**UPDATED LIST** While I didn't read or review a huge amount of books in 2013, I did read some exceptionally good ones. These are the ones that stood out the most, completely capturing my attention and affection.
Trinity: Military War Dog by Ronie Kendig
Talon: Combat Tracking Team by Ronie Kendig
Rescue Team by Candace Calvert
When a Secret Kills by Lynette Eason
Whispers on the Prairie by Vickie McDonough
Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer
Murder, Plain and Simple by Isabella Alan
Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley
Follow the Heart by Kaye Dacus
Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden
Don't know how I missed this one. It is a fabulous story! The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky
I also read quite a few novellas and haven't compiled that list yet!
Did you read a full length novel that stood out to you this year? Please share! I love to hear what others enjoy reading.
Personal note: At the end of 2012, I honestly thought I could jump right back into reviewing at the start of 2013 but discovered somewhere along the way that I was still pretty deep in grief over the loss of my daughter. I couldn't focus for long periods and that affected my reading. Plus, a major foot surgery in Sept left me unable to focus on reading because of so much pain for weeks on end. Therefore, I still have a few books in my TBR that should have been read and reviewed this year. I'm working on getting those books finished before I dig into some highly anticipated reads for 2014. Wishing you a blessed New Year!
It's time to share 5 random facts about you, your day, your pets, your kids, whatever!
1. I totally forgot Random 5 Friday was back. This is one of the best meme's to participate in. How could I forget?! Oh, I was taking down all the Christmas decorations and happily packing them away for another year. Whew! So glad that is done.
2. I started using Mozilla for my web browser but it scrolls too fast and makes me nauseated. And I'm sure it's not my mouse setting because it didn't move this fast with Chrome.
3. I beat my guys at RISK. My pink army SWEPT the board! I might have rubbed it in a little. Might have. Yep. I think I did.
4. Finally, after three months I can drive again. It feels so good to know that I can hop in the car and go somewhere whenever I want. Except most of the time, my son is gone to school or work in my car :)
5. I think I will be ready to paint our bedroom this spring. It has been a sea color for several years and I'm tired of looking at it. I need some brightening up in here. I just need to decide what color I want to paint it, then talk my husband in to moving all the heavy furniture. I'm pretty sure he is going to turn the project into something even bigger. Like some kind of renovation because that's the way we roll.
I just discovered Sharlene MacLaren and Laurie Alice Eakes this year; read/reading all of their books; and love them! I am almost finished with “Widow of Gettysburg” by Jocelyn Green – Fabulous book! Would have made my Top 10!
Thanks Rebecca, for this great list of books!!! You probably finished Widow of Gettysburg already as I am late posting this list! I'll have mine up on Monday or Tuesday. Reader friends, Have you read any of these books? Do you have any reading recommendations?
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
On Sunday, December 8th, we lit a candle in remembrance of our Amy and other children, siblings, brothers and sisters who have gone too soon. This worldwide event was sponsored by The Compassionate Friends who help families after the loss of a child.
All glorious is the princess in her chamber,
with robes interwoven with gold. In many-colored robes she is led to the king...
With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.
My heart goes out to all those who joined in and lit a candle, as we obviously have a sorrowful event in common. My prayer for each of us is that even in the midst of the darkest hour imaginable, the Light will penetrate and bring about healing and restoration in our lives.
Some days, the Christmases in my memories shine more vividly than the holidays of the present. My long ago childhood Christmases. My first Christmas as a teacher. That Christmas we were snowed in, and my male relatives rode their snowmobiles through the silent streets.
One of my best Christmas memories takes me back to a year filled with disappointments.
In that December of 2009, the Christian school where I had ministered for nineteen years had recently closed. I was out of a job and living on savings. I had just begun to try my hand at writing but had not yet connected with any writers. I felt isolated and a bit lost.
Through it all, my most encouraging supporter and official lifter-of-spirits was my best friend Nancy.
You’d expect that from a best friend of twenty years, right? But what made this unusual was that my friend Nancy was dying of breast cancer.
I had been with her almost every day of her two-year cancer journey. Somewhere along the way, God whispered a gentle word of preparation in my heart to let me know that this would be my sweet friend’s last Christmas.
Though we never spoke the truth out loud, I believe Nancy knew it, too.
In better days, Nancy had reveled in her Christmas preparations. She would sleep on the floor near the Christmas tree with her kids. Bake all her family’s favorite treats. Fill her house with decorations and presents and friends. And she loved the over-the-top Christmas decorations and frenzied pace at the malls and local stores.
For Nancy, Christmas shopping wasn’t just another chore. It was an adventure!
Of course, cancer changes things. Many days, my formerly-tireless friend could barely lift her head off the pillow. And watching my best friend prepare to leave us wasn’t exactly putting me in a holiday mood.
However, Nancy was intent on preparing one last holiday for her family. We figured it was unrealistic to expect too much. So we prayed and hoped for her to have a few hours of renewed energy. All we needed was a little bit of Christmas!
My job was to remain on stand-by. If the energy should come, I was ready to bundle her into the car and fly to our local WalMart for an impromptu shopping spree.
And that’s exactly what happened.
At the end of a particularly good day, she said, “Let’s go shopping tomorrow.” So we did.
We hid Nancy’s hairless head under a felt hat, wrapped a colorful scarf around her throat, made sure her surgical mask was in place, and headed for WalMart. Once there, she settled herself on an electric scooter, tested the controls, and away she went.
That day, the store seemed to be filled with folks who knew her. She took time to chat with every one of them. Then began the serious shopping. Nancy flew up and down the aisles, filling her basket in record time. I stopped trying to keep up with her and made myself comfortable on a bench near the checkout.
Whenever I caught a glimpse of her, she was beaming beneath her mask.
For those few hours, she could forget about medications and white blood cell counts and ports and chemo treatments. But when the day was done, so was Nancy. Almost as quickly as she’d rallied, she faded. She was already asleep by the time I left her house.
Nancy had other good days before God took her home eight weeks later. But none like that day.
Maybe that’s why I don’t react like others do when they see stores putting out their Christmas things at the end of October. For me, it’s never too early.
I’m always in the mood for a little Christmas, aren’t you?
Renee Ann Smith teaches high school English by day and writes inspirational fiction by night. Represented by Joel Kneedler, she has won both Genesis and Dauphne Awards. You can connect with Renee at her blog Doorkeeper, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
This may sound like a crazy post, but I discovered that I had a living grandmother (my great-grandmother) only when I was in my 50’s. I’ll explain but let me tell my little story first.
Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers died before I was born. This greatly affected both my parents. My father’s mother died when he was twelve and he never got over it. One of the good things about him going to heaven was for him to be reunited with his beloved mother who died in her 30’s. My mother’s mom died when my mom was in here early 20’s and a newlywed and her mother in her early 40’s.
Blessedly I had a wonderful great-aunt who assumed the role of grandmother. And I had a step-grandmother who tried to be a grandma figure, too. But my mother and my older brother and sister told me that my paternal great-grandmother had died before I was born. My father never commented.
But I had recollections of someone rocking me in a rocking chair and early in my adult life the scent of lemon verbena soap, in a historical museum shop, brought back a strong recollection of a grandmother. Memories of wood smoke, too, and a wood floor and hands wrapped around me. When I was about twelve, my great-aunt pointed to my great-grandmother’s picture (with my great-grandfather) and asked me if I remembered her. She said that her mother had asked her to look after us kids when she was gone. When I said to my great-aunt that my great-grandmother died before I was born she blinked at me and may have denied it. Then I told her that my mother said she had. Kids pretty much believe what their moms say so who was I to question such a fact? As a sign of the times, my great-aunt said nothing more, probably to not cast any aspersions on my mother.
Fast forward to about five years ago and me looking through genealogy and finding something showing my great-grandmother died almost 30 years after her daughter, (when I was a young child.) I talked with my mother. She explained how my great-grandmother used to have us out to the cabin all the time—that she constantly called (on the party line!) and asked them to come out. And that she’d rock us children and oh how I loved to be rocked. And that my great-grandmother and my maternal grandmother discovered that they lived within one county of each other in Kentucky and knew many of the same people.
So many memories and confusion I had growing up were reconciled. Researchers have found that scents are some of the strongest memory makers. The fragrance of lemon verbena anchored me to the great-grandmother I remembered but whose memory I was denied (I don’t think deliberately.) My great-grandmother died before my younger sister was born and for that Christmas my father made me my own little tiny children’s rocker covered in vinyl! I have a picture of me holding my little sister and rocking her. Just like great-grandma would have done.
When I prayed about a story for Guidepost Books “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” I wanted to spend
time with the great-grandmother I’d gotten to spend some early times with. And with the memory of her love. It was amazing writing out a story where I could have several little girls get to enjoy time with a grandmother figure. A bunch of the story got cut about all the things I had them do (maybe I’ll post on my website!) but the process of writing the story was like making a wonderful new Christmas memory. And this one has me remembering that A Cup of Christmas Cheer sold through 30,000 copies in under a month!!! And went into a second print run, PTL!
Do you have a Christmas memory that is powerful? Or one that was like a puzzle?
Giveaway: Answer the question for an opportunity to receive an assortment of lovely scented soaps from Carrie! US ONLY. Leave an EMAIL so we can contact the winner.
Carrie Fancett Pagels (www.carriefancettpagels.com) is author of Amazon top-rated Civil War novella Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance. Carrie also contributed to God’s Provision in Tough Times, Lighthouse of the Carolinas (July, 2013). Her short story, Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas, will appear in Guidepost Books “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” (October, 2013). With a Ph.D. in School Psychology, Carrie served as a psychologist for twenty-five years. She has two popular group blogs: Overcoming With God (www.overcomingwithGod.com) and Colonial Quills (www.ColonialQuills.org).
At nineteen, I'd spent most of my holidays with my parents and older brother. Since my father's parents had died and my mom's parents/family lived in Ireland, we didn't often get to spend holidays with extended family. So, it was always quiet and cozy.
Until the Christmas of 1989...when I was introduced to my then-boyfriend's extended family. The single most memorable moment for me was when I stepped out of the van we'd spent 6 hours in traveling from Central Texas to Fort Smith, AR., and receiving the biggest, back-slapping hug from Brian's Grandma Kendig.
Clara Kendig was a slight woman, who didn't stand much more than five-two or so. But the woman had a strength that invigorated her family, admonished close relationships with the Lord, and made holidays that much more amazing! Grandma Kendig embraced me as one of her own before Brian had even proposed to me. Her memory, her legacy, will live forever in my heart, and I pray that some day, when I am the "Grandma" (or even the mother-in-law), that I will be as loving and embracing as the amazing Clara Kendig!
Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children and a Maltese Menace in Northern Virginia. Author and speaker, Ronie loves engaging readers through her Rapid-Fire Fiction.
I couldn't resist participating in the Christmas Ornament Exchange, hosted by Vicki, over at Life On Willie May Lane. Some of the participants were agreeable to sending ornaments around the world.
The big question for each of us was, "Where will my ornament come from?"
I was so excited when mine arrived and it came from the U.K., Truro to be exact! The lovely Barbara over at Cornish Cream gave me some very special gifts. The heart ornament is made from Thai Silk that she purchased on a trip to Thailand and embellished it with beautiful gold ribbon and poinsettias!
Included is a lovely lavender scented sachet, two Afternoon Teas, a delightful handmade gift tag (which will not find its way on anyone's gift because it is too pretty! I think I will use it as a bookmark.), and a sweet note from Barbara, written on a gorgeous handmade card!
We have corresponded a coupe of times already and I am so happy to have a friend in the U.K.! I'm looking forward to getting to know Barbara even better in 2014.
I want to thank Vicky for hosting this exciting exchange! I'm sure there's a lot of work that goes into organizing so many ladies. Hop on over and see what everyone received by clicking here.