Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shadowed by Grace by Cara C. Putman

Shadowed by Grace is the first in a stirring new series of stand-alone historical suspense novels by acclaimed author Cara C. Putman. Desperate to save her dying mother, Rachel accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy to captures images dangerously close to the front lines of WWII. Her real motive – to find the father she never knew -- an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive. It’s an unlikely situation for love and faith to flourish, but soon Rachel not only finds herself, but also her long-lost earthly father, and ultimately, the man her Heavenly father created to cherish and provide for her.

For Cara's story and more about her books, visit

To purchase your copy of Shadowed by Grace click here!

My Review

Shadowed by Grace paints a timeless romance in the midst of destruction with colors so vivid you feel like you're living the story along with the characters. Cara Putman balanced rich historical facts with fiction beautifully. I received a history lesson without feeling like I got one. This story shows the sacrifice so many made, and reminds us that even during hardship, God's grace is always working for the good of His children.

I gave this book 5 stars!

Get your kids involved in history with a "monumental" scavenger hunt!

The Monuments Men story is a great one to teach children about the importance of preserving things for future generations. It's also a lesson that can be learned hands-on. To get my boys involved, I first showed them photos of famous artwork. Then, they chose which work of art they wanted to recreate. 

Boy #1 "Starry Night" Van Go

Boy #2 Monet painting

Boy #3 (not sure what this is)
Next, we rolled the artwork individually, secured them with rubber bands, and I hid them around the house. The boys took turns finding the artwork. But it didn't stop there. My boys--being 150% male--hid in the shadows while the other was seeking the artwork and blasted him with Nerf artillery, like real soldiers. They wanted to take it all a step further by hiding the artwork in the woods, but the weather wouldn't allow.

If you get the opportunity, try this with your kids. They'll not only have a fun time but they'll learn something as well.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Deep in the Heart by Staci Stallings

Just out of college and completely alone in the world, Maggie Montgomery has one shot left to save her life from an abyss of poverty and hopelessness. Clinging to the last shred of fuel and hope, she arrives at the mansion of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayers. Although Maggie is clearly not what Mr. Ayers and his wife have in mind for a nanny, they agree to hire her temporarily until they can find someone more appropriate to fill the position. However, Maggie’s whole world is about to be up-ended by two way-over-scheduled children and one incredibly handsome hired hand. As she struggles to fit into a world she was never made to fit in, Maggie wonders if she can ever learn to become a perfect version of herself so she can keep the job, or is she doomed to always be searching for a life she can never quite grasp?

My Review
This is an age-old story of two people raised on opposite ends of the social spectrum who fall in love--with a twist I didn't see coming. Maggie accepts the nanny job with only $2 to her name and instantly falls in love with her charges, who have deep-rooted emotional issues despite their want-for-nothing status. Their much older brother, Keith, who's about to marry a politician's daughter and hasn't felt welcome in the family since the death of his mother, falls for Maggie's gentle spirit and motherly nature. As they spend time together on outings with the kids, Keith questions his motivation for marrying his fiance. Will his friendship with Maggie turn into something more? Or will he discover he's right where God wants him to be?
I'll let you find out.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love is Like a Box of Chocolates

We all know the famous line from Forest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

True. However, the same can be said of love. When we open our hearts and put ourselves out there, we're not guaranteed to receive the same affection in return. We've all had our hearts broken in some way or another. And we've all loved someone or something (a person, a pet, a toy) with such passion, being without that object of affection is like missing a piece of us.

As a romance author, and admirer of all things chocolate, I was inspired to compare the calorie-filled delights to love. Or at least that's what I told my hubby. It's actually just an excuse to buy a heart-shaped box of chocolate to indulge my sinful habit with the excuse of "research."

Let's begin with the types of chocolate (we're going to be basic here). Dark chocolate-- considered the most reserved of all chocolates, containing no milk and less sugar. This reminds me of a demure individual. They contain the same basic ingredients we all do, they just don't wear them on their sleeves. (My husband, for example.)
Then there's milk chocolate--a rich, creamy base that's dramatic and only tolerated in small quantities. This reminds me of those of us who feel all emotions on a deeper level and aren't shy about sharing those emotions. (This is me. Good thing opposites attract.)

Next, let's move on to the surprises inside.
*Lemon Creme-- tart and zesty, this confection reminds me of childhood. An active, energetic love. For our parents and best friends (human and furry). This love can taste sour at times as we learn and grow.

*Orange Creme-- a tart-to-sweet flavor with a strong taste. This chocolate reminds me of being a teenager. Strong, robust, and still learning to love.

*Coconut Creme-- sweet and exotic, this reminds me of meeting that special someone you ultimately give your heart to. Rich and perfect, some would refer to this love as the honeymoon stage.

*Molasses-- tough and sticky, this chocolate is like the situations we sometimes find ourselves in. The ones that pull us out of the honeymoon stage and challenge that love through the muck called life. But once this confection has been conquered, it leaves a smooth, sugary after-taste for enjoyment.

*Pecan and Peanut Clusters-- crunchy and nutty, this reminds me of those silly moments of love, carefree and comical. These make the molasses moments more endurable.

*Mint Creme-- cool and refreshing, this delight is a comforting love. Like a warm hug and the feeling of being safe in your love's arms.

*Caramel-- smooth and rich, this chocolate is the love that's endured several years. Slightly sticky as it moves through life, yet sweet and trusted to satisfy.

*Raspberry Creme-- sweet and fruity, this confection reminds me of the love that blossoms the first moment we gaze into our children's faces. Their velvety smooth skin and rosy cheeks are sugar to our hearts.

*Truffle-- rich and sophisticated, this reminds me of a true and pure love that's stood the test of time. No romance is more inspiring than one that's weathered every storm, memorized every happy memory to a golden anniversary or beyond.

*Chocolate Covered Cherry-- (I didn't come up with this one on my own, but it's too good not to share.) Decadent and creamy, the cherry represents the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for our sins, washing us white as snow (the pearlescent cream) to save us in a dark (chocolate) world.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
May you never look at a box of chocolates the same way again.

Which is your favorite flavor?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Top Valentine's Day Picks For 2014

Valentine's Day is almost here! Here are a few of my faves recommended to sweeten you amour celebration.

Captivating from the first page, both characters match wits with their opposite personalities and spark enough conflict--and romance--to keep the pages turning. Just be careful not to burn the book!

The classic plot of two kindred spirits born on opposite sides of the track--with a major plot twist I didn't see coming! Beautiful and heart-warming, this book will have you rooting for both characters till the end.


A romantic comedy set in the gorgeous countryside of Ireland. This movie is one of my absolute favorites and never fails to provoke a sigh at the end.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride...until a nosy reporter barges into her life. Full of comedy, romance, and two sisters battling for dominance, this is a great movie for date night.

Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Bars

These are amazing! Though dieters beware. For the full recipe, visit

What are your Valentine's Day go-to's?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nowhere, Carolina by Tamara Leigh

Maggie Pickwick is a lifetime away from her days as head cheerleader and the mistakes she made in high school. Twelve years later, this single mom has traded pompoms for an auctioneer’s gavel, popularity for peace and quiet, and strives to be a good example for her daughter Devyn. She’s keeping it together just fine, too—until an old flame moves back to her little North Carolina town.

Renowned artist Reece Thorpe wants nothing to do with Maggie—not after what she did to him in high school—but he might also be Devyn’s father. Fed by her own pride and fear for her daughter’s happiness, Maggie finds herself on a slippery slope of white lies as she attempts to convince Reece that she’s changed. But the truth has a way of making itself known, and now Maggie’s past and present mistakes could ruin her chance at love.

My Review

I love a character who's flawed because, face it, we all are. And Maggie has certainly made her share of mistakes. But what matters is that we learn from our mistakes, and Maggie does an excellent job of that also. Or does she? Her tangled web of past deceits is very sticky. Can a blast from her past untangle her mess for a happily-ever-after in the middle of Nowhere? 

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars!