Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

The Other Countess (Book 1, Tudor Historical Romance)
by Eve Edwards
Release Date: August 24, 2010
2010 Penguin Books
Softcover Edition; 446 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-1413-2730-3
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

England, 1582.  Ellie - Lady Eleanor Rodriguez of San Jaime is in possession of a worthless title and a feisty spirit that captivates the elite of the Queen's court, and none more so than the handsome new Earl of Dorset...

William Lacey has inherited his father's title and financial ruin.  Now the earl must seek out a wealthy heiress and restore his family's fortune.  Will's head has been turned by the gorgeous Ellie, yet their union can never be.  Will is destined to marry a lady worthy of hi status, so the only question is - which one...?

My Thoughts
I loved this historical romance by Eve Edwards.  Edwards herself has a doctorate from Oxford University and has attempted, very successfully, to incorporate the many important details that bring a historical novel to life.  With a literary writing style that I completely enjoyed, I was able to enjoy the literary treats that were set before my eyes and immerse myself in one of my favourite time periods with considerable joy.  Figures such as Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Frances Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I, Master Cecil, and Lord Burghley are just a few that traipse across the pages and act as wonderful secondary characters to a wonderful story. 

Ellie and William's first meeting is definitely not one where we have love at first sight as Ellie's father, an alchemyst by trade, was responsible for William's family's financial ruin.  By throwing them off his property, he forced Ellie and her father to look for patronage elsewhere, almost throwing them into dire poverty.  Ellie and William meet again four years later at Queen Elizabeth's court while William is searching for a wealthy heiress to marry.  Enter Lady Jane Perceval, a rich young lady who captures William's eye, but not his heart, and you have the perfect setting for a story ripe with the question of whether to marry for duty or love. 

I really enjoyed all of the principal characters in this book and the way they were developed.  I have to say I was somewhat concerned at first as I usually tend to prefer adult historical romance over young adult, but while Edwards definitely kept it on the lighter tone, there was enough sexual undertones and references to keep anyone happy.  To be honest, I really enjoyed to sexual undertones and references and thought they were hilarious.  There were also some serious moments in the book where Ellie is approached and almost attacked, assuming she would be willing to do 'whatever' because of her lowered position.  I think I enjoyed it as much as she did when she retaliates by kicking the offender and by kicking Will too.  It did make you think how precarious a woman's position was during the Tudor times however, and how a woman really needed a man's protection from other lecherous men.  

I really came to enjoy Jane's character the most however, especially considering the position she was placed in as the one who would be saving William's family fortunes, knowing how Ellie and William felt about each other.  I loved how her character developed and blossomed throughout the novel and the conflict she felt over duty and obligation and doing what she wanted.  It was a very interesting juxtaposition and you definitely saw it through her blossoming friendship with Ellie.  Jane suddenly found herself sneaking out of the house to attend a-Maying party with Ellie and people she would normally never spend time with and you could see her opening her eyes to the possibilities of a way of life and freedom she doesn't have in her own life. 

Because of the bounty of wonderful characters, fantastic literary writing, good character development, and descriptions of colourful tudor life, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the actual story which I have to admit was somewhat formulaic at times.  However, because of all of the above, it really didn't seem to matter all that much.  This is an epic story of people who have to survive in the world in which they live - Ellie is too smart as a well-educated girl, but she is penniless, while William is thrust with the responsibilities of a large estate and must do his duty and provide for his family and retainers.  And William needs the cooperation of Queen Elizabeth I in order to succeed in his quest so he must do everything in order to stay on her good side, and that of Lord Burghley.  Which is why I was little skeptical of the ending of the story as I am not sure if Queen Elizabeth would have been as benevolent as she was in the book as she had quite the reputation for keeping her 'peers of the realm' close to her side and in line. 

I really enjoyed The Other Countess and was pleasantly surprised by the scope and depth of the writing involved in this novel.  There was a lot of romantic suspense, delightful characters, wonderful descriptions of the time period, and a good storyline.  I am definitely looking forward to The Queen's Lady, the story of Lady Jane and James Lacy, which releases in April 2011.

Follow Friday!!!

Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View.

Today's question is:  What are your new year's book blogging resolutions?

Review More Often:  I found myself caught up in the blogging itself and sort of lost track of why I really started the blog in the first place.  I've only been doing this for one year and I think I got caught up in other things rather than focussing on what I needed to focus on, which is my interest in books and authors themselves.  My blog sort of took on a life of its own and I'm not completely satisfied in the direction it's going, so I'm going to re-evaluate this year and see what I really want to do with it and where I want it to go.

Comment:  I'm a stalker/lurker rather than a commenter, unless I see something that really catches my eye.  My time is rather limited, but that's not really an excuse as I can comment more often than I do. 

Reviews:  I have been receiving a lot of requests for book reviews lately (and there have been some really good ones too), but realistically, I have a demanding job, two children, and a husband in the military.  I need to face facts and understand that I can't do it all and I will have to turn down some requests this year, or take on some blogging buddies to help with the reviews, something I've been considering.  I also need to focus more on these on my blog, although I enjoy the memes as they're fun and I get to do something different.  Due to the nature of my job, I have to be somewhat guarded in what I write so I like some of the memes where I can talk about myself and reveal a little about myself.  I always find these posts interesting on other blogs.

It's time to relax:  It's a book blog and the books aren't going anywhere.  In fact, the pile just keeps on getting bigger so I know there's no chance it's going anywhere, much to my hubby's chagrin.  I think he's hoping with the ereader, the books will go 'bye-bye', but I highly doubt that will ever happen. 

Organization:  I'm usually pretty organized, but lately things have gotten out of control, so I have set up a calendar now which works a lot better than the old spreadsheet I've been using. 

More author interviews: I enjoy these, but haven't done as many as I would have liked due to other committments.  I plan to remedy that this year.

Have a happy new year everyone!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

Enquiring Minds Want to Know is a weekly meme hosted by Dollycas's Thoughts that I thought would be fun in which to participate.  Due to the nature of my job (and my husband's too), I tend to keep pretty strick guidelines around my privacy and the privacy of my family and I think that somewhat limits the free nature of my blog as there are some things which I cannot reveal or discuss openly on here.  So when I see a meme like this where I can participate I like to join in as it's fun!

Every Thursday, she will post several questions that you answer, and then link back to her page so share with everyone.

Here are today's questions:

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?

All I wanted for Christmas this year was a Kobo ereader and yes, I did get it.  I received enough gift certificates from Chapters that I was able to purchase the ereader and I was super excited.  The lady at the counter was amazed I had so many gift certificates so that I didn't have to pay anything, even the dreaded H.S.T.  I'm even going back today to pick up the cover as they finally got some new ones in.  I'm going to spend some time today playing with it as I haven't been able to (I just got back from the in-laws and I haven't been able to set it up as of yet) and I have a number of books to download from Adobe Digital Editions.  I can't wait!

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?

Of course!  And pretty much break them all by the first week.  I've set up some more doable resolutions this year.  I've already started to get back in shape after my ACL surgery so that one should be pretty attainable.  I'm taking it slow and working towards three days/week rather than the six I used to do.  I'm taking up Kung Fu this summer which should also be pretty attainable as the rest of my family is already involved in Martial Arts.  And the rest are reading goals.  I've pretty much neglected my love of Fantasy/Science Fiction this past year so I've decided to rekindle that as well as focus again on Historical Fiction as I absolutely love that genre.  I've also put a lot of energy into my blog and I can't keep doing that as my job and my life are just too busy.  I'm going to have to reprioritize.  I also need to read more for fun instead of always for reviewing as I find myself not always wanting to read which is not like me at all.  It's time to pull some of those books off the wish list instead of the review pile and rekindle that reading magic.

How will you spend New Year's Eve and New Year's Day this year?

We were going to go out, but I'm exhausted from all of the travelling and visiting so we're staying home.  It will be fun to spend some quiet time together, play some family games (maybe Catan), watch a movie, and just relax.  Unfortunately, New Year's Day I will probably be doing work as I go back on Monday and need to get ready for that.  January is incredibly busy.  Of course, I will probably sneak in some reading time during the day as I do every day of the week. 

Either way, I am ready for 2011.  Are you?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

WOW: The Queen's Lady

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.  It is a great way to highlight those books being released that we can't wait to read.  Here are a few that I can't wait to read:

The Queen's Lady (Book 2, Tudor Series)
by Eve Edwards
Release Date: March 29, 2011

1584 – Surrey, England When Lady Jane Rievaulx begins service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled at the court’s newest arrival . . . Master James Lacey. Despite her previous courtship with his older brother, James is the man she truly loves. And for his part, he cannot deny his fascination with her. However, James is setting sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Lady Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, there is only one man to save her. Will Master James return to his lady ­- before it’s too late?

by Alexandra Monir
Release Date: January 11, 2011

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor's world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she's never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century's worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life - a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves - a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Upcoming releases - December 27 - January 2

Wow! I'm now entering new releases in 2011.  Where in the world did 2010 go?  I am really excited about many of the books being released in 2011 and can't wait for their release dates.  Here are some of the books I am looking forward to reading this week:

In Too Deep (Book 1, Arcane Society: Looking Glass Trilogy)
by Jayne Ann Krentz
Release Date: December 28, 2010

Scargill Cove is the perfect place for Fallon Jones, confirmed recluse and investigator of the paranormal. It's a hot spot, a convergence point for unusually strong currents of energy, which might explain why the town attracts misfits and drifters like moths to a flame. Now someone else has been drawn to the Cove - Isabella Valdez, on the run from some very dangerous men.

When she starts working as Fallon's assistant, Isabella impresses him by organizing his pathologically chaotic office - and doesn't bat an eye at the psychic element of his job. She's a kindred spirit, a sanctuary from a world that considers his talents a form of madness. But after a routine case unearths an antique clock infused with dark energy, Fallon and Isabella are dragged into the secret history of Scargill Cove and forced to fight for their lives, as they unravel a cutthroat conspiracy with roots in the Jones family business.and Isabella's family tree.

Secrets to the Grave (Book 2, Deeper Than the Dead Series)
by Tami Hoag
Release Date: December 28, 2010

When Marissa is found brutally murdered, with her young daughter, Haley, resting her head on her mother's bloody breast, she sends the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll into a tailspin. Already on edge with the upcoming trial of the See- No-Evil killer, residents are shocked by reports of the crime scene, which might not have been discovered for days had it not been for a chilling 911 call: a small child's voice saying, "My daddy hurt my mommy."

Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez faces a puzzle with nothing but pieces that won't fit. To assist with his witness, Haley, he calls teacher-turned-child advocate Anne Leone. Anne's life is hectic enough-she's a newlywed and a part- time student in child psychology, and she's the star witness in the See-No-Evil trial. But one look at Haley, alone and terrified, and Anne's heart is stolen.

As Tony and Anne begin to peel back the layers of Marissa Fordham's life, they find a clue fragment here, another there. And just when it seems Marissa has taken her secrets to the grave, they uncover a fact that puts Anne and Haley directly in the sights of a killer: Marissa Fordham never existed.

Sapphique (Book 2, Incarceron)
by Catherine Fisher
Release Date: December 28, 2010
Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside.

The Lost Saint (Book 2, Dark Divine)
by Bree Despain
Release Date: December 28, 2010

Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved mother. When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do. She must become a Hound of Heaven. Desparate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot - a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero. But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble. Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities - not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung.

by Michelle Jaffe
Release Date: December 28, 2010

Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run.

Everyone believes it was an accident, despite the phone threats Jane swears were real. But the truth is a thorny thing. As Jane's boyfriend, friends, and admirers come to visit, more memories surface - not just from the party, but from deeper in her past . . . including the night her best friend Bonnie died.

With nearly everyone in her life a suspect now, Jane must unravel the mystery before her killer attacks again. Along the way, she's forced to examine the consequences of her life choices in this compulsively readable thriller.

Prospero Burns (Warhammer: Horus Heresy Series)
by Dan Abnett
Release Date: December 28, 2010

Dan Abnett returns to the best-selling Horus Hersey series in this latest instalment of the saga!

 Bloody Valentine (Book 6, Blue Bloods)
by Melissa de la Cruz
Release Date: December 28, 2010

Vampires have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shapeshift and more. But in matters of the heart, no one, not even the strikingly beautiful and outrageously wealthy Blue Bloods, has total control.
Broken Fences
by Camilla Noli
Release Date: December 30, 2010

Clair lives in the leafy suburbs and has worked hard to create the perfect life for her husband and two children. She knows it's a big bad world out there and her beautifully painted garden fences keep that world out. While her children are young, Clair is determined to do everything she can to keep them safe. But then a new family move in next door. The first time she sees Chelsea, Clair has her pegged as a spoilt only child who is used to getting her own way from her doting parents, beautiful yet spiteful. As Chelsea befriends Clair's children over the fence, Clair's unease increases. The girl is not a good influence, and she has Clair's son in her sights. Soon the children are running in and out of each other's gardens. But then events take a tragic turn. A terrible event shatters the cosy suburban community, proving Clair was right to remain vigilant. To protect her family, Clair tightens her grip on her children. The more she reins them in, the more they rebel. And the less control she has. Teetering on the edge of madness, Clair will do anything to save her family, and in doing so risks destroying all their lives.

Prom and Prejudice
by Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: January 1st, 2011

After winter break, the girls at very prestigious, very wealthy, girls-only Longbourn Academy are suddenly obsessed with the prom, which they share with the nearby, equally elitist, all-boys Pemberly school. Lizzie Bennett, who attends Longbourn on scholarship, isn't exactly interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be - especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance, but less than impressed by Will Darcy, Charles's friend, who's as snobby and pretentious as his friend is nice. He doesn't seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it's because her family doesn't have money. It doesn't help that Charles doesn't seem to be asking Jane to be his prom date, or that Lizzie meets George Wickham, who tells her that Will Darcy sabotaged his scholarship at Pemberly. Clearly Will Darcy is a pompous jerk who looks down on the middle class--so imagine Lizzie's surprise when he asks her to the prom!

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I never thought I'd do it! I never thought I would cave in!  But yesterday I went to Chapters and did it!  I bought my first ereader.  And I was really excited about it.  As usual, all I wanted for Christmas was a gift certificate from Chapters, but this year it was for a grander purpose.  In the past, I would usually come up with a list of books I wanted to read and go over the list many times, usually blowing it as soon as I walked in the store, buying whatever I fancied at the time.  But this time, I went into Chapters with a clear purpose and to my hubby's complete amazement, I didn't even look at the books.  (I think he's forgotten about all of the other online gift certificates I've been collecting all year!!!!)  As soon as I figure out how to download the books, I will begin using my ereader.  And since I'm going to Europe in March, I've been breathing a collective sigh of relief at not having to carry all of those books overseas anymore.  And that pretty much sold him too.  Hubby is now thinking about buying his own.  I almost fell off my chair when he mentioned it. But the thought of sharing mine...I don't think so (lol)!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey where we share the books we read last week, the books we are currently reading, and the books we are planning to read.  It's a great way to share books we are excited about, and to discover new books we may not have heard about.  And you may even win a prize!

What I Read Last Week:
The Julian Game by Adele Griffin
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
The Other Countess by Eve Edwards - Review coming soon.

What I am Currently Reading:
Nightshade by Andrea Cremers - I am almost finished this one and it's great.
Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill

What I am Planning to Read:
Delirious by Daniel Palmer

I don't know what else I am planning to read as I will be playing around with my new ereader so I can see myself reading something I download just to see how that goes. 

Happy reading everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Pearls of Christmas: An Unforgettable Gift

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

An Unforgettable Gift
by Karen O'Connor

On Christmas morning, 1912, in Paducah, Kentucky, fourteen-year-old Charlie Flowers and his three brothers and two sisters huddled in their beds, fully dressed, trying to keep warm as the wind howled outside their small frame house.

It was a desperate time for the family. Earlier that year the children's father had died. And their mother had not found work. The coal had run out and there was little money––none for gifts. Their scrawny tree with decorations made from scraps of colored paper had been given to them the night before by a local merchant.

"Can't sell this one," the man said with a nod of his head before handing it over to the eager children.

To pass the time, the siblings joked and shouted stories from their bedrooms across the hallway from one another. Then suddenly a racket from the alley at the rear of the house broke into their games.
"Charlie," his mother called, "would you see what's going on out there?"
Charlie pulled on his shoes, grabbed a thick overcoat from the hook by the door, and ran out back.

There stood a man in a wagon bent over a load of coal, shoveling it into the shed as fast as he could.
"Hey Mister, we didn't order any coal," Charlie shouted. "You're delivering it to the wrong house."

"Your name's Flowers, isn't it?" the man asked, still shoveling. 

Charlie nodded yes.

"Well then, there's no mistake.  I've been asked to deliver this to your family on Christmas morning." He looked the awe-struck boy square in the eye. "And I'm under strict orders not to tell who sent it," he teased.

Charlie ran into the house, his coattail flapping in the cold morning wind.  He could hardly wait to tell his mother and brothers and sisters. God had provided––just as he had on that first Christmas morning so long ago when He sent his only son to a needy world.

Charlie Flowers died in 1994 at age 96. And right up to the last year of his life, not a Christmas went by that he didn't tell the story of that sub-zero Christmas morning of his boyhood when two men gave his family an unforgettable gift.
It wasn't the coal that was remembered or cherished, Charlie often said––welcome as it was––but rather what two men brought to his desperate family. One, for his gift of recognizing their great need and taking the time to do something about it. And the other, for being willing to give up part of his own Christmas morning to deliver it.
That gift of so long ago has continued to warm the Flowers family from one generation to another, as Charlie's son––my husband, Charles––calls to mind these two unknown men each Christmas morning and whispers a prayer of thanks.

About Karen: Karen O'Connor is an award-winning author and writing mentor living in Watsonville, California with her husband, Charles Flowers. Karen’s latest book is 365 Reasons Why Gettin’ Old Ain’t So Bad (Harvest House 2010).

For more information, please visit Karen on the web at

A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and relaxing Christmas holidays!

It is now Christmas Eve and I am amazed at how fast the year has gone.  It was just after Christmas last year that I tentatively started my blog for the first time, not knowing what I was doing, exploring my way around Blogger, actually losing my first post because I had no clue what I was doing, and here I am a year later, excitedly looking forward to the New Year.

I love Christmas Eve because it is so relaxing in our house.  I don't have any relatives where I live, so we spend the time together, and have a tradition of going to the same restaurant for dinner (which we have now done for three years in a row).  I look forward to it because I don't have to cook anything today.  We come home relaxed (and full) from dinner, watch a movie (The Santa Clause) and have a nice evening together.  Thankfully, the presents are all wrapped (due to a late night session the other night), so hubby and I can relax in front of the fire once the kiddies go to bed.

Christmas Day however, is another story.  We get up early, open presents, have breakfast, and then pack the car where we head to first one grandparent's house, and then another's to open presents and spend some time together.  It usually takes us between 1 1/2 hours - 2 hours to get there so we spend a few days visiting.  This year it's dinner at my parents house and I can't wait to see my nine-month-old nephew again; he's so adorable.

Boxing Day is one of my favourites as we have a big bash at one of our friend's houses.  This is a yearly tradition and it's so much fun!  A whole bunch of us get together and play road hockey, eat, drink, eat, drink, open presents, eat, drink....and so on.   We've been friends for years, but with marriage and kids and moving to different cities, we don't get to visit as often so it's great to get together and we have a blast!  The kiddies are getting old enough (well, most of them anyways) to play hockey too, and it's nice to see them involved.   I'm especially excited as I'm fully recovered from my ACL surgery and I get to play this year.  Yippee!!!

And the few days after that, it's SHOPPING time!!!!

I also want to say, Happy 80th Birthday to my father-in-law!! 

Joyeux Noel tout le monde and Bonne Nouvelle Annee!!! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Pearls of Christmas: Just Give me Christmas This Year!

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

All I Want for ChristmasIs to be able to have Christmas this Year
by Melissa Mashburn

This is a simple request, isn’t it? In the previous years, we had great big bountiful Christmases with our family. Gifts, goodies and general Christmas cheer but this year it was different. The year before has been chock full of disappointments, failing businesses and severe cutbacks for our family. 

Sitting with my husband one night we hammered out the bare minimum that we could spend that year for Christmas and even still the total was four hundred dollars. It does not sound like a whole lot compared to what we’ve spent on Christmas before, but this year it could have been four thousand dollars because we just did not have it.

We prayed, I cried, we prayed some more and decided that we would cut back anything else that we could that year so we could have Christmas for our kids. We did not know how we would make this happen, but we knew that we needed to step forward in faith that it would happen.

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. Galatians 3:5 the Message

Not even two days later, we hear a knock on our front door. We open the door to see some friends of ours from church. With tears in their eyes, they handed us an envelope and said that the felt they needed to give us this. We opened the envelope and inside there was four hundred dollars cash.

Shocked, stunned and with tears flowing down our face we just sat there in a state of crying and laughing at what God had done. We never shared with anyone that year what we needed, how bad it was, what was going on or what that number was for us to have Christmas for the kids, but God knew.

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”  2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

He took a willing servant, led them to our front door and changed Christmas for us that year. After many years of being in full time ministry we knew that God would provide, but when He shows up just at the right moment, you know that it was all a part of His plan to show how much He loves, provides and cares for His people.

Father God, thank you that after all the years of serving and loving you in ministry that you continue to teach, guide, love, shepherd and care for us.  You, Father, are abundantly gracious and kind, thank you for showing up for us at just the right moment every time, forgive us when we forget that.  In Jesus name, Amen.

About Melissa: Melissa is the founder of the blog Mel’s World Ministry, co-founder of the Praise and Coffee Nights Ministry with Sue Cramer, Kids Ministry Director at her church.  Just last year she launched a new weekly series called Godly Gals ~ Real Women, Real Life, Real Faith where we meet new women each week who are “Taking their everyday, ordinary lives and placing it as their offering to God.” Romans 12:1 the Message. You can find her on twitter and at her blog. She loves encouraging women to live with an authentic faith by being transparent, renewed and transformed. ~ Romans 12:2.


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Review: The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

The Julian Game
by Adele Griffin
Release Date: August 26, 2010
2010 G.P. Putnam Sons
Softcover Edition; 208 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-399-25460-4
Genre: Young Adult
Source: ARC from Publisher

3.5 / 5 Star

All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself - and igniting Ella's rage.

As Raye works to reconcile the temptress Elizabeth with her real-life self, Ella serves up her own revenge, creating an online smear campaign of nasty rumors and trashy photographs. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find a way out of the web of deceit that she's helped to build, and back to the relationships that matter.

My Thoughts
The Julian Game was a quick, easy read about revenge and the lengths one will go to be included in a popular group in school, and how easily those lengths can backfire on you.  While I found the novel to be somewhat predictable and formulaic, there were some interesting moments and some witty dialogue in the writing that I quite enjoyed.

One of the things that really has not changed since my high school days is the concept of revenge and the lenghts one will go to get that revenge; I think just the means of getting that revenge has changed.  With the onset of technology in our society today, the possibilities for revenge are endless and that is easily demonstrated in this novel when a reluctant Raye and a headstrong Ella set up their plot against Julian on Facebook.  Do I think something like is possible today?  Absolutely, and unfortunately, things like that happen all of the time.  These are things I am not allowed to even discuss online, but I know for a fact that these things can and do happen.   What I would have like to have seen is a little more 'meat' to the story as I felt somewhat disappointed by some of the events against Julian, as if they were just filler pages to get to the revenge against Raye.  I also would have liked to have seen more repercussions for students using a school webpage the way it was done as in a real school I know that type of slander would not have lasted for long and students would not have gotten away with it; there are a lot of restrictions in a school for that kind of thing.  There was no mention of anything happening after Raye and Natalya complained to school administrators. 

One of my favourite characters in this novel was Natalya.  I loved her direct attitude and her no-nonsense approach to life.  She was very comfortable in her own skin and accepted things the way they were.  She also understood people in a way that naive Raye did not and I really wanted to shake Raye at times.  I can see why people will change and do things they are not proud of just to be popular and to be thought part of the in-group, but Raye was a frustrating character as she couldn't see what was in front of her face.  She was likeable, yes, but I liked Natalya a lot more.  I didn't feel anything for Julian, but I loved his friend Henry and really hoped something would come out of that connection.  It's a credit to Ms. Griffin's writing as I realized at the end I was being led in my emotions to feel the way I did, even feeling the way I did towards Raye as she was not always likeable at times when she got caught up in the Ella machinations.  Yet, I did not feel sorry for her when she became the victim of vicious lies herself.  How to explain?  I don't believe in bullying, but I also believe that "what goes around, comes around" and you need to be careful in what you do.  I was proud of Raye when she finally stood up for herself towards the end and to keep going to school amidst all the bullying and everything else certainly took a lot of courage.

The Julian Game was an enjoyable novel that delves into many social issues.  It deals with teen cyber bullying which is becoming a real problem as well as insecurity issues and the lengths to which one will go to be popular.  While I found some of the lingo and language between the characters to be a little too much at times, and the plot was somewhat predictable, I still had fun with this novel and look forward to reading more books by this author.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 Pearls of Christmas: What's the Best Thing About Christmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

What’s the best thing about Christmas?
by Maureen Lang

The answer to that question will undoubtedly be different depending on the age and the faith of the person being asked. Most children will say it’s all about the gifts. Adults, even if they secretly still enjoy the gifts, will probably strive to sound more mature and say the holiday is all about friends and family. Still others might say it’s about tradition, or memories or the music or even the special food we connect to this time of year. The scrooges among us might say this season is just another marketing gimmick, or materialism gone awry. The faithful will say it’s all about Jesus, a reminder of why He shed the glory of Heaven to step into human skin and frailty.

I’m not here to defend or attack any answer to this question, but rather to ponder those possible answers.

Gifts: They touch us in personal ways, as tangible evidence of someone else’s thought and affection. Even if we don’t get exactly what we hoped, there’s something to be said about the thought behind a gift being the important part. Why wouldn’t gifts be an important and valid part of this holiday in which we celebrate God’s gift of salvation?

Holiday Gatherings: Parties might be a lot of work, forcing some out of their comfort zone, but at the core they’re all about human connection. Isn’t that what most people want?

Traditions and memories: They remind us of the past, of who we are, with the hope that even as we look forward to an unknown future we still hold some things worthy enough to repeat every year. We might find ourselves letting go of some traditions, or we might want to start some new ones.

The music: This is the only time of the year when even secular radio stations welcome songs about a baby born in Bethlehem. As a nation we may be getting stringent about separation of church as state, but the lines blur just a bit with old favorites that reflect this season.

Scrooges: The holiday season is probably a time to endure rather than enjoy, but even the scroogiest-scrooge might admit the lights of the season are pretty to behold. They’re free to look at, after all.

As for the food, the busyness, the expense and all the other things that make up this season: keep in mind that it’s all temporary. This, too, shall pass. Until next year, of course.

I’ll leave you with this thought: we are all made in God’s image, whether we believe that or not. Part of that image is the ability to give—and to receive. So here’s my thought for the day: stop a moment and dwell on all the gifts of the season. From the little mementos that say we haven’t forgotten someone or been forgotten by others, to the costliest gift of all: what God did for us in the form of Christ. As you enjoy the sounds, the sights, the scents and the tastes of this season, may your only trouble be in choosing just one thing among so many best things about Christmas.


About Maureen: Maureen Lang is the author of ten books, her most recent from Tyndale House is The Great War Series which are full of romance, adventure and spiritual journeys. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and their lovable Labrador Retriever.

For more information please visit Maureen at her website,


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

2011 YA Reading Challenge: Another One!!!

I told myself I wasn't going to do another one, and here I am signing up for what was probably one of my favourite and easiest ones to do last year.  I am really happy that Jamie @ For the Love of YA is taking over this challenge (thank you Jamie), so I have decided to participate and up the ante a little bit as well.  Last year I decided on 25 books and read well over that amount so I am going to try the most difficult level, the Mega Size YA Reading Challenge.

The Rules are:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Create a post about the challenge and link your challenge post up in the linky at

2. There are four levels:
--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.
--The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.
--The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.
--The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels.

3. You can choose from audio, ebooks, print, and re-reads as they all count.

4. You do not need to list your books in advance.

5. The Challenge starts on 01 January 2011 and goes until 31 December 2011.

Here's to challenges!!!!

Review: Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

Indulgence in Death (Book 31, In Death Series)
by J.D. Robb
Release Date: November 2, 2010
2010 G.P. Putnam Books
ISBN: 978-0-399-15687-8
Hardcover Edition; 384 Pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Lt. Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department returns home from a long overdue Irish vacation to a string of bizarre murders. The crossbow killing of chauffeur Jamal Houston in his limo in a La Guardia parking lot is followed by the death of high-rent prostitute Ava Crampton, found at Coney Island's House of Horrors stabbed with a bayonet. Other victims include Luc Delaflote, a celebrity chef who's harpooned, and Adrianne Jonas, "a facilitator for the rich" strangled with a handmade bullwhip. Eve, assisted by her trustworthy sidekicks, Det. Delia Peabody and husband Roarke, uncovers a wicked game that grows increasingly macabre.

My Thoughts
When I first started reading this book, I thought J.D. Robb had returned to the writing style of the earlier books of this series and I really enjoyed the set-up and interaction between Eve and Roarke and Roarke's Irish family.  Eve and Roarke were in Ireland taking a much-needed holiday and it was fun seeing Eve out of her element in the countryside attempting to deal with nature and countryside and animals.  There was a softer side to the book which had been present in the earlier books in the series where we first met Eve and Roarke as they dealt with their horrible childhoods and fell in love.  Even the presence of a murder in Ireland did not really take away from the softer side of the story, and I was enthralled, enjoying the novel as well as the interesting plot and character developments.  Unfortunately, that 'aura' to the book did not stay when Eve and Roarke returned to New York and I was not really immersed in the novel from that point on.

Don't get me wrong as I enjoyed the novel and I enjoyed reading how Eve and Roarke and Peabody and the various other characters worked together to solve the mystery and the crimes as it was interesting, but there was something lacking in the plot and in the character development whereby I was not as immersed as I was in the earlier novels in this series.  I felt like Ms. Robb was perhaps trying too hard looking for a good story and trying too hard to make it really interesting and it showed.  I have always been interested in the development of Eve and Roarke's relationship and how she 'softened' over the years, yet except for the wonderful beginning to the novel, I really didn't feel that connectedness between she and Roarke that I felt in the earlier novels which was a shame. 

I was a little disappointed in the type of villain in this novel as well.  In the past, her villains have always been so interesting and full of character, with many reasons as to why they did the crime.  I really felt let down in this novel with these villains, particularly as I know how well-written her villains have been in the past.  Maybe I was expecting too much, but there was little anticipation and little climax in this novel and I felt somewhat let-down towards the end.  Knowing how good many of her previous novels in this series have been however, I am definitely not ready to give up on this series quite yet, but would like to see a return to a more complicated villain with more justifiable reasons for doing what they are doing. 

As usual, one of the strengths of the book is always the witty and interesting dialogue between the characters.  There were some funny and comical moments between the characters that did have me laughing out loud, and I particularly enjoyed the rooster scene at the beginning of the novel.   Seeing the serious Eve acting it up is always a treat and I always enjoy those moments when she comes out of shell and does something completely unexpected;  it definitely keeps things interesting. 

While Indulgence in Death is not my favourite novel of the series, I am definitely not quite ready to give up on this series as of yet.  I would like to see more of the personal sides to Eve and Roarke which would make it more interesting than the formulaic writing that has already been done to death (sorry for the pun, it was unintentional!). 

WOW: I Can't Wait for These Ones!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, where we get to highlight upcoming releases we are looking forward to reading.  It's a great way to share some exciting new releases and discover books on other blogs you may not have known are being released. 

The Iron Thorn (Book 1, Iron Codex Series)
by Caitlin Kittredge
Release Date: February 22, 2011

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical - born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way - every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

Kings of the North (Book 2, Oath of Fealty Series)
by Elizabeth Moon
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Peace and order have been restored to the kingdoms of Tsaia and Lyonya, thanks to the crowning of two kings: Mikeli of Tsaia and, in Lyonya, Kieri Phelan, a mercenary captain whose royal blood and half-elven heritage are resented by elves and humans alike.

On the surface, all is hope and promise. But underneath, trouble is brewing. Mikeli cannot sit safely on his throne as long as remnants of the evil Verrakaien magelords are at large. 
Now, as war threatens to erupt from without and within, the two kings are dangerously divided. Old alliances and the bonds of friendship are about to be tested as never before. And a shocking discovery will change everything.

The Dark and Hollow Places (Book 3, Forest of Hands and Teeth Series)
by Carrie Ryan
Release Date: March 22, 2011

Annah knows she has a twin sister, but she forgot her long ago. Back when they went to play in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, she and Elias lost her, and after that there was no going back to the village.

But when Elias disappears, Annah's world crumbles. To her, life isn't worth much more than the walking dead who roam the wasted world she lives in. It's not until she meets Catcher that she cares to start living again.

Yet Catcher has secrets. Dark, terrifying secrets that link him to a past she's longed to forget and to a future too deadly to consider.

Bride of New France
by Suzanne Desrochers
Release Date: January 18, 2011

Laure Beausejour has grown up in a dormitory in Paris surrounded by prostitutes, the insane, and other forgotten women. She dreams with her best friend, Madeleine, of using her needlework skills to become a seamstress and one day marry a nobleman. But in 1669, Laure is sent across the Atlantic to New France with Madeleine as filles du roi. The girls know little of the place they are being sent to, except for stories of ferocious winters and Indians who eat the hearts of French priests. To be banished to Canada is a punishment worse than death.

From the moment she arrives in Ville-Marie (Montreal) she is expected to marry and produce children with a brutish French soldier who himself can barely survive the harsh conditions of his forest cabin. But through her clandestine relationship with Deskaheh, an allied Iroquois, Laure finds a sense of the possibilities in this New World.

I think I am done with the upcoming releases for this week, although I could have kept going. There are so many interesting books being released next year it's almost mind-boggling. What books did you find?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Pearls of Christmas: Good News!

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

Good News!
by Deb Kalmbach

The first Christmas card of the season arrived in my mailbox way back in August. How could anyone be that organized? Then I noticed my friend, Nita, had sent me a card I had written to her more than 20 years ago!

Memories rushed back as I read the words penned in my familiar handwriting. It was Christmas, 1991, and my world had unraveled. I could almost pretend everything was all right at this most wonderful time of the year—but not that year.

My husband Randy’s drinking problem had escalated to the point where his job and career were on the line. He had already been through two alcohol treatment programs and managed to stay sober for short periods of time. Then he slipped back into old, familiar patterns. His ongoing relapses were a crushing disappointment for our family.

I had looked forward to Christmas Eve and our family traditions; making homemade lasagna, singing carols around the piano, attending the candlelight service at church, and then coming home to open one token Christmas Eve present.     

“Randy, are you ready to crank out the pasta?” I called to him over the Christmas music I was playing to lift my spirits.

I peered into the living room to see what was keeping him. My heart froze. Randy sat on the couch, trance-like, watching a basketball game while sipping a drink.

No, not on Christmas Eve, I screamed inwardly. I felt like I was suffocating. Usually Randy pulled himself together but it didn’t happen that night. He drank vodka all evening while I finished holiday preparations on autopilot. None of us felt like eating lasagna or celebrating.

Only a few days earlier, I had written these words on the Christmas card to my friend, Nita. I don’t know God’s plans, his timing or his ways in accomplishing his purposes, but I am learning to trust him. He is faithful!

I suspect Nita kept my card all those years because she saw a small seed of faith and it encouraged her heart. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be eight more Christmas seasons before Randy experienced the miraculous breakthrough of finding freedom from alcoholism.

As I read the card I had written so long ago, I felt awed by God’s faithfulness to us—even when our situation looked completely hopeless.

You may be facing great difficulty as the holidays approach. The last thing you feel like is celebrating. And that’s O.K. The Good News of Christmas isn’t about picture perfect holidays where our homes are decorated a la Martha Stewart and tables are laden with holiday delicacies. Your days may not be merry and bright. You may be grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship through divorce or estrangement. Your world has unraveled.

That’s exactly why the message of Christmas is Good News. The Savior is born! The One who came to set you free, to give you peace and hope and help beyond anything you could ever imagine is as near as your next breath. Today you might not be able to see how God’s purposes are unfolding for your future, but you can be assured that He is working all things for good in your life. A twenty year-old Christmas card came on a summer day as an unexpected gift and gentle reminder of God’s presence—especially in the worst of times.

About Deb: Deb Kalmbach is the coauthor of Because I Said Forever: Embracing Hope in a Not-So- Perfect Marriage and the author of a book for children, Corey’s Dad Drinks Too Much. She has contributed to The New Women’s Devotional Bible, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, and other anthologies. She is a vibrant and engaging speaker who gives hope and practical solutions to those who struggle with difficult relationships. Deb and her husband, Randy, live in a tiny town in Eastern Washington. Visit Deb at:, or on Facebook and Twitter.


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Upcoming Releases: December 20-26

Take a look at some of the books that are being released this week.  I am definitely looking forward to the third book in the "Wondrous Strange" series, especially after I had the pleasure of meeting Lesley Livingston in October when she came for a visit at our local library. 

Out For Blood (Drake Chronicles, Book 3)
by Alyxandra Harvey
Release Date: December 21, 2010

Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends - or even more. When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy?

Tempestuous (Wondrous Strange, Book 3)
by Lesley Livingston
Release Date: December 21, 2010

"I don't love Sonny Flannery." That's the lie Kelley Winslow told to protect the boy she loves from a power he doesn't know he possesses. Devastated, Sonny retreats - to a haven for Lost Fae that's hidden deep underneath New York City.

But Kelley's not about to let things end in heartbreak. To get Sonny back, she's got to find out who's after his magick - and how to use her own. She's got to uncover who's recruiting Janus Guards to murderously hunt innocent Faerie. She's got to help rebuild the shattered theater company she called family. And she's got to do it all without getting dangerously distracted by the Fennrys Wolf, whose legendary heart of stone seems to melt whenever he's around Kelley.

The Legacy (Book 3, Declaration Series)
by Gemma Malley
Release Date: December 21, 2010

When a Pincent Pharma lorry is ambushed by the Underground, its contents come as a huge surprise - not drugs, but corpses in a horrible state. It appears Longevity isn't working and the drugs promising eternal youth are failing to live up to their promises. A virus is sweeping the country, killing in its wake, and Longevity is powerless to fight it. When Richard Pincent of Pincent Pharma suggest that the Underground has released the virus, something has to be done to put the story straight and once and for all alert everyone to the truth.

The Diviner's Tale
by Bradford Morrow
Release Date: December 23, 2010
Walking a lonely forested valley on a spring morning in upstate New York, having been hired by a developer to dowse the land, Cassandra Brooks comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra's credibility if not her sanity. The next day, on a return visit with the sheriff to have another look, a dazed, mute missing girl emerges from the woods, alive and the very picture of Cassandra's hanged girl.

When Cassandra's dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.
Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm officially on holidays as of Friday night for two weeks.  It has been quite a busy few weeks at work in December and with all of the snow we've been lambasted with in this part of Ontario, it's also been quite a challenge getting around.  I'm actually really grateful for the first time in my life to have gotten my Christmas shopping finished early as the malls are now super crazy as the snow pretty much confined people for quite a few days.  And you'd think being on holidays I'd have time to catch up on my reading, think again!  I spent all of yesterday going through boxes I haven't opened since I moved here over five years ago.  You wouldn't believe what I found!  I'm having a big garage sale next summer.

Next week I'm off to my parents and my in-laws for a few days to make the Christmas visiting rounds and I am praying there are no more flurries for quite a while so we can make it there and back safely.  I am looking forward to our annual Boxing Day Bash with our friends.  We all get together for some holiday fun, play road hockey, laugh, cheer, eat gumbo, and just have a great time.  As we all live so far apart, it's so great to see dear friends again on this day.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a great weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we reflect on books we have read, those we are currently reading, and those we really need to attack.  It's a way to socialize with other book bloggers, see who is reading what, and maybe win a prize, too!

I really did not do too well on the reading side as I've been busy attending children's Christmas parties and adult ones too.  It was also my daughter's birthday yesterday, so we had fun celebrating that (and the removal of her car seat was the highlight of the day).  I don't know who was more excited over that one, her or me!!!

What I Managed to Read This Week:

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb - Review to be posted soon.

Currently Reading:

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill

What's Next:

The Templar's Code by C.M. Palov

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Hopefully you had a better reading week than I did!  Happy reading everyone!

12 Pearls of Christmas: Hurting Near Christmas?

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

Hurting Near Christmas? 10 Tips to Hope Again
by Stacie Ruth Stoelting

Feel sad this Christmas? Hey, I know the feeling. In fact, many programs have interviewed me to share about it! Last year, I tried particularly hard to share stories and tips on how to cope with grief during the holidays: I wrote a feature for, Coping with Grief at Christmas, visited and counseled grieving people, etc.

Then irony hit: Near Christmas, two people I loved died within two days (December 15-16, 2009).

Are you or a loved one hurting during the holidays? I relate. But let me encourage you: Jesus remains faithful! As real as my pain, He met my needs and comforted me with peace unexplainable. I’m serious. He’s real.

Before I continue with tips, let me share this: If you feel suicidal, contact an emergency counseling service like the New Life Call Center at 1-800-NEW-LIFE(639-5433).

10 Tips for Hurting Hearts to Hope and Cope at Christmastime

1.    Realize and internalize it: God still loves you and wants to hear from you. He wants you to know that there is a Way out of your pit of despair. The Way is Jesus.

2.    Sometimes, our suffering causes us to forget His. Understand He understands you. He suffered more than any of us when we bore the weight of every sin and pain on the cross! In fact, Is. 53:3 describes Jesus: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Think of it: He took your punishment and pain on the cross. He was your capital punishment Substitute! And your Deliverer -your Rescuer- wants to hear from you. His heart hurts with yours. Will you pour your heart out to Him now? He’ll pour His love in where the fear previously resided. Let Jesus inside. Do you know Jesus on a personal, one-to-One basis?  Visit here to learn why Jesus was born to die and how to be born again. (Hey, Jesus said it: "You must be born again.")

3.    Rather than mere gifts, make a Christmas prayer list of other hurting people. Then pray for them and request prayer for yourself, too. Contact your church. Tap into ministries (including that offer extra prayer support. And feel free to join my prayer e-group at or on Facebook by clicking here.

4.    End the Christmas comparison game. Don't compare your Christmas to your neighbor's. Don't compare your Christmas to past celebrations.

5.    Center on the Savior! This year, trade a superficial Christmas for a real one. Deepen your appreciation for the true Christmas: the arrival of Jesus Christ to banish the effects of sin and death!

6.    Whatever your loss or pain, open up and let God be your Gain. Maybe your pain comes from another cause: a divorce, a devastating diagnosis, a job loss...the list extends. God offers to be your Counselor, your Father, your Healer, your Provider. Let Him answer your heart’s cry.

7.    Love on people. Even if you don’t “feel” like it, prayerfully do something for someone else who is hurting.

8.    Remember: Feelings change. God doesn't. Loved ones' deaths never kill His love for you. God's immeasurable, unconditional love still flows to you! When you know Jesus, you know eternal love and security. Nothing separates you from His love! “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, ESV).

9.    Realize the reality of the sudden reunion. Holidays exacerbate the feeling of long separation from our loved ones in Heaven. Does it feel like it will take forever for you to see your loved one in Heaven? Be encouraged: Jesus IS coming again and it will be a time you don't expect! So the fact that you feel like it won't happen soon is a good thing!  Once reunited, it will feel like no time transpired. All sadness will be entirely removed!

10.    When Jesus comes back to earth, it will be a celebration greater than any previous Christmas you've ever experienced!

For believers, losses hurt but never win. We will celebrate Jesus together -and it will be glorious "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4, NIV). In that Day, all believers will be able to jubilantly say, “Merry Christmas to all and to all the true Light!”

Additional Help: Ready for some practical tips for coping with grief at Christmastime? Here’s one: Rearrange furniture to reduce absence reminders. To read this tip and others found in another of my’s articles: “Coping with Grief at Christmas", visit

Going thru a rough time? Join Stacie Ruth’s prayer group at


About Stacie: Stacie Ruth knows pain, but she also knows Jesus! After Stacie Ruth met Jesus, her life blossomed with true joy and purpose. Life’s blows hurt her, but Jesus heals and strengthens her. Now an author, actress, and recording artist, she laughs at the irony and praises God, who uses unlikely herself.  Discover why she's written a book at age 15, sung/spoken for the 43rd President, been pictured in major media (i.e. The New York Times, USA Today), and keynoted conferences since she was a teenager. To watch video clips, worship Jesus with music from her album, or get in touch with her ministry for women, visit


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit