Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Into the Woods

From time to time ‘once upon a time’ rises to the top of the storytelling genres. From Storybrooke to Arendelle tales of fairies, magic beans, beautiful princesses and charming princes have come to the forefront of books, television, and the movies. Into the Woods is the latest to join the ranks of fairytale retellings. My daughter and I watched the story unfold as four fairytales intertwined deep in the magical forest. As in all tales of good and evil, the drama plays out and just when you think it has ended a twist takes you down a different path.

When we arrived at the theater, I had no idea what the movie was about, except for the magical elements of the fairytale. To my surprise, the characters voices joined in song. A musical. Now there’s a different telling. Not only did the music add to the fun, the comedy was well placed and laugh-out-loud funny. Along with the drama, the characters stories played out in unexpected ways. Overall, I enjoyed Into the Woods. Especially the two young actors who stole the show as Jack and Red Riding Hood. If you like musicals, fairytales, humor and a bit of drama, oh and don’t forget handsome princes, you might want to give it a try. May not be appropriate for under twelve.

What’s your favorite fairytale retelling?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

An Open Book-2015

What do you think about between Christmas and New Year’s?
  • Blessings of the past year
  • What the New Year will bring
  • People you met
  • Resolutions or goals

I count my blessings and contemplate changes. With that come prayers of thanksgiving and the memories of lessons learned in 2014.

This year I’ve chosen the word ‘follow’ for 2015 because I want to intently listen to God’s direction. On a different note, I need to be more intentional in what I read. As much as I enjoy reading light-hearted romance and mystery, I need to up the game this year and add more meat to my book diet. And I plan to continue a practice I started mid-year 2014. Jot down notes at church during the sermon and communion devotion, and then record them in a notebook throughout the following week. The scriptures and any good quotes hit the page. By doing this through the week, I experience the message again. I hope to pass the book on some day.

I don’t consider these resolutions, but more life enhancers for the open book of 2015. I pray I keep my focus and follow. It will require me to read my Bible more, pray more and be still more. Maybe I should adopt the word ‘more’, too. Here’s hoping for a fantastic year!

What are your thoughts for 2015?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Adirondack Interview with Julie Arduini, author of Entrusted

1. What made you write a romance based in the Adirondack Mountains?

The idea for Entrusted started to form nearly 20 years 

ago when I first visited the real Speculator, New York, the 

village I based the fictional Speculator Falls on. My friend 

from college invited me there and I instantly fell in love. 

As I walked around I could see the characters coming to 

life. The area is too beautiful not to share.

As a reader, I also noted there are very few stories based 

in Upstate NY, and none that I know of in the Christian contemporary romance category 

set in the Adirondacks. This is my tip of the hat to an area I love so much.

2. Where exactly are the Adirondack Mountains?

The Adirondack Mountains are a 6 million acre park, the largest in the lower 48 

states, according to visitadirondack.com. They are about 4 hours north of NYC, two 

hours northeast of Syracuse, five hours from Boston and minutes from Quebec. It was 

fascinating to see signs in French and English the further north I traveled.

3. When you think of the Adirondacks, what comes to mind?

Peace. There is something in the air that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. I can be 

stressed and burned out as I travel and the minute I get out of the car, it melts away. I 

also think of kind people. Everyone is welcoming. It’s also rural. When I wrote in 

Entrusted that the county was the only one without a traffic light, which was true when I 

visited.  I’ve driven so deep into the mountains that there weren’t even telephone poles 

or gas stations. Yet, I have to say, my GPS delivered me straight to the destination right 

to the inch, which for my heroine in Entrusted, Jenna, was not the case.

4. What do you want readers to take away regarding the Adirondacks?

I’m already seeing it---readers want to live there, or at the very least visit, and that’s 

just from looking at the cover, which is authentic Adirondack. Once they start reading, 

they’re making new friends with the characters. I hope reading Entrusted gives people 

vacation ideas. It truly is a wonderful area.

5. What in Speculator Falls is real, if anything?

The village itself is not real. I based it on Speculator, NY, which is real. JB’s grocery 

store is not real, but it’s based on Charlie Johns, which is. The senior citizens at the 

center have things about them that I experienced having an office at a senior center 

years ago. One was a Rockette back in her day, but she wasn’t like Roxy in Entrusted. I 

also mention a nice family with a maple syrup business. They are real and are the family 

that first invited me to the area all those years ago.

6. Tell readers about Entrusted.

Entrusted is about Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, who plows–literally–into Adirondack 

village, Speculator Falls with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has 

ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town 

councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving 

and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They 

work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote 

on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth 


7. Will we see more Adirondack romances from you?

Yes. Next up is Entangled, Carla’s story. After that is Engaged, Trish’s story. What I love 

about the Adirondack Surrender romance series is that the characters readers meet in 

Entrusted stick around. You’ll still read about Jenna, Ben, Will, Kyle, Sara and the others.

8. What else are you working on?

The Love Boat Bachelor will release in early 2015 and features the authors from Write 

Integrity Press and is a sequel to last year’s Valentine’s novella, A Dozen Apologies. This 

time it is cruise themed and readers choose who the hero proposes to. I can’t wait!

Also, in April, Chalfont House Publishing will release A Walk Through the Valley. This is an 

infertility devotional with Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery 

and Donna Winters. We share our own experiences with transparency, but also with hope 

that comes from the Bible. This is the book I wish I’d had when I was going through 

infertility issues and miscarriage.

9. How can we find you?

My website is http://juliearduini.com and if you click on the 

“books” page, you can learn how to purchase Entrusted and much 

more. I also have a newsletter where for 2014 I’m 

sending subscribers my Upstate NY Finger Lakes romance, Match 

Made in Heaven. I’m active across social media, everything from 

Facebook to Goodreads. I can be found @JulieArduini.

Thank you, Julie, for sharing your love for the Adirondacks with us today.

My pleasure!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Looking for Christmas Reads...or Gifts?

Laura V.Hilton writes both Amish and contemporary stories that touch the heart. I have to admit, I never enjoyed Amish fiction until I read Laura's. She has three new books out, two Amish Christmas and one contemporary. 

The Snow Globe

Victor Petersheim has left the Amish and works on a river boat on the Mississippi River, spending three months on the river then having three months off. During his off-work months he returns home to his Amish community and helps out on his grandparents’ farm. When he returns home after his most recent absence, he discovers his grossmammi has developed health problems and they’ve hired Esther Beachy to be a “mother’s helper.” Victor is unsettled by this woman living in their home, but has to accept it. Esther loves listening to Victor’s grandmother’s stories and while puttering around in a store while the grossmammi’s in the hospital, she discovers a snow globe that depicts an area where the Petersheims used to live. She buys it as a gift for the grossmammi to cheer her up during her hospitalization. Victor is touched by Esther’s gift and her care for his grossmammi, and strives to be friendlier. Will Esther’s gentle heart draw him back to the community? Or will he return to the river once again? 

A White Christmas in Webster County   

Wanting to relocate from Shipshewana to somewhere new, Mercy Lapp answered an ad in The Budget to work as a mother’s helper for Matthew and Shanna Yoder in Seymour, Missouri. Mercy relocated from Shipshewana to give herself space and time to heal after the death of her beau in a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. Abner Hilty fled Shipshewana to Montana to work on a ranch after he and his twin brother witnessed a murder. Now that the killer is safely behind bars, Abner decides to visit his brother Abram in Missouri where he’d settled with his bride of one month. Mercy is surprised to see Abner there, and equally surprised by how much he’d changed physically since she’d last seen him. Even though the two live in different districts they occasionally see each other in town and form a fledging friendship. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected heavy snow lets Abner and Mercy spend a lot of time together in wintertime fun. Abner hopes to interest Mercy in a more permanent relationship. But then Mercy has a potentially life changing discovery. Will she return to Shipshewana to answer the summons of the past? Or settle in a new place?
Swept Away
He survived a life-altering event. She is facing one.

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her grandmother who doesn’t want to be cared for. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.

It doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever. 

Purchase Laura's books:

Read More About Laura:

How has being published changed your life?   It has made life a lot busier, but has also made me more organized.

What are you reading right now?   I read fast, so what I’m reading today probably won’t be what I’m reading when I post this, but right now I’m reading The Christmas Star Bride by Amanda Cabot.

What would be your dream vacation?   My dream vacation would be an all expense paid trip to Michigan.  I’d like to take my family to all my favorite places throughout the state.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?  Sometimes, it is being able to focus. Like right now. Life is hitting and I am having a hard time thinking of much else.  I am praying a lot, mostly about the situation because I’m not on a deadline at the moment.  If I was on deadline, I’d be praying for my writing, too.
Where do you like to write?  In the living room, surrounded by my family.

If someone else were sitting at your desk right now, what would they see?  A mess. My son has rearranged the living room so I have my own “office.” He has the loveseat in front of my computer desk, a bookcase with the homeschool books and supplies beside me on one side, another desk with a printer and paper supplies on the other side. My computer desk is loaded down with newspaper clippings my aunt sent, a book review calendar, pens, and other miscellaneous junk.

Has there been a time in your own life where you could really sense God was putting you in a situation for a reason?   Yes. I think it’s because the rough situations cause me to grow as a person, as a writer, and as a Christian.
What’s on the horizon for you?  What will you be writing next? 
Right now I have started working on a proposal for another Amish series, also set in Jamesport. I have written about 200 words. I asked my husband to read over them to see if it “grabbed” him and he said “Can I read the synopsis first?” And I said “No. There isn’t a synopsis.”  He said, “Isn’t that supposed to come first?” And I laughed.  He did read my 200 words. And then went out to try an experiment to see if what I wrote actually worked.

How do you choose between ideas you’d like to write about?  I do have some ideas written down in a file, but for this particular series I came up with three new ones.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?   My family. Spending time with them, however. We have Monopoly tournaments that I usually lose, Scrabble tournaments where I can usually hold my own (depending on the letters I draw) and other things. 

Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and three of their children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Laura also  has two adult children.

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Bird House in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

Friday, December 5, 2014

At First I Panic

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar every month.   
–Harlan Miller

It happens every year. About mid-November a switch flips inside me. At first I panic.

So much to do:
  • decorate
  • make gifts
  • buy gifts
  • wrap gifts
  • bake
  • send cards, etc.
Christmas lurks around Thanksgiving’s corner.

How do I handle the panic?
  • focus and pray
  • stop and enjoy Thanksgiving
  • remember the reason for the season
  • make lists
  • enlist help
  • listen to Christmas music or whatever music brings joy
  • read a Christmas book
  • read the Christmas story
  • simplify
  • enjoy the people I love
  • give things away
  • give to a good cause
  • cherish the memories created
Have a Happy Christmas season!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks to the Teachers

Miniature pilgrims and Native Americans lined up behind their chairs in the school cafeteria. First graders dressed in black with big white colors or brown fringed vests with feathers on their head prepared to share their Thanksgiving dinner. When I worked at an elementary school, I enjoyed seeing the children dressed in holiday costumes. The teachers worked for weeks to prepare a simple meal and teach the students about the beginnings of America. The kids learned to share and be thankful for their food. They were taught about the freedom of being an American and the founders of our country. And they had fun dressing up. 

This year I'm thankful for teachers. Especially those who teach our grandchildren. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You

Dad served his country during WW2, I love this photo of him when he took his turn in the mess hall. That's my mom. She road a bus across the country from Ohio to the Pacific coast to spend a week with him before he shipped out, again. When she returned home, she cared for their children, my siblings. I can only imagine how hard it was and is for moms and dads, and extended family to wait at home for their loved one to return, knowing they may not.

I want to thank all who serve and served and the families who wait at home. I can't fathom the sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy.

My dad, Homer Frost, my husband, Tim McGinnis, my brothers, Ron and Darryl Frost all served. Thank you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rumor Has It

I was delighted to meet Author Marc Brown
Rumor has it— paperback and hardback books are old hat, passé, no longer read. I don’t think so. Over the weekend, my husband and I ventured out to Books by the Banks, an annual book and author event. People of all ages milled around tables filled with books, yes— real paper books. Authors and illustrators visited with their fans, autographed books, and smiled for photographs.

Just being in the same room as so many authors inspired me to continue working on my WIP. I love the written word, whether on paper or an e-reader. I use both and believe both formats will be around for a long, long time. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Growing Spiritually

I love when a sermon speaks loud and clear to me. Yesterday our minister shared five measures of spiritual maturity. Have you ever wondered what a person devoted to a relationship with Jesus looks like? I have, especially when I look in the mirror. That's why I want to share these great goals for a more spiritual life.

Spiritual Maturity Markers

  • Stay positive under pressure, James 1:2
  • Be sensitive to the needs of others, 1 John 3:17
  • Live as a peacemaker, Matthew 5:9, 1 Thessalonians 4:11
  • Be patient Psalm 27:14
  • Be prayerful, 1 Thessalonians 5:1

How about it? What do you see as a goal for spiritual maturity?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan

I read the most delightful and hilarious book I’ve read in a while. Ane has created a wonderful array of characters in the small town of Chapel Springs. I’m a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and I have to say Chapel Springs reminds me of the southern version of Stars Hollow. And what would Claire do without her dear friend Patsy, who had troubles of her own. Claire’s dilemmas both warmed my heart and made me laugh out loud. I chose to read Chapel Springs Revival as I recovered from surgery. It was the perfect medicine.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pay Attention

Knee replacement has given me a new perspective on what it means to pay attention. Being temporarily disabled, I've had to use a cane and a wheelchair. The cane slows me down, so I tend to appreciate the weather, the solid sidewalk, and the the outdoors in general a lot more. I've always been thankful for my surroundings, but going at a snail's pace makes me much more alert to what's around me.

Then there's the wheelchair. I used one when I went to the grocery store or any other big box store. When I shopped, previous to surgery, I tried to be aware of what was around me. I never wanted to step in front of someone else or get in the way, even though I probably did. Now from the perspective of a child's height, in a chair that I had to guide, my eyes were opened to the difficulty that comes from other people not seeing what's around them. People cut in front of me, or overlooked me and pushed past. Not everyone, but most. I did have a young man offer his help as well as an employee. And of course my husband. Then there were the items on out-of-reach shelves, especially the lower shelves. When the cans were pushed back I couldn't see them, let alone reach them by myself. Although I could stand to reach the top, many people can't.

Another observation I discovered is that many people who use the chairs have invisible disabilities. I tend to believe if someone is in a chair, they need to be. As soon as I am back on my feet, I'll offer my help. If people want it great, if not that's fine too.

My purpose in writing this little rant is to bring to attention the need to "pay attention." Be aware of surroundings. See who's beside you. Know what's going on. Offer a hand. Get out of the way. Be polite and compassionate. Just pay attention!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Desperate Measures by Christy Barritt

Christy Barritt has once again penned a heart-racing thriller. As soon as I opened the first chapter, I knew I was in for a roller coaster of emotions, surprises and excitement. And she did not disappoint. In this romantic suspense, the perfect hero steps in to rescue the heroine. But he doesn’t know why or what he’s in for. One of the things that shines through Christy's books is the amount of research she’s put in to make the details accurate and the story believable. I love the thrill of the chase, the tension of the romance brewing and the endless doubt that anything will work out. Most of all, I enjoyed the satisfying ending. If you enjoy suspense, you'll want to pick this one to keep you up at night. If you're new to the genre, this is an excellent choice to introduce yourself to it. I highly recommend Christy's new book, Desperate Measures.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Say I Love You

My beautiful niece Brea snapped a photo of the Le mur des je t'aime in Paris, France. I'd never heard of this, so I clicked the link. The web site was in French, so I still didn't know. Thankfully, Brea filled me in. The wall has the words "I love you" written in 160 languages. What a beautiful sight. 

That made me wonder. How can I show people I love them in 160 different ways? Here are a few.
  • Write a letter
  • Tuck a note in a lunch box (I did this for my kids and they did it for me) 
  • Hug more
  • Encourage-- not just when they're down, but everyday (my husband does this)
  • Give a smile
  • Share a cookie
  • Send a card-- especially to kids in college or folks in the military
  • Serve a favorite food
  • Listen
  • Say I love you...
These are easy ways to share love. And there are so many more.

I'd love to know how you "show" I love you. Share please--

Friday, August 8, 2014

Worth Remembering

I spotted this at the doctor's office the other day. A saying worth remembering.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Arbuckle Mountain Original Fried Pies and Coffee

Tim and I like to try out different eateries in the area. After we grabbed a cheese burger at Five Guys, one of the best hamburger joints ever, we checked out Arbuckle Mountain Original Fried Pies and Coffee. They serve several fruit and cream pies plus pecan. We tried the blackberry and it’s delicious.

According to the gentleman working, a fried pie has fewer calories than a glazed donut. Plus they are big enough to split with a friend. I don’t think I could eat a whole one by myself.

Tim sipped coffee with his half of the pie and I tried the Earl Grey Lavender tea. Both got a thumbs up.

Later, I googled Arbuckles and the Original Fried Pie shop, and discovered that a grandmother first created the pies for ranchers and ranch hands in 1893. They’d pack well and be easy to eat on the job. I can envision her rolling out the round dough stuffing it with meat and vegetables or sugared fruit, folding them in half and frying them up. I love the ingenuity of grandmas. According to my grammy, her widowed mother (my great-grandma) sold her homemade pies at the local grocery to help support their family.

If you’re hankering for pie and you live in the area, check out Arbuckle Mountain Original Fried Pies and Coffee next to Jungle Jim’s in Eastgate. Yum!

If you’re not in Ohio, find other locations on Google by typing in Original Fried Pies or Arbuckle Mountain Pies.

What kind of pie is your favorite?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Random Birthday Thoughts

My daughter Hannah woke me up at 6:30 this morning to sing Happy Birthday. That's how I used to wake up my girls every year on their birthdays. I still do sometimes :). What we do in our children's lives leaves an impression. She remembered the tradition and took joy in croaking out the song in the wee hours, on a Saturday morning. As much as I don't like waking up early, I loved hearing her voice and knowing that she remembered her mama. 

After 57 years of birthdays, I pretty much accept that I'm getting older. My body feels the creaks and aches even as my mind tricks me into thinking I'm still forty. 

Blessings (in no particular order):

  • Tim and I traveled to South Carolina and Northern Ohio. 
  • We discovered a lovely place called Kelleys Island. I fell in love with this quaint, calm village in the middle of Lake Erie. I want to go back.
  • We have a new granddaughter, Ella Cate. She's pure joy. 
  • Enjoyed our other seven grandkids as they grow and learn.
  • Watched lots of baseball from T-ball to MLB. Love those Reds!
  • Visited family and celebrated our nieces graduations. One from high school and one from college. 
  • I spent a week with my daughter, her son, and brand new daughter.
  • I've shared books with Dylan. I love to encourage reading.
  • Work is good.
  • I've gotten lots of hugs.
  • Kept in touch with friends.
  • I'm still writing, slow but sure. 
  • I love my critique group. 
  • Church is inspiring.
  • I'm thankful for Jesus and his love for me.
  • And I know there's more to come...

I'm not looking forward to knee replacement surgery in August, but I am looking forward to positive results. 

So here I am. Fifty-seven years old. Three years from sixty. Thankful for the wisdom I've gathered along the way. 

Before I close, I want to share my life verses:
1 Thessalonians 4: 10-12
And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is there a Small Town You Love?

I grew up near a small town and to this day, I'd say that's a good thing. 

We lived in the country and traveled to town for groceries at Woody's, named after the owner. Hardwood floors held metal shelves filled with items like the latest Jell-O-Dream Whip treat. My brother worked there and the butcher knew the cut of meat my mom wanted before I asked. 

My sister worked at O'Dell's drug store. Sometimes after school, I'd walk to the store to wait on her. He had the best comic book display in town. Down the street, stood the local library. Another place I spent many hours. One librarian kept the place running. Many a treasured stories went home with me, where I spent hours on the front porch with the characters, who rode horses, solved mysteries and lived in fascinating places.

As I write my own stories, I try to weave in some of the small town charm I remember. America still touts many villages and communities that offer folks a quaint, friendly experience. Check back to read about some our countries wonderful small towns and the delights of living there.

Is there a small town you love?  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Turtle Creek ~ Where I Live in My Imagination

In the series I'm currently writing, I've created the community of Turtle Creek, Ohio. I used elements from three towns close to the area where the imaginary Turtle Creek is located. Over the winter one of the small towns upgraded their downtown and created a lovely small town environment. Here are a few pictures of the beautification:

The majestic court house.

Black fencing with new trees.

I love the brick walkways-they sparkle.

Islands of foliage and flowers.
A hometown feel.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Blind Trust by Sandra Orchard

BlindTrust by Sandra Orchard

Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money and can't believe that it came from her sweet elderly neighbor. Or that it has landed her in the middle of another of Detective Tom Parker's investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor's innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation--and one that strikes too close to home for comfort.

As family secrets come to light, her world--and her budding romance with Tom--begin to crumble. To Kate, it's clear that she won't be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster's secrets. But then will it be too late for her and Tom?

Kate Adams is in trouble again, and Detective Tom Parker wants to protect her. In Book 2 of the Port Aster Secrets series, Sandra Orchard sets the pace of this page turner in the first paragraph. As Kate struggles with accusations and the mystery that shrouds her father’s death, Tom works to catch counterfeiters. As the two become entwined in intrigue and secrecy, the story races to an intense end and leaves the reader anxious for book 3.
If you enjoy fast paced suspense with a bit of romance, you’ll enjoy Blind Trust.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary  copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing this book honestly.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Great Reads for Summer

I just finished Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street Brides. I've read the whole series and enjoyed every one.

The Shop on Blossom Street 2004
A Good Yarn 2005                                            
Susannah’s Garden (related stand-alone) 2006
Back on Blossom Street 2007
Twenty Wishes 2008
Summer on Blossom Street 2009
Hannah’s List 2010
The Twenty-First Wish 2011
A Turn in the Road 2011
Starting Now 2013
Blossom Street Brides 2014

Check them out from your local library.

Friday, May 23, 2014

While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad

Description from Revell web site:

As a graduate of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery, Charlotte Gregory is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution--the gas stove. And she certainly doesn't mind that the gas company has hired the kindhearted Lewis Mathis to entertain at her lectures.

Lewis encourages Charlotte's work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young hospital superintendent Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made--especially by this outspoken young woman.

When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?

Follow the second Gregory sister as she looks for true love and makes her way in a rapidly changing world in this breezy, lighthearted love triangle that will keep you guessing. 

My review:
Lorna Seilstad draws from history to create a realistic backdrop for Charlotte Gregory’s adventures in cooking. This spunky character faces challenges with hope and determination even when two handsome men distract and fluster her. Strong female characters surround Charlotte as she breaks into a new role. She’s not just a cook, she tries her hand selling a brand new product to the women of Wisconsin.

As much as I enjoyed Charlotte’s story of progress in the kitchen and love on the burner, too many details bogged down the story about two-thirds of the way through. I’m giving the book four stars because the author did a great job capturing the time period and drawing out interesting characters. If you enjoy historical fiction with a light touch, you’ll like While Love Stirs.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary  copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing this book honestly.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon

Book Description from Revell Books:

Independent single mom Claire Summers is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Workaholic Keith Watson is interested only in the bottom line--until a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk and changes everything.

As the executive assistant to a philanthropic businessman, Keith is used to fielding requests for donations. But the girl isn't asking for money. She wants help finding the long-lost son of a neighbor. As Keith reluctantly digs into this assignment in his usual results-oriented style, he has no idea how involved he and Claire will become--nor how unusual the results will actually be. Who could have guessed that a child's kindhearted request would bring love and hope to so many lives . . . including his own?

My Review:
Irene Hannon knows how to write romance. One Perfect Spring carried me to that place where nothing else seems to matter except the beautifully written story in front of me. Whether reading about Claire and her daughter, Haley, and the trials of everyday life or Keith’s journey to find peace and understand life, Irene’s well-developed characters and crisp descriptions kept me turning the pages.

As much as I enjoyed following Claire and Keith’s story, I loved Maureen and David’s tale of discovery. The stories are woven together like a colorful Jacquard tapestry. If you enjoy well-written stories about love and life, you’ll love One Perfect Spring.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing this book honestly.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hello Spring!

Tulips welcoming spring
Crab apple tree enjoying the sunshine

Willow tree branching out

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Value of Libraries

I was asked to write a letter to the editor of our local paper. The branch manager at the library explained that the library levy was set to come up in May. I was happy to oblige. The letter was published in both local papers along with others who voiced the need for the levy to pass. I want to share the letter here because I believe that we need libraries in all communities. If your library is up for vote, please show support. As a reader and a writer, I appreciate what the public library has to offer.

Dear Editor:
When I was a little girl, I loved visiting the library. I’d roam through the stacks seeking a story that would sweep me into another time or place. Little Women, Ann of Green Gables, Marguerite Henry’s horse tales, including Misty of Chincoteague entertained me for hours. As an adult with young children, I took my daughters to the library for books, videos and music. We’d read stories together and pick out movies for family night. When I worked at a public library I loved matching patrons with books, especially children. Many of the senior population depended on the library’s resources.

Now this wonderful public service has evolved to offer not only books, magazines, and newspapers. They also have ebooks, DVDs, books on CD, digital downloads, large print books, homebound delivery, free programs for children, teens and adults, meeting rooms for public use, computers, and so much more. Many children look forward to the library’s summer reading program. The activities and challenges offer a wonderful way for kids to keep up their reading skills during the summer. One of my favorite aspects of the library is the web site. It offers easy access to books and items across the state of Ohio. I can place a hold on a book from a library in Toledo and the currier carries it to southern Ohio for me to check out. They also have the latest best sellers in fiction and nonfiction and offer assistance for job seekers.

In May, the citizens of our county will have the opportunity to renew the levy for the public libraries. What a privilege to be part of the renewal process. When the levy passes the average homeowner will pay less than the price of a quarter pounder (per month) for all of these offerings. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see the levy pass. If you aren’t a library user, go to one of the branches and check out the incredible resources available to all users. Then show up at the polls and vote yes for our library.

What do you love about your library?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: What Follows After by Dan Walsh

Back Cover Summary:
In October 1962, Colt Harrison and his little brother, Timmy, hatched a plan. They would run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Savannah, Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents got back together. But things go terribly, terribly wrong. Colt's mother and father must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their broken marriage.

I loved this well-written page-turner written by an author who goes right to the heart of the story. Dan allows the reader a peek into the present, then sweeps them into 1962. I would have been five years old when the story took place. The memories I have from that era are confirmed by his thorough research and well painted picture of the times. He incorporates the American Dream, of those times, and the views on family and life as he tells the story of a broken family and their journey to recovery.

I finished the book in two days, which is rare for me. As a reader, I sometimes struggle with books written by male authors, but Dan has his finger on the pulse of the characters' emotions as he places them in a world of fear, faith, and love. If you enjoy well-written, fast-paced stories about family and faith, read What Follows After. Five + stars.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014