Saturday, December 31, 2011

~ Favorite Books in 2011 ~

image from Google ~ no infringement intended

A few but by no means all.

They're like Lay's Potato Chips...I can't pick just one, or 10!

Firethorn by Ronie Kendig

Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig

Maggie's Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley

The First Gardner by Denise Hildreth Jones

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Pirate of my Heart by Jamie Carie

The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus

Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze

A Vision of Lucy by Margaret Brownley

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

(I didn't review this one, my daughter did, but I loved it)

You can click on the title of each book to read the review. I know there are a lot more great books out there because I have been reading the lists that other bloggers have made and quite a few of those books are in my TBR pile.

This doesn't even cover the Amish Fiction I read this year. Top on my list though is Amy Clipston and ANY of her books! I have read them all and eagerly await future books by her. Next would have to be Cindy Woodsmall! She is phenomenal!!! And I was introduced to Laura V. Hilton books this year. Her writing is captivating!

I have met some terrific authors and bloggers during the year through the internet.Thanks to each and every one for their encouragement, but most of all for the time they take to connect with their fans and followers!

Here's to a happy, healthy and blessed New Year full of life's wonderful adventures on the page and off!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review ~ Firethorn by Ronie Kendig

Discarded Heroes comes to an end but will not be forgotten!

Book Description from NetGalley:

Former Marine Griffin Riddell found purpose working with Nightshade—until he’s falsely convicted of a murder that plants him in a federal penitentiary. Is there anyone he can trust? Amid explosive confusion, covert operative Kazi Faron breaks Griffin out of a maximum-security prison. Then she delivers the death-blow—the Nightshade team has been dismantled. Together Kazi and Griffin must rescue the others and figure out who’s behind the sabotage. Can two people overcome their mistrust of each other in time to save Nightshade?

My Review:

Emotionally. Wrung. Out.

That's how I feel. The high's and low's are extreme and adrenaline inducing. While my head is spinning from all the action and pounding from the tears, I'm telling myself this isn't real. It didn't happen. Really? It seemed real. Gut-wrenchingly so.

I thought nothing could outdo Wolfsbane in this series. I was wrong.

Firethorn, while not heavy on romance, brought together two people who seem so opposite but who have so many hidden similarities. Griffin is one tough dude. Kazi is one tough chick. Normally I would say it was a pleasure to watch their relationship unfold but pleasure is too tame a word. It was explosive. Literally :)

The imagery is stunning! In between blistering dialog, the author uses short, bullet-like phrases spattered across the pages that kept me in an elevated state of expectation. Every step of the way I thought I was right there, witnessing the events as they unfolded. At just the right moment there would be a flash of humor to help release the tension before plunging me back into breathlessness.

There are twists and turns that I couldn't have dreamed of. Just who is the bad guy? Let me tell you, there's more than one. In the words of MI: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it,” is to stay focused, don't let anyone interrupt your reading time, have some tissue nearby, maybe an MRE (just in case you can't put the book down) and enjoy this final thrill ride into the lives and loves of our Discarded Heroes!

An astounding conclusion to a series that will live on forever in my memory.

I was provided an advanced galley review copy through NetGalley months ago but had trouble reading it on my computer. No fault of NetGalley. They're great! When I saw that the author was having a contest on her website I entered to win a print copy and won. So, a big thank you to Ronie Kendig for my paperback copy. I was not required to write a positive review, just my opinion of the book. No other compensation was received.

To purchase a copy of these outstanding books, visit any of the following online retailers or your nearest Christian Bookstore!

Barbour BooksAmazonBarnes & NobleCBD

Visit Ronie Kendig @ Rapid-Fire Fiction

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Review ~ Maggie's Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley

A girl who’s been lied to her whole life…

Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones  who raised her.

Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn't fit  the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery  of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost.

When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt  Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover  who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life?

My Review

Captivated from beginning to end!

I read this book in 2 ½ hours. That's a record for me. I literally did not put it down. Not for a moment. From the prologue to the last page, I was captivated. There was joy, suffering, excitement, confusion, and romance portrayed through vivid images of life, love and loss.

There are many emotions dealt with in the book but the one that spoke most to me was fear. From Florence and Joshua's marriage to Maggie's discovery about her adoption, the author shows us what fear can do to a relationship. The lies it can foster, misconceptions that it can bring, the mistrust that evolves ultimately leading to discord. But then we see the beautiful and loving hand of the Father and how he gently but firmly breaks that bondage of fear and brings about restoration in those same relationships. It was by no means overly obvious, either, making this a great book to suggest to friends who may not normally read Christian Fiction.

Every character in this story captured my heart. Each one is intricately explored and exposed in such a delicate and profound manner. I could go on and on about the book. But I won't. I dislike spoilers so I will only say that I hope you fall in love with Maggie's Journey as much as I did!

This was my first book by this author that I have read. I can't say enough about her writing style. Impeccable! Book 2 can't come soon enough for me :)

Special thanks to FIRST Wild Card Tours and Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review, just my opinion.

About the Author

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers ( ) and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers.She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church inSouthlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will beHawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with fifteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books. And she loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

To read more about Lena, visit her website: Lena Nelson Dooley.

To purchase a copy of this totally awesome book, go to either of these online retailers:  CBD, Amazon. Also available in e-book!

Saturday, December 17, 2011









Monday, December 12, 2011

God Gave Us Love board book by Lisa T Bergren ~ Giveaway & FIRST Wild Card Tour

I've been buying children's books since 1983 and I can honestly say I wish that Lisa Bergren's board books had been around  then. I'm a very visual person and absolutely love the illustrations in these books! The colors are soft and draw just enough  attention for the young eye. Not too busy but satisfying for the curious little mind. Some books need to be bold and bright  but with the sweet and loving words that are contained in the pages of these board books I personally feel that's not  necessary here. These are perfect! Not only do they communicate a loving message but they stimulate the artistic eye.

WaterBrook Multnomah sent me an extra book to offer one of my readers. Please leave a comment telling me how you follow  my blog, and what your favorite book was as a child! Email is NOT necessary. US Only, lower 48. Ends Dec 16th so it might get to you by Christmas!

***If you want to go ahead and order a copy now, there's a Special Offer from WaterBrook Multnomah! 30% off and free shipping when you use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

Here's a coloring page for your precious little ones!

God Gave Us Love - Coloring Page

God Gave Us Love - Coloring Page

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


God Gave Us Love board book

WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker, WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity, for sending me a review copy.***


LISA BERGREN is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books, with more than two million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time working as a freelance editor and writer while parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of the family’s next visit to Taos.

Visit the author's website.

As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others… even the seemingly unlovable.

In answering her questions, Grampa Bear gives tender explanations that teach Little Cub about the different kinds of love that is shared between families, friends, and mamas and papas. Grampa explains that all these kinds of love come from God and that it is important to love others because…

“Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

This sweet tale will warm the hearts of young children as they learn about all the different sorts of love, while the gentle explanations of each provide a valuable opportunity to encourage children to share with others a “God-sized love.” Now in a sturdy format, ideal for the littlest hands at storytime, bedtime, or anytime. Would make a great Christmas gift!

Product Details:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 0 and up
Board book: 22 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307730271
ISBN-13: 978-0307730275

Here's an excerpt from the first book in the series: God Gave Us You (Board Book). (Click on images to see them larger):

Sunday, December 11, 2011



~ NORA ~

You won There's just Something About a Boy!


Thanks to all who stopped by and entered. Stay tuned for more great author interviews, book reviews and giveaways!

Review ~ The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Author Bio

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

She is also a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

You can read more about the author, Cindy Woodsmall, on her website.

About the Book

Three years ago, at Christmastime, Mattie Eash’s life was everything she could hope for. That is, until her childhood sweetheart, Gideon, betrayed her.

Heartbroken, Mattie retreated to her brother’s home in Ohio and poured her life into the dream of running her own cake shop. There, she found someone unlike Gideon. Someone safe.

But a devastating situation forces her back home…and right into the path of Gideon Beiler.

Will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy—or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

This holiday season, Mattie’s best gift might just be the harmony of unexpected truth and reconciliation.

Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration in The Christmas Singing.

The Christmas Singing (Chapter 1 Excerpt)

My Review

After reading rave reviews from fellow bloggers and readers on Goodreads I decided to place my request for The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall. Boy, am I glad I did. I loved this novella. It made me smile, laugh, cry and wish for more!

Gideon and Mattie are captivating characters. They were once in love and going to marry but Gideon desires to protect Mattie from some devastating news and goes about it all wrong. Will he learn from the error of his way?

Mattie is an endearing young woman. She's so scatterbrained (I can relate to that characteristic) and brilliant at decorating cakes. Her family and friends look out for her and I found myself wanting to do the same thing! After having her heart broken she's under the misconception that she needs to feel “safe” in love now and is dating Sol. He's a sweet guy but there's just not the spark that was there with Gideon. What's a girl to do?

One of my favorite moments at the end of the book is a scene between Gideon and one of the bishops. Omar has made Gideon the lead carpenter on a mission home project and Gideon has this thought about himself: Never again would he be so foolish as to think he could control anyone or anything through false words. He'd speak truth always and pray for God's strength over those who might struggle under the weight of the truth. (page 188)

Gideon & Mattie's journey left me feeling satisfied while at the same time wanting to read “the rest of the story”. Don't get me wrong. It's by no means incomplete. I just want more! Here's hoping for a glimpse of them in the future if Cindy tells Sol's story.

Warning :) Cake baking scenes! Get ready to do some extra aerobic walking or working out at the gym because you're going to want to try out the recipes at the end of the book. I know I am!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. No other compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review, just my opinion.

Special offer from WaterBrook Multnomah! 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title) when you use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

The Christmas Singing also comes in ebook format!

I would really appreciate it if you would Rank My Review here!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire ~ author & illustrator M.C. Pearson ~ FIRST Wild Card Tour

My Thoughts

Several times I have tried to read a book in the Fantasy/Speculative Fiction genre and cannot do it. My brain just doesn't conjure up what the characters and creatures look like. For that reason alone I was glad that the illustrations in the book were there and they are "fantastical" in and of themselves! You get two treasures in one: The boundless imagination of the author and her incredible illustrations. It's amazing! And to weave the spiritual thread in the way she did. AWE.SOME.

This is definitely a book that young and old speculative fiction fans will enjoy.


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!





You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author & illustrator is:


and the book:


F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire

FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to M. C. Pearson of FIRST Wild Card Press for sending me a review copy.***


M. C. Pearson graduated from San Jose State University with a B. A. in art, served as a multi-media illustrator in the United States Army, earning the rank of sergeant, and spent four years as a house parent for at-risk youth. Now married over 20 years, she homeschools her two children, volunteers with her church youth group, and runs a book review blog alliance (FIRST Wild Card Tours) while writing and drawing. F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.

Unwittingly chosen to join an army of fairies, who fight for the Light of the One, a teenaged girl learns about spiritual warfare as she attends a military academy with fantastical beings.







Here lies a most precious treasure,

Awaiting one Chosen to deliver.

Seek out the red cousins in the East,

For on this your greed mustn't feast.

The wealth of a species now in your hands,

Do with it as the light demands.

Give them your gift to unite,

For it is the darkness we all must fight.





"Imagination runs wild in F.A.I.R.I.E.S. Pearson brings young readers through a looking glass and into a world bursting with adventure, heroism, and fascinating creatures. Readers will be inspired to be true to the One and left with anticipation of more to come."

--Jill Williamson, award-winning author of

By Darkness Hid, and other books


"Sprinkled with delightful illustrations, and brimming with a full bestiary of magical creatures, F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is a fun, clever romp through the alternate landscape of the most magical world of all, our own. Read, and take up the call: 'Defend and Emancipate!'"

-- D. Barkley Briggs, author of

The Book of Names, and other books


"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. will appeal to readers who love the interplay of fantasy and reality. A rich cast of eccentric characters and exotic settings make this a fun addition to the folklore of the battle between good and evil."

--Mike Hamel, author of



"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is one of those rare gems I want to tell everyone about. It's highly imaginative, packed with adventure, and full of hope. A must read for kids and for kids at heart. Even better than Narnia! I was thinking about Pearson's wonderfully memorable characters for days."

--C.J. Darlington, author of

Thicker than Blood


"Ms. Pearson's extravagant and imaginative F.A.I.R.I.E. kingdom will surely delight the young and the young-at-heart in this tale of good and evil, light vs. darkness. The fantasy-loving reader will not be disappointed!"

--Linore Rose Burkard, award winning author of

Before the Season Ends, and other books


Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 482 pages
Publisher: FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615530222
ISBN-13: 978-0615530222


Four thousand seasons shall pass while our swords grow rusty.

Where once one chose to divide, another shall be chosen to unite.

One changed the past, the other shall change the future.

One must emancipate the other to allow the light its dominion.

The realm, now torn, allows the shadow to abide, as humanity lies blind to its peril.

The bond of friendship must endure, for the army of shadows awaits another tear.

Dust off your swords.

Unite the realm.

Destroy the strongholds.

Foretelling of Didasko Gnome Digdeep









Off and Running

t was an accident!” Mellie yelled, not caring who heard or stared. Tears streaked her face as she fled down the Santa Cruz coastline, away from her family.

You don’t need them, a voice hissed in her ear, Escape. Run away.

Scorching sand burned at her feet and bitterness ate at her heart. Mellie pumped her legs as fast as they would go. Her feet pounded with the rhythm of her emotions, beating a tempo with the crashing waves. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Adrenaline pulsed through her veins, quickening her step.

Why did I have to be the youngest? Only 12 years old. Never smart enough. Never athletic enough. I just wish they loved me.

Once, just once, she wanted to do something that would make her sisters see that she wasn’t the stupid, awkward, ugly, little baby sister.

As she ran, she wiped away some tears with the palm of her hand. Her fingers settled on her large nose, a gift from her dad’s Hungarian ancestry.

Chelsea got the ski-slope shaped nose. I had to get Half-Dome. It just isn’t fair.

Her hand dropped to her side and she pinched at her stomach. It still had some of its baby fat.

Ugh, why are my sisters so perfect? What happened to me?

Pushing her short bangs from her forehead in disgust, she mumbled, “Maybe I’ll find treasure. I’ll be the rich one, and then they’ll have to accept me.” But she knew better. California didn’t hold any more undiscovered treasures.

The sand, hot and coarse, cut at her feet. I wish I had remembered my shoes. She wore only a black, one-piece swimsuit and a San Jose Sharks sweatshirt tied tightly around her waist.

Breathing rapidly, she began to tire. She slowed her pace to a walk and looked back across the beach. The sand was so hot that waves of heat rose from it and blurred her view. A lone seagull screeched overhead.

Her sisters were nowhere in sight.

Man, I thought for sure that Chelsea was going to chase me down and kill me.

She had to admit that it was a little gratifying to see the sand fly from her foot, covering Chelsea’s sub-sandwich and freshly oiled stomach. Grinning slightly, the tears stopped flowing. She rubbed her eyes.

Mellie looked in the direction of her sisters. “You guys can never take a joke.” Flipping her golden hair, she turned her head back toward her chosen path. She no longer smiled as she stomped her feet in the cold surf, remembering the hateful words that had been said.

“Oh, waa waa, you stupid cry baby! Go tell mommy! Maybe she’ll feel sorry for her ugly, fat baby. Why don’t you grow up? We don’t want you near us. Can’t you understand English? You are so dumb. Look at her mouth open. Oh wait, here she goes…come on, baby…cry!”

Mellie knew she couldn’t go back. They would only ridicule and torment her further. Her mom would never believe it was Chelsea’s fault. No, the evidence was on Chelsea’s side. Who was the one with the sand all over her oily, coconut-smelling body? Who was the one who had a sandwich full of sand? Mellie walked on.

After her temper finally cooled, it occurred to her that she had never walked so far alone.

How far have I gone?

A shadow passed over her, and she looked up. Nothing was there. A cool breeze from the ocean created a stark contrast to the scalding sand. She shivered but kept walking, lost in her loneliness.

Not until she stubbed her toe on a large broken clamshell did she look at the beach. A chill snaked up her back. Nothing appeared familiar. The sounds of the surf were still there, yet something was decidedly different. She felt dizzy. Looking around, she could not quite pinpoint the change. Then it struck her.

No people.

Where did everybody go?

Even though she could see no one, Mellie could swear that she felt eyes staring at her.

She looked inland across the sand, saw movement near some eucalyptus trees, but decided that the wind must have caused it.

Trees? So close to the beach?

Something shook the trees again, causing goosebumps to stand out on Mellie’s arms. Alarmed, she checked the skyline. The sun was close to setting. She hoped that the police weren’t out looking for her.

Suddenly cold, she pulled at the arms of the sweatshirt still tied around her waist. It fell to the sand. Bending to pick it up, she once again saw a blur of movement, except this time it came from a rocky outcrop by the waves. She shook the sand out of the sweatshirt and hurriedly tugged it over her head.

“Okay, I’m seeing things.” Mellie yanked at her hair, pulling it out of the sweatshirt. She stared at the sinister rocks. “Hel-lo?” Her voice cracked as she spoke louder. “Is someone the-ere? Hello?” No answer. The shadowy rocks seemed to quiver with excitement, beckoning her closer.

Hmm…probably just a seagull.

Even if it was a bird, she did not want to see it.

There’s no way I’m going over there.

The wind picked up and blew her hair into her eyes. The sand spun with the wind.

Yes, definitely time to move. I need to find a road.

She turned back toward the sweet smelling, oddly placed trees.

Mellie arrived at the base of the first, colossal eucalyptus tree. Without warning, one of the branches fell in front of her, then seemed to get up from the ground and pose its bottom stems in a military-like stance.

Mellie screamed and jumped back. “Branches don’t stand.”

“They do if they are walking sticks.” The eucalyptus branch chuckled, stretching to its full height, considerably taller than Mellie’s meager five feet.
She gasped, grabbed the branch, and threw it like a javelin, as hard as she could.

As she took off running, she heard a bark and halted. Turning, she saw a golden retriever bounding toward her with the stick in his mouth. The dog dropped it at her feet. She watched the dog run into the grove of trees and disappear before she fearfully turned back to the possessed stick.

It had already gained its footing again and stood over her. Mellie was too frightened to move this time.

A face emerged from the skinny twig and took on the characteristics of a male human, but none like Mellie had ever seen. He had hair made up in rolls as if it were a powdered, green-silver wig, the same color as the leaves that grew all around his skinny body. His face was long and his forehead high. The twiggy man smiled and said in a distinctly British, albeit breezy, accent, “Do not worry, you are safe.”

Mellie couldn’t answer.

“Ahh…I love new recruits. They are so easily addled.”

Feeling more confused than threatened, Mellie found her voice. “What? What do you mean, new recruits?” She rubbed her eyes, shaking her head. “Okay, I’m talking to a stick now. Yes, I have lost it. I have gone totally mental.”

“Oh, I say, am I to understand that I am the first to be revealed to you?” With round, leathery leaves, the branch resembled a toddler toy with rings stacked on one another.

She dropped open her mouth and nodded.

“Well, let me do this properly, then. Ahem. Mortal, made of clay, you have been Chosen to join the Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads.”

“What? What are you? You look like a stick…but you can talk.”

“Yes, child,” the stick replied with a sigh. “But, I think we are quite past that by now. Have you not heard me? You have been Chosen.”

Mellie opened her mouth wider, closed it, frowned, and opened it once more. “Chosen? For what?”

“You did wish to be different? To change who you were? ’Twas an especially strong desire, yes?” The branch crossed its arms and tapped its twiggy foot.


“Dear me, this is highly unusual. You made a choice to run away from a miserable life and asked to be set free? Correct?”

“Well, I, ah…yeah. I guess so. What did you say about recruit for some squad?”

“Humph. I see that I was not understood. Yes? Let me elucidate. The Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads , or shall I say F.A.I.R.I.E.S.? have accepted you into their organization. You asked. You were answered.” The branch attempted a smile, but looked impatient instead.

“Fairies? I don’t believe in fairies.” Mellie winced, half expecting him to fall down and writhe in pain until she clapped her hands.

“Quite right. You are not supposed to. If humans truly believed we existed, we would never get anything accomplished.”

Mellie laughed and looked around for a hidden camera, thinking this must be a joke. “Right. Ah…heh…okay, bud, brilliant costume,” she said, imitating the branch’s accent. “Where’s the zipper?” She reached toward him and touched a soft leaf.

The branch slapped her hand away and stamped its foot with a loud cracking noise. “I beg your pardon. I have not been a bud for over 800 springs!” He paced, his leaves crumpling, mumbling to himself about humans and why, in the One’s name, did he listen to that confounded gnome who told him that he needed to stand gate duty. With his rank!

“I’m sorry I upset you. Please, I’m very confused. I’m lost, and I just want to go home.” Mellie bit her lip.

The branch stopped mid-pace. “Home? Earlier, did you not wish for a new life? And riches? I know you wished for treasure, hmm?”

“How do you know that?” Mellie furrowed her brow. “Have you been reading my mind?”

The twig man didn’t answer her questions, asking his own instead. “Ahh, so, you admit this, yes?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Yes, but…well, this really isn’t what I had in mind.”

The branch threw up its twiggy fingers. “Oh, well, of course you did not have this in mind. After all, we are reasonably inconspicuous, especially to humans. How could you have this in mind? However, is it not superior of the One to think that this is what you would have chosen had you known about us? Anyway, ’tis irrevocable now. So, if you would just follow me, we shall get you signed in and enrolled for training.”

The branch marched off between the trunks of two large eucalyptus trees.

Mellie slid uncontrollably after the walking stick. She planted her feet firmly, refusing to budge, but she slid after him anyway. Grasping at branches of nearby trees, she panted heavily as she struggled to resist following the branch. Some kind of invisible tie connected her to him. He seemed to pull her along with his every step.

Mellie thought about her sisters and how mad they were at her. I’m dead meat if they find me. Mellie quickly gave up her battle and ran after the eucalyptus branch, barely keeping up with his stride.

The sand changed to coarse dirt, with pebbles and sticks. More and more trees filled Mellie’s vision. Bushes scraped against her bare legs and slapped her face as she moved deeper inside a forest of eucalyptus and redwood trees. She winced in pain as a razor-sharp rock sliced her foot. Stopping to nurse it, she wished once again for her forgotten shoes.

“Excuse me, sir?” Mellie looked around. She could not see the branch anywhere.

“Do not call me ‘sir’, I work for a living.” The branch peeked out from around one of the gigantic trees. “And please, try to keep up. We need to reach the gateway.”

Mellie limped up to him. “Sorry, sir…I mean…umm, what should I call you then?”

“Oh, well, we did skip that. Did we not? Yes, all right, an introduction then.” The branch man seemed to enjoy formal etiquette for he gave an elaborate wave and bowed. “My name is Regnans, family of Myrtaceae, born member of the F.A.I.R.I.E.S., Britannia Wing, rank of Master Nymph Dryad.”

“Nice to meet you, Reg…Reg?” Mellie chewed on the inside of her mouth. Never good at remembering names, she knew she would offend him with her lack of manners.

Sure enough, the dryad raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. “Regnans.” He gave a hurt sniff, then drolly sneered. “If you find that a difficult name, you should meet the rest of my family, all seven-hundred thirty-four of them.”

“Sorry, I just…well, it is a lot to remember. It’s a nice name, though. My name is Maryellen Goodwin of Bret Harte Middle School, San Jose, California. But everyone calls me Mellie.” She stuck out her hand, intending to shake. Regnans stared at her.

“That is a strange curtsy. However, I guess ’twill do. We must get moving now. The shadows abound, you know.” Regnans made an about face and marched off faster than before.

Another hour passed, and still they strode along the forest floor. Mellie’s feet were now cut, blistered, and bleeding. She kept up as best she could with Regnans’s long stride. Whenever she tried to stop, he would pull her on with that invisible force of his.

Stupid, pompous, magical Star Wars freak.

She whimpered as she limped. Darkness and mist now covered the woods. As she was about to plead for a break, Regnans stopped. Except for her heavy gulps of air, all seemed quiet.

Regnans stiffened even more than usual. Nothing on him moved, apart from his eyes, which darted around quickly.

“All is safe, we may proceed.” He held up a twiggy finger to his woody mouth. “Please do not speak, and try not to breathe so abominably loud.”

Mellie nodded with a disgusted frown. Sweat dripped from her bangs. She tried to calm her breathing, even though her vision blurred, and her legs wobbled. Her blisters had popped by now and oozed wetness.

Regnans moved again, yet this time he took slow, deliberate steps, all the while scanning his surroundings. He walked up to a massive redwood tree and stroked its bark.

A breeze stirred up, rattling the leaves, sounding almost like spoken words. Mellie thought herself crazy again. However, the longer she stood there, the more she sensed that it really was the tree’s language, as if she had never listened to trees properly before. It said, “If you love, you will say the one true love that leads the way.”

Regnans whispered in a leaf rustling voice, “Ah-gaw-pay.”

A loud grumbling sound, as if someone awakened after a long sleep, shook the grove. The redwood tree opened two eyes, each the size of Mellie’s head, and blinked. A great fissure erupted below the eyes in the shape of a crescent, and redish-brown wooden teeth emerged. A long, knobby branch pushed its way out above the mouth and inhaled deeply.

The tree chuckled. Instead of the whispering leaves, a low, rumbling utterance of human speech came from the redwood tree. “Regnans? What brings you to my neck of the woods?” He blinked again. “And who is this? A new recruit? A human? A Chosen?”

Mellie knew she looked silly, standing there with her mouth in an ‘O’ shape, but she couldn’t move. This was simply impossible. There is no such thing as fairies!

“Yes, yes. Please open the gate, we must not dawdle here…they may be watching.” Regnans looked agitated.

A deep laugh resounded from the redwood. “Oh, Regnans. There are none who watch here.”

Regnans mumbled something about hamadryads and their pride, then proclaimed in a slightly louder voice to the tree, “We must be sober, be vigilant, because the shadow walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour.”

The hamadryad looked chagrined. “You speak true, dryad. Forgive me for acting like an arrogant seedling.” He glanced at Mellie, and with a lowered voice asked, “And what is your name, little human?”

Mellie managed to squeak out, “Mellie Goodwin.”

“Ah, ’tis always nice to have a Good Wind.” The hamadryad laughed heartily.

“Sorry to interrupt this lovely tete-a-tete,” Regnans said, “but would you please open the gate? I left Westside completely unguarded.”

An annoyed creak came from the base of the redwood, followed by a sigh. “Yes, Regnans. Agape you said, and agape it is. Go with the light, my friends.” The large, joyous eyes closed, and the hamadryad whispered in his leaf rustling voice, “Until we meet again, Good Wind.” His face disappeared, and his roots lifted and pulled apart, exposing a tunnel within his trunk.

Regnans grabbed Mellie’s hand with his rough, wooden one, and pulled her inside the opening. The tree closed itself abruptly and left them in total darkness.

Regnans cleared his throat and said, “Let there be light.”

A burst of dazzling brightness sparkled from the tunnel’s wall. Mellie glanced around and noticed a long, winding stairwell leading down into the ground.

“Shall we, then?” Not waiting for a reply, Regnans started down the steps.

Available at and Barnes &

Saturday, December 3, 2011







You won Saving Fort Smoky by Jenna Gustafson!!! I sent you an email. You have 48 hrs to respond before another winner is chosen.

Thanks to everyone who came by and entered, encouraging young Jenna in her writing!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Funny

My brother is always sending me email forwards but this one I had to share. Y'all have probably heard it before but I got a kick out of it. It's good for a chuckle :)

My Favorite Animal

Our teacher asked what my favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken."  She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else laughed.

My parents told me to always tell the truth. I did. Fried chicken is my favorite animal. I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much. 

I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef. Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office.

I told him what happened, and he laughed, too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was. I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, so I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.

She sent me back to the principal's office. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.

Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most.
I told her, "Colonel Sanders." 

Guess where I am now...

Author unknown 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where has the time gone?!

I can't believe Christmas is 25 days away! I had so many plans to make handmade cards and decorations but they were thwarted by sickness and home remodeling projects. My crafting took a nose dive!!! So here's some pretty papers in case you still haven't gotten around to making anything yet.

A little Retro...

A Classic look...

Fun for Children's pages...

Very Vintage...
All the above paper collections are sold at Just click the links under the photos to go directly there or you can click here to be taken to the home page. Not only do they have a huge selection of products but they have a Gallery of Projects as well :)

Have fun and Happy Crafting!!!

Interview & Giveaway, Jenny Lee Sulpizio


I'm a sap when it comes to books about babies and little children! I. love. them. After reading this adorable book about boys (review here) by author Jenny Lee Sulpizio, I couldn't resist asking her to answer a few questions and offer a copy of her latest book to one of my blog followers.

Welcome, Jenny! Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions on such short notice. What do you think makes a good story?

Obviously something that will engage the reader and hold their attention. This is especially true in picture books where the attention spans of our young readers can be questionable and short in duration at best. You have to appeal to such a reader not only with your words, but also with your illustrations in order to keep one's curiosity peaked.

So true! I loved picking out picture books when my children were young. I can't wait to share yours with my grandsons :) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

What didn't I want to be is more like it? I recollect that I was torn between becoming a veterinarian or fashion designer.

Well, I'm glad you chose author! What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Anything and everything creative! My Pinterest boards are out of control with all of the ideas I want to implement in my home.

Oh, I know. Pinterest is so addictive! What is your work schedule like when you're writing? 

All over the place! I write when my kiddos are fast asleep and am a "pantser" if you will. I have no real discipline that I follow when writing-I'm a free thinker and definitely a free writer.

I am that way in life! What’s your favorite childhood Christmas memory?

Just the overall excitement leading up to that special day. There's just nothing like Christmas and even though I'm an adult now, I think it's even better to see it through the eyes of your children.

Our family has been overflowing with excitement and prepping since before Thanksgiving! Does your family have a special tradition at Christmas? If so, do you mind sharing it with us?

This time of year is all about cuddling on the couch, hot cocoa in hands, watching "The Polar Express." After taking a ride on that train with the family a few years ago, it's a tradition to watch the feature film over and over again this time of year!

That is a beautiful memory y'all are making! Our family has a couple of special movies we watch each year, as well, and we participate in Advent. In fact, my daughter wrote a post about it on her blog.  How can readers connect with you on the internet?

I would love to meet new readers! Please visit my website and blog at You can also find me on Twitter (@JennySulpizio), and Facebook as well (Jenny Lee Sulpizio, Author). Both of my children's picture books (Mommy Whispers: Isaac, 2010, and There's Just Something About a Boy: Ajoyin, 2011), can be found on Amazon as well.

Thank you again, Jenny, for coming by today!

Readers, leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of her newest picture book, There's just Something About a Boy. Open to US and Canada! Ends Dec 9th. I will compile all the entries from this post and the first post, then announce a winner on Dec 10th.

To purchase a copy, go here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giveaways and Interview...

I have two giveaways going on for some really great children's books!

Not many commenters so the chances of winning are good :) Saving Fort Smoky is open to International commenters for an ebook! This would make an excellent gift! I'll announce the winner on Dec 3rd.

I'll also have an interview coming on Wednesday with author Jenny Lee Sulpizio. You have two places you can enter to win her book There's just Something About a Boy. On the upcoming interview or you can read the review here and leave a comment but I'm sure you'll want to come back and talk to Jenny! She's opened this giveaway to US and Canada for a soft copy! I'll compile the names from both blog posts and announce the winner on Dec 10th.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review & Giveaway ~ FIRST Wild Card Tour ~ There's Just Something About a Boy by Jenny Lee Sulpizio. Illustrated by Peg Lozier.

My Review
There IS just something about a boy! Most people I have talked to tell me that boys have a special bond with their moms just as girls have a special bond with their dads. This book celebrates that bond between moms and sons.

The illustrations are colorful and funny, poignant and all too real. I laughed out loud when I turned the page and saw the one of the teenager learning to drive! My son, who is learning to drive, got a BIG kick out of that one, too. He said the mom totally looks like me when I am in the car with him :)

I think most moms will enjoy this glimpse into what is an adorable peek at the relationship we have with our boys. There are a lot of "awww" moments in this book!

Special thanks to the author for my review copy. I was under no obligation to write a positive review, just give my honest opinion on what I thought of the book. No compensation, other than being able to keep the book, was received.

Jenny has graciously agreed to send a signed copy of this precious book to one of you! Leave a comment and let me know if you have a boy. Even if you don't, you can still enter ;) Ends Dec 9th! Open to US and Canada!!!



It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:



and the book:


There's Just Something About a Boy

Isaac Publishing, Inc. (September 23, 2011)

***Special thanks to Jenny Lee Sulpizio for sending me a review copy.***



Jenny Lee Sulpizio, M.S. is a wife, business owner, and mother of three residing in Boise, Idaho. She is an active member within her church and community, and enjoys tapping into her creative side whenever she gets the chance. There’s Just Something About a Boy is the second picture book released in a series that also includes Mommy Whispers, an ode to mothers and daughters everywhere.

Visit the author's website.


Peg Lozier is an award winning portrait painter and illustrator whose work is known for color, whimsy, and a sense of fun. Raised in Boulder, Colorado, she now lives with a plethora of pets in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visit the illustrator's website.


There’s Just Something about a Boy is a children’s keepsake picture book celebrating the special bond between a mother and her newborn son as she anticipates the love, laughter, and unparalleled adventure that will surely come from raising a little boy.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.95
Paperback: 30 pages
Publisher: Isaac Publishing, Inc. (September 23, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609200365
ISBN-13: 978-1609200367

AND NOW...THE FIRST PAGES (click illustrations to enlarge):

Recalling the moment, that special day
Your tiny image took my breath away.
A precious baby with nothing to hide,
My sweet, little son nestled inside.
There’s just something about a boy…

I prepared your nursery
since around month five,
Waiting for the day
you’d finally arrive.
Stuffed animals, blankies,
your daddy’s first glove--
They sat in your room,
awaiting your love.
There’s just something
about a boy…