Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Anne's Top Reads in 2014




2014 offered some great books in Christian Fiction.

Life threw me some unexpected interruptions that slowed down my reading but I tried to get in as many books as possible. I read both contemporary and historical novels, and enjoyed some very well written novellas, too!

In no particular order, my Top Novel Reads in 2014 are:




Somebody Like You by Beth Vogt

Displaying  a mastery of writing skills, Beth Vogt has penned an astonishingly complex and emotional novel.




Life Support by Candace Calvert

There are times I read a book, put it down and basically forget the story. This was not the case with Life Support! My heart strings were being pulled from one side to the other like a rope during a rousing game of tug of war. 


  

Petticoat Detective by Margaret Brownley 

Petticoat Detective is my favorite book from Margaret Brownley! It’s a fast-paced, funny and poignant tale of a female Pinkerton detective who goes undercover in a brothel. Doesn’t sound like something you would want to read? Well, you just might be surprised! 




Hawk by Ronie Kendig

Hawk is the second book in the Quiet Professionals series. It has a consuming plot line filled with engrossing  and complicated technological intrigue. Between bullets and missiles and literally running for their lives, there shines through some tender moments that gave me breathing space to catch my breath.





The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

The Daughter of Highland Hall is the second book in the Edwardian Brides series and from beginning to end, I felt as if I was part of the Ramsey family. This is one of my favorite books so far this year!  In fact, the opening scene where Kate is learning to curtsy, and Jonathan sees her, is one of the most delightful I have read in a long time.  





 A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

A Match of Wits transports us into a charming and rousing tale with Agatha. She is a woman before her time--fearless,  impassioned about many things, and relentless in her pursuit of a good news story.  In many ways, she is a product of a forward moving generation.






Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot

 An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart? (from the publisher)


Note: I won Prelude for a Lord book in a giveaway and just recently made time to read it, and I am happy to say it is a definite top read! I'll write a review and post it as soon as I can.





  
Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Full Steam Ahead is one of my favorite books that Karen has written. It will make my Top Ten this year.  It’s filled with fascinating history regarding steam engines, lots of daring adventure, and her trademark humor woven in with a beautiful message of faith.






Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig 

I’m not sure how to describe this book. It’s one of those that has so many layers, once they’re peeled back, more and more appear. It is full of intensely gritty scenes that even though I found difficult to read, I couldn’t stop reading. The prose is mind-blowing  and held me hostage from the first page to the last. The intensity of emotion in Raptor 6 tops every one of this author’s other books.






Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson
Historical/Contemporary Hybrid

With alternating chapters, this story gripped my heart from the opening scene in the chapelle, to the ending  scene in the same chapelle some 70 years later. I don’t know a lot about France during WWII but I was mesmerized from the start by the story of Giselle, a young woman fighting for her country in the only way she could during a most horrible time in history.





Beowulf by Ronie Kendig

Beowulf resounds with quintessential Kendig. Packed with deep characterization, rich descriptions, and her trademark rapid-fire dialogue, once you start reading you won’t be able to stop.





Call of the Prairie by Vickie McDonough 

Vickie McDonough has the ability to paint such realistic word pictures that I was sure I felt the prairie breezes blowing and could see the majestic windmill standing front and center in the town square. 

Now for the Novellas!


A November Bride by Beth Vogt



 Operation Zulu Redemption by Ronie Kendig
A 5 Part Serialization Project



 The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels




Christmas Comes to Little Hickman Creek by Sharlene MacLaren


Did you enjoy any of these books in 2014? If so, I would love to hear what you thought about them. If not, what did you read? Leave a comment and lets chat books!



Saturday, December 27, 2014

Red berries


My daughter let me cut some of this Holly from her tree on the 23rd and it still looks great! I just sat it on the porch table; didn't even put it in water because we've had plenty of rain! The wind blew it into the flower bed a few times and I just tossed it right back up there :)

I have a huge Holly bush but it didn't produce any berries this year. My husband thinks it's because we didn't trim it last year. I suppose we'll trim it this year and see if he is right.

I hope y'all had a Merry Christmas! 
 
I wish you best wishes in the coming new year.

See you in 2015!!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Good News of Great Joy



Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.   Luke 2:11

Do you see that? It says 'for you'!

Christ came for you and for me

 
There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah.  Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law,  Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
  
Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your slave in peace,
as You promised. 
 For my eyes have seen Your salvation. 
 You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to Your people Israel.

Luke 2:25-32


This is Good News of GREAT JOY!!!

 That is the reason for the season, my friend!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Candles Around the World


In memory of our daughter, Amy. 

We participated in another year with The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting, uniting family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon. As candles were lit at 7:00 p.m. local time, on December 14th, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorated and honored the memory of all children gone too soon.





Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas and an Ornament Exchange


Christmas is upon us and let us not lose sight of the reason -- Christ Jesus!!!

compliments of The Graphics Fairy
Welcome the day to our hearts ever dear,
Day of rejoicing now is here;
Hail, happy morning, welcome thy dawning,
Jesus is born the Savior in Bethlehem.
Beautiful Christmas, time of rejoicing,
Day when our hearts are aglow;
Richest of treasure, giv’n without measure,
Freely dost thou bestow.
J. Lincoln Hall ~ 1900
(compliments of Abby @ Little Birdie Blessings



I participated in the second ornament exchange hosted by Vicky @ Life on Willie Mae Lane.
It was a blessing to give ornaments to Stephanie @ The Enchanting Rose 
and to receive ornaments from Cecilia @ My Thrift Store Addiction.









 Aren't they pretty? I love all of them.

Thank you, Cecilia!

And a heartfelt Thank You to Vicky for hostessing this exchange for the second year in a row.
To see more beautiful ornaments that were given and received,
just hop on over to Life on Willie Mae Lane.






Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review ~ Petticoat Detective by Margaret Brownley


About the Book

Pinkerton detective Jennifer Layne is no stranger to undercover work. But posing as a lady companion named Amy at Miss Lillian’s Parlor House and Boots is a first for her. She’s finally landed a high-profile case and is on the trail of the notorious Gunnysack Bandit, when one of Miss Lillian’s girls essential to her investigation meets an untimely demise. Only a handful of people are in the house at the time of her death, including handsome Tom Colton, a former Texas Ranger determined to clear his brother’s name. Amy has many reasons to suspect Tom of murder—and one very personal reason to hope that she’s wrong about him.



My Review 

Petticoat Detective is my favorite book from Margaret Brownley! It’s a fast-paced, funny and poignant tale of a female Pinkerton detective who goes undercover in a brothel. Doesn’t sound like something you would want to read? Well, you just might be surprised! It really is a great story. There’s the trademark humor Ms Brownley is famous for, but along with that is a deep and satisfying story of how women come to be in certain situations, and the hope of redemption through Christ. 


I read this book in just a few hours. I could not put it down. It has one of the best casts of characters!  I’m a dialogue person and it’s fairly snapping in this book! The mystery is solid but what got me was how beautifully the inner hurts and secret longings of the women were portrayed. Miss Lillian, the owner, is a hoot. On the surface she seems to be just an older washed up and worn out madam, but she’s got spunk--and secret aspirations of being a legitimate business woman. 


Jennifer Layne aka Amy isn’t the only one wearing a ‘mask’.  By the time the ending came, I was completely surprised on several accounts and the whodunit kept me bewildered right up until the Gunnysack Bandit was revealed. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Undercover Ladies series. I honestly don’t know how this one is going to be topped. 


I want to thank Margaret Brownley for sending me an electronic ARC for review purposes. No compensation has been received.




About the Author 

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this, except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

Margaret wasn't sure that was true, but she wasn't about to take chances. She now has more than 28 novels and is a New York Times bestselling author. Not bad for someone who failed 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
  

You can find out more about Margaret and her books by visiting her website: http://margaret-brownley.com/

Monday, December 1, 2014

FREE Ebook - Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie


                                              Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room 


But hurry....Limited time only!!!

Tyndale House Publishers is offering this Ebook devotional for the Advent season FREE until Dec 3rd. Just click the word FREE and you can see the current offerings, their prices, and the vendors available to purchase from.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

{Sunday} My Hope is in Jesus


 


 
 
 
 
Thanks to Abby at Little Birdie Blessings for her beautiful vintage images 
that she so graciously shares with us all. She has a wonderful post today for the first 
Sunday of Advent.

Have a Blessed Sabbath!



I would appreciate your prayers. The flu bug has hit our family hard since Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Re-posting from HIS World...as I see it (my soon-to-be-deleted photography blog)

Microsoft Image

I’m basically illiterate when it comes to figuring out the problems I have been having on WordPress and Blogger. For some unknown reason to me, despite many hours spent searching forums and trying suggested solutions, I can’t resolve the commenting issue I am having between the two platforms. So, because I have been on Blogger since 2007, I am just going to stick with them, and once again combine my two passions which are books and photography. I know I will probably lose some followers from both platforms but so be it. I don’t have enough spare hours in a day to spend on figuring out this problem anymore, nor do I want to.

I will be deleting HIS World…as I see it. Thanks for following along even for this short time period. I do appreciate my followers and all the ‘likes’ and comments I have gotten.

If you are so inclined, you can follow me at Stuff & Nonsense on Blogger. I've already imported what few posts I had at HIS World...as I see it over to S&N.

Blessings for a Happy Thanksgiving!


WINNER!!!

    

     You won an E-copy of A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom by June McCrary Jacobs. 

I have contacted the publisher so you should be hearing from them soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review ~ HAWK by Ronie Kendig





About the Book
Raptor's communications expert, Staff Sergeant Brian "Hawk" Bledsoe is struggling with his inner demons, leaving him on the verge of an "other than honorable" discharge. Plagued with corrupted intel, Raptor team continues to track down the terrorist playing chess with their lives. Afghan pilot Fekiria Haidary is devastated when a systems glitch on her aircraft forces a weapons launch on a safe target. And when the deadly bombing separates Brian from the team, he must make an impossible choice: save his brothers-in-arms, or save the woman and children depending on him to survive a brutal snowstorm.  
: : :
My Review
No one likes being a pawn, especially Brian “Hawk” Bledsoe.  He’s a tough as nails soldier, tenacious to the bone. Possessing an indomitable spirit, he is faced with grueling challenges. In brutal conditions, he must make painful choices forced upon him by merciless enemies that will test him in every way. Will he come out the victor?
Fekiria Haidary has reason to be protective. Her secret is a big one and could cost her her life. She maintains  a delicate balance in her undertaking, always fearing discovery. At times the fear is overwhelming, even stymieing. Will she be found out?
Hawk is the second book in the Quiet Professionals series. It has a consuming plot line filled with engrossing  and complicated technological intrigue. Between bullets and missiles and literally running for their lives, there shines through some tender moments that gave me breathing space to catch my breath.
Kendig’s writing is impeccable. Once again, I lost all track of time and what was going on around me. I was transported to wherever the characters were and I found myself exhausted mentally and emotionally when I was done.
Fans of Kendig and military thrillers will undoubtedly enjoy Hawk. I’m looking forward to the next book and finally finding out who is causing Raptor team such torment. I’d like to be a fly on the wall at Ms. Kendig’s house, just so I could get a sneak peek of what’s in store for Falcon. J
The publisher provided me a copy for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, only my honest opinion of the book. No compensation has been received.
: : :
About the Author


Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She married her own hunky hero, who’s an Army veteran. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her husband have a full life with four children and two dogs. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of raw, broken characters. Since launching onto the publishing scene, Ronie’s Rapid-Fire Fiction has hit the CBA Bestseller List, won the prestigious Christy Award, finaled in numerous contests and reader awards, including ACFW Carol Awards, RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards, Christian Retailing’s Readers’ Choice Awards, INSPY Award, The Christian Manifesto Lime Awards, and Family Fiction’s Readers’ Choice Choice Awards. Ronie loves people and helping other writers through speaking, workshops, and/or mentoring. Find Ronie at www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction) , Twitter (@roniekendig), and GoodReads.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Last...

fallen leavesLRwm

Autumn leaves have fallen to the ground.

 
I was pleased to capture these glorious reds in the setting sun.

pine needlesLRwm

Even Pine needles look good when the sun is going down :)


Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview & Giveaway ~June McCrary Jacobs, A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom, E-Novella


It's a real treat to have June McCrary Jacobs on the blog today. I know many of y'all are seamstresses, and while this particular interview/giveaway doesn't have anything to do with sewing, June has written and published many articles and patterns in various publications. Be sure and take a look at her website as she has some original designs on there that are so pretty!

So without further ado, let's say Hello.

Welcome to Stuff & Nonsense, June! I’m delighted that you invited me to participate in the blog tour for your Christmas novella, A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom.

Tell us a little bit about your novella and why you wrote it.

Hello, Anne. Thank you for inviting me to share with your readers on your blog. I have always loved and enjoyed the holiday season so I felt led to write a Christmas story. My Christmas novella, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom,’ began as a story about a little girl who loved anything to do with angels. Singing angels, snow angels, angel tree ornaments, songs about angels—you get the picture. I envisioned a storyline with this little girl’s family suffering a crisis where the entire community pulled together to help them out financially. This little girl developed into six-year old Mary Noel in my book. The heroine was going to be a new first grade teacher, Amber, because I knew a lot about this profession from my own twenty-year career in the classroom.

I wrote the first two chapters in heat of the summer of 2013 and then set those aside to work on other sewing and writing projects. In late November, 2013, I found the call for submissions for Cedar Fort Inc.’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest through a Google search. After I read the publisher’s mission statement on their website I decided to finish my novella about Amber and Mary Noel and submit it to the contest. This was the first writing contest I’d ever entered. I wrote the book to inspire myself and readers to remember the true meaning of Christmas—love.


Share with us about your writing journey.

A few years ago I began designing sewing projects and submitting them to magazines and books for consideration for publication. I was required to write the instructions for my projects, and I also wrote ten non-fiction columns/articles for sewing and craft magazines. I’ve wanted to write fiction since I was in sixth grade, so honing my writing skills in the non-fiction arena was good preparation to transition into writing fiction.

For a couple years before I entered the Cedar Fort contest I sent out a lot of submissions for clean romance to various large and small publishing houses. Lots of rejections followed, but I tried not to become disheartened about becoming a published author. I was determined to continue making progress, however slowly, on my road to becoming a published fiction author. When I received the news from Cedar Fort that they wanted to publish ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom’ I was surprised and ecstatic and very grateful.

What do you think makes a good story?
I think different genres require their own essential elements to be successful. Romance requires good character development, some back story so readers know about the characters’ life journeys, a setting with a romantic ambience, obstacles in the characters’ life journeys, and light humor. Thrillers and mysteries require the nail-biting element, strong characters (heroes/heroines versus villains), a setting with some danger and urgency, life-threatening obstacles, and lots of red herrings. General fiction must have interesting, quirky characters with lots of unrevealed feelings and beliefs. Right now I’m enjoying reading lots of Amish fiction. I enjoy the quaint small town settings, the homemaking skills the women must possess and practice such as sewing, quilting, and cooking, and learning about how the families work together to accomplish their goals. In this genre I believe the authors have be very descriptive in their writing so readers will understand unfamiliar religious connotations and the why and wherefore for everything the Amish community does.

Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures? 
I am and always have been a very visual person. In regard to my sewing designs, I envision a project before I set anything down on fabric or paper. The same is true with my characters. I have a physical description of the character in my mind first. Then I begin writing down the traits the character possesses including occupation, hobbies, family life/history, education, residence, clothing style, talents, skills, language patterns, etc. Once those traits are formulated, I begin working on the story in my mind—no typing on the computer yet. I need to let things ‘percolate’ for awhile before jumping into the story. I like to know where the story is going before I begin composing dialogue, etc. I jot down ideas as they come to me, but I don’t outline heavily as some authors do. As soon as I’m comfortable with all of these elements, I begin the process of writing the story. I edit as I go along on a daily basis. Then I edit over and over again until I’m happy with the product.

In your spare time, do you have any hobbies you enjoy?
I’ve been sewing since I was about eight years old, and sewing is still my favorite hobby. I also enjoy hand-embroidery, quilting, reading, walking, cooking, and photography. My husband and I enjoy visiting history and art museums and galleries, touring historic homes, walking around parks and botanical gardens, and listening to baseball games on the radio. One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to visit historic homes when they’re decorated for the holidays.

Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?
This is a challenging question for me to answer, Anne. As your readers can tell from my Goodreads Author Page (see link below), I have a breadth of interests when it comes to genres. My favorite books stand out because of their extraordinary characters and exceptional writing. I enjoy reading about people living in different eras and different cultures than I. Some of my favorite books are ‘Gone With the Wind,’ ‘Little Women,’ ‘The Joy Luck Club,’ ‘Rain of Gold,’ ‘Cane River,’ and the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series. The final five on this list are based on the author’s family history and the ‘memoir’ factor makes the books all the more appealing to me! 

Where can you be found on the internet?
My website and ‘Writing and Sewing’ blog can be found at:  http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com.  I write about books, book reviews, textile shows, museum exhibits, and sewing tips there with a new post each Wednesday. The first Wednesday of each month (and sometimes additional times throughout the month) I post free patterns and instructions for one of my original-design sewing or crafting projects for readers’ use and enjoyment.
--My Author’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/June-McCrary-Jacobs/153549754836128.  If you Like my Facebook page you’ll receive automatic notifications of new postings and the free projects, etc.
--My Goodreads Author Page:  http://www.goodreads.com/June-McCrary-Jacobs
--My Email Address is:  junemccraryjacobs@gmail.com

It’s been great working with you on this project, Anne. Thank you for your hospitality. Best wishes to you and your readers for a holiday season filled with many blessings, new memories made with family and friends, and love!


http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com/2014-blog-tour-posts/

Okay, Y’all! June has graciously offered to give away an e-copy of her book, *A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom, to one of my readers. Just answer the following question:  "What is your favorite Christmas carol (or hymn) and why?" Also, don’t forget to leave an email address so I can contact you in case you are the winner! Giveaway ends Nov 25th.

(The formats available are PDF or e-books (epub and Kindle/mobi formats)
 
* I haven't read this novella yet but from reading the Amazon reviews, I understand it is a clean inspirational story, reminiscent of a Hallmark Movie. And if the cover is anything to go by, it is surely a sweet read!!!