, you'll definitely know by the time you reach the end of the post. So, without further delay, I give you...Daniel Livingston and the Paranormal Pit Stop!


Thanks, Jordan, for that awesome intro! Don't hurt anyone with those knitting needles!

Welcome Humans, to another addition of The Paranormal Pit Stop. Your one-stop E-zine on the Ethereal-net for everything in the paranormal world. This week, we're playing dentist, cos it's like pulling teeth to get anything out of Terin Global's resident medium extraordinaire, Daniel Livingstone.

Paranormal Pit-Stop: So, Daniel, nice to have you come and visit us.
Daniel: Um, thanks.

P.P.S.: Why don't you start off by telling our human friends something about yourself?
Daniel: Do I have to?

P.P.S.: It would help. It's an interview.
Daniel: Okay. I'm Daniel Livingstone and I'm a medium.

P.P.S.: Not just any medium. You see and understand just about every living creature on either side of the veil, right?
Daniel: Yeah, that's right.

P.P.S.: That must have been tough for you when you were a kid? You being the only one to hear and see all those creatures?
Daniel: Yeah, was kind of…hard to deal with. Especially after Wesley died.

P.P.S.: Is that why you end up in Crawthorne Institute for the Criminally Insane?
Daniel: That's a nasty place. Yeah, they thought I was a nutter, and maybe I did lose it. My parents said I'd get better. It only got worse in that nightmarish place.

P.P.S.: What happened to Wesley? His death still hasn't been solved.
Daniel: I don't know. I haven't seen him.

P.P.S.: What do you mean you haven't seen him? You're a medium.
Daniel: Yeah, I don't get that either. He was my best friend and he never came to say goodbye.

P.P.S.: Rumor has it, Crawthorne is where Aslin found you.
Daniel: Yeah, kind-of, see, couple of the Doc's were followers of a banished Druid clan member. He was trying to protect them, get them to bugger off from the path they were following.

P.P.S.: That didn't happen, did it? They were involved in the Stonehenge incident. I heard it's the reason the human authorities shut the site down for a while.
Daniel: Yeah, it was horrible. I still have nightmares about it. Funny, I haven't seen any of those souls either…

Well, that's all the time we have for this week's interview. We would like to thank our host Jorden Mierek for allowing us to post this interview on the human internet. We feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

If you'd like to learn more about Jezryall and her staff, you can find more information at the links provided below.

More Character Interviews:

Novel Information:

Join us next time when we visit Irish blogger Paul Carroll with the first of our part interview with sexy Barb Dole, Jezryall's personal assistant. So, until next time, this is The Paranormal Pit-Stop saying; just because it's dead, doesn't mean it's not alive!


Story Blurb:
His first day of work wasn't what Martin Cunningham expected. A sultry boss, a classy receptionist, the drama-queen foreigner, and a painfully shy techie who prefers hiding to human interaction, was the oddest group of characters he'd ever met. When an assassination attempt is made against his new boss, Martin comes face to face with the stuff of nightmares.

Now he and his new co-workers must race to prevent another attack, but where do they start? There's very little to go on, and the only solid piece of evidence escaped through the u-bend in the toilet. By the end of the day, Martin becomes one of the privileged few who really understands what lies in the shadows, and what it means to work in THE WATCHTOWER.

Darke Conteur is an author at the mercy of her muse. Writing in several genres, she prefers to write in paranormal and science fiction, and has stories published in Brave Blue Mice, Bewildering Stories, and The Absent Willow Review. When not busy writing, she looks after one wannabe rock-star, one husband, two cats, and one ghost dog.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I received a copy of REFUGE ON CRESCENT HILL by Melanie Dobson from Kregel. This book is now one of my favorites, and I’ve recommended it to my friends who love history as much as I do. I’ve always been fascinated by old houses. This book really whets my appetite to discover more about those in my neighborhood, even if they don’t have as cool a past as the Bristow Mansion. It also inspired me to research my genealogy more.

The book began a bit slowly. Camden Bristow is a freelance photographer, but she’s practically penniless, so she decides to visit her grandmother, who lives in Bristow Mansion atop Crescent Hill. When she gets to Ohio, she discovers her grandmother recently died and left her the house. Camden doesn’t want to part with it, but she doesn’t have enough money to support it. Plus, strange things have been happening since she moved in, and the town whispers of ghosts.

Then, there is Alex Yates, who left behind a troubled past to help out the town. He wants to use Bristow Mansion as a means to bring the community wealth, but the citizens keep fighting his ideas. In the meantime, Edward and Jake Paxton, neighbors to the Bristows, believe there is treasure hidden in the house, so they keep sneaking around to search for it. States away, a young woman named Stephanie is researching her family and discovers that a slave fled her ancestral plantation with jewels, planning to send someone back for his wife and child…except, he disappeared while heading toward Crescent Hill. Stephanie sets out to uncover the truth.

After a few chapters in, I really got caught up in the story and couldn’t stop reading. I finished within a day and craved more. There is a perfect mix of history, secrets, underground tunnels, mysterious mausoleums, romance, murder, and maps sewn into Civil War-era quilts. I would have liked to see more emotion from Camden. In a few places, her thoughts weren’t clear. She should’ve been terrified, but instead, she felt a bit two-dimensional. The other characters were well-rounded, though. I also would have liked more descriptions of the mansion. It sounded huge and glamorous, but also rundown. At times, I wasn’t sure how to picture it. Other than those points, the storyline was not only complex, but contained intriguing twists. Anyone who loves mysteries or history – or trying to guess the history of abandoned houses, like I do – will love this story. One of the best parts involved a link at the end that showed the house that inspired Melanie Dobson’s story. Although this is adult fiction/Christian/suspense, this would appeal to young adults, and would work great in a high school history class about the Underground Railroad.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I received a copy of THREE CUPS by Tony Townsley and Mark St. Germain, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. It is a children’s book, intended to teach young people how to manage their money. On a special occasion, such as a child’s fifth birthday, they are given three cups from the kitchen cabinet. The first cup is labeled “give,” the second is labeled “save,” and the third is labeled “spend.” Whenever the child earns money, such as from allowance or a job, they divide the money between each cup. When the “saving” cup becomes full, the child learns how to put money into the bank. At the end of the story, the main character’s savings are spent on college.

The money from the “giving” cup is donated to organizations and the church. This teaches children how to help others and feel good about themselves. The “spending” cup allows the child to use their money for things they want. The book encourages parents and guardians to make a list of possible items the child may want.

The three cups method works much better than a piggy bank, for example, where all the money goes into one place. It is a good visual to show children how to manage their money. I have my degree in elementary education, and recognize this as a great book for classrooms. I will keep it for my own, and also share it with my future children someday. The book makes a valuable gift. It could even be presented with three cups.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I received a copy of FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY by Peter Leithart, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. It is part of the Christian Encounters series. Like the others in the series, this is an easy to read biography about a prominent Christian figure in history.

I had heard of Fyodor Dostoevsky before, but I only knew him to be a Russian author. His real life is much more fascinating. He lived from November 11, 1821 to February 9, 1881. His most well-known works are CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, which I have read in the past.

In 1849, Fyodor Dostoevsky was incarcerated. He had been part of a liberal intellectual group. He was sentenced to death, but instead, he was exiled to Serbia. There, he worked at a prison came for four years.

The biography is told through a novel format. The characters are engaging, the dialogue realistic, and the imagery breathtaking. I felt as if I traveled his path with him, reveling in his growing strength as a human being. Since it is in novel format, it flowed smoothly, so I managed to read it within two days. The best way to learn history and discover the lives of historical figures is to enjoy it. FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY clearly does that. I have recommended this book to a friend who teaches high school, that she may incorporate it into her class’s biography section.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I received a copy of TO HAVE AND TO HOLD by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller from Bethany House. It is part of the Bridal Veil Island series. The story takes place in 1886, so it instantly endeared itself to my heart – I love historical fiction. Then, the opening snared my attention and I could not stop reading until late in the night.

The story begins with Audrey Cunningham and her father, new residents of Bridal Veil Island. This opening has all the makings of a thrilling read. They have sold their old home, so they cannot go back, expecting a fabulous new start. Instead, they are plagued by back taxes and are in jeopardy of losing their ancestral home. The family does not know the locals, so they are unsure of who to turn to for help. Their predicament reminded me of the tax struggles many families are suffering through now. This will help people, including myself, to connect with the story more. Aunt Thora, who lives with the Cunninghams, reminded me of my grandmother, through her forgetfulness and mannerisms, further connecting me to the tale.

Bridal Veil Island is an excellent setting for a story. It is very detailed and picturesque, with wild turkeys strutting around and water on all sides. The characters mention Jekyl Island, and an author’s note explains it is a real place – now, I really want to visit there.

The descriptions of the food, such as mixing cream into eggs for breakfast, made my mouth water. The story also deals with how Southerners felt toward Northerners during the latter half of the 1800’s. Aunt Thora, for example, hates Northerners, even though Audrey and her father hail from the North. This is an excellent book for fans of historical fiction.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Utica Writers Club - Interview #2

Today's blog will center exclusively on the Utica Writers Club. I've invited Sue Pinto, president of the Utica Writers Club, to join us.

Kissed by Literature: Hello, Sue. In your own words, what exactly is the Utica Writers Club?

Sue: The UWC is a group that allows writers, of all levels and experience, to share. It gives each person the opportunity to receive valuable insight and
criticism on one's work while also allowing them to share opinions and
advice on the work of others.

KbL: How did you first hear about the Utica Writers Club?

Sue: I had asked the librarian at one of the libraries if anyone was aware of a writer's group I could join. At the time, the UWC was meeting at the New Hartford Public Library.

KbL: How long have you been a member?

Sue: I believe I joined in Oct. of 2008.

KbL: What's your favorite thing about the club?

Sue: I can't say that there is one aspect I like the most about the UWC. I enjoy hearing other's stories and enjoy the chance to critically think about a piece. I like being able to confer with others on how to improve writing, whether it's mine or someone else's work.

KbL: What stories do you write?

Sue: I write picture books and have a middle grade novel written. I tend to write what I know. I have five kids so my writing is often inspired by them.

KbL: Anything else you would like to add?

Sue: The UWC has hosted two best-selling authors, Bruce Coville and Maria V. Snyder, in 2010 and 2011. Our hope is to continue to bring authors, agents, and publishers to this area for more workshops and learning opportunities. We will also be looking into coordinating trips to various writing workshops and conferences.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Utica Writers Club - Interview

Hello, everyone. As some of you know, I’m the co-vice president of the Utica Writers Club. I am going to do a mini-series of interviews with my other club members. First off, we have Sarah Warring. Hey, Sarah. What is your role in the Utica Writers Club?

Sarah: Right now I am club secretary. However, I have also done my part as the treasurer.

Kissed by Literature: Which do you like best?

Sarah: Secretary probably.

KbL: What does that position entail?

Sarah: I take notes and then send them on to the President. I also am part of voting and other decisions.

KbL: How long have you been a member of the Utica Writers Club?

Sarah: Just under 6 years.

KbL: How did you find out about the club?

Sarah: I don't remember. I used to work with a member. Also a good friend of mine Joe, who used to be an active member, joined at the same time.

KbL: What’s your favorite part of the Utica Writers Club?

Sarah: Probably being around like minded people. They are very helpful when I actually bring something, but I have made good friends within the group.

KbL: What kind of stuff do you write?

Sarah: I write mostly fantasy fiction. Although, I will try almost any kind of writing.

KbL: Do you have a favorite story you’ve written?

Sarah: Well I have been writing a novel, Rayven's Fire, for over 10 years. I go back and forth with it, but it has always been my baby.

KbL: Any interesting club memories?

Sarah: Meeting local and famous authors. Being a contest judge is always interesting as well. *wink*

KbL: What is your favorite reading spot?

Sarah: My bed and some random spots in the local libraries.

KbL: What about a favorite writing spot?

Sarah: I can't be too comfy unless my muse is visiting.

KbL: Biggest writing blunder? Guilty reading pleasures?

Sarah: Most of my blunders are some cruddy poems in my youth.

KbL: Any weird writing rituals?

Sarah: I don't know if my rituals are weird, but I have to have some music on headphones. That way I can focus completely.

KbL: What about any guilty reading pleasures?

Sarah: Guilty pleasures are either some of the Chicken Soup books or fairy tales.

Thank you, Sarah! If anyone would like to ask her a question, I can pass it on and she’ll answer it here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Wrist Warmers

I knitted a pair of wrist warmers for my critique partner. I followed the pattern I created for the last pair, but made the ribbing longer. I also used a thinner yarn to make them tighter.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I received a copy of SURPRISED BY OXFORD: A MEMOIR by Carolyn Weber
from Thomas Nelson, via BookSneeze. I was originally enchanted by the
cover, depicting historical architecture at Oxford, but once I started
reading, I was enthralled. While I read, I kept forgetting it was a
true story. As Marilyn Meberg states on the back cover, it really does
read like a novel. The fact that it is a memoir makes it all the more

The memoir begins with a touching prologue, that clings to the mind
long after the book is closed. She had a wonderful professor who
helped her a great deal, only to die at the end of the semester. This
prologue brought tears to my eyes.

After that, the book jumps between her life at Oxford University and
her life growing up. The writing is smooth and the dialogue is
fascinating. For example, on page 15, the driver says, “I havena idear
you’re talikin’ aboot.” I could hear it perfectly in my mind, making
the experience all the more real.

She also mentions the Irish pop band U2. I’d never listened to them
before, but after hearing her explain their insightful lyrics, I looked
them up online.

I found her experiences with God touching and enlightening. Her
experiences cling to my memory bank even now that I’ve shut the book.
This memoir will appeal to anyone looking for an enjoyable read, and
especially someone who enjoys spiritual journeys.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I received a copy of VEILED ROSE by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, from Bethany House. It is the second book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. The first book is HEARTLESS and the third book is MOONBLOOD. The end of VEILED ROSE contains an excerpt from MOONBLOOD, which sounds exciting.

VEILED ROSE is now one of my favorite fantasy novels. The pace flows along smoothly, the characters are engaging, and the dialogue is realistic. Clearly, the author had a lot of fun writing it. There are complex comparisons to Christian theology and fairy tales, but with new twists that keep them interesting. The names are unique, such as Beana and Foxbrush.

The story begins with an eleven-year-old boy, Leo, staying at a manor for the summer. He travels into the woods seeking adventure, and hopes to slay the “monster” everyone in the village fears. Instead, he meets a girl, Rose Red, who is a few years younger than him. She lives in the mountain and covers herself with veils. Together, they spend their summer exploring the woods and developing a close friendship. Rose Red keeps her secret well hidden, until the end of the book, and part of the secret came as quite a surprise. The “monster” secret was a little more obvious, but didn’t ruin the book for me. Leo also possessed a secret, as did Beana, Rose Red’s nanny goat. VEILED ROSE culminates when a Dragon attacks the kingdom. Leo sets out to kill it and Rose Red decides to protect his family in the meantime. The ending wasn’t what I had expected, but it was pleasing.

The characters are very entertaining to read about. Leo isn’t the average hero. He isn’t filled with bravery, nor does he possess dashing good looks – yet, he has a kind heart and remains steadfast in his relationship with outcast Rose Red. The fact that he isn’t “perfect” made it more enjoyable for me to read about him.

Anyone who loves fantasy, Dragons, or a refreshing new read will love this book. The cover itself is sure to catch many eyes – a Dragon clasps the image of Rose Red, hiding behind her veils.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I received a copy of TURNING YOUR DAY TOWARD GOD: RIGHT FROM THE HEART: A 365 DEVOTIONAL by Bryant Wright, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. I first became interested in devotionals a few years ago when my uncle gave one to my mother for Christmas. He had received the same devotional as a gift the year before (from a different family member) and it had really changed his life for the better. My mom and I also loved it, and she read a page a day to the family before bed, as a closing for the day and an opening for the next, something pleasant to dream about and ponder.

This devotional, RIGHT FROM THE HEART, offers that same sense of warm wellbeing. The pages are labeled one for every day of the year (without a year date, so it can be used for any and every year). The entries are short, so they are easy to read in a day, and really get the mind flowing for their insightful, significant, yet easy-to-understand ideas. Each page comes with a quote from the Bible, and the pages that start each new month also include a quote.

Since I needed to blog about the book, I flipped through the pages, rather than refraining from reading ahead (as the author requests in the Introduction – sorry!). I read the one for today, and I also read the one for my birthday. Now that I have a good feel for the book, I will stop looking ahead and stick to that day’s.

My family and I look forward to the entries. Since this book will be kept in the living room, I have a feeling guests will enjoy looking up their birthdays and becoming inspired. The book itself is beautiful. The richly colored covers are textured and designed to look old-fashioned, while the pages are beautifully decorated. This devotional makes a great keepsake, as well as a spectacular, heart-felt gift.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fleur de Leis Necklace

I found some charms at the craft store (on sale, woohoo). I hung the chandelier charm off the fleur de leis charm, which I strung on black ribbon. I sewed clasps to the end.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I received a copy of ACROSS THE WIDE RIVER by Stephanie Reed from Kregel Publications. It is an historic novel for teenagers, about the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. I love historical fiction and this book didn’t fail to live up to my expectations. What is better, it is based on a true story. The Rankin family really existed.

The story centers on Lowry Rankin. He begins as a child, but quickly matures. His family leaves Kentucky to live in Ohio, where they participate as a station on the Underground Railroad. Lowry’s father is a minister, and the family strongly supports the abolitionist movement.

I have my Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and while I read, I kept thinking about how perfect this book would be for a social studies class. It not only fits well with the Civil War era, but it is easily relatable for teenagers. Lowry leaves his treasured home in Kentucky for Ohio; moving is something many people have dealt with. He also learns how to fully welcome God into his life, and highly values religion, which is another positive trait for young adults. Lowry discovers how to deal with shyness, which is a new obstacle for him once he moves to Ohio. Many people, myself included, have had to overcome being shy around others. It is inspiring to know that if he can do it, so can the reader. He even worries it will keep him from becoming a proper minister, similar to how I once worried about being a teacher despite my shyness. Lowry also deals with bullies, family, and standing up for what he believes in – an end to slavery. Stephanie Reed paints a poignant image of the cruelties slaves faced, and their troubles with escaping.

I enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone interested in history.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wrist Warmers

I knitted a pair of wrist warmers using yarn left over from my ruffled shirt!

First, I cast 30 stitches onto size 8 needles.

I made 7 rows of knit 2, purl 2 rib.

I made 24 rows of stockinette stitch.

I made 7 rows of knit 2, purl 2 rib again.

I sewed up the sides and left a space for the thumb hole.

Beaded Necklace

I found some old beads and decided to string them into a necklace I tried the string to jewelry clasps, and then added drops of glue to hold them in place.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I received a copy of STUMBLING INTO GRACE by Lisa Harper from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze. What first caught my attention about the book was the cover, which depicts a little girl. She is wearing sneakers, a frilly skirt, and what appears to be her mother’s pearls: the classic child finding her way in the world. The book is that and so much more. Essentially, it is about finding your way in the world.

The book is divided into three parts: Real Life, Real Gifts, and Real Growth. Each chapter involves Jesus and something else in life, such as Jesus and Scary Things (Chapter One). Lisa Harper mixes true life occurrences with things normal people can identify with, such as wearing too-tight jeans. She applies real problems with ways Jesus can help us overcome them. She also included some group discussions and journal entries, to help us explore ourselves in depth. There are also chapters that explore Gifts and how Jesus helps us heal.

Overall, by the end of the book, my heart felt lighter, and I felt as though I knew Lisa Harper personally. I strongly recommend this to anyone who is going through a challenging time or wanting to reconnect with Jesus.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I received a copy of GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER by John Perry from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. This is a book from the Christian Encounters series. When I saw it offered, I knew I had to grab a copy. These are easy to read biographies, perfect for the everyday person and the scholar. Usually I become bogged down with big words and complicated sentences, yet Christian Encounters biographies flow like novels.

I have always been interested in George Washington Carver, but I never knew many facts about him. Sadly, I only knew he invented peanut butter. That, in itself, amazed me as a child, and now as an adult, I hunger for more knowledge. This book is my perfect fix. Throughout 152 pages, I learned interesting facts about his life, such as that he was a slave and that he became a celebrity in the 1920’s. He is truly a man to marvel. The biography also includes an epilogue, acknowledgments, notes, and bibliography.

This book makes a perfect gift for history lovers and peanut fanatics. I have also recommended it to my African American Literature teacher. George Washington Carver is a shining example of “black achievement,” as quoted from the back cover.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meeting Maria V. Snyder

The Utica Writers Club hosted a writing workshop with Maria V. Snyder. It was great! Maria's lecture was engaging and informative.

For me, the best part was meeting her in person. I loved her novel, POISON STUDY, and since reading it, I've kept up an online correspondence with her.

Afterwards, she participated in a book signing at the local Barnes & Noble in New Hartford, NY. My mother took the picture of us there, and sadly, I closed my eyes when the flash went off. *blushes*

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I received a copy of ALONG WOODED PATHS by Tricia Goyer, from B & H Books. I was thrilled to see the cover and realize the novel is about the Amish (the cover depicts a young Amish woman walking along a path, surrounded by a misty sky, towering trees, and a homey wooden fence). I planned to only read a few chapters this morning, but ended up reading the whole thing – I literally couldn’t put it down except for lunch. All of the characters cook and eat plentiful meals, so it made me hungry. The back of the book includes recipes, and I am eager to make them. Some of them include meat, but can easily be transformed into vegetarian versions.

This story is the sequel to BESIDE STILL WATERS, and is the second in the BIG SKY series. I never read the first book, but now feel the overpowering urge to. You don’t have to be familiar with the first to enjoy this one, although some parts confused me. The back of the book contains an excerpt from the next BIG SKY novel, and it sounds just as exciting as this one. I look forward to reading that one as well.

ALONG WOODEN PATHS tells the story of Marianna Sommer. She lives with her family in a small Montana community, where the Amish dwell side-by-side with the English. Marianna must deal with the loss of her sisters and her brother, who decided to leave the Amish faith, while coming to terms with her own love of God. She questions reading English Bibles and going to prayer meetings. She also questions her love for two men. Ben is an Englishman who loves God, but because he isn’t Amish, her family frowns on their relationship. Aaron, her other interest, used to be her beau before her family left Indiana for Montana. He is now visiting her, and she wonders if when he leaves, she should go with him. While she lives in Montana, though, she works at an English restaurants and befriends her English coworkers.

The story shows a different side to the Amish than most novels I have read. The love story brought a smile to my face.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I received a copy of J. R. R. TOLKEIN by Mark Horne, from Thomas Nelson via Booksneeze. It is part of the Christian Encounters series, a gathering of Christina-themed biographies. In the past, I have read the ones on Saint Nicholas and Anne Bradstreet, and loved them, so I knew I would enjoy this one as well. The biographies are short and easy to read. At times, they flow like novels. Normal biographies are long and complicated, with complex words. Since these are easy to understand, I have recommended them to a friend who teaches high school, for use in her English classroom.

This biography told the life story of J. R. R. Tolkien. He is famous for the Lord of the Rings series. While I greatly enjoy that work of fantasy, I never knew much about the author, not even what he looked like, so I was thrilled to see this cover. Jr. R. R. Tolkien looks like a jolly man, the perfect type of friend.

It was filled with interesting facts, such as his real name: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. It also included facts about his childhood and family, his interests and passions. I felt the best part was how it strongly tied in with the Lord of the Rings. Some chapters referenced whole sections of his novels, and chapter titles included words such as “Between the Shire and Mordor.” Mark Horne describes Birmingham, one of Tolkien’s homes, as being a Mordor-like place.

The is the perfect book for literary and history lovers, as well as any fan of the Lord of the Rings.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Writing Workshop with Maria V. Snyder

Hello, my writing friends. Here is a great opportunity for you discuss literature and writing with a New York Times bestselling author, Maria V. Snyder! This Saturday, July 16th, the Utica Writers Club is hosting a writing workshop at the Kirkland Library.

The deadline for registration is July 15th, but walk-ins are welcome. There is limited seating, however, so reserve your place now. Adults are $25, students are $15. Registration forms are availble here:

The time is 1 pm to 4 pm. She will autograph copies of her books afterwards. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I received a copy of GOD’S PROMISES FOR THE AMERICAN PATRIOT by Dr. Richard Lee and Jack Countryman from Thomas Nelson on BookSneeze. It is a book, from the start, that grabs your attention from its small size, bright patriotic colors, and soft hard cover feel. The book gives you quotes and information on great men from our country’s history, and maps to selected Bible verses. At the start of the book, George Washington’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation” speech on October 3, 1789, shows the wisdom of our founding fathers, and that this nation was founded on Christian principles. Then half way through the book, on page 98, it gave another quick history lesson, with “According to the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists were determined to defend ‘the laws of nature and of nature’s God.’” That phase defines the key principle upon which the Founders stood. The book is a wealth of information on Presidents, such as George Washington, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge; writers, such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; and other important patriots that shaped our nation, such as Joseph Story and Elias Boudinot Jr. The one important thing this book made me feel while reading it is that yes, we are living in a troubling time with high unemployment, wars and terrorism, but this nation has survived worse and has come out stronger. We, as a nation, can do that again, but we have to remember from our history and it’s strong leaders that it can only happen if we use our strong Christian principals. As a conservative, historian, Christian, and yes, a patriot, this book gives me hope.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I received a copy of THE FINAL HOUR by Andrew Klavan, from Thomas Nelson via Booksneeze. It is the fourth, and final, book in the young adult Homelanders series. I read the previous book, and liked this one better, but probably because it contained a satisfying conclusion. While this book had positive and negative aspects, overall I enjoyed it. In a short summary, the story is about Charlie West stopping a terrorist strike by regaining his memories.

I will start with the good. There is lots of action. The book is a true page-turner and kept me on the edge of my seat. From my education classes, I know that is a winning feature for children’s books. There is no time for the reader to become bored. My favorite character is Mike. He has a great sense of humor and is an all around good guy. I also love Beth, Charlie’s girlfriend. Although she has a minor role, she stuck with her man even when he was accused of heinous crimes. The descriptions are also great. On page 230, the author describes a needle going into Charlie’s arm. I literally cringed.

Now, for the bad. The story was a bit predictable. I knew that Rose would help Charlie in the end, and I knew Charlie would live. I also felt that the plot pushed Charlie along, rather than letting him choose his own course of action. When Charlie is in prison, I thought it would be a great chance for the author to show teens how horrible prison life is – but instead, he concentrated on how the government wouldn’t help Charlie get out because they were suspicious of him, and how a gang was sent by the terrorists to kill him.

Overall, this is a great action story for teens, and anyone else who seeks a fast-past adventure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ruffled Shirt

I finished another knitting project. It's a ruffled top done in simple St stitch, with a crocheted border (which my mom did for me after my 10th time messing up). The border can be found here:

Overall, I like the shirt, but I used the "large" pattern and it still came out too small. It was fast to complete, though, and I might make another sometime, and use slightly larger measurements.


I received a copy of OPEN SPACES: VOICES FROM THE NORTHWEST from University of Washington Press and GoodReads. The book is comprised of a selection of short stories, edited by Penny Harrison. Some of the stories are lumped together in categories, such as Wildlife and Energy. Each short story reveals a glimpse into the life of someone in the Northwest.

The stories are short, so they are easy to read through, and each is exciting in its own way. My favorite of the collection is RHAPSODY FOR BLACKBERRIES by Sandra Dorr. Reading it made my mouth water for blackberries.

For someone like me who lives in New York, this book is like taking a trip across the country, accompanied by friendly, knowledgeable tour guides. The picturesque cover accurately depicts the amazement you will find within the pages.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I received a copy of THE RIVER QUEEN by Gilbert Morris, from B & H Fiction. I had never read a book by this author before, but after reading this, I know why he is one of the most popular Christian writers. His novel contained not only a fascinating setting and breath-taking action, but the characters are unique.

The story involves the Ashby family, although the main character is Julienne Ashby. Her family is prominent. She lives for fashion and suitors, but her wealthy world ends when her father learns they are broke. Shortly afterward, Julienne’s father perishes from heart trouble. The family is forced to surrender their home, plantation, and belongings. Then, Aunt Leah discovers that they still own an old riverboat. The once prominent Southern family decides to fix up the boat and forge a way of life on the Mississippi.

The action is really nonstop, but sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed and would have liked a breather. For example, toward the beginning, Julienne and her servant board a riverboat to take a trip. Then, only pages later, the boilers blow up. Julienne and Dallas, a handsome young man working on the boat, are the only survivors. Her maid is dead, and Dallas must take Julienne home. The whole incident felt rushed through. I could not savor the tension.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and found the ending very satisfying. This story will appeal to fans of romance, historical fiction, and Christian fiction…or anyone who seeks a good, fast read.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I received a copy of THE QUOTABLE ROUGE: THE IDEALS OF SARAH PALIN IN HER OWN WORDS by Matt Lewis from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze. It is a book where Matt eloquently outlines statements and comments of Sarah Palin over the last several years. No matter if you like or dislike Sarah Palin, this is a must read book. If you are a fan of Sarah, it gives you the actual statements she has made. If you dislike her, the book gives you insight into how the media has gone out of their way to take statements she has made and altered them to make her controversial. The book transports you into Sarah’s world, helping to understand her feelings, thoughts and character by her statements and conversations. The book covers over 30 topics; from education, gun control, politicians, taxes and running for office. The book finishes with a number of comments form a wide range of people on what others are saying about Sarah. People that dismiss Sarah as not being intelligent or not capable of holding a high office forget that she was governor of the largest land mass state in the union. Her statement to the “Alaska Business Monthly” in December 4, 2008, “I want people to remember me as having always conducted the state’s business in an upright and honest manner. I want them to understand that I put Alaska first in every decision I made,” clearly sums up her character as being a politician that was hired to do the work of the people and not doing it for her own gain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I received a copy of KILOTON THREAT by William G. Boykin and Tom Morrisey, from B&H Publishing. It is not quite the normal type of book I enjoy reading. The story involves nuclear weapons in the modern day Middle East. I do not usually enjoy modern war novels, but this sucked me into the story. The characters are not only realistic; they remind me of people I know in real life. The action scenes are intense and kept me on the edge of my seat.

My favorite part of the book is that one of the authors, LTG (Ret.) William G. Boykin, also known as “Jerry,” has first hand experience with the topics mentioned in the book. Knowing that brought the book to a new level. I was transported to a different world and able to live it myself, albeit vicariously through the characters. I learned a lot of new things, including that you can use rice to draw moisture out of electronics.

One thing that bothered me was that in many places, the authors mentioned “chai tea.” “Chai” is another word for tea, so it made me feel as though I was reading: “tea tea.” It can probably we worded either way, though.

Even if you are not a fan of war stories, the relevance of this book on today’s world will blow your mind away.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I received a copy of HOW HUGE THE NIGHT: A NOVEL by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn, from Kregel Publications. The front of the cover says, “A teenager’s choices in the shadow of WWII will change him forever…” Instantly, I knew this was a book I could sink my teeth into, because I have a special admiration for historical stories. I have read numerous accounts of WWII and the Holocaust, but this was the first that dealt with a strong, religious background. The main characters relied heavily on their faith of God to help through their trials.

The characters act like believable teenagers, from how to interact with their friends and the need to do something more with their lives, so this book will appeal to today’s youth. The book also deals with major historical events and deadly choices, so it will also keep an adult’s attention. The authors, a mother-daughter team, kept an even balance between action, emotion, and description. I look forward to reading more of their work. The only thing I did not care for was their use of slang. When the characters said something, such as “screwed up,” it seemed too modern and pulled me out of the story. However, it should help today’s teens connect to the characters on an even playing field.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Boucle Shrug

I finished knitting this sweater a while ago, but found it didn't fit well - too big. I tried it on again and decided to add lacing to the back. I used a snippet of "trellis" by Lion Brand and attached it with silver jump rings. It fits much better now. Too bad it's summer, haha. I'll have to wait for the weather to cool off before I get to wear it again.

The pattern is found here:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crochet Cap

Yes, I did it. I crocheted a cap. For those of you who know me, I hate crocheting. Too much counting, haha. I decided to buckle down, though, and try it for real. After many tries and a great deal of help from my mother, I completed the project. I used black yarn, since black is my favorite color, and to add a splash of radiance, I laced some rainbow yarn through the middle and tied a bow at the side. I also made it a little longer, because after I tried on the finished product, it felt weird.

The pattern can be found here:

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I review for BookSneeze®

Writing Workshop with Maria V. Snyder

My friend, Maria, is hosting a writing workshop for the Utica Writers Club.

Where: Kirkland Town Library

When: July 16, 2011 / 1 pm to 4 pm

Price: $25, limited seating

For more information and the registration form, check out this link here:

I hope to see you there! :)

Friday, June 10, 2011


I received a copy of THE FINAL SUMMIT by Andy Andrews from Thomas Nelson. The story is about David Ponder, a Traveler. In a nutshell, that means he is able to travel through time with help from the Archangel Gabriel. There are other books in the series that explain this more, and after reading this one, I cannot wait to get my hands on them. This book was a fast read – I literally could not put it down until I was done.

The Archangel Gabriel takes David to a meeting of Travelers. Gabriel tells them that time is running out for humankind and they must decide how to, essentially, save the world. However, they only have five guesses to figure it out. Among the other Travelers are Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Amelia Earhart, Eric Erickson, King David, and Benjamin Franklin. Andy Andrews uses the real views of these historical figures to paint their arguments as they reach an answer.

Despite the fact that this book is mainly about a meeting, the dialogue is rich and the historical content is fantastic. I was hooked from the first chapter. The cover is also very intriguing – it shows a feather and three pennies, with a different texture than the rest of the print. This is the perfect read for anyone who loves history and religion.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I received a copy of THE SWEETEST THING by Elizabeth Musser from Bethany House. On first glance, I found the cover to be extremely engaging. A young woman glances over her shoulder, with a mansion in the background, and old-fashioned tinting gives the scene a mysterious flavor. It reminds me of my grandmother’s childhood photographs.

I love the story. The theme of poverty amongst beauty strikes close to home, since the country is now in hard times, money-wise. The novel is fast paced and flows smoothly, until the end, where it begins to drag. The characters have a mystery to solve, but they seem to put that aside and concentrate on day-to-day activities instead.

The story jumps between Dobbs and Perri, the two main characters. That is easy to follow, since the sections are clearly labeled. Each girl learns to love God in her own way. Their struggles are powerful to read about, and the happy conclusion brought a smile to my face. The author summed up the characters’ futures in a prologue, but I long for a sequel.

The best part about the book is that the author based many things off real life, such as the setting and school. This is a trip back in time you should not miss!

Friday, June 3, 2011


I received an advance copy of THE CHAIR by James L. Rubart, from B&H Books. The cover depicts the corner of a chair, highlighted, against a wooden floor. Although plain, it is intriguing, and foretells a fascinating book. I sat down with only half-an-hour to read, and four hours later I was done with the story, although my household chores still needed completion. Overall, this is a fast, thought-provoking story with friendly characters.

Without giving too much away, the novel involves Corin Roscoe, the owner of an antique story. A mysterious woman gives him a chair, and her cryptic messages lead Corin to believe the chair was made by Jesus Christ. When he first touches the chair, he feels an electric shock, but then nothing. Shortly after, a little boy has an asthma attack in his store and sits on the chair. The boy and his family believe that the chair healed his asthma and the news story is placed on the Internet. With the help of the chair, Corin faces his belief in religion and his fears within himself.

The message in the story is very powerful, and opens the reader’s eyes to new beliefs in religious relics. The ending brought a huge smile to my face.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I received a copy of THE SERAPH SEAL by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner, from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze. The front of the cover depicts the back of an angel statue – very intriguing. The story involves a prophecy that begins in 2012 when the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are born…as well as Matthew Serafino and Paul Binder. The story then centers on the year 2048 as the world slowly unravels. Paul Binder begins work on a Syrian manuscript, and discovers lost secrets of the world. The end of the book includes Paul Binder’s “notebook,” which helped to tie the story together and made a great resource while reading. The end also included a list of terms.

The characters were very complex and realistic, but there were quite a few and sometimes it was difficult to keep track of them. Chapters included many character and scene breaks, which also made the story a bit confusing.

Since the story takes place in the future, I would have liked to see more “futuristic” terms. There were some “new” gadgets, but more of them would have added extra flavor. I love futuristic books because of those aspects, and this novel really did not have them.

I enjoyed the book overall, and even though it was long – 527 pages – it did not take very long to finish. The scenes moved quickly.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I received a copy of THE STORM OF WAR: A NEW HISTORY OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR by Andrew Riberts, from GoodReads and Harper. I love history, so I was excited to learn more about World War II. The book, of 712 pages, contains three parts: the Onslaught, the Climacteric, and the Retribution. There are also maps, notes, a bibliography, and a conclusion.

The book is very informative. Even though it is not fictionalized, it reads smoothly. I highly recommend this book to other history buffs.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I received a copy of KNITTING KNEE-HIGHS: SOCK STYLES FROM CLASSIC TO CONTEMPORARY by Barb Brown, from Thomas Nelson. I was excited to see it offered because I love knitting. Whenever I sit in front of the television set, I have to have a project with me to work on – projects that do not usually include socks.

I love wearing knee-high socks, so I am thrilled to be able to make my own. The styles are beautiful. Not only are some colorful, but others are also intricate, in a good way. When I first saw the directions, I felt slightly intimidated. I am not familiar with cable stitches, or switching colors, but the step-by-step directions are easy to follow. They also use circular needles, as opposed to double pointed needles (but you can use those too). Double pointed needles confuse me, so I am ecstatic to be able to use something different. I have begun work on the Bonny Birds pattern, a series of blue birds against a white background. It is coming along nicely.

The patterns also include ways to transform knee-highs into leg warmers and ankle socks. Whatever your style, there is a pattern in this book for you to adore.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I received a copy of IN FRONT OF GOD AND EVERYBODY by K. D. McCrite, from Thomas Nelson. It is the first book in the CONFESSIONS OF APRIL GRACE series. The cover did not really catch my attention. It shows a smiling girl, which certainly is not off-putting, but not eye-catching, either. However, once I got into the story, I was hooked.

The story takes place in the summer of 1986 – this in itself interested me, since it happens before I was born, and I wondered what things were like then as opposed to now, and what I remember from my childhood.

April Grace lives on a farm in the Ozarks. The things she says are hilarious. I laughed aloud through every page. She has a quirky, contagious sense of humor, the perfect type of person to befriend. She gives the reader her take on everything, from the weather to her grandmother’s mean cat, Queenie.

First, there is her family. Her mother, Lily, and her father, Mike, are deeply in love. They want to help everyone, including the new neighbors. Then, there is April Grace’s sister, Myra Sue, who would rather watch soap operas than weed the garden. April Grace is very close to her grandmother, who lives next door, so she’s upset when her sister thinks the elderly woman is a hillbilly. Their grandmother also has a new beau. April Grace is positive he is out to due no good, and the things she sees proves that in her mind.

April Grace loves the hippie neighbors, but not the fresh-from-California neighbors. Ian and Isabel do not know a thing about the country, especially Isabel, who is extremely rude even though April Grace’s family only wants to help.

As an elementary teacher, I know the children I sub for would adore this story. It is not only hilarious, but extremely true, with many relatable aspects. Every time April Grace describes her beloved family farm, I remember my grandmother’s farm and the happy summer days I spent there with my cousins. I look forward to reading future APRIL GRACE novels.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A contest for all my writing buddies...

Cool contest. I'm entering for TABITHA'S DEATH.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I received a copy of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACK by Rick Marschall, from Thomas Nelson. It is a biography that is part of the Christian Encounters series. I never learned much about Bach, so I was excited to enter his world. He is famous for his music, but he should also be remembered for his strong ties to Christianity.

I never knew he began his works with “Jesu, juva.” It is also how the book begins, which I feel ties the story together well. The biography is divided into eight chapters. It also includes an introduction, a part about his family, a chronology, an annotated glossary, notes, bibliography, and acknowledgements. I had never known much about his family, which made him seem like a real person. I also learned a few fun facts about him, such as that he married his cousin. That was not uncommon for the time period, but becoming famous for music was. The tales recounted in this biography gave me a new appreciation for the man I once studied in elementary school. Schools should teach the history behind the person, not just the music. It makes the notes come alive. After I read the book, I looked up some of his music and this time listening, I had a greater understanding.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I received a copy of THE GIRL IN THE GATEHOUSE by Julie Klassen, from Bethany House. It is a complex, heartwarming story. Once I started it, I found I couldn’t put it down. The girl in the gatehouse is Mariah Aubrey. After a scandalous event at a party, she is exiled from her home and sent to live with her aunt. Her aunt puts in the gatehouse, a fate most girls must dream about. Who does not want to live in a picturesque, miniature castle?

The characters are realistic and endearing. Captain Bryant is the male heartthrob – he fulfills that role and then some. He’s a rich sea Captain, handsome, intelligent, and a great friend. Then there is Dixon, Mariah’s sweet companion, who once was her nanny and then her governess.

Near the gatehouse lies a workhouse. Mariah meets astounding friends there, including two elderly woman, an eccentric man who walks the roof, and playful children. Mariah becomes a stronger person while she lives alone with Dixon – and later Martin, her aunt’s servant, and Lizzy, a young woman from the workhouse. To earn money, Mariah sells the novels she writes, but keeps her identity secret by calling herself “Lady A.”

Who does not want to live in a gatehouse while writing novels, with a handsome captain renting the estate? I will definitely look for more of Julie Klassen’s stories.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I received a copy of PROMISES TO KEEP by Ann Tatlock, from Bethany House. The cover is unique, an image of the back of a girl’s head, her neck bared by two braids. On the back of the book is the picture of a house. That image fits the story perfectly, for it’s the tale of a house and a family, the home important enough to be its own character.

The story is told by Roz, short for Rosalind. She is eleven-years-old and trying to come to terms with her parents’ separation. Her father, Alan Anthony, is vicious. He drinks a lot and beats her mother. He even tries to kill her brother once. Sometimes, when the whole family was in the car together, he would drive recklessly and threaten to crash if anyone cried out. Roz’s mother has had enough of Alan – she packed up the kids and moved to her father’s town. She feels sad and helpless, and struggles to provide for her family.

This house is not just any house. It used to belong to Tillie Monroe. She and her husband built it, and raised their children in it, and she’s not about to be put away into a nursing home. She wants to die in her beloved home, so she convinces Roz’s mother to allow her to live with them. While Roz’s mother works, Tillie looks after the chores and the children, Roz and her baby sister Valerie. Tillie helps the family build a new life for them. Roz still wants her daddy though, so when Alan meets her secretly, she’s excited, and wants to help him back into their lives – even though he steals, lies, still drinks, and eventually tries to shoot them.

I couldn’t put the story down. The characters are not only believable, they are likable. The writing is smooth, and there were only two predictable moments – Roz’s mother married Tillie’s son and Roz’s father turned out to be thoroughly “bad guy.” I feel like I could go to the town and meet everyone, even though the story took place during the Vietnam War. The wide range of characters ensure that there will be someone to relate to, whether it is Wally, the young man who decides to take out his anger on Alan by joining the army, or Roz’s best friend Mara, who suffers with prejudice.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I have been awarded! Yay!
Shelley HW awarded me the stylish blogger award. I have never heard of such awards before, but I find this very cool. Wow, that was informative – “very cool.” Anyway, you know I’m excited. *squeal*

I must list 7 things about myself. Here goes:

1.) My dream is to become a published novelist.

2.) I love to knit. I have a whole drawer of knitted items…like lopsided sweaters and too small shirts, haha.

3.) I also love to make jewelry, especially using hemp.

4.) I love to paint with water colors and acrylics.

5.) I love to drink green tea. I usually have at least 1 cup of iced green tea a day. Yummmmm!

6.) I always keep a book in my purse and often find opportunities to read it in random places.

7.) I love life. It takes you to the most amazing places and brings you the most remarkable people. *loves*

Thank you, Shelley HW. 

Now, for the seven people I pass the award onto…

1.) Vedha -

2.) Roza -

3.) Aaron –

4.) Eliza -

5.) Marisa -

6.) LM -

7.) Mel -

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Win a Critique

For those of you who write YA, this is a great opportunity:

Monday, March 7, 2011


I received a copy of THE THIRD MIRACLE: AN ORDINARY MAN, A MEDICAL MYSTERY, AND A TRIAL OF FAITH by Bill Briggs, from GoodReads and Crown Publishers. The letter is dated February, so it should have come sooner. There has been a lot of snow here lately, and the mail carrier left the package on the deck where it became covered. My uncle discovered it while he was shoveling.

I enjoyed the book, but it was a little dry. When I sat down, the words didn’t flow so well that I forgot the time. Rather, I would glimpse ahead to see how many more pages I had left. Overall, though, this is a very powerful book about the Catholic faith. Now that I’m done, I am passing it on to my devout grandmother.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jay Trisolino Poetry Contest

Put on by the Utica Writers Club.

Deadline: March 4, 2011

1) Seasoned Poets (18 years and older)/$5/poem
2) Student Poets (17 years and under)/$2/poem
(No more than 2 entries per person in either category)

Poems are to be 1000 words or less

First Prize Winners: $100 plus free membership to UWC for 2011-2012
Second Prize Winners: $75 plus free membership to UWC for 2011-2012
Most Original Poem Topic: $25 plus 50% off 2011-2012 UWC membership
Two Honorable Mentions per category plus 50% off 2011-2012 UWC mem bership

Mail Entries and Fees to:
Jay Trisolino Poetry Contest
9562 Roberts Rd.
Sauquoit, NY 13456

An open public reception will be held May 18, 2011 to celebrate all writers and winners at the Kirkland Town Library.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I received a copy of CURIOSITIES OF THE CIVIL WAR: STRANGE STORIES, INFAMOLUS CHARACTERS, AND BIZARRE EVENTS by Webb Garrison from Thomas Nelson. The book has been reprinted as a combination of two Webb Garrison texts, CIVIL WAR CURIOSITIES and MORE CIVIL WAR CURIOSITIES, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. I was sad to read on the back flap of the book that Webb Garrison passed away in 2000.

The book does include strange stories – such as what medical ailments inflicted whom; infamous characters – women joining their husbands on the battlefield; bizarre events – discovering secret messages. I enjoyed reading through the facts. I am the type of person who sprouts random tidbits at odd moments, so this is great fuel. My mom also looked at the book. Her opinion varied. She thought the tidbits were ridiculous and random. I am definitely going to keep this book in case I need to do research. I will also keep it on my coffee table for guests to browse. Each little tidbit is only one page to half a page in length, so it makes for a quick, intellectual read. The book is also broken into parts, in case you want to read for a longer amount of time, but still want a designated stopping point.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I received a copy of THE PROMISES SHE KEEPS by Erin Healy, from Thomas Nelson. In one word, I can describe the novel as “weird.” Nonetheless, I enjoyed it, as I usually enjoy “weird” books. The story involves Promise, a young woman who is dying of cystic fibrosis. She dreams of becoming a singer so that people will remember her long after she is gone. Promise meets Zack at college and he asks her if he can take pictures to draw from. At first Promise is weary, but eventually agrees. Her wrap blows away and when she dives for it, she crashes into a fence and falls down a cliff. Miraculously she is unharmed. Zack shows the picture of her going over to his mother. His mother, Porta, is a sorceress searching for immortality. When she heard about Promise, Porta believes she can use the young woman for her gain. She begins stalking Promise, and wants Zack to try to kill her to prove Porta’s theory. A young man named Chase, who has autism, gets in Porta’s way. He draws pictures of trees that are “meant” for people and can see Porta means Promise harm. The book was very interesting and I could not put it down until I was done, but I did not feel the “love” that the back of novel boasted.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I received a copy of THE QUOTABLE CHESTERTON: THE WIT AND WISDOM OF G. K. CHESTERTON by Kevin Belmonte from Thomas Nelson. I was really excited to see this book offered, because before I knew virtually nothing about G. K. Chesterton. On page IX, Kevin Belmonte says he hopes the book works as an introduction and anthology. It certainly does, for both. I now know many facts about G. K. Chesterton, such as when he lived and how he worked. It also works as an amazing anthology, for the book consists of an A-Z layout of his work.

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning about a new historical figure. G. K. Chesterton lived a fascinating, intellectual career. It’s a pity he is not still alive, for I am sure he would have made great conversation in today’s media. I can imagine him as a talk show host.

The anthology itself covered a range of different topics, such as Jane Austen on page 19. Since the variety is so open, it’s easy to become lost in your own thoughts on the topic. Your thoughts flit from idea to idea. There’s never a dull moment in this book. I hope to be able to use his quotes in conversations. After all, the book is the “Quotable Chesterton.”

Monday, January 3, 2011


I received a copy of REDISCOVERING YOUR HAPPILY EVER AFTER: MOVING FROM HOPELESS TO HOPEFUL AS A NEWLY DIVORCED MOTHER by PeggySue Wells, from Kregel Publications and GoodReads. I love self-help books. Not only am I able to use them to help friends, but much of the information provided can be applied to other issues in life. This book is broken into catchy chapter headings playing off fairy tales, such as “Mirror, Mirror,” and “Yellow Brick Road.” If you want to help a friend, or are experiencing divorce as a mother, this is an excellent book to provide stepping-stones along the rocky path. My favorite part was reading the story about her friend’s son, who was born without legs, but lived a normal life with people who loved him deeply.