Saturday, January 5, 2013

I'm Back! Sort of. But Not Here. ;)

I've imported this blog to my old one and moved over to

Check out this post for more info! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore (LitFuse Blog Tour)

Summary: Once you've seen, you can't unsee. Everything changes when you've looked at the world through . . .Angel Eyes

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake.

Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.
A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.

My Thoughts: This debut offering from Shannon Dittemore is fantastic. The first book in a series, it immediately pulls you into Brielle's world with crisp writing and characters that feel authentic. My biggest complaint when I read a book or watch a movie is when the writer neglects to make me care for the characters. No matter how good a plot is, if I don't care I just...well, I don't care! I cared for these characters from the beginning, identifying with Brielle's pain even while remaining clueless (and curious!) as to the cause. The relationship between her and her dad was well done and the spark between her and Jake realistic.

The author's take on angels and demons was fresh without being unbiblical. This is Christian fiction, and it makes no bones about that, and yet it's not overly "preachy". I have always said that a good story is a good story and unless you're easily offended by anything of a spiritual nature, this story should appeal to most fans of "angel fiction" and the paranormal.

I'm a new fan of Shannon Dittmore's and am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series! Recommended.

Celebrate with Shannon  (@ShanDitty) by entering her "Angel Eyes" Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 6/26!

Find out what readers are saying here.

One "angelic" winner will receive:

  • A Brand New Nook Color
  • A copy of Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on June 25th. Winner will be announced at the "Angel Eyes" Author Chat Facebook Party on 6/26. Shannon will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of Angel Eyes and join Shannon on the evening of the June 26th for a chance to meet Shannon and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Storytelling Game: Fabula

I just posted a game review on the Geeks Playing Games site that I think some of you may also like!  Fabula is a storytelling game where one person plays Grimm and the others are his characters doing what characters do best- helping to tell the story and taking it places the author may have never planned.  It would be a great addition to your homeschool language arts as it encourages imagination and creativity. I'm posting a portion here to wet your appetite, but go check out the full review!

The object of this game is to use your imagination. One person plays Grimm and everyone else chooses a story character who will help him tell his tale. There are twelve characters to choose from and they are all beautifully represented by high quality cardboard figures. While the other players are choosing their characters, the player representing Grimm chooses a story card from the absolutely gorgeous offerings. There are ten oversized cards with different renderings on each side, providing twenty stories to choose from. These stories are found in the rule book. I suppose you could choose a story and then find the appropriate card, but we enjoyed choosing based on the art and going from there.
Once the characters and story are chosen, Grimm lays out item cards face up on the table (the number is dependent on how many are playing). He then reads the prologue of the story and shares where he needs chapter one to go (this is all given in the rule book). The characters must use an item card to progress the story in the manner that Grimm has prescribed. There are quill tokens that Grimm may award to the player if he is pleased with the story progression. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quaker Oatmeal Squares #Bzzagent

I've already shared that we're a cereal family, so it should come as no surprise that we were more than willing to try out Quaker Oatmeal Squares when offered via Bzz Agent! These crunchy squares are good when served in a bowl with milk but our favorite way to eat them is straight out of the box. The crunchy sweetness makes a great nutritious snack!

We shared a couple of the mini boxes with friends, who also enjoyed it as a snack, and heard the same thing- the crunch and the hint of sweetness satisfies that snack craving and is healthy at the same time. Give them a try for breakfast with milk but save a bit for later. Grab a book or settle down in front of a movie and snack away. Yum!

Go check out the Quaker Oatmeal Squares Facebook page and get your own FREE sample box! (While supplies last.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

That's Enough

I forgot my name yesterday.

Overtired, over stressed and overwhelmed, it was just a brain blank moment but I've been having too many of those lately and I'm afraid if it continues I really will forget who I am. Who I am has been drowned out by the whispers and shouts of who I'm not. I'm not good enough. I'm not smart enough. I'm not spiritual enough or pretty enough or graceful enough or tactful enough or friendly enough or serious enough or... I'm not enough.

Believe me, I know.

Enough tattoo Pictures, Images and PhotosI sit in tears and wonder why God's placed me where I am when I'm so far from enough and all I want to do is run away, hide from the world in that Hobbit Hole with the well stocked larder and my books, and be alone with my not enoughness.

And then a song invades my heart. When I lose my way and I forget my name, remind me who I am... When I can't receive Your love, afraid I'll never be enough, remind me who I am. If I'm Your beloved, can You help me believe it? Tell me once again who I am to You, who I am to you. Tell me, lest I forget who I am to You, that I belong to You.

And the tears continue, but they turn to tears of wonder that somehow I am enough for Him. That I was enough for Him to love me and allow me to become His child through the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate resurrection power. I am in awe. I don't understand it, I don't always feel it, but somewhere inside me I still know it. Through all my weakness and my failings and my doubt, I am His child.

And that's enough.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Four Sentence Type Scenes (Mama Kat's Prompt)

Mama’s Losin’ It

5.) Who’d talk the most? Pretend three four sentence types–Declarative, Imperative, Interrogative, and Exclamatory–were people. Write an imaginary scene between them. (inspired by


As soon as I read this prompt I knew I wanted to do this with my kids. Fun, creative, and yet a great lesson (or review for the older kids) on the types of sentences. This is a great prompt to share with all my fellow homeschoolers and we really enjoyed it!  I kept it very low-key and low-pressure and we had a great time building silly stories with sentence types. Read on for the results!

Ryan: Has anyone seen my dog?
Nicole: No, but I want coffee.
Taylon: I want a dog!
Sam: Go find his dog. Now.
Ryan: Has anyone noticed we're talking about my DOG?
Taylon: Yes!
Nicole: I will help you find your dog.
Ryan: Do you think my dog is at Stop & Shop?
Sam: Go check.
Ryan: Are you sure?
Nicole: I can only find your dog if I get coffee.
Taylon: Let's have a party!
Ryan: Nicole, why do you need coffee?
Nicole: I love it.
Sam: Go get her coffee.
Ryan: Taylon, I thought we were trying to find my dog?
Taylon: I found your dog!
Nicole: Now I can have coffee.


Pera: Exla, go to the bathroom.
Excla: Okay!!

Exla exits.
Enters Terr and Decla.

Decla: I want coffee.
Terr: Do you want me to go get you coffee?
Decla: I love coffee.

Terr exits.
Enters Exla.

Exla: I was in the bathroom!!

Terr enters.

Terr: Who wanted coffee?
Decla: I wanted coffee.
Excla: Coffee! Coffee!! Coffee!!!
Decla: There is no coffee for you.
Terr: Did you want coffee?
Pera: Go get her some coffee.
Terr: Why?
Exla: I want coffee!!!!
Terr: Okay?

Terr exits.
The end.


Declarative:  So today I saw the cutest guy at the mall.
Interrogative: Did you talk to him?
Declarative: Yeah, his voice was all deep and awesome.
Exclamatory: Oh My Fudgey Gouda! That is legendary!
Interrogative: I know, right?
Declarative: Yeah, he was crazy awesome.
Interrogative: What happened next?
Declarative: I walked away.
Exclamatory: I cannot believe you just walked away!
Declarative: But...he gave me his number.
Exclamatory: That is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
Interrogative: Did you call him yet?
Exclamatory: You should call him!
Declarative: No, I haven't called him yet.
Interrogative: Why not?
Exclamatory: You should call him right now!
Interrogative: Yeah, why not call him now?
Declarative. I don't know. I'm just nervous.
Interrogative: So? If he's hot, why don't you call him?
Exclamatory: Yeah, he must be so hot!
Declarative: He is.
Imperative (the only guy in the room, subjected to this conversation): Shut up. Please for the love of Buddha, just shut up.
Interrogative: Are we annoying you?
Imperative: Just


 "I don't believe in fairies." Dec shook his head at Int, his expression revealing his disdain for the question. Int immediately clapped.

"He must believe in fairies. Make him believe." Imp whispered these words urgently into Int's ear but he merely brushed her away, as though an insect were annoying him.

"He doesn't believe in us!" Ex exclaimed, "We're real! We're right here! Open your eyes!"

"Stop shouting, Ex." Imp demanded. She waved her hand in front of Dec's face. 

"Do you see that?" Int asked hopefully.

"I see nothing," Dec declared, "except you standing in front of me with a crazy face."

"Why am I the crazy one?" Int pouted.

"You believe in nonsense." 

 "Nonsense! He dares call us nonsense!" Ex jumped up, ran towards him as fast as she could, grabbed him by the ankles, and sunk her tiny teeth into his leg. Dec swatted her away and she landed with a thump by his left foot.

"Nasty bugs." Dec said.

"Will you never see? Will you never open your eyes?" Int seemed sad at the thought of living life without seeing fairies.

"You will believe in fairies." Imp spoke into Dec's ear now, her voice firm. "You will believe in us and you will listen to Int."

"Do you hear that?" Int asked, his eyes wide as he stared at Dec and then Imp and back again at Dec. "Do you hear the fairy?"

"I don't believe in fairies." Dec stated firmly and before Int could clap, Imp had fallen dead at Dec's feet. 

"You killed her! You evil brute!"  Ex threw herself over Imp's body, crying, while Int clapped furiously. It was no use.

"Why did you do that?" Int's shoulders dropped and he stared at Dec in despair, "why can't you simply believe?"

"I'm all grown up." Dec said, "I believe in bills and taxes and hard work. I believe in schedules and lists and serious discussions. I do not believe in fairies."

Int clapped, as Ex sighed with relief. Tears pricked at his eyes as he asked, "What kind of life is that?"   

Stand By Me by Neta Jackson (FIRST Wild Card Tour)

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***


As a child growing up on the campus of a Christian school where her parents taught, Neta Jackson began creating imaginary worlds at a young age. Loving horses but not having one, she wrote stories about them instead. By the time she reached high school, she had so honed both imagination and writing skills that when her English teacher submitted one of her stories to a Scholastic magazine writing contest, it won first place. With that first win, Jackson knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she wanted to be a writer. She’s been writing ever since.

After marrying the love of her life, Dave Jackson, the couple chose to settle in the Chicago area where Neta had attended college. Throughout their marriage, the Jacksons have worked together as a team, writing a multitude of books together on topics ranging from medical ethics to stories of gang kids, sometimes sharing the task with other experts who have served as co-writers. Together, they have also penned forty historical fiction accounts of Christian heroes, called the Trailblazer Books, along with another five-volume series called Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes.

These days, both are busy penning their own works of adult fiction. Jackson began her individual effort in 2003 with the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, inspired by her real-life Bible study group, a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women who have played an important role in her life for over fifteen years. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country and the publication of a personal prayer journal for prayer group participants. In 2008, Where Do I Go?, her first book in the four-book House of Hope series, was published. The second book in the series, Who Do I Talk To?, won a Christy Award in 2010 for excellence in Christian fiction. Recently, the fourth book of the series, Who Is My Shelter?, was nominated for Best Inspirational Novel for 2011 by RT Book Reviews. Stand by Me is the first in Jackson’s new SouledOut Sisters series.

The Jacksons have been married 45 years and have raised two children plus a Cambodian foster daughter. They continue to live in urban Chicago where, together, they enjoy writing, gardening and spending time with their grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


How does God expect us to get along with those people who are always causing us pain? Are we supposed to keep helping those who repeatedly take advantage of us? Exactly what is the key to living in peace with difficult people? These are the questions award-winning author Neta Jackson addresses in her latest novel, Stand by Me (Thomas Nelson), the first book of her newest series, SouledOut Sisters.

Inspired by her own Bible study group, Jackson began several years ago to write about a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women in a collection of books known as the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel in 2003, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country. Jackson followed the Yada Yada novels with the four-book House of Hope series. Though the series is not dependent upon its predecessors for understanding, Jackson has used the individual lives of familiar characters to introduce some of the more complex issues prevalent in our modern society. By allowing her characters to lead the way, Jackson has shed light on issues like drug addiction, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and even the racial conflicts that can so easily arise within any culturally diverse group.

In her newest work, Stand by Me, Jackson introduces her readers to Kathryn Davis, a young college student who has left her prestigious Phoenix family behind to move to Chicago after dropping out of medical school against her father’s protests. Her newfound faith in Christ helps temper the realization that she has stepped out of her family’s good graces, but does little to alleviate the pain of their rejection.

When Kat discovers the dynamic multi-cultural membership at Souled Out Community Church, she longs to be part of it. But her unconventional behavior and brash eagerness have not helped her win favor with the church members. And, much to her dismay, Avis Douglass, the one woman in the church whom she most admires and would love to know better, is the one who is the most aloof.

Kat has no idea that, after being confronted by a number of serious problems all at once, Avis and her husband, Peter, are beginning to question God’s will for their lives. Having been recently estranged from her HIV positive daughter and being worried about her welfare, Avis would like nothing more than to quietly retreat into the recesses of her faith and find the answers she seeks. Her attempts to do so, however, are thwarted at every turn by the flamboyant Kat, who has apparently decided to foist herself on their lives whether they want her to or not.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548645
ISBN-13: 978-1595548641



Midwest Music Festival, Central Illinois

Kat Davies ducked into the billowing exhibition tent staked down in a large pasture in central Illinois like a grounded Goodyear blimp. She’d been at the Midwest Music Fest three days already—didn’t know it was a Christian festival until she got here—and needed a little respite from the music pulsing morning-till-night on the Jazz Stage, Gospel Stage, Alternative Stage, Rock Stage, Folk Stage, and a few more she’d forgotten.

Besides, she’d be heading back to Phoenix in two days, and sooner or later she needed to figure out how to tell her parents she’d “given her heart to Jesus” after the Resurrection Band concert last night. Maybe this tent had a quiet corner where she could think. Or pray. Not that she had a clue how to do that.

Kat had a good idea how they’d react. Her mother would f lutter and say something like, “Don’t take it too seriously, Kathryn dear. Getting religion is just something everyone does for a year or two.” And her father? If he didn’t blow his stack at what he’d call “another one of your little distractions,” he’d give her a lecture about keeping her priorities straight: Finish pre-med at the University of Arizona. Go to medical school. Do her internship at a prestigious hospital. Follow in the Davies’ tradition. Make her family tree of prominent physicians proud.

Except . . . she’d walked out of her biochemistry class at UA one day and realized she didn’t want to become a doctor. She’d tutored ESL kids the summer after high school and realized she liked working with kids. (“Well, you can be a pediatrician like your Uncle Bernard, darling,” her mother had said.) And the student action group on the UA campus sponsoring workshops on “Living Green” and “Sustainable Foods” had really gotten her blood pumping. (Another one of her “distractions,” accord- ing to her father.)

Was it too late to pursue something else? Her parents were already bragging to friends and co-workers that their Kathryn had received her letter of acceptance into medical school a few months ago. Feeling squeezed till she couldn’t breathe, she’d jumped at the chance to attend a music fest in Illinois with a carload of other students—friends of friends—just to get away from the pressure for a while.

What she hadn’t expected was to find so many teenagers and twenty-somethings excited about Jesus. Jesus! Not the go- to-church-at-Christmas-and-Easter Jesus, the only Jesus she’d known growing up the daughter of a wealthy Phoenix physician and socialite mother. That Jesus, frankly, had a hard time com- peting with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

But these people talked about a Jesus who cared about poor people. A Jesus who created the world and told humans to take care of it. A Jesus who might not be blond and blue-eyed after all. A Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor”—and that neighbor might be black or brown or speak Spanish or Chinese. A Jesus who said, “All have sinned” and “You must be born again.” The Son of God, who’d died to take away the sins of the world.

That Jesus.

That’s the Jesus she’d asked to be Lord of her life, even though she wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. But she desper- ately longed for something—Someone—to help her figure out who she was and what she should do with her life. The guitar player in the band who’d challenged the arm-waving music fans last night to be Christ-followers had said, “Jesus came to give you life—life more abundantly! But first you must give your life to Him.”

That’s what she wanted. Abundant life! A life sold out to something she could believe in. To give herself to one hundred percent. So she’d prayed the sinner’s prayer with a woman in a denim skirt whose name she never learned, and a “peace like a river” f looded her spirit.

Last night, anyway.

But by the light of day, she was still heading in a direction—medical school—that she didn’t want to go.

Big fans circulated the air in the large tent, though mostly it just moved the stif ling July heat around. Thick, curly strands of her long, dark hair had slipped out of the clip on the back of her head and stuck in wet tendrils on her skin. Redoing the clip to get the damp hair off her neck and face, she wan- dered the aisles, idly picking up brochures about Compassion International, Habitat for Humanity, and YWAM. Huh. What if she just dropped out of pre-med and did something like this Youth With A Mission thing. Far from Phoenix and the Davies Family Tradition. Go to Haiti or India or—

“Nice boots,” giggled a female voice nearby.

Kat glanced up from the brochure. A cute brunette with a shaggy pixie cut grinned at her from behind a booth that said Find Your Calling at CCU! Kat self-consciously looked down at the Arizona-chic cowboy boots peeking out beneath her designer jeans and f lushed. Ever since she’d arrived at the fes- tival, she felt as if she’d walked into a time-warp—girls in tank tops, peasant skirts, and pierced nostrils, guys wearing pony- tails, tattoos, shredded jeans, and T-shirts proclaiming Jesus Freak. Kat had felt as conspicuous as a mink coat in a second- hand store.

“Thanks. I think.”

The young woman, dressed in khaki Capris and a feminine lemon-yellow tee, laughed. “This your first time to the Fest? Where’re you from?”

Kat felt strangely relieved to be talking to someone else who didn’t look like a throwback to the seventies. “Phoenix. First time.”

“Wow. You came a long way.”


“Detroit. But during the year I’m a student at CCU in Chicago. I get a huge discount off my festival fee if I sit at this booth a couple hours a day during the Fest.” The girl grinned again and extended her hand across the stacks of informational literature. “I’m Brygitta Walczak.”

Kat shook her hand. “Kathryn Davies. But my friends call me Kat. With a K.”

“Like ‘kitty kat’ ? That’s cute. And . . . blue eyes with all that dark, curly hair? Bet the guys love that.”

Ignoring the remark, Kat glanced up at the banner above the booth. “What does CCU stand for?”

“Chicago Crista University. Usually we just call it Crista U. Located on the west side of Chicago. I’ll be a senior next year. Christian ed major.”

“Christian ed? What’s that?”

“You’re kidding.” Brygitta eyed her curiously. “Mm. You’re not kidding. Uh, are you a Christian?”

Kat allowed a wry smile. “For about twelve hours.”

The pixie-haired girl’s mouth dropped open, and then her amber eyes lit up. “That is so cool! Hey . . . want a Coke or something? I’ve got a cooler back here with some soft drinks. Wanna sit? I’d love some company.”

Brygitta dragged a folding chair from an unmanned booth nearby, and Kat found herself swapping life stories with her new friend. Unlike Kat, who had no siblings, Brygitta came from a large Polish family, had been raised in the Catholic church, “went Protestant” at a Youth for Christ rally in high school, planned to get a master’s degree at Crista U, and wanted to be a missionary overseas or a director of Christian education somewhere.

“Sorry I’m late, Bree,” said a male voice. “Uh-oh. Two gor- geous females. You’ve cloned yourself. I’m really in trouble now.”

Kat looked up. A young man about their same age grinned at them across the booth. He was maybe six feet, with short, sandy-brown hair combed forward over a nicely tanned face, wire-rim sunglasses shading his eyes. No obvious tattoos or body piercings. Just cargo shorts and a T-shirt that said CCU Soccer.
Brygitta jumped up. “Oh, hi, Nick. This is Kat Davies. She’s from the University of Arizona, first time at the Fest. Nick Taylor is my relief. He’s a seminary student at Crista—well, headed that way, anyway.”
Nick slid off his shades and flashed a smile, hazel eyes teasing. “So, Miss Blue Eyes. Has Brygitta talked you into coming to CCU yet?”

Kat laughed and started to shake her head . . . and then stopped as her eyes caught the logo on the banner across the booth. Find Your Calling at CCU.

Transfer to Crista University? Why not?


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