Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book Review: Shepherds Abiding in Dry Creek

Shepherds Abiding in Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad
Love Inspired #421
Nov 07

This is another great stand-alone book in the Dry Creek series. The author has the knack of pulling us into the town to get up close and personal with the inhabitants. I’ve read every Dry Creek novel and I still want to read more. I love to read about the older characters who appear in the background of each book like a neighbour waiting for me to stop and visit. And I liked the way the author showed me POV’s of both Marla and Les. They might have been serious in their thoughts, but it was fun knowing what they thought and how far off base they were.

In this book, the town has combined forces to eat over 500 cans of soup so the labels could be traded in for a life-size plastic Nativity set. But before everyone even has a good look at the display, the shepherd goes missing and suddenly the new residents – a widow and her children – are suspect.

Reserve Deputy Sheriff Les Wilkerson would like to get to know the widow on a personal basis and that didn’t include walking up to her door and accusing someone in her family of stealing the plastic shepherd, but what else could he do when the investigation seemed to point that way?

Marla Gossett moved her children to Montana to keep her young son from being inducted into the 19th street gang. She’s hoping the new townfolk will accept their Hispanic backgrounds and although she hasn’t much for worldly possessions, is determined not to be a charity case. However, Marla feels cheated when the local law stops on her doorstep and accuses them of stealing before they’ve even had a chance to get to know anyone. That is until Deputy Les shows her the note with the 19th street signature. Could her 11 yr old son really have stolen the large shepherd? And how would she get the townfolk to accept them if they find out they have gang connections?

I enjoyed reading this book. I liked the way the townsfolk worked together for the common good and the way they made the new small family welcome.

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)


2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 115 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 106, Others: 9

Book Review: Calico Christmas at Dry Creek

Calico Christmas at Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad Love Inspired Historical #19 Nov 08

This is a great book for Ms Tronstad’s foray into the Historical Inspirational market. After 14 contemporary Dry Creek books, the author has gone back 130 yrs to the beginning of this small Montana town. Her refreshing story had me smiling because I could picture it all as the story unfolds including the determination of the heroine as she sat waiting for God to come and claim her.

Elizabeth O’Brian has lost her husband and infant to the influenza and is waiting for her turn to die. She sits in her tent and waits. And waits.

Jake Hargrove has inherited his half-brother’s part-Sioux daughters. The youngest is just weeks old and desperately needs nourishment. Jake has heard that Elizabeth has lost her baby and might be receptive to nursing his infant niece. After 10 days without her own baby, all it takes is the wail of Jake’s niece to start her milk flowing again. In order to ensure the baby has nourishment until it can take solid food, Jake offers a temporary marriage to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth doesn’t want to forget her first husband, but she takes on the raising of the 2 young girls including the trials of the older sister as she tries to attend an all-white school. Elizabeth must use all her matronly skills to make this a special Christmas for everyone and avert a community disaster.

When Elizabeth starts having feelings toward Jake, she pulls back in guilt. How can she feel like this for another man when her first husband hasn’t been in the grave very long? But most disturbing of all is the fact she never felt like this before.

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)


2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 114 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 105, Others: 9

Book Review: A Connecticut Christmas

A Connecticut Christmas by Diane Ashley, Janet Lee Barton, Rhonda Gibson and Gail Sattler Barbour Books 2008

This is a great anthology containing 4 romances which centre around a Christmas gift shop in a Connecticut mall. These faith-filled stories were just what I needed in the hectic days of December. They reminded me that everyone is busy, everyone has struggles and everyone needs to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Santa’s Prayer by Diane Ashley – Delia feels robbed. She thought Nick, her boyfriend, might be the one, but he started going to church and going all religious on her. So, she did the sensible thing – she asked him to chose between her and his new religion. She just didn’t expect him not to chose her. Now, she’s alone at Christmas. When she peruses the new gift shop in the mall for a new Santa to add to her collection, she notices a special one of a Santa kneeling beside a manger holding the baby Jesus. The scene strikes discord within her as she sees it as a way for those religious people to pull attention away from dear old Santa. But the scene grows on Delia. She begins her own personal journey of discovery as she wonders what it is about Nick’s newfound religion that makes it more appealing than her.

The Cookie Jar by Janet Lee Barton – Jonathan and his twins have come to depend on the attention they receive in Cindy’s cookie shop. In fact, Jonathan would like more personal attention from the friendly lady but she’s always so busy with her business. The cookie shop was her mom’s dream and Cindy intends to bring it to the fruition her mom couldn’t before she died. She does want a family – some day – but with the business just starting up, she doesn’t see how she can take time off to date, marry and raise twins at the present time. But the kids have asked Santa for a new mommy and Cindy is their choice. Whatever will Jonathan do?

Stuck on You by Rhonda Gibson – This is the type of story that brings out your emotions. I was so angry at the hero even though I knew his intent. Morgan Frost meets the woman of his dreams but how can he get to know her better without admitting his feelings? So when Sheila, a children’s book author offers him a business partnership whereby she’ll write stories using the small creatures he’s designed, he goes one step further to ensure she’ll have to keep in touch with him after the venture is over. He doesn’t tell her why he wants to get to know her better and she assumes he wants to stifle her creativity by keeping creative control. Does she want to work with someone like him? Can she even trust him with her stories?

Snowbound for Christmas by Gail Sattler - Kade loves the Christmas story and everything it entails. He just can’t abide the commercialism of the holiday. He does have a business to run, however, and when new clients are enroute, Kade gives his staff free reign in decorating the workplace then regrets it later when he sees what new employee Rochelle has done. Everyone likes Rochelle’s work so much, they convince her to decorate the church lobby too so even there, Kade is bombarded by commercialism. The problem is he really likes his new employee. Rochelle knows Kade works somewhere upstairs but isn’t too sure about his actual job description. Maybe she shouldn’t have made those remarks about the building’s owner?

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 113 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 104, Others: 9


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Book Review: Hill Country Christmas

Hill Country Christmas by Laurie Kingery Love Inspired Historical #18 Oct 08

I liked this book. It takes a new twist by giving an inheritance to a woman of the Old West so that she has the means to pursue her dreams. But what will a poor woman do with all that sudden wealth? And can she handle the people who want to share her good fortune? Christmas is the perfect backdrop to show what’s really important in the world.

Delia Keller lived a poor life after her father took off to seek his fortune. With her preacher grandfather, they had their physical needs supplied by their parishioners, but there wasn’t any money left for luxuries – like fixing the roof.

Delia is left destitute when her grandfather dies but on the day she buries him, a stranger, Jude Tucker, rides into town and hands her a bank certificate – the entire estate of her father who had struck it rich and left it all to her in his will. She was now completely without family, but a very wealthy woman.

And it’s it nice that an important man whom she’s always looked favorably suddenly starts courting her.

Jude Tucker promised Delia’s father he’d look after her. He’s delivered the bank certificate and ensured she has access to it’s funds. He used to be a preacher but lost his faith in the civil war. Now that Delia’s grandfather has passed on, the town needs a preacher. Jude doesn’t want anyone to realize his former profession. He really should leave town before his secret gets out but how can he go when there’s a chance Delia’s new beau is only after her money. He really shouldn’t concern himself, but then he did catch the guy exiting one of the upstair’s rooms in the saloon and everyone knows what that means.

Delia was just too rich and innocent for her own good. Somebody had to keep an eye out for her.

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great – 4 stars


2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 112 books read
Harlequin Imprint: 104, Others: 8

Book Review: His Holiday Heart

His Holiday Heart (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 469 Nov 08

This is the McKaslin Clan book I’ve been waiting for! The author has dangled the stories of each sister before me while holding their lone brother’s aloft. Each time I caught a glimpse of surly Spencer only whet my appetite for his story. And then, the day came when I rec’d His Holiday Heart in my eharlequin box and I panicked. Surely, Ms Hart had an extraordinary tale awaiting me after all the build-up...right?...right?

YES! His Holiday Heart is an excellent book and worthy of a spot on my 2008 Top Ten List. I became intrigued on page 1 when one of Spence’s sisters hinted she knew his secret and he became paralyzed at the thought.

Ms Hart has created a wonderfully refreshing hero in this book. Spence has always been responsible for his sisters and is happy they are happily married but after he saw his mother take his youngest sister and walk away from the rest of the family, he doesn’t trust women. Marriage can be a venerable institution – it just isn’t for him. Even though his father remarried and Spence loves his step-mom and step-sisters, he’d rather live his life alone than take a chance.

But, If he was going to pursue a woman, she’d have to be just like Lucy Chapin who is Spence’s ideal of the perfect woman. He’s put her on a pedestal and adores her from afar. It’s just that whenever Lucy comes near, Spence freezes up, gets tongue-tied and basically loses his mind. His thoughts just fly off somewhere and he acts like a blithering idiot. To combat this, he steels his heart, refuses to look at her, and speaks brusquely whenever she’s near.

Author Lucy Chapin has known Spence for a long time. She believes him to be an upstanding man of integrity who is respectful to women regardless of how his biological mother treated him. He is an influential man in the community who takes his responsibilities seriously and adores his nieces and nephews. He’s the kind of man she wants for a life mate. She just doesn’t understand why Spence doesn’t like her.

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; Top 10 list)

See the rest of the McKaslin Clan here:

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

111 books read Harlequin Imprint: 103, Others: 8


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Spoons - After Christmas Fun

So, it’s 2 days after Christmas. The anti-climax day for me. The rush of getting ready for Christmas is over. The presents are open, the turkey has been served and the clean-up done. Yesterday - Boxing Day here in Canada - meant heading to the city at 8 am to battle...uh...share the shopping frenzy with more people than I’ve ever seen shopping at one time. The city roads were icy and I almost got rear-ended 3 times. Two of those times by the same truck driven by a man who didn’t seem to understand what a stop sign meant. I wouldn’t have worried too much but when he had to drive into the oncoming lane beside me in order not to plow into us, I got a bit worried about the kids safety. Anyway, we arrived home at 7 pm safe, tired and happy with our purchases.

Hubby was late getting home from work so by the time he drove up, we had the table cleared of everything but 5 metal spoons and part of a deck of cards. Yes, we were going to play SPOONS, that fun, ballistic game where it’s every for themselves. A quick glance around the table ensured everyone’s nails were cut. It’s bad enough to smash knuckles during the course of the game while you’re grabbing a spoon, but no one likes being scraped or stabled by a fingernail.

Everybody from Dad and I (the Mom) all the way down to the 10 yo – our youngest was in on the action. It’s a simple fast paced card game and all you have to do is match 4 cards in your hand and then grab a spoon. When one person grabs a spoon, the rest are up for grabs. Of course, there’s only 5 spoons to the 6 of us playing. Think of it as Musical Chairs without leaving your seat. If you don’t get a spoon, you win a letter. The first one to spell SPOONS is out. I was the 3rd one out. And no, I didn’t get any scrapes but teen J literally jumped on me to grab my spoon at one point but I wasn’t letting that baby go although I had dents in my fingers from gripping it so tightly by the time she gave up.

I believe there were a couple scuffles under the table from flying spoons but I wasn't in on those. After a 2 hr game, Dad was declared the winner. He said good-night and went to bed with a smile on his face. He was the only one who had to get up early for work today.

I awoke this morning with shoulder and leg muscles aching and feeling like I’d been dragged behind a horse for 17 straight hours. I’m sure it was from all the tension yesterday of driving the icy streets and jockeying in position with all the other harried shoppers but then, it could’ve been the Spoons game.

I decided today was a Play Day and I’m still in my jammies. After checking my email this morning, I read a bit. Then, I settled down for a few tracks of Wii Mario Kart but my hands cramped up after 2 races so I went back to reading. When the rest of the kids got tired of racing, teen J and I decided to try our hand at the Wii winter sports game we bought for only 8 bucks yesterday at WalMart. I like this game a lot better because I use my whole hand and not just my thumbs. This game is also great exercise because we stand there and simulate the movements. No, we didn’t fact we sucked at skiing but it sure was fun. Now, my arms are tired. Sigh.

The boys are racing again and hubby just went back to work after eating his lunch but his last words to me was to rest up because he’ll be back in an hour or so and then the competition is on! Yippee!!!


Have you ever tried the Wii or any other game system? Or do you like the old card or board game better?


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Greeting and Prayer

I'm in the middle of last minute wrapping after the last minute shopping yesterday, but I'd like to send a Merry Christmas out to all my family and friends.

Sometimes this can be a hard time for those of you who've lost loved ones or are all alone. I'd like to pray for you and maybe even with you.

If you need someone to talk to or pray for you, please send me an email or leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

I'll be monitoring this site and my email today, tonight until I hit the sack, and then as soon as I get up tomorrow - and all day Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas and may God's love shower you with blessings.

Pics of Christmas Cookies and Church Play

As promised yesterday, here is a pic of some of the sugar cookies Dad and the kids decorated on Monday afternoon.

Our church Christmas program was entitled 'It's a Boy'.

I played the part of a Biblical teacher with a couple of students wondering if Mary allowed others to hold her precious baby.

The wisemen, also called the 3 Kings, were announced by a young girl dressed in a Japanese outfit.

The 2 young boys on the left are my real life sons.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting Ready for Christmas

I pray that everyone isn't getting too stressed out during this busy time of year.

I've already had a visit by my mother-in-law and my sister's family.

Our eldest daught is finally home from Vancouver, BC for another week and it's such a delight to be spending this time with her.

Somehow the kids have roped me into taking them we'll be leaving soon.

I still haven't sent out any cards and I don't think I'm going to at this late stage.

Yesterday, we made a quadruple batch of sugar cookies. I cut out the cookies and put them on a tray. One of the kids carried it to our large oval dining table where the rest of the family sat waiting with coloured sprinkles, the little brown thingies, tiny gingerman candies, etc. The trays of decorated angels, candy canes, Santas, stars, stockings, presents, holly, reindeer and snowmen came back and I popped them in the oven. It only took 2.5 hours and then we were done but I have cookies galore. Well, at least for a couple days. LOL I try to post a pic here later.

We took about 3 dozen cookies to our church Christmas program last night. We were all part of the Christmas play. The 2 boys were the kings/wisemen. I was a biblical bystander. The teen was a pigtailed kid demanding a story from her dad, played by a church member. Hubby did the lights. And our visiting daughter worked the video and camera. It was hectic getting everyone's costumes ready, but oh the satisfaction of a performance well done. I'll try to post a pic here later.

But now...the kids are awanting to go shopping. At least it's warmer out there with -28C/-18F temps. I don't mind getting out when it's like this at all.

So, how's your holiday preps coming? Are you ready?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cheryl St Johns Christmas Tree Tour

I am so honoured to have my Christmas tree and 50 yr old stocking (yikes!) featured on Cheryl St. John's blog today at

One of my favourite historical and contemporary authors, Cheryl has 35 Harlequin and Silhoutte books published so far. She can often be found at otherwise known as the Wildflower Junction.

You can check the most recent topic for both these blogs on my list at right.

I just love Christmas. Don't you?


Saturday, December 20, 2008

My 32 yr Old Wedding Photo

In June 1976, I met a very special man, became his fiancee in Sept and married him in Dec.

He was a young Corporal and I a Private in the CAF. With those salaries, we didn't have the money for an expensive wedding. I bought satin, lace, tulle and a pattern, and a friend of mine stitched my dress.

It might have been a whirlwind romance, but it’s lasted 32 yrs.

Happy Anniversary, honey.

(For those of you who know me now, can you believe that photo?!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I was invited to Brenda Novak’s Virtual Reality Party

On Wed night I attended Brenda Novak's 1st annual Christmas Bash - a cyber/virtual reality party. Here's how it happened:

Harlequin SuperRomance and NYT bestselling author Brenda Novak hosts a month long on-line auction each May with all proceeds going to benefit Diabetes research. Last May, I bid on an ipod and a writing critique among other items but didn’t win anything. I figured I’d try again in 2009.
Count me surprised when I rec’d an email from Brenda at the end of Nov with an invitation to her cyber Christmas Bash. Anyone who bid on an item through her on-line auction was invited and there were many prizes up for grabs including a kindle but you had to be at the party and you had to pre-register. Once Brenda’s office rec’d your RSVP, they’d send out a ‘party pack’ by snail mail.

Well, a week ago, I realized the party was on Dec 16th and promptly registered. Brenda’s next email was instructions to download the virtual reality program ‘Second Life’. I did and then took a few mins to alter my avatar appearance but ran into problems when I tried to change my hair. Seems my laptop didn’t have the correct video card or CPU speed but would still work to some extent. I spent some time walking around but it was difficult to do so. I needed more time.

Brenda’s website listed practice sessions but I was unable to attend.
Then, a couple days before the party, I rec’d an email from Brenda’s office giving me 2 raffle ticket numbers with the explanation they wouldn’t reach me in time if snail mailed in the party pack.. Now that was nice!

When the big night arrived, my hubby let me use his laptop which is newer, faster and better. Once he downloaded the Second Life program, I was all set. A couple hours before the party, I rec’d my tickets via email. Talk about excited!

At the start time, I logged in and teleported to one of 4 party rooms. The first thing I did was change my avatar. This took about 20 mins but I really liked the result. Then I tried moving around. I couldn’t. All around me, avatars were moving, walking, skating, but mine wouldn’t respond. I heard them talking prizes and presents and boxes with presents... It was so frustrating. I kept trying with my keyboard arrows but nothing. It took until the party was half over before I somehow unlocked the ‘avatar auto-pilot’ and was able to move where I wanted.

By the time the party ended after 2 hrs, I was just starting to figure my way around and no, I didn’t win a prize. However, on her website, Brenda says this was the 1st annual cyber party.

Come May 2009, you’re going to find me at bidding on some items for Diabetes research. And I sure hope I get another invite to her party. But next time, I’m going to do a few things different:

- make it a priority to attend the practice sessions
- change my avatar appearance days before the party starts
- log on at least 30 mins prior to ensure my avatar isn’t on auto-pilot before heading to the party rooms
- register as soon as I receive the invite
- spend more time mingling with the other avatars

I’d like to thank Brenda Novak for this enlightening experience. Who knew I could live a double life?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Won Donna's Contest!

You are not going to believe this...I still can't and I found out a couple days ago!

Donna Alward ran a 12 Days of Christmas contest on her blog at ... and I won!!


I knew there would be a book in the prize for each of the 12 days, but I didn't realize the total prize pkg until I read it on Donna's blog.

I'm listing what I won here as my way of thanking the different authors for their contributions:

Bookmarks, magnets etc. from the authors involved
One Christmas ornament
Chocolates - that happen to be made by Donna's kids
One Jessica Hart tote bag

And EIGHTEEEN books:
The Rancher's Runaway Princess - Donna Alward
Barefoot Bride - Jessica Hart
Phantom's Touch - Julie Leto
Pursuit of Justice, Broken Lullaby and Everyday Promises - Pamela Tracy
Her Baby's First Christmas - Susan Meier
Her Royal Wedding Wish - Cara Colter
His Son's Teacher - Kay Stockham
His Secret Past - Ellen Hartman
The Italian's Miracle Family - Lucy Gordon
Heart of a Thief - Gail Barrett
Christmas Spirit, Ghost Moon, Beyond Fearless - Rebecca York
Her Kind of Man - Pamela Yaye
Sweet Surrender, No One But You - Michelle Monkou

So, thank you Donna and company. I've read Donna's blog since before she first put the word meter up for The Rancher's Runaway Princess and I'm so excited to see it now in print, that I've included a widget below where you can check it out. I believe it hits the shelves Jan 13 but you can buy it on-line now at

This wreader is doing a happy dance around the Christmas tree. And I can't wait until I become an author and get the chance to give my books away!

Have you ever won a fantastic prize that totally thrilled you? Have you ever won anything? Or do you think you're just plain unlucky?


Book Review: Her Perfect Man

Her Perfect Man (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 455 Aug 08

This great book is about the final McKaslin sister in this series. The author gets down to the nitty gritty with this one because the heroine is being harassed by her ex-boyfriend which means it’s not as light reading as some of them, but it certainly isn’t as heart-wrenching as the previous McKaslin book.

Rebecca McKaslin has finally broken up with her long-standing boyfriend much to the relief of the rest of the McKaslin clan. And, she’s gone one step further and said she’s had enough of men.

Wouldn’t you know it...Chad Lawson, the perfect man moves in next door, ready to rescue Rebecca whenever the ex shows up.

But after all these years, Rebecca doesn’t want to be rescued. She wants to handle it herself without help from anyone...especially someone who’s too handsome for his own good, regularly attends church and challenges her man policy.

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great – 4 stars

See the rest of the McKaslin Clan here:
2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 110 books read
Harlequin Imprint: 102, Others: 8

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Inspirational Publisher: Summerside Press

It just occurred to me - when I did the book review on Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska by Irene Brand, (2 posts back) I didn't give you any info about its new publisher.

According to the Summerside Press website: The LOVE FINDS YOU™ series gives readers a taste of local life across the United States. The novels—uniquely titled after actual American towns with quirky but intriguing names—inspire romance and fun. Each fictional story draws on the compelling history or the unique character of a real place. Stories center on romances kindled in small towns, old loves lost and found again on the high plains, and new loves discovered at exciting vacation getaways.

In fact, these books are uniquely different from any other inspy books because:
- each page is set up like a Post Card with a postal stamp at the top corner; and
- the lines simulate a hand-written post card by not being justified

As a reader, I'd like to thank Irene Brand for bringing this new inspy series to my attention.

As a writer, I am forfeited from writing for Summerside Press by the very nature of its books unless this publisher comes out with submission guidelines for small Canadian towns. Well, I suppose I could move to the U.S. for a few months for research, but I'm guessing my family won't like it.

But, do you write inspirational romances?

Check here for the submission guidelines for this new inspirational publisher:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh, the Joy of Christmas Shopping

The kids had been complaining they didn’t have any shopping done. Apparently, every time we go into the city, hubby and I go to the places we want, while the kids wait for us. So, a couple days ago, I picked the kids up at school, took them to the city and chauffeured them around.

It was 7:30 when we hit the 2nd mall and the kids took off as soon as they passed through those entrance doors. Fine by me because the teen has a cell phone and the boys stick together and share one.

They didn’t want me with them and I knew where I wanted to go, so I headed opposite to their direction and finally came to the store in mind which was exactly diagonal to where I’d started. Surely, the kids were off shopping somewhere else...

I spotted the gift I wanted for teen and had it in my hands when she walked around the corner. I thrust it away and jumped back. Her eyes didn’t look at what I’d been holding. She just said, “Oh, there you are.” And she smiled.

I love her smile. I’m so blessed to have a teen who smiles at me and unlike most teens, my girl doesn’t seem to mind standing or walking beside me – as long as I don’t talk to anyone about her, you understand. So there she was. And she wouldn’t go. Finally, I told her flat out that she was supposed to be shopping and maybe I was shopping, too.

She glanced at the store we were standing in front of and her eyes flared wide. She opened her mouth as if to speak. I raised my eyebrows. “Okay,” she said and wandered off. I waited all of 6 seconds before I ducked into the store in question to keep searching for her size – that alone was a mountain to climb because she’s so

And no, I’m not going to tell you if I bought the item or not because she can read and sometimes she even reads my blog. :-0

I didn’t run into the boys until they ran up to me at the entrance to Zellers. The 10 yr old looked concerned. The 13 yr old happy. Hmm. The older one immediately started prattling about his shopping but I put my hand up to stop him. Something wasn’t right. I looked down at my youngest whose whole face drooped as if it was melting away. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he thought he lost his wallet.

I looked at my older son. He looked back at me in horror. Indeed.

Frantically, younger son searched all the pockets of his snowsuit. Nothing.

Older son now looked panicked as well.

I calmly told them to retrace their steps, stopping everywhere they’d stopped, and ask the store workers if anyone had found it. The boys nodded and rushed off.

Of course it crossed my mind that I should go with them. But you know, they’re old enough, now. They don’t need a panicked mama hovering over them. What they need is to concentrate on where they’ve been. I walked through Zellers as if I wasn’t worried that someone had picked up my son’s wallet with his cash, debit and library cards. I prayed the boys would find it. Then, I texted home to tell hubby to pray, too.

About 20 mins later, the boys found me as I walked back out into the mall. The youngest triumphantly held up his wallet. While they’d been looking, they’d heard his name over the loudspeaker telling him to go to the mall Customer Service. Yes, someone had found it and turned it in. Cash and cards intact. Phew! Thank you, God.

A quick text home to mollify hubby and a reassurance to teen who rushed up to ask why someone wanted said brother, and everything was fine. Yeah, except my nerves. Although I’m sure you couldn’t tell from the outside.

It was at this point that youngest son said, “This is nice, Mom, but it’s too expensive. I wanna go to the Dollar Store.” The others agreed. Smart kids.

A few mins later via Ring Road that hugs the outskirts of the city, we enter a spanking brand new Dollarama and shopped until they closed the store a half hour later. Back in the car, the kids were tired but grinning. I asked if they were ready to go home and mentioned that WalMart and SuperStore were open all night.

Nope, they just wanted a pit stop at 7-Eleven. They were shopped out.

Fine by me. And, unlike the blowing snow we’d encountered on our way in, the drive home from the city was gorgeous. With the full moon only a couple days away, there was enough light to spot a deer before it ran onto the road. With the wind barely noticeable, a clear night, carols on the radio, and the kids sleeping in the back, I really enjoyed the hour drive back home.

So, do you have any stories to tell about Christmas shopping, either lately or in you’re your past? Forget your kids in a shopping cart? Run into someone with your potential gift in their hands, or vice versa? Lose your purse or wallet? Surely we can’t be the only ones....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Review: Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska

Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska by Irene Brand Summerside Press
Dec 2008

This is a sweet romance with a hint of mystery, a handful of suspense and a whole lot of love. Can a wealthy heiress and a poor cowboy truly find happiness together? Especially when he has enough pride for 10 men and worries what others will think? If you’re looking for a gentle read about a hero and heroine falling in love despite the odds, then this is the book for you.

Upon her father’s death, wealthy Kennedy Blaine is all alone in the world. One of the properties she’s inherited is a Nebraskan ranch which she hasn’t stepped foot on since a toddler. Her only memories of it are in photos. She’s advised to sell it, but before she does, Kennedy goes back to Nebraska to see what she’d be giving up. When she arrives, she immediately feels a kinship to the land. She wants to meet as many cousins and relatives as she can, but not the grandfather who, by her mother’s reasoning, was the cause of their flight to another state.

Derek Sterling is manager of Kennedy’s ranch, the Circle Cross. He loves the ranch like his own but due to circumstances of birth, he’s just a poor cowboy with a past that’ll scare off any woman never mind a high-society one, so he tries to hide his feelings. He knows he’ll never be able to afford a ranch such as the Circle Cross but he’s loyal and he’ll work there as long as he’s needed.

Kennedy felt an attraction for Derek the first moment she saw him. She doesn’t care what’s in his bank account. He’s a loyal, stalwart man who gives her joy when she’s with him. She decides to stick around and see what happens.

But something sinister is going on. Kennedy‘s life is being threatened and suddenly, Nebraska doesn’t seem so safe and comfortable after all. Whom can she trust?

This is Book #3 in the Love Finds You series by the new inspirational publisher, Summerside Press of Minnesota.

Heat Level: Romantic

My Rating: Great – 4 stars
2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 109 books read
Harlequin Imprint: 101, Others: 8

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book Review: Her Wedding Wish

Her Wedding Wish (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 447 Jun 08

I absolutely loved this book. 2008 Top 10 list – no question. Of all the dozen or so McKaslin Clan books I’ve read, this has been the most heart-wrenching emotion-filled one to date. We were first introduced to Danielle McKaslin Lowell and her husband Jonas a few books back. Then, 2 books back, we found out that Danielle said goodbye to her police officer husband one morning and waved him off to work. It was the last time she ever see the man she married. A few hours later, Danelle was told that her husband, Jonas, had been shot in the line of duty.

Now, Jonas is back but he has no memory of Danielle, their kids, or the life they led. And, the doctors say his memory isn’t coming back because that’s the side of his brain that was shot. Damaged nerves on his left side still present a problem from his legs to his face. He needs a walker to get around and has just re-learned how to do the most basic of tasks.

But when he looks at Danielle, his eyes are emotionless, empty, like that of a stranger.
He rejoins the family but tensions are strained to say the least. He’s a physical presence in their home, but Danielle aches for the touches, the looks, the love that defined their married life. Nothing is the same. And the longer they live this half shelled life, the more Danielle’s heart shrivels with loneliness. She wants her real Jonas back.

Like I said, this book really touched my heart. I cried along with Danielle as she searched her heart to find a love for this new husband God had given her. I cried for Jonas as he tried to fit into a world with a strange woman who looked at him with such...need. And I cried for their children who didn’t understand what had happened to their daddy had gone.

For more info on The McKaslin Clan series 3, go here:

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; Top 10 list)

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 108 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 101, Others: 7


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Review: A McKaslin Homecoming

A McKaslin Homecoming (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 403 July 07

If you read enough books, sooner or later, you’ll come across one with circumstances that mirror your own. This is the case in this book. I related to the heroine in a big way because of our backgrounds. The main difference, I suppose is that when the heroine went back as an adult, over the weeks that followed, they talked about her childhood.

At 2 yrs old, Lauren McKaslin’s mother took her far away from her siblings and her father under the premise they didn’t love her anymore. Lauren never rec’d a gift or card or anything to say they even thought about her. She grew up as a lonely child, with a destructive mother, in basement apartments with bars on the windows. It seemed her own mother didn’t even want her. But now she’s an adult, almost finished college, and out of the blue, a letter arrives from her grandmother saying it was time to go back.

Although filled with trepidation, Lauren wants to meet her family so she drives across several states even with the knowledge they didn’t want her. And what a surprise when she’s welcomed with open arms wherever she goes. (Well, everyone except her big brother Spencer – but he doesn’t like anybody. That’s why I can’t wait to read his story in His Holiday Heart.)

Caleb Stone, a local lawman, is next door neighbor to Lauren’s grandmother. Because he does her chores, he’s over there – a lot. Caleb was badly hurt after a serious relationship when his city-bred fiancĂ©e refused to move to his ranch. He finds himself falling for quiet Lauren, but she’s from the city, too. He has to guard his heart until she goes back to college to finish her degree.

Meanwhile, Lauren is having a hard time knowing she’ll soon have to leave her newly found loving family. But she’s so close to completing her degree, there’s no question of her leaving.

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great 4 stars

The McKaslin Clan Series 3:

Book 1 - A Soldier for Christmas LI 367 – Oct 06 - Kelly
Book 2 – Precious Blessings LI 383 – Feb 07 - Katherine
Book 3 – Every Kind of Heaven LI 387 – Mar 07 - Ava
Book 4 – Everyday Blessings LI 400 – Jun 07 – Aubrey (I’m missing this one)
Book 5 – A McKaslin Homecoming LI 403 – Jul 07 - Lauren
Book 6 – Her Wedding Wish LI 447 – Jun 08 - Danielle
Book 7 – Her Perfect Man – LI 455 – Aug 08 - Rebecca
Book 8 – His Holiday Heart – LI 467 – Nov 08 - Spencer

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 107 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 100, Others: 7

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Nov Writing Report

November was a very busy month for me with many ups and downs.

I submitted a partial of Under a Harvest Moon - a contemporary inspirational to Barbour Publishing (after numerous revisions)

I entered 2 contemporary inspirational entries in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest:
- Under a Harvest Moon
- When You Least Expect It

I entered a 500 word scene entitled The Last Bottle in Cheryl Wyatt’s Nov Prompt contest. Cheryl emailed back that I didn’t win but she liked my entry. To see/enter her Dec Prompt Contest, go here:

Steeple Hill sent me a rejection on An Outlaw for the Lady. However, it was not a form rejection and it detailed where I needed improvement. The editor also asked to see something else from me in the future, so this was a good rejection letter.

After receiving a perfect score from one judge in the first round of judging in the Gateway to the Best Contest, Charley’s Saint came in 4th overall out of 25 entries. The final judge from Harlequin passed along some nice tips for me.

I won a book - The Borrowed Bride by Elizabeth Lane for commenting on the blog.

I also rec’d a couple books to review:

- Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska by Irene Brand (This is a new inspirational publishing company which I’ll post more info on later.)

- Reflections of God’s Holy Land – a coffee table book from Thomas Nelson, Inc. (I’m a book review blogger)

I was tagged by Margaret Daley – again :-) and had to think up 7 random things about books. It was actually nice to sit back and think what I truly like about books. Margaret regularly gives away books for commenting on her blog here:

Of the 11 books I read in Nov, I’ve managed to write reviews on 8 of them – so far.

I started an inspirational suspense novel entitled Translucent Trust for NaNoWriMo but had to quit when I realized I just didn’t have time for it this year. Other writing commitments, like subbing the partial out, took precedence.

As well as the above, I’ve continued to make revisions to my wips based on what I learned at the ACFW conference in Sept.

And what did you do in November?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Book Review: Every Kind of Heaven

Every Kind of Heaven (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 387 – Mar 07

This great book was a fun read. It’s the first time I ran into the McKaslin Clan’s ‘no-man policy’ which you’ll find in almost every book in this series. The author really let her humour shine in this book not only with the hero and heroine but also with the heroine’s twin who is so much a part of her life. I liked the interactions in this book especially on Ava’s part since she’s a lovable walking disaster.

Ava McKaslin is your basic screw-up in everything except her baking. No one can top Ava’s baking. It’s divine. All she wants to do is devote her time to her brand spanking new bakery. She’s fed up with men and their two-faced morals.

However, when her new contractor, Brice Donovan comes calling, he remembers her from high school, and invites her out for coffee, Ava mistakens him for a groom and calls him all sorts of names. Of course, she soon realizes that he’s a very eligible bachelor, but by that time, she’s told him about her no-man policy and she’s sticking with her guns.

An added bonus to this story is Brice’s golden retriever who’s also a failure since he’s failed obedience school - twice. Rex falls in love with Ava who reciprocate the affection which adds a nice touch and some panicky moments to the story.

Like I said, this is a fun book and I was so excited to read the next one in the series which is about the Ava’s twin Aubrey but I realized I didn’t have a copy of it. :-(

For all the info on this series, please go to the post before this one.

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great (4 stars)

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 106 books read