30 June 2013

Blogging And Kindred Spirits...

'Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’

(C. S. Lewis)

28 June 2013

Sweet Dreams By Carla Stewart, Book review

Publisher: FaithWords (May 14, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1455504275


It's 1962, and Dusty Fairchild, daughter of a self-made millionaire and oilman, wants to go to college. Instead she is sent to a private finishing school in East Texas. Although she's never wanted for material possessions, Dusty longs for independence and adventure.

 The only upside to attending Miss Fontaine's is having her cousin and best childhood friend, Paisley, join her. Paisley has traveled the country with her bohemian mother, but she dreams of putting down roots and living a settled life. 

At Miss Fontaine's, their loyalty to each other binds them, but when they fall in love with the same handsome young man, their relationship teeters on shaky ground. Only after a tragic accident do they learn where their true hearts-and dreams-lie.

Here are my thoughts:

There is something timeless about Carla Stewart's writing, it is sweet and nostalgic, complexed yet relaxing,  even vulnerable at times. Her award winning novels opens a window on the not so distant 50's and 60's, an era known for new social and sometime radical trends such as Women's Rights movement proclaiming they had a choice not to be tied to their home and could find fulfillment working in public places, the Civil Rights movement with its rallies and protests, Mini Skirts, Rock n' Roll and so on...

SWEET DREAMS, drawn against 1962's Texas explores the close relationship betwixt two very different cousins, Dusty and Paisley. With a noteworthy prologue in 1947 at its onset, the story highlights the deviance in each of their upbringing and the dreams each young woman aspires to. 

Raised by her loving if somewhat domineering father and a sassy Hispanic housekeeper, Dusty grew up on her family's ranch. She fervently hopes to enter College and pursue a career, preferably in Geology.  Paisley has experienced a Gypsy life at best, following her wandering mother always in pursuit of another gig. Her own dreams of a white picket fenced home seems at odds with her carefree bohemian style.
When Dusty's father enrolls her in Miss Fontaine's Finishing School For Girls, she convinces him to allow her cousin to join her and we soon discover the world of Charm school!

Carla Stewart does a credible job of showcasing the 60's permeated with its many social upheavals even in this quiet peaceful area of Texas. Surprisingly graceful Dusty shows she will fight to achieve her dreams. In turn, loyal Paisley yearns for things she deems she cannot ever have but will sacrifice even those dreams over betrayal.

With a nostalgic touch, Carla Stewart sets the mood in her latest novel with those Patsy Cline's hits which still haunts us today!
There are also a few secrets and a little romance in the air in SWEET DREAMS, all wrapped in a Southern touch as refreshing as a Mint Julep and as delicate as Pralines. 

Whilst I'll admit this is not my favourite out of the three Carla Stewart's novels I have had the pleasure to read so far, I admire her intuitive style and note it reveals a lot of her own personality!

In the end SWEET DREAMS brings us poise and charm...Timeless! 

4 Stars!

About the Author:

Carla Stewart's writing reflects her passion for times gone by. She launched her writing career in 2002 when she earned the coveted honor of being invited to attend Guidepost's Writers Workshop in Rye, New York. Since then, her articles have appeared in Guideposts, Angels on Earth, and several regional magazines and anthologies.

Carla received two American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis awards for unpublished authors. The novel that won in 2007 went on to become her first published novel-Chasing Lilacs which has garnered many rave reviews including a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly and 4 stars from RT Book Reviews. Sweet Dreams is her fourth novel.

Carla graduated from the University of Oklahoma and worked as a registered nurse for a number of years. She and her engineer husband are the parents of four married sons and relish the adventures of their six grandchildren. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, great books, and weekend getaways with her husband.
Visit her website (HERE)
Note to Readers:

A most heartfelt thank you to Carla Stewart for the sweet opportunity to review this novel!
I was not asked to offer a positive opinion, just my thoughts and therefore it reflects ONLY that!

25 June 2013

There Is Nothing Like A Book To Take You Away...Far Away...

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
(C.S. Lewis)

I am almost certain I am now old enough to have found the gateway...

A faerie tale world must surely be on the other side...
I believe...
Do you believe?

Books are so magical...They can take you anywhere...

Ah! Such sweet dreams can be found there...
Grab a book and let yourself go...

Come on, believe! Faith is everything!

24 June 2013

Trouble In Store by Carol Cox and Giveaway Winners!

For those of you who have not yet checked the names of the lucky winners of Carol Cox's Giveaway, here it is:




CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THREE! I personally loved the first two prizes! Carol knows how to put a great giveaway package together!

Anyone wishing to read additional information about the giveaway winners, check Carol's website (HERE)!

I just finished reading 'Trouble In Store' so as promised here are my thoughts:

'Love in Disguise' was my first novel by Carol Cox (see review HERE) and I looked forward to see what Carol had in store for her readers with 'Trouble in Store'. 

Clearly inspired by her beautiful surroundings - not unlike the one her protagonist finds upon her arrival out West - Carol Cox takes us this time from Marietta, Ohio Circa 1885 to Cedar Ridge, Arizona Territory. A mercantile store against this interesting backdrop becomes the setting of this new adventure!

As is her custom, the author blends a good western with a little mystery rounded up with a bit of romance, just what most of us look for to discover in a Historical Fiction. 

Melanie Ross is nothing but determined to start afresh in Cedar Ridge as Caleb Nelson soon discovers both of them might very well be co-owners of the mercantile store he inherited from his Uncle.

Caleb and his son Levi have only been four months in town but they are settling in and do not want to see the persistent young woman interfering in the running of the mercantile store. Melanie however is full of ideas to expend their inventory and create more sales.
When threats in the form of missives are discovered, Melanie first assumes Caleb is behind it all.

In the meantime in an attempt to take things in hand, Caleb devises a plan to see Melanie married off, a sure way to not have her underfoot but the plan backfires when dozen of callers offers matrimony to the comely newcomer and she finds out who is behind it all. 

Entertaining if slightly predictable, 'Trouble in Store' has a lesson or two for us to uncover...including the danger in gossiping which in this case might endanger the lives of our characters! This is after all the West and bad news travels faster than a herd of spooked cattle!

4 stars!

I received a paperback copy of this title from BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS as part of their blogger review program and an Ebook version from BAKER PUBLISHING GROUP (through the Social Sharing Contest). I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

23 June 2013

And Out Of The Woods Comes The Forest Prince!

I always admire the splendid shots bloggers often take with their camera so despite the dreary weather we seem to experience for the beginning of Summer, I pulled my trusty Olympus and looked up...

Amazing what you can see when you really look...
I wonder who lives there... 

Turning around the porch yielded however a sweet sight!

Meet Bambi! We often see fawns on the island, usually at this time of the year but this lovely fellow prancing about is a rarity. Bucks usually are very aggressive towards such future competition and few survive!

As you can tell, Mum is very protective and made sure this new offspring stayed on her other side! Still, she let me aim and shoot a couple of shots.

Bambi was very obliging and let me take these photos so that I could share with you!

Our very own Forest Prince!

22 June 2013

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock, Book review

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0764210464


When Eve Marryat's father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve's uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.

St. Paul seemed like a haven for gangsters, and Eve had grown fearful of living there. At seventeen, she considers her family to be "good people." They aren't lawbreakers and criminals like so many people in her old neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a "safe haven," Eve is blissfully unaware that her uncle's lodge is a transfer station for illegal liquor smuggled from Canada.

Eve settles in to work and makes new friends, including an enigmatic but affecting young man. But when the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. How can she ignore what is happening right under their very noses? Yet can she risk everything by condemning the man whose love and generosity is keeping her and her family from ruin?

Here are my thoughts:

Sometimes a novel surpasses even my expectation (my tastes are rather eclectic and you might have noticed I am easy to please - at least in regard to books!) and 'SWEET MERCY' is definitively one of those. I'll credit AnnTatlock's fine writing skills and her choice of subject and even the publisher's choice of cover (complete with raised letters!) for total enjoyment!

U.S. Prohibition period in an era I know very little of but it always held a bit of fascination with its bootleggers and famous gangsters such as Al Capone. But for the name or its (in)famous face, 'Scarface' remains a mystery for many so I was pleasantly surprised at the little known trivia Ann bestowed upon her readers with mention of an elephant collection or the Jones Five and Ten law for i.e. 

'SWEET MERCY' begins with an innocuous prologue in May 1981, as Eve now a grandmother, steps up on the porch of the soon to be condemned lodge 'Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge', along with grandson Sean...The memories come rushing back, the sounds of laughter and music in the background, the footsteps and voices ringing in her head...It feels just like yesterday yet decades have gone by...

Mercy, Ohio was everything St Paul, Minnesota was not for seventeen year old Eve! She remembered with fondness the haven it was when she was a little girl and with her Mum and Dad, looks to the future when they arrive at her Uncle Cy's lodge!

Now helping her family to run the twenty room plus lodge, Eve is eagerly discovering a whole new world at the festive lakeside including lively entertainment, new friends and the possibility of dating. But not everything is perfect in Eve's new life and the specter of the Depression with all it entails including the Hooverville nearby looms in the horizon.
Leave it to this author's perfectly flowing style : just as you think you might have figured out the plot, a new development rises up!

Not wishing to spoil the plot for you, this is the gripping tale of one young woman's coming of age, one way to describe this story, and yet it would not encompass the clear picture Ann Tatlock paints of a world ruled by those who were breaking the Prohibition laws, often leaving a trail of woes behind them. Let's not forget those corrupted members of society who preyed on the poor and hopeless, upstanding citizens including judges, policemen and senators!

I'll end by telling you my favourite portion of this interesting tale is the epilogue! Classy!

SWEET MERCY is a sweet tale indeed, the ideal novel to tuck in your holiday travel gear or enjoy sitting on the porch! Ann Tatlock's tenth novel is well worth checking out!

5 Stars!

About the Author:

"An author should never conceived of himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before but simply and solely, as trying to embody in terms of his own art, some reflection of that eternal Beauty and Wisdom." 

(C. S. Lewis)

Thus starts Ann Tatlock's blog, the author of the Christy Award-winning novel All the Way Home. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association "Book of the Year" in fiction for both All the Way Home and I'll Watch the Moon.

For more information, visit her website (HERE) and don't miss her 'Frequently Asked Questions!' and 'Discussion Questions For Readers'.

I received this book from BETHANY HOUSE as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

20 June 2013

Trouble in Store PREVIEW and GIVEAWAY

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 1, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0764209567


Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he's not about to let an obstinate woman with newfangled ideas ruin all he's worked for. In hope of turning her interest elsewhere, he determines to get Melanie married off, and luckily, there are many single men in town quite willing to take her off his hands.

The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn't want her to marry any of them. He's drawn to her more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store offer unexpectedly positive results.

But someone doesn't want the mercantile to succeed, and threatening words have escalated into destruction and danger. Will Melanie and Caleb's business--and budding romance--survive the trouble that's about to come their way?

Read an excerpt on Carol's site (HERE)!

I have in the past admitted  the very first novel I read in English was a Louis L'Amour western so it will not come as a surprise I thoroughly enjoy a story about the Old West! 

Readers will remember perhaps another well known novel by this Christian author, 'Love in Disguise' (see review HERE)! 
As soon as I can get ahold of a copy of the novel, I will post my thoughts on this latest novel and you can tell me what you think!


I am always glad to pass along good news to kindred spirits so here is a fabulous offer from Carol Cox for three readers!

NOTE: Be sure to enter TODAY 20 JUNE, 2013 before Midnight!


Melanie causes all kinds of trouble in Caleb’s rough-edged mercantile, especially when she stocks the shelves with expensive, blush-colored china, rather than the usual tools and farm supplies!
One Grand Prize winner will receive their very own set of Melanie’s fancy china: a vintage, Royal Standard cup and saucer set, service for four.

In Trouble in Store, the mystery of a beautiful music box causes sparks to fly between Caleb and Melanie.
One Second Prize winner will have the chance to win an elegant music box, just like the one in the story. This hand-made Italian music box is made of inlaid layers of walnut and rosewood, and plays Melanie’s favorite tune, “Liebestraum”.


The townspeople of Cedar Ridge come to Ross-Nelson mercantile for supplies, advice, news, and best of all, fresh-ground coffee! Caleb grinds Arbuckles coffee beans as a service for his regular customers.
One Third Prize winner can enjoy their very own, 1880′s hand-ground coffee, with this antique grinder, Arbuckles coffee, and a pair of Cowboy and Cowgirl mugs.

ARE YOU READY TO ENTER? (remember: Enter TODAY!!)

Mercantile Mystery Sweepstakes from Author Carol Cox

 A heartfelt thank you to Author Carol Cox and Kelli, Pulse Point Design, PR for this splendid opportunity!

18 June 2013

Oh Sally, I Cannot Resist Your Sweet face!

(Photo Source HERE)

Check out this U.K. article by Ross Parry and Sara C. Nelson:

Asperger's Syndrome Teenager Nick Gilling Has New Lease Of Life Thanks To Corgi Dog Sally!

"A teenager suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome has overcome his agoraphobia thanks to his dog, who even dresses up in his school uniform to encourage him to attend.

Nick Gilling, 14, has seen his life revolutionised since the arrival of Sally, 

a Crufts-winning Corgi, 18 months ago. 

Sally, whose grandfather was a stud to the Queen’s corgis, is even clever enough

 to play cards with Nick to help him interact. "

Full article (HERE)!

"She has changed my life and makes me smile every day." Well, all I can say Nick, I know what you mean! We are corgi lovers in this family (5 so far)!

Do I hear anyone saying CORGI POWER??!!
(alright, I am a tad prejudiced, what can I say?!)

17 June 2013

Touching Heaven by Leanne Hadley, Book review

Publisher: Revell (June 1, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0800721718


Children have always been close to the heart of God. It is when children are sick, even dying, that they can suddenly bring us closer to God ourselves.

Children's minister and former children's hospital chaplain Leanne Hadley has been ministering to hurting children for years. In Touching Heaven, she recounts the poignant stories and simple faith of the remarkable children she has been privileged to serve. She shares their encounters with God, Jesus, and angels. And with humor and tenderness, she offers their inspiring testimonies to the presence of God in our lives--even as earthly life is ending.

Anyone who has lost a child or another loved one, or anyone who is currently supporting a dying person along the journey, will find in these stories comfort, inspiration, and hope of everlasting life.

Here are my thoughts:

Since I first started to review books for blogging I have been blessed with the opportunity to discover some incredible authors, people who inspire with their thoughts and deeds and Leanne Hadley surely belongs to this group! 

Touching Heaven is an emotional selection of inspirational stories told by children, many of whom have a terminal illness, carefully selected by Leanne Hadley, as she connected with each one as a hospital chaplain. 

The Bible teaches how very special little children are to God, and as we read the Scriptures, we too can become as little children,  our faith growing stronger as we trust unto Him.
Each spiritual and powerful testimony in Touching Heaven reflects the personal encounter of one individual child, sometime in his/her very last hours of earthly life, innocents who sees Jesus and the Angels in a way we adults cannot.
One interesting common point in all stories related: each child's pain and sadness turns to joy and happiness as they face the heavenly journey ahead.

Powerfully written with love and compassion, Touching Heaven is like nothing you have experienced I'll wager and an absolutely keeper!  

I'll like to recommend this one to anyone looking for hope in trying times! 
5 Stars!! 

“Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

About the Author:

The Rev. Dr. Leanne Ciampa Hadley has worked with children her entire life and has specialized in children’s spirituality her entire career. These children have been her teachers and now she shares what she has learned about spirituality, healing, and spiritual growth with you!

Additional information available on these websites (HERE) and (HERE

I received this book from BAKER REVELL as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

16 June 2013

Happy Father's Day!

(C. Ricardo Jr.)



15 June 2013

Stealing The Preacher by Karen Witemeyer, Book review and GIVEAWAY

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; 1 edition (June 1, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0764209666


On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?

Landing page: 


Here are my thoughts:

Karen Witemeyer packs a whole lot of punch in this fun Christian novel and brings readers a story guaranteed to make you dream about the Old West! 
The very idea of a father going to such lenghs to please his daughter was genial!  'Stealing the Preacher is everything the synopsis promised and more! 

Karen Witemeyer's style is vivacious and the perfect antidote to hum drum evenings (Forget the telly, move over John Wayne!). Her novels gives you the opportunity to grasp a keen appreciation for the Old West, luxuriate in a little romance, relish in humour riddled dialogue and encounter a whole lot of faith. Not bad for 352 pages!

'Stealing the Preacher' starts on a humourous note with the kidnapping of unsuspecting Crockett Archer, en route to what he hopes will be his first appointment as a full time parson!  Silas and his bunch of grey hair, long in the tooth outlaws forcibly removes him from the train and unceremoniously drops him at daughter's Joanna' feet as her birthday gift!

From the onset 'Stealing the Preacher' is a series of wholesome fortuity and a celebration of faith!  Joanna and Crockett seemed destined to be together of course. That is if Joanna's father will set aside his differences with the Lord and allow true love to progress. Silas has been a honest rancher for the last 16 years but his past might just come back to haunt him.

Sweet Joanna is everything Crockett needs at this time as a partner in his life as he breathes life in his new found congregation. Hired as a ranch hand, he hopes to earn Silas' approval and works harder than anyone. If he can bring Silas to the Lord, he might just be able to ask for Joanna's hand. 

A fast paced delightful novel to enjoy with your whole heart and soul! Kate Witemeyer is going on my list of favourite authors!

 5 Stars!

About the Author:

Two-time RITA finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance because she believes that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler!

Visit Karen's website (HERE) and sign up for her fun newsletter!

Karen Witemeyer is "kindling" the excitement for Stealing the Preacher (Bethany House) with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at her June 18th Facebook Author Chat Party!


  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at 4pm on June 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Stealing the Preacher" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 18th. Connect with Karen for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Karen will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Stealing the Preacher and join Karen on the evening of June 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

I received this book from LITFUSE as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.