Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Short Life Well Lived

SUMMARY:  "A tumor?" I repeated, my voice shaking.
     With those two words, doting father Brian O'Connor is plunged into the deepest nightmare he can imagine.  All his baseball-loving son, Tommy, did was break his arm when pitching ... and then doctors found a malignant growth in the eleven-year-old.  Now father and son must tread an uncharted road full of frustration and fear.
     Brian has never faced a foe he couldn't overcome or outmaneuver.  Blind since birth, he's blown down every obstacle in his path.  Now a happily married father of two, and a successful prosecutor in the district attorney's office, he must confront the possibility of death - an enemy maddeningly tricky to fight.
     As the battle to save Tommy's life stretches his family's stamina to the limits, it will take all of Brian's resources - including a patient minister who challenges his faithlessness - to help Tommy endure treatment and a frightening prognosis.
     In this powerfully moving novel, bestselling author Tom Sullivan, a blind father himself, sensitively takes readers on a journey of discovery.  There is pain, yes, but also hope: understanding the ways God sometimes intervenes in life's crises and learning how to keep faith when He doesn't.  You will leave the story enlightened, moved, and grateful - and perhaps with a strengthened faith of your own.

REVIEW:  This was a very interesting book.  The story was intriguing and held my attention from the beginning.  Having had friends that experienced the diagnosis of cancer (as patients and parents), my heart went out to both Tommy, Brian and their family.  I like the way the author shows how Brian, as a blind man and a parent, experiences the world, the arena of doctors and hospitals, and the feeling of helpless that comes when your child is sick.
      There was only one area I thought could have been different and that was Brian's views on Tommy's spirit.  Brian struggles with Tommy's diagnosis and how God is involved in it all.  At the end of the book, with Clayton McRae's help (the palliative care team pastor assigned to help the O'Connor family), Brian mentions having "embraced the one true and everlasting God" but says he lives knowing Tommy's spirit renews his faith and gives him hope of the future.  I believe it is the Holy Spirit helps us renew our faith and gives us hope, not people we love that may have passed on.  Other than that, this is a great book.  Check it out.

This book was provided by Glass Road Publicity Group for review without compensation.

For Tom Sullivan, an Emmy-nominated actor, singer, author, and producer, the "inconvenience" of being blind has never kept him from competing in a world where he realized that to be equal, for him, meant that he must be better.  His autobiography, If You Could See What I Hear, was adapted into a major motion picture.  Tom is now writing and producing for television and film.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

St. Jude Marathon and 1 Mile Run/Kid's Marathon

This December, Mike is participating in the St. Jude Marathon. The kids and I are doing the Family Race (1 Mile Run/Kid's Marathon). We would love for you to join us by sponsoring us. Click on the link below to go to Mike's page. While there, you can make a donation to help us fight childhood cancer.

This will be Mike's third year to run in the marathon.  This year, the kids said they wanted to participate in the Family event.  So, on December 3rd, all of us will be out in the cold weather.  It is all for a very worthy cause: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

If you aren't familiar with them, check out their website.  They were started by actor Danny Thomas to help cure childhood cancers.  They also work with Sickle Cell Anemia patients.  St. Jude does not turn anyone away, even if you do not have insurance or money to pay.  They have a very high cure rate for some cancers and are constantly researching cures for the rest.  I am very proud of Mike and my family for wanting to help out.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Restless in Carolina Book Review

SUMMARY:  She's all about going green.  Could he be her white knight - or will he make her see red?
     Tree-huggin', animal-lovin' Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is on a mission.  Well, two.  First she has to come to terms with being a widow at thirty-three.  After all, it's been four years and even her five-year-old niece and nephew think it's time she sheds her widow's weeds.  Second, she needs to find a buyer for her family's estate - a Biltmore-inspired mansion surrounded by hundreds of acres of unspoiled forestland.  With family obligations forcing the sale, Bridget is determined to find an eco-friendly developer to buy the land, someone who won't turn it into single-family homes or a cheesy theme park.
     Enter J.C. Dirk, a high-energy developer from Atlanta whose green property developments have earned him national acclaim.  When he doesn't return her calls, Bridget decides a personal visit is in order.  Unfortunately, J.C. Dirk is neither amused nor interested when she interrupts his meeting - until she mentions her family name.  In short order, he finds himself in North Carolina, and Bridget has her white knight - in more ways than one.  But the things Bridget doesn't know about J.C. could mean the end of everything she's worked for...and break her heart.

REVIEW:  This book is awesome and a must read!  I love Bridget.  She is awesome!  I like how she stands firm in her beliefs regarding protecting the environment and doesn't compromise, even though it means it is harder to find a buyer for the family estate. I admire Bridget and the other family membes that help Uncle Obe right the wrongs done by their family over many generations.  Even though Uncle Obe is unable to find one particular family he wants to make restitution to, he is determined to make things right and does follow through when they are found.
    Restless in Carolina is the third book in the Southern Discomfort series.  Having read the first one, Leaving Carolina, I was familiar with some of the characters. After reading this book, the second book Nowhere, Carolina is now on my "to read" list.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Tamara Leigh began her writing career in 1994 and is the best-selling author of more than a dozen novels, including Splitting Harriet (ACFW Book of the Year winner and RITA Award finalist), Faking Grace (RITA Award Finalist), and Leaving Carolina.  A former speech and language pathologist, Tamara enjoys time with her family, faux painting, and reading.  She lives with her husband and their sons in Tennessee and can be found at

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Frustrated But I Understand Why

As you know if you follow my blog on a regular basis (or even a semi-regular basis), I post book reviews for different publishers and publicity groups.  One of my companies has made a change and it works against me.  Waterbrook Multnomah (part of Random House Books) is the first company I started reviewing for two years ago.  I don't remember exactly how participants were notified, if it was by e-mail or if you had to check a website, but I do remember that it was very easy.  Towards the end of last year, they started making changes to the blogging for books program where you had to go to a website to place your order.  You also had the option of having people rank your reviews, if you chose to do so.  It still wasn't a problem.  Well, a few months ago, because of some people abusing the program, the people in charge decided to make changes again.  Now, in order to expand the number and types of books available to bloggers, you have to have your reviews ranked.  I am suppose to put a link on my blog.  If you like my review (or if you don't like it), you click on the link, enter your e-mail (for identification purposes only) and rank it from half a star to five stars.  Not a bad idea but for those of us who either choose not to have their reviews ranked, do not have enough people reading the blogs, or the readers don't want to participate, it penalizes us and limits the books available.

I understand why these new rules were put into place, but I chose not to let my readers rank my reviews.  Most people aren't interested in going to a third website and take the time to post their rank.  I'm not interested in ranking other peoples and figure no one else is either.  To give people the chance (and to see if I am granted access to more books), I guess I will follow suit and post the links.  So, for future book reviews for Waterbrook Multnomah, you will see a link to review my review.  I hope you will rank them for me.

On the upside, Waterbrook Multnomah is now setting aside free copies of various titles to be given to blog readers each month. Whenever anyone reads and ranks my review, they will automatically be entered to win a free copy of the book that I reviewed. They will notify both me and my blog reader by email if one of my blog readers is chosen as a winner. They will take care of shipping the books.  Cool!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chaos Rules Too Much

My house is loud and chaotic.  Three kids, a dog and all the noise they make is only part of it.  We are a family of yellers.  Unfortunately, I'm not talking about the color.  With the exemption of Mike, although he will raise his voice when necessary, the kids and I seem to always yell about something.  If someone is aggravating the others, there is yelling.  If someone doesn't get their way, there is yelling.  If a child is trying to parent one or more of the other children, there is yelling.  We yell at the dog.  We yell when we are mad.  We yell when we want something.  We yell when we don't want to do something.  I yell from one room to get someone from another room, even if they are at the other end of the house.  We are also very critical of and negative towards each other.  It has become such a part of our family that we don't even realize when we do it. This is just not acceptable.

While praying this morning, I apologized to God for all the yelling we do, my critical spirit when it comes to my kids, and how it has bled over to how my kids react and respond to one another.  God speaks to us in a still, quiet voice and that is how we should speak to those around us.  Not knowing how to change myself and my family, I prayed for direction and guidance, along with a HUGE dose of wisdom.  God showed me that instead of pointing out all the negative things the kids do, point out the good things and the not-so-perfect tries and reward them.  He reminded me of the marble jar in my cabinet.  Every time I saw the kids cooperating with each other, doing something nice, talking to each other without sarcasm or venom, etc., I will put a marble in a jar labeled with their name.  At the end of the day, I will total up all the marbles in their respective jars and keep a running total.  When they get to a set amount (say 30 or 50), we will redeem them for somewhere they want to go like Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald's.  Now, if I see or hear them not getting along, I will give them a chance to correct it.  If there is still a problem, I will remove a marble and they have to do a job from my Job Jar.  (The Job Jar is filled with jobs I want done around the house like wash the backdoor windows, clean the walls beside the backdoor, wipe down the baseboards in different rooms, clean the hall bathroom, put up dishes, clean out the microwave, etc.  I stopped using this jar a couple of years ago because the kids would BEG to pick out a job so it wasn't much of a punishment.)

After I got everything ready, I set the kids down and explained what we were doing and why.  So far, there has been a good response.  I have had to get on to the kids a couple of times but not as often as usual.  The volume around here has gone down considerably.  The kids are getting along much better.  I know this is something I will have to stay on top of.  The kids are going to revert back to their old habits and so will I.  But change has got to come so I am hoping I can remain diligent and keep trying.  Kids do not need to be raised in a house full of chaos.  They get enough of it from the world around them.  They don't need it at home too.  This should be a place of shelter, a place to get away from the chaos and find peace. 

Isaiah 26:12a  LORD, you establish peace for us...
Isaiah 32:17  The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
Ephesians 4:3  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Proverbs 16:7  Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Proverbs 3:17  Her (wisdom) ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
Psalm 34:14  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Colossians 3:15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Hebrews 12:14  Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
1 Peter 3:11  They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.
Isaiah 26:3 (HCSB)You will keep in perfect peace the mind [that is] dependent [on You], for it is trusting in You.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Too Rich For A Bride

SUMMARY: The Sinclair sisters of Cripple Creek - Book 2
     With a head more suited to bookkeeping than a bridal veil, Ida's dreams include big business - not beaus.
     Ida Sinclair has joined her sisters, Kat and Nell, in the untamed mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, for one reason:  to work for the infamous but undeniably successful businesswoman Mollie O'Bryan.  Ida's sisters may be interested in making a match for their determined older sister, but Ida only wants to build her career.
     Under Mollie's tutelage, Ida learns how to play the stock market and revels in her promising accomplishments.  Fighting for respect in a man's world, her ambition leaves little room for distractions.  She ignores her family's reservations about Mollie O'Bryan's business practices, but no matter how she tries, she can't ignore the two men pursuing her affections - Colin Wagner, the dashing lawyer, and Tucker Raines, the traveling preacher.
    Ida wants a career more than anything else, so she shrugs off the suitors and pointed "suggestions" that young ladies don't belong in business.  Will it take unexpected love - or unexpected danger - for Ida to realize where her priorities truly lie?

REVIEW:  This is a great book.  Having read the first book, Two Brides Too Many, I was really interested in this one.  I enjoyed the continuation of the Sinclair sisters and how they are adapting to their new home in Colorado.  Ida is a strong woman who knows what she wants in life and is not afraid to pursue it. She is determined to not let anyone stop her dreams of becoming a successful businesswoman, even though it is strictly a man's world.  I love how she stands up for herself but is not afraid to admit when she makes a mistake.  You do not need to read the first book to enjoy this one but it might help explain the backstory of how and why the sisters are in Cripple Creek in the first place.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Over the past twenty years, Mona Hodgson's publishing credits have grown to include nearly thirty children's books, contributions to more than ten books for adults, and historical novels, including her debut,  Two Brides Too Many.  Mona is a popular speaker for women's groups, schools and educators' and writers' conferences.  She lives in Arizona with her husband and has two daughters and several grandchildren.