Traces of Guilt


I love Dee Henderson’s books.  This was my third, and I haven’t changed my mind yet!  Traces of Guilt has been a very interesting read for me.

Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police Detective . . . mostly. She’s very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he’s sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have. . . .

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it’s to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state.

Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff’s department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie’s determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers.

First of all, I have to say that even though I knew when I got this book it would be a romantic suspense, I’m pleased that the romantic side of it wasn’t played out how it could have been.  Sometimes, a romantic plot line in an otherwise very intriguing story can be a distraction, and I’m glad that Henderson opted not to go that route here.

Another thing I liked was that I would just get to a point (and this happened several times) where I thought I had figured out what would be coming next.  I thought I had the story figured out.  I thought I had the cold cases solved.  I should have known better for most of the times, as I often wasn’t even halfway through the book yet, so I’m not sure what there would have been to write about if the cases were solved halfway through.  Each time I thought I had it figured out, I’d get confident, and then my theory would be blown out of the water.  I loved it!

I also loved how Dee Henderson is able to weave characters from previous books into the plot of a totally separate book, but without distracting from the arc of the main characters.  I was thrilled to see Paul and Ann Falcon back, as I’d first encountered them when I read Unspoken this summer.  They’re not in all of her books — they weren’t present in Missing, but it was nice to “see familiar faces” as much as one can when reading a book.  I enjoy the Thane brothers as characters as well, and hope to find them in future books as I read more and more from Henderson.

I highly recommend this book!  It’s long, but it’s a good read and worth every page🙂

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Domino Effect


In a world that clearly remembers recessions and housing market bubbles that we still see the effects of today, I thought that this book by Davis Bunn, The Domino Effect, would be an interesting read.  The premise sounded like a good, thrilling movie — in fact, I vaguely remember seeing a movie that the book’s description reminded me of, but… I can’t remember the name of the movie, haha.

I don’t know much about this world — the world of finances, investment banking, stock market decisions, and the like.  But I do appreciate that Davis Bunn is able to deliver a plot that isn’t hard to find through the technical jargon.  I’ve found that with some books — it’ll be on a topic I don’t really understand, and then it ruins the book, but that was not the case here.  An author who can sell me on a topic where I’m clueless is good in my books!

This is a suspenseful and intriguing book, and it keeps readers going — needing to find out what Esther’s next move will be, and how that will play out on the pages as you turn them.

I own another Davis Bunn book, it’s just been buried in my piles of books for a long time.  I think it’s about time it finds its way to the surface of the pile!

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Book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc., and Baker Publishing Group.

If I Could… (this book lover’s dream book conference)


If I could choose a panel of my favourite authors, and I got to invite them to speak at a conference that I designed, oh the fun that I could have…

 

I had to mull this one over, because there are a few ways I could spin this, but I think I’ve nailed it down….

My ideal book conference would be two days long, and there would be vendors and publishers everywhere at the conference centre for the two days.  We’d be at some big, fancy hotel in Toronto, or even somewhere nicer (which wouldn’t be hard).  During each day of the conference, there would be workshops that you could sign up for in advance, on many, many topics.

Some such topics might include:  Publishing your first novel; How to create meaningful character arcs; Narrative nonfiction; How to Write an Engaging Travel Essay; Blogging; Creative Writing; The Autobiography; The Biography; Editing; Self Publishing; Networking and Making Good Contacts; What To Do When Someone Says No; Poetry… and the opportunities here are endless.

It would likely have to be marketed as a women’s conference, as you’ll find when I get to the end of this day-dreamy post that all the authors are women, and gear their writing toward women, but if men wanted to join, they’d be more than welcome.

Mixed in with the vendors, there would also be publishers kicking around who are looking for fresh talent.  They’d be at booths, accepting manuscripts for review.  There would be contests to enter manuscripts into, in all sorts of genres.  Book lovers would be in their glory.

Scattered around the Conference Grounds would be “Reading Nooks” where you could take one of the many books you’d bought at the conference, and curl up in a big, comfy chair that enveloped your entire body, and read for an hour or two.  Meals would even have a brown bag option, so that you could take it to go, and go curl up with a book while you ate.

Keynote conference panels would happen on Friday night, and on Saturday night.  And the vendors and publishers’ booths, which were open Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and until noon on Sunday, would all close down to encourage people to go listen.

My two panels would be these:

  1. Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst, Holley Gerth would all unite to talk about being women in the church.  Each woman has a unique twist and spin to their views, but they all have very valuable things to say, and an audience of Christian women who needs to be encouraged.  Especially by Sarah Bessey.  In fact, I might let her speak on being a woman in the church on Sunday morning, before I sent everyone back to their homes, their lives, and their families.
  2. Irene Hannon, Sarah Sundin, Lisa Harris, Dani Pettrey, Dee Henderson, Lynette Eason, and Sandra Orchard would each explain their path to being successful romantic suspense writers, and they’d talk about the elements necessary in a suspenseful novel that keeps you craving the end of the book, but yet hooked enough on the journey that you would never DARE look to the end of the book to find out what happens.  They would talk about how to research your characters and your storylines well, particularly in the context of historical fiction like Sarah Sundin’s, so that a reader with knowledge on the time period or the topic, even on the setting, wouldn’t be able to find major holes in your story.  Attendees would be able to submit questions online ahead of time, maybe via Twitter, or something a little less instantaneous like a Google Form.  It would be included in the registration process — if you had a question, you could ask it, and it might be answered by one of the panel members.

Finally, and we mustn’t forget this…… the Meet and Greets!  Each author from each of the two panels would have booths, and upon registration you could select your top 4 authors, and be scheduled a meet and greet with two of them at some point during the conference.  To pick the brain of Ann Voskamp and find out what it really means to be living a life full of thankfulness… or of Jen Hatmaker, and talk about what it really means to live out love in your community… or of Sarah Bessey, to find out more about the journey this fellow Canadian took on the road to embracing her Biblical womanhood.  In the sense that it was intended.  You could chat with Dee Henderson, and find out how to weave a character’s story through several novels, without that character being the primary focus of a book.  Or you could have coffee with Irene Hannon, and discover how to switch from straight up romance to romantic suspense, without leaving your readers wishing you’d just stuck to what you were really good at.

OH!  And the conference would be small-ish, because in order to guarantee the meet and greet schedule it would have to be.  It would probably be outlandishly expensive, and not profitable for all those vendors and publishers, but hey…. a girl can dream, right?

 

 

I was approached to write this post by a contact from Eventbrite, “the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world that helps people find and plan events and conferences.”  (Her description).  I was asked who my favourite author was.  If I could choose a few to put on a panel and have them talk to a crowd, who would I choose?  What would we talk about?

I was given free rein over the post, and all ideas are my own.

Your Powerful Prayers


I must admit, I’ve pretty much blazed through this book.  My first book for October’s reviews was so emotionally charged, and so challenging for me, that it took the bulk of the month, and I did not get to this one until the last couple days.

This book is brilliant.  There is so much beautifully interwoven scripture in here, and there are so many challenges to really take your prayer life seriously, laying everything out for God, and to pray boldly and courageously.  There are so many practical suggestions on how to achieve this, and so many well-integrated promises, breathed by God, written in scriptures for us to cherish and pray through…

The reflection questions are deep.  I haven’t had a chance to go through them and answer them, but I’ve read them.  Rest assured though, that I am going to take my time journaling through those questions and really praying through them.  I want to harness the power of prayer in a way I never have before.

If I’m honest, I never feel worthy of big, bold prayers.  I feel as though they almost have no place coming from me.  This book resonated with me on so many levels and challenged me to throw that thinking away.  I won’t be able to do it alone, but through prayer, I’m hoping to find the me that God intended.

I recommend you give this book a read.  I also recommend, though, that while it may be tiny, it is mighty, and you’ll want to give it time so you can be reflective with it.  What I probably should have done is worked through this one while I was taking breaks from the heaviness of the first one I read this month.  Lesson learned😉

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Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Wreck My Life


What a ride this book was.

I selected it from a list of possible titles for the month because the synopsis looked like I’d be able to relate on a few levels to the author, Mo Isom.  I’m thinking specifically of the terrible car accident she experienced, but I figured if I could relate to even one part of someone’s story on a deep level, it would be a good autobiography to read.

What I did not expect was how this book would wreck me.  Mo Isom described that car accident in such detail that I put the book down and didn’t pick it back up for almost two weeks.

Her struggle with her quest for control of her life and using food to get there, though to a much deeper extent than mine, resonated hard with me, and I put the book down again.

To be perfectly honest, I nearly didn’t finish the book.  It was such a roller coaster of emotions for me, in a way that no book has ever wrung me before, that I just didn’t want to deal with it.  It felt too overwhelming.

But I persevered, and I’m glad that I did.  The tagline to the title of the book is ‘Journeying from Broken to Bold,’ and so I should have known that the latter half of the book would be full of encouragement for how turning toward God and letting Him have control, letting him work in and through her circumstances would bring about an outcome positive enough to write about.  The back cover explains “Mo reminds us that the brokenness is actually the very place God meets us the most, and the place where we can find Jesus like never before.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever struggled behind closed doors with anything, whether you can relate to her circumstances specifically or not.  It’s worth the read right to the very last page, as I found the last chapters so deeply encouraging.

I find that I’m filled with empathy for Mo’s story, and yet I’m so glad that she’s been able to find the good so that she could share that with so many people in ways she’d never have seen coming while she was planning her own life.

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

A Sunday Horse


A Sunday Horse is a movie based on the true story of a girl who just wanted to be with horses.  She’s an accomplished competitive horse jumper, but doesn’t have the money to get into the sport, so to be around the sport and the animals, she’ll do anything — muck stalls, exercise horses, she doesn’t care.  I was given the opportunity to review it by Mongrel Media Inc. in conjunction with Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

When she’s given the opportunity to take a chance on a horse that is worthless to everyone around her, she jumps at it and goes on to surprise everyone with how well she and her horse perform!  She says “if I’d seen a burning bush, I’d have been more inclined to reach for a hose than the voice of God.”  But she found God in a whole new way when she started on her show jumping journey.

A tragic accident leaves her fighting for her life, and unsure of whether she’ll ever be able to ride again, let alone compete.  This is a beautiful story of perseverance, determination, willpower, and the drive to succeed.  Debi Walden believed it was God’s plan for her to compete in horse jumping with second-chance horses, and she pursued that plan with everything in her.  It was heartbreaking through the movie to watch most of the people around her tell her she couldn’t do it, even after she begins to prove them wrong.

She overcomes many obstacles in this movie, and I think it’s an anthem for women everywhere who need to prove that they can do things that only men are supposed to be able to do.

I love movies that are based on a true story.  I love movies with animals, and movies about sports where the underdog rises up to prove everyone wrong.  Overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to accomplish your dreams is an admirable trait, and Debi Walden possessed it in hordes.

I recommend this movie!  The plot was solid (hard not to be when based on real life), and most of the acting was excellent.  The lessons of perseverance, determination, and faith were well portrayed without being over-done and in your face.  William Shatner was weird as usual — I don’t really understand him, or his continuing to be cast in things… but that’s a totally separate issue here.  Nikki Reed and Ryan Merriman did a great job in their roles, Ving Rhames stole the show as Mr. Valentine in my opinion — I loved what he brought to the story — and Linda Hamilton did a beautiful job of showing that the support of a loving mother is deeply impacting in our lives.

Check out the trailer below.  Have you seen it?  What did you think?

Wheat and Dairy Free Adventures — comfort food edition


It’s been a long while since I posted about food finds.  This is mostly due to the fact that it is summer, and it is so hot that I have not wanted to turn on my oven or use any heat of any kind, so I’ve been living off of wraps with lunch meat, hot dogs on the barbecue (I love hot dogs…. please don’t judge me… I know… I get it.  Just…. forget you read it, lol you won’t change my mind.)

I have stored up a few for you over the last few weeks… only two of which actually requires using an actual oven.  Which, if it’s as hot where you are as it has been here in Southern Ontario, I beseech you — keep the oven use to a minimum.  More actual recipes, rather than just products, will come in the fall.

First of all — pizza.

Almost two weeks ago now, I was at a friend’s house, and there was vodka involved, and I ate pizza.  Real, delicious pizza.  With real wheat and real cheese.  It seemed like such a good idea at the time……… It wasn’t.  I’ve vowed that I will not be that foolish again, and finally caved and tried Daiya’s pizza.  I haven’t tried it yet because it’s typically fairly expensive, and they only have a few varieties.  Since I’m one of the pickiest people I’ve ever met, the idea of having to eat Supreme, Spinach and Mushroom, Margherita, Fire Roasted Vegetable, or Mushroom and Roasted Garlic pizza… just to get pizza… makes me sad.

So I bought a cheese lovers pizza.  And I put chicken on it.  I would have also put bell peppers and bacon on it, because to me — that’s a pizza.  But we didn’t have either of those options while I was at my parents’ house.  So I put chicken on it.  I’ll try it again, and I’ll dress it up exactly how I want it, but I will not try one of their ready-made flavour options because there’s just too much mushroom, onion, and tomato involved.  No thanks.

Anyway, here’s my cheese lovers + chicken.
Know what’d be awesome??  If Daiya made a Hawaiian!  All you haters of pineapple on pizza… your comments will be deleted😉

Verdict:  It was tasty.  I’ll buy it again — and I’ll put ham and pineapple on it!

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Daiya Cheeze Lover’s Pizza
Purchased at:  Sobey’s
Price: 8.99 (on sale)     *note:  I find this expensive.  However, since my alternative anywhere else is ordering a pizza on a cardboard-like gluten-free crust with no cheese, I’ll take it.  It’s a good special occasion type deal.

For Dessert — Peach Crisp

I love peaches.  I know I shouldn’t love inanimate objects, and there’s something deeply disturbing about overthinking the concept of loving something you’re about to destroy.  Death by chewing sounds like love to me.  But at any rate… I love peaches. But out of season, I do not love peaches.  I get that other regions in other countries can grow them for longer than a month.  I understand that thanks to modern transportation and shipping techniques, I can get peaches most months of the year.  But I don’t buy them, because there is NOTHING on this Earth like a fresh, juicy, local, in-season, Niagara Region peach.  Thank you, Lord, for Vineland.  Concord Grapes and peaches arrive in grocery stores and farmers markets at the same time, and I am in fruit oasis.  My two favourites, all at once.  Pretty much all I eat for a month is peaches and concord grapes.  And then they go away in early September and I’m left to hope for August to come around once again.

Since it is that time, I am currently on a mission to do everything I could do with other fruit with peaches instead.  That leads me to peach crisp.

This is my mother’s recipe, adapted from an apple crisp, and I made it dairy free.  To do so, I used Becel Vegan margarine.  Now — hear me clearly, I don’t love margarine.  I don’t find it tastes amazing, and when cooking or baking, I typically substitute coconut oil instead.  However, for ease for everyone, I have left a tub of vegan margarine at my mother’s, and at my grandmother’s, and that way whenever they would use butter in a recipe, they just grab my margarine and no one is afflicted by my being complicated.

Please note the addition at the top of the recipe — I found I needed to bake this way longer than my Mom did.  I’m not sure if it was that I used more peaches than she did, or that the vegan margarine didn’t crisp as well as the butter that she used when she made it the first time.  Either are possible.  Just check on it at the 25 minute mark, then go 5 more minutes at a time until it looks crisp and crunchy and golden, like any good crisp should.

If you’re completely gluten free, make sure you get gluten free oats.  I am more of what we’d call “gluten conscious.”  Sometimes I’m conscious that it’s in my food, and then there are consequences, but I’m not as much of a stickler as I likely should be.

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I went to a friend’s house two days after making my own peach crisp, and it turns out she loves local peaches as much as I do, and she also made us a peach crisp.  She used cinnamon instead of brown sugar in the oat topping, but she added a delightful addition.  She bought me So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

Now, it’s expensive, but not really any more so than a similar-sized tub of Haagen Daaz so I guess it’s all about perspective😉

What a NICE touch!

Please note:  The coconut milk ice creams (as well as the cashew ones, I’ve found) tend to freeze REALLY solid.  Even running the ice cream scoop repeatedly under hot water, I was still getting more ice cream slices and shavings than scoops.  I recommend pulling it out of the freezer in advance of serving it to let it thaw a bit so you can actually get the scoop into it.  But it’s delicious.

I’m not sure where my friend got hers, but I have found it at Sobeys, Metro, and Zehrs.

If you’d prefer to use whipped cream rather than ice cream on your crisp, I recommend Gay Lea’s Coconut Cream whipped cream.  Completely dairy free as well.  It has more of a coconutty taste than the ice cream does though, so I’m not sure I’d prefer that on peach crisp.  I didn’t try it, but I did have it on just plain peaches the other day and it was tasty.

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I bought mine at FreshCo, but I’ve seen it pretty much everywhere.

For Another Dinner… Meatball Subs!

Something I’ve missed dearly since going wheat and dairy free are meatball subs.  They were the ultimate comfort food for me.  Crappy day?  Stop at Subway.  Don’t want to cook?  Stop at Subway.  It’s probably for the best that I can’t do that anymore, but the fact remains that I have missed them.  Determined to make them on my own, I made them twice in the last couple days and have some tips to ensure your success.

You will need…..

  1. Gluten Free Sandwich Buns.  I prefer the ones by Promise because they don’t fall apart.

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I’ve only found them at Metro.  They aren’t cheap — 3.99 for 3 buns.  But they’re tasty.  I’m over it.

Tip:  You’ll want to toast the bun a little first.  My initial attempt left me with a soggy seam along the edge of the bun because I put meatballs, sauce, peppers, and “cheese” on the bun then put it in the broiler, and the moisture from the sauce soaked into the bread.  If you toast your bread first, and put your sauce in the microwave to get it warm first so all the broiler has to do is melt the cheese, you’ll have a much more successful and much less messy sub.

2. Meatballs — I have a bunch of pins on my Pinterest board for how to make my own Gluten Free meatballs — but why?  PC Blue Menu has done the work for me.  These are my favourite meatballs since going gluten free, and they cook reheat in the microwave in like a minute and a half.  How do you argue that?

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Note:  I know they’re PC, so that would make you think “sweet, I can get them at No Frills!”  I have not found this to be true.  I have only ever seen them at Zehrs.

3. Spaghetti Sauce.  This is really up to you, it doesn’t matter what kind you use.  This is my favourite, because it’s cheap and delicious.

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4.  Green peppers — diced, not sliced.  Trust me, the chunks of pepper stay in the sub way better than slices.  I didn’t take pictures of the peppers.

5. Cheese.  I used Daiya’s mozzarella style shreds.  I’ve used the cheddar shreds before and I don’t like them, but I have no issue with the mozzarella.  Maybe I will have to give the Monterrey jack a try as well!

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Found at:  Farm Boy or Goodness Me.  I haven’t found it in any mainstream grocery stores.

So here are the steps I used:

  • cut open the bun and toast it (I have a toaster oven — I imagine you could use your oven’s broiler if you don’t)
  • heat the meatballs in the microwave from frozen (about a minute and a half, rotating half way through).  NOTE:  Do not stuff this bun with meatballs.  It WILL fall apart.
  • Put about 5 meatballs on the toasted sub.
  • Heat the sauce in the microwave in a bowl for about 45 seconds (make sure you cover the bowl with paper towel or something to save yourself the splatters)
  • spoon sauce over the meatballs
  • add diced green peppers on top of the sauce
  • cover with mozzarella shreds and put in the broiler until the cheese is melty.  Everything else was cooked and warm, so that is the only thing it needs to be in there for.  If you leave it in for too long with the sauce sitting on the seam of the bun, it will get soggy.
  • Make sure you have napkins ready.
  • If you’re looking a wine pairing for any of my recipes, I hate wine.  I have paired with Jack Daniel’s Watermelon Punch cooler, and with Cherry Coke.  Both are excellent options😉

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And ….. I found……. VEGAN BAILEY’S

It’s here.  It’s arrived in Canada!  Words can’t describe my excitement to be able to drink Bailey’s again.  Gosh, this post makes me sound like an alcoholic… I promise I’m not.

But…. the possibilities here are endless.

I haven’t opened it yet, I haven’t tried it.  It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m trying to contain myself.  But…. Irish Coffee?  yes, please!

On shelves at your local LCBO now.  Check out The LCBO website to check store availability and see if it’s close to you.  I know it’s just arrived in the last two weeks because I asked about it a couple weeks ago, having seen it in an American blog post, and the staff had no idea what I was talking about.

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Alright!  That’s all I have for you today!  What are your favourite comfort foods?  Can I help you make them gluten or dairy free?  I’m getting really good at that! 🙂

Check out So Delicious, Daiya, and Promise for other products in the same vein as these.

God’s Not Dead 2 ~ a Review


I was recently given the opportunity to watch and review God’s Not Dead 2.  In preparation for watching it, I decided to watch God’s Not Dead, because I hadn’t seen it yet.  If you haven’t seen the first, and you’re deciding whether you’d like to see God’s Not Dead 2 anyway, I encourage you that there isn’t anything in the first that you couldn’t glean from reading the IMDB synopsis that is necessary to the plot of the second.

God’s Not Dead 2 focuses on the same issue — people being asked to deny the existence of God — only this time it’s a high school history teacher whose answer to a question about Jesus lands her in trouble with her school board, and ultimately the ACLU.

Repeat characters include Martin, Reverend Dave, Reverend Jude, Amy, and The Newsboys have all come back for this sequel, and I have to say that I absolutely LOVE Martin.  I’m so glad the writers worked him back in.  Further, I haven’t seen Melissa Joan Hart (Grace) in anything since Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that when it was running, I’m pleased to say she’s grown up a lot and she was an excellent choice for this role.  Another excellent choice was Jesse Metcalfe as Tom.  He plays a lawyer who, while not a believer, will NOT give up on his fight to make sure Grace keeps her right to believe in Jesus.

The movie rang a little close to home for me, as a public elementary school teacher.  I’m reminded often (in my own thoughts) of the need to be careful and not be proselytizing, but just like in this film, there’s a line.  I’m careful not to cross it, but this film made me wonder if I shouldn’t be as careful?  That’s something I need to think through on my own, for sure.

I recommend the movie.  It will give you food for thought, as it did for me.

Here are some quotes I found pretty powerful — but you’ll have to watch the movie for context and to understand them😉

“The thing about atheism is it doesn’t take away the pain; it just takes away the hope.”

“If we stand by and do nothing, the pressure that we feel today will be persecution tomorrow.”

“You of all people should realize, when you’re going through something really hard, the teacher is always quiet during the test.”

What Matters Most


If you like politics, suspense, and a dose of some scandal, this book will be a great fit for you.  The whole thing read like an episode of the TV show Scandal, which I’m hooked on, except it was far more appropriate and less actually scandalous than Scandal tends to be.  It didn’t make me feel like I was doing something wrong like sometimes Scandal does….. but that’s a song for another time.

Kellie Coates Gilbert delivers a page-turner that had me unwilling as well as unable to stop reading from cover to cover because I just needed to know what happened next.  Case in point, I didn’t need to have this book finished and reviewed until the end of September…. and it’s August 10th.  I read it in like 2 days.  It was great.

Leta Breckenridge thinks she’s finally caught a break from the pressures of working 2 jobs that don’t pay enough to cover her expenses plus the long-term care costs of supporting her mother who suffers from dementia.  She finds a high-paying job at an Austin, Texas PR firm, and it seems like it’s too good to be true!  She can’t believe her good fortune.  “But her seemingly ideal job turns into a nightmare when she learns the firm is a front for a political opposition organization–and that the research she’s been collecting will be used against Nathan Emerson, the handsome senator she’s swiftly falling in love with.”

With a story line that clips along at an excellent pace, protagonists with integrity and passion, and antagonists that will boil your blood, Kellie Coates Gilbert has delivered one punch of a political suspense romance — which may be my new favourite genre.  I highly recommend you check it out for yourself, and if you do, please let me know what you thought!  Did you love it as much as I did?

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Her One and Only


I have a friend who’s been telling me to grab hold of one of Becky Wade’s books for a long time, because she highly suspected that I’d love her work.  I haven’t had a chance until now, because I value the review program I’m part of, and until summer hits, I don’t have time to read more than what I’ve committed to.

As luck would have it, one of my books for this month happened to be a Becky Wade book, so I was fortunate to get to try this great author out!

Becky Wade is a brilliant writer.  Can I be her when I grow up?  My friend was right.  I love Becky Wade.  I have another of her books in my Kindle, waiting for the month of August when my plan is to do little else but read🙂

Her One and Only is a bit of an unconventional, but great nonetheless, love story featuring an NFL player (Gray Fowler) and an executive protection agent, as Dru Porter would call herself.  Bodyguard – to the rest of us.  Apparently this is Porter Family Book # 4 — I can assure you that you don’t need to have read the others to understand this book, though I plan to read them at some point for sure!

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.

Wade writes with beautiful detail — but not overwhelming detail — about the saga that Dru and Gray go through to keep Gray safe and alive.  There are shots of humour mixed in as their personalities work together, and also good helpings of suspense as the reader wonders what will happen next!  It also really got me thinking about forgiveness, grace, and letting people past the walls we put up to stop ourselves from getting hurt.

The only arguments that I can make against this book are as follows:

  1. I didn’t understand all of the NFL jargon — I don’t understand football, and to be honest I’m not sure I’ve ever made it through an entire game.  This did not, however, interfere with my understanding of the story.
  2. I’ve read a few books lately where the female lead character is a bodyguard for a big, strapping guy who feels like he should be able to take care of himself and certainly doesn’t need a woman to do it.  I can’t say that I love the opposite end of the spectrum, where the female lead is completely helpless and dependent on the male lead for her happiness, support, etc…. but I wonder if there’s anything out there where there’s a balance.  A book with a strong female lead, who just has a strong personality, but doesn’t necessarily have to be a butt-kicking black-belt former-Marine bodyguard to do it.

Any suggestions?

All in all though, I LOVED this book, and I highly recommend both it and, if this is any indication, Becky Wade in general.

HerOneandOnlyCover

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.