My Top 10 books for 2009

A few of my friends have posted their "Top 10" lists, so I thought I would join in the fun! To see their lists, please visit: Lee and Angie.

Here's my "Top 10" list:

1. Daughters of Boston series, books 1-3 by Julie Lessman
2. Heart of the West series, books 1-2 by Maggie Brendan
3. Beyond This Moment (Timber Ridge Reflections, Bk 2) by Tamera Alexander
4. Fools Rush In (Wedding by Bella, Bk 1) by Janice Thompson
5. Montana Rose (Montana Marriages, Bk 1) by Mary Connealy
6. Belles of Timber Creek series, books 1-2 by Lori Copeland
7. The Seaside Letters (A Nantucket Love Story) by Denise Hunter
8. Stand-In Groom (Brides of Bonneterre, Bk 1) by Kaye Dacus
9. Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay & Rene Gutteridge
10. A Bride of Honor by Ruth Axtell Morren

Yes...I'm aware that I've "cheated" somewhat by counting series as ONE book, but I just couldn't help myself! Please feel free to post your list in the comments here, or post the link to you blog post...we would all love to see your "Top 10" books for 2009!

**Be sure to read my reviews for most of these books**



I will be spending time with family most of the day today, and tomorrow, but I wanted to wish all of my friends and followers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Have a safe and happy Holiday!!


I'm Reviewing: The Sheriff's Surrender (Ladies' Shooting Club, Bk 1) by Susan Page Davis

The Sheriff's Surrender
(Ladies' Shooting Club, Book 1)
by Susan Page Davis

Christian Fiction/Historical/Romance/Suspense

Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Copyright 2009
Pages: 319
ISBN: 9781602605626

From the author's website:

A murder in Fergus, Idaho, has the town’s women scared. But the men don’t seem able to stop the rash of thefts, assaults, and vandalism that follow. Half a dozen women band together to arm themselves against trouble. The gunsmith's plain sister, the emporium's owner, a couple of rancher's wives and saloon girls take their shooting lessons seriously. The men are skeptical at first and slightly amused. The new minister's wife shocks the town by joining the club, and other women follow her lead. When they show no sign of letting up on their drill, the men beg the sheriff to disband the club and put their women back where they belong. Those are fighting words to the ladies. Domestic rebellion threatens until a new murder grabs everyone's attention. Will the sheriff and his men find the killer and put him away? Or will that honor belong to the Ladies' Shooting Club?

My Thoughts:

I have eagerly been awaiting the release of this book! At first, I thought I was going to be disappointed...but, the more I read the better it got. I wanted this book because I thought it was going to be a Historical Romance, but as it turns out, it's more of a Romantic Suspense/Mystery than just a Romance, in my opinion. It took me awhile to get into the story, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. Now I'm looking forward to reading the next book, The Gunsmith's Gallantry, due for release in June 2010.

When The Sheriff's Surrender begins, we find Gert Dooley sighting in a rifle that her brother, Hiram, has just repaired. As it turns out, Gert is proclaimed to be a sharp-shooter in Fergus, Idaho. One of my favorite aspects of the story is the repartee between siblings, Gert and Hiram...it's so sweet how they understand each other.

Once folks start getting murdered, the ladies of Fergus come to Gert, asking her to teach them how to shoot, in order to protect themselves when their men aren't around to do so. Most of the men in town frown upon such behavior, but the ladies stick to their scheduled meetings, and start learning how to shoot all types of guns under Gert's expert tutelage.

After the sheriff is murdered, Ethan Chapman is elected as the interim sheriff until a permanent replacement can be found. He's not particularly looking forward to his new job, but soon becomes engrossed with finding the heartless killer. When the town council starts pressuring Ethan to find the killer, or they will elect his replacement, Gert and The Ladies' Shooting Club offer their services as his deputies, along with a handful of Fergus' upstanding businessmen.

Once the mystery started playing out, I was quickly drawn into trying to decipher who the killer was. As it turns out, I was right! I love when that happens. :) If you enjoy reading suspense/mysteries, with light romance, this series will be for you. Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself as an early Christmas gift!

While I was reading Ms. Davis' newest release, I couldn't help thinking back to her Frasier Island series...which I absolutely loved...they also have a Romantic Suspense theme, but are set in a Contemporary environment.

To find out more about Ms. Davis, or her books, please visit her at:

** I would like to once again apologize to Angie, and Barbour Books, for my delay in posting this review. I would also like to thank them for providing my copy of The Sheriff's Surrender, via FIRSTWildCard Tours. **


2010 Romance Reading Challenge

This will be my first Reading Challenge for 2010. I absolutely love reading Romance, so this should be a very fun Challenge for me! Here are the guidelines:

* Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

* There are four levels:

-- Curious – Read 3 Romance Fiction novels.

-- Fascinated – Read 6 Romance Fiction novels.

-- Addicted – Read 12 Romance Fiction novels.

-- Obsessed – Read 20 Romance Fiction novels.

* Any book format counts.

* You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

* Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

* When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to the post about the Romance Reading Challenge. Include the URL so that other participants can find join in and read your reviews and post.

Since I love reading romance books (all genres), I'm choosing the Obsessed level. My TBR selection is large, so this should be fairly easy. I plan to keep up with how many books I read in 2010...not just romances though...any/all books I happen to read. I've never done this before and I'm curious as to how many books I can read in a year. This should prove to be interesting; if I can remember to keep up with them all!


FIRSTWildCard Tour: The Sheriff's Surrender by Susan Page Davis

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:

The Sheriff’s Surrender

Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***


Award-winning author Susan Page Davis is a mother of six who lives in Maine with her husband, Jim. She worked as a newspaper correspondent for more than twenty-five years in addition to home-schooling her children. She writes historical romances and cozy mysteries and is a member of ACFW. Visit her Web site at

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602605629
ISBN-13: 978-1602605626


Fergus, Idaho

May 1885

Gert Dooley aimed at the scrap of red calico and squeezed the trigger. The Spencer rifle she held cracked, and the red cloth fifty yards away shivered.

“I’d say your shooting piece is in fine order.” She lowered the rifle and passed it to the owner, Cyrus Fennel. She didn’t particularly like Fennel, but he always paid her brother, the only gunsmith in Fergus, with hard money.

He nodded. “Thank you, Miss Dooley.” He shoved his hand into his pocket.

Gert knew he was fishing out a coin. This was the part her brother hated most—taking payment for his work. She turned away. Hiram would be embarrassed enough without her watching. She picked up the shawl she had let fall to the grass a few minutes earlier.

“That’s mighty fine shooting, Gert,” said Hiram’s friend, rancher Ethan Chapman. He’d come by earlier to see if Hiram would help him string a fence the next day. When Cyrus Fennel had arrived to pick up his repaired rifle, Ethan had sat down on the chopping block to watch Gert demonstrate the gun.

“Thank you kindly.” Gert accepted praise for shooting as a matter of course. Now, if Ethan had remarked that she looked fine today or some such pretty thing, she’d have been flustered. But he would never say anything like that. And shooting was just work.

Fennel levered the rifle’s action open and peered at the firing pin. “Looks good as new. I should be able to pick off those rats that are getting in my grain bins.”

“That’s quite a cannon for shooting rats,” Gert said.

Ethan stood and rested one foot on the chopping block, leaning forward with one arm on his knee. “You ought to hire Gert to shoot them for you.”

Gert scowled. “Why’d I want to do that? He can shoot his own rats.”

Hiram, who had pocketed his pay as quickly as possible, moved the straw he chewed from one side of his mouth to the other. He never talked much. Men brought him their firearms to fix. Hiram listened to them tell him what the trouble was while eyeing the piece keenly. Then he’d look at Gert. She would tell them, “Come back next week.” Hiram would nod, and that was the extent of the conversation. Since his wife, Violet, had died eight years ago, the only person Hiram seemed to talk to much was Ethan.

Fennel turned toward her with a condescending smile. “Folks say you’re the best shot in Fergus, Miss Dooley.”

Gert shrugged. It wasn’t worth debating. She had sharp eyes, and she’d fired so many guns for Hiram to make sure they were in working order that she’d gotten good at it, that was all.

Ethan’s features, however, sprang to life. “Ain’t it the truth? Why, Gert can shoot the tail feathers off a jay at a hundred yards with a gun like that. Mighty fine rifle.” He nodded at Fennel’s Spencer, wincing as though he regretted not having a gun as fine.

“Well, now, I’m a fair shot myself,” Fennel said. “I could maybe hit that rag, too.”

“Let’s see you do it,” Ethan said.

Fennel jacked a cartridge into the Spencer, smiling as he did. The rag still hung limp from a notched stick and was silhouetted against the distant dirt bank across the field. He put his left foot forward and swung the butt of the stock up to his shoulder, paused motionless for a second, and pulled the trigger.

Gert watched the cloth, not the shooter. The stick shattered just at the bottom of the rag. She frowned. She’d have to find another stick next time. At least when she tested a gun, she clipped the edge of the cloth so her stand could be used again.

Hiram took the straw out of his mouth and threw it on the ground. Without a word, he strode to where the tattered red cloth lay a couple of yards from the splintered stick and brought the scrap back. He stooped for a piece of firewood from the pile he’d made before Fennel showed up. The stick he chose had split raggedly, and Hiram slid the bit of cloth into a crack.

Ethan stood beside Gert as they watched Hiram walk across the field, all the way to the dirt bank, and set the piece of firewood on end.

“Hmm.” Fennel cleared his throat and loaded several cartridges into the magazine. When Hiram was back beside them, he raised the gun again, held for a second, and fired. The stick with the bit of red stood unwavering.

“Let Gert try,” Ethan said.

“No need,” she said, looking down at her worn shoe tips peeping out beneath the hem of her skirt.

“Oh, come on.” Ethan’s coaxing smile tempted her.

Fennel held the rifle out. “Be my guest.”

Gert looked to her brother. Hiram gave the slightest nod then looked up at the sky, tracking the late afternoon sun as it slipped behind a cloud. She could do it, of course. She’d been firing guns for Hiram for ten years—since she came to Fergus and found him grieving the loss of his wife and baby. Folks had brought him more work than he could handle. They felt sorry for him, she supposed, and wanted to give him a distraction. Gert had begun test firing the guns as fast as he could fix them. She found it satisfying, and she’d kept doing it ever since. Thousands upon thousands of rounds she’d fired, from every type of small firearm, unintentionally building herself a reputation of sorts.

She didn’t usually make a show of her shooting prowess, but Fennel rubbed her the wrong way. She knew he wasn’t Hiram’s favorite patron either. He ran the Wells Fargo office now, but back when he ran the assay office, he’d bought up a lot of failed mines and grassland cheap. He owned a great deal of land around Fergus, including the spread Hiram had hoped to buy when he first came to Idaho. Distracted by his wife’s illness, Hiram hadn’t moved quickly enough to file claim on the land and had missed out. Instead of the ranch he’d wanted, he lived on his small lot in town and got by on his sporadic pay as a gunsmith.

Gert let her shawl slip from her fingers to the grass once more and took the rifle. As she focused on the distant stick of firewood, she thought, That junk of wood is you, Mr. Rich Land Stealer. And that little piece of cloth is one of your rats.

She squeezed gently. The rifle recoiled against her shoulder, and the far stick of firewood jumped into the air then fell to earth, minus the red cloth.

“Well, I’ll be.” Fennel stared at her. “Are you always this accurate?”

“You ain’t seen nothing,” Ethan assured him.

Hiram actually cracked a smile, and Gert felt the blood rush to her cheeks even though Ethan hadn’t directly complimented her. She loved to see Hiram smile, something he seldom did.

“Mind sharing your secret, Miss Dooley?” Fennel asked.

Ethan chuckled. “I’ll tell you what it is. Every time she shoots, she pretends she’s aiming at something she really hates.”

“Aha.” Fennel smiled, too. “Might I ask what you were thinking of that time, ma’am?”

Gert’s mouth went dry. Never had she been so sorely tempted to tell a lie.

“Likely it was that coyote that kilt her rooster last month,” Hiram said.

Gert stared at him. He’d actually spoken. She knew when their eyes met that her brother had known exactly what she’d been thinking.

Ethan and Fennel both chuckled.

Of course, I wouldn’t really think of killing him, Gert thought, even though he stole the land right out from under my grieving brother. The Good Book says don’t kill and don’t hate. Determined to heap coals of fire on her adversary’s head, she handed the Spencer back to him. “You’re not too bad a shot yourself, Mr. Fennel.”

His posture relaxed, and he opened his mouth all smiley, like he might say something pleasant back, but suddenly he stiffened. His eyes focused beyond Gert, toward the dirt street. “Who is that?”

Gert swung around to look as Ethan answered. “That’s Millicent Peart.”

“Don’t think I’ve seen her since last fall.” Fennel shook his head. “She sure is showing her age.”

“I don’t think Milzie came into town much over the winter,” Gert said.

For a moment, they watched the stooped figure hobble along the dirt street toward the emporium. Engulfed in a shapeless old coat, Milzie Peart leaned on a stick with each step. Her mouth worked as though she were talking to someone, but no one accompanied her.

“How long since her man passed on?” Ethan asked.

“Long time,” Gert said. “Ten years, maybe. She still lives at their cabin out Mountain Road.”

Fennel grimaced as the next house hid the retreating figure from view. “Pitiful.”

Ethan shrugged. “She’s kinda crazy, but I reckon she likes living on their homestead.”

Gert wondered how Milzie got by. It must be lonesome to have no one, not even a nearly silent brother, to talk to out there in the foothills.

“Supper in half an hour.” She turned away from the men and headed for the back porch of the little house she shared with Hiram. She hoped Fennel would take the hint and leave. And she hoped Ethan would stay for supper, but of course she would never say so.

*** I apologize for not having my review ready to post, but due to unavoidable circumstances, my review will be posted at a later date. I hope to have it ready to post within the next week, so please drop back by to check it out. Thank you! ***


A-Z Wednesday

This really fun book meme is hosted by
Vicki @ Reading at the Beach.

The rules are pretty simple...

1. Visit Vicki to get this week's letter.
2. Browse through your shelves for a book that starts with this week's letter.
3. Post the following info about the book you've chosen on your blog:
~ Photo, synopsis/description, link (Amazon, Christian Books, Borders, etc.)
4. Hurry back to Reading at the Beach and post a comment with a link to your post.

The Smart One and the Pretty One

by Claire LaZebnik

Womens Fiction/
Chick Lit

5 Spot
Pages: 304

From Amazon:

In the winning latest from Knitting Under the Influence author LaZebnik, sisters Ava and Lauren Nickerson look a lot alike, but hyperpractical attorney Ava, 29, wears dowdy clothes and holds men at arm's length, while flashy, debt-ridden boutique owner Lauren, a few years younger, goes for the quick romantic fix. Drawn together in L.A. by their mother's illness, they determine to straighten each other out. Soon Ava ropes Lauren onto a budget, while Lauren, having uncovered a playful contract in which their parents jokingly betrothed Ava at age eight to a neighbor's young son, decides to find out if the grown-up two—who are strangers—might indeed make a match. The fact that fiancĂ©-designate Russell Markowitz proves to be twice-divorced presents no obstacle to Lauren, especially after she learns that he works in the clothing industry and might be of assistance in making over Ava. Despite the lightweight premise, moments of real depth combine with witty dialogue as LaZebnik deftly spins each turn convincingly to avoid easy answers.

Ava is the smart sister, an L.A. lawyer who hasn’t dated in years. Lauren is the pretty sister, an unemployed New York stylist buried in debt. Lauren returns to L.A. when their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. Between chauffeuring her to chemo appointments, Lauren finds an old “contract” betrothing Ava to Russell, the son of family friends, and decides a reunion is in order. Though Ava finds herself uncharacteristically falling for Russell, she can’t believe a man would choose her over her glamorous sister. She nearly lets her skepticism ruin her shot at love until Lauren meddles again. LaZebnik, author of Knitting under the Influence (2006), writes a funny and endearing novel that truly captures the devotion and rivalry between sisters.

Whether they relate to the smart one or the pretty one (or both), readers will find this book irresistible. --Aleksandra Walker


A-Z Wednesday

This really fun book meme is hosted by
Vicki @ Reading at the Beach.

The rules are pretty simple...

1. Visit Vicki to get this week's letter.
2. Browse through your shelves for a book that starts with this week's letter.
3. Post the following info about the book you've chosen on your blog:
~ Photo, synopsis/description, link (Amazon, Christian Books, Borders, etc.)
4. Hurry back to Reading at the Beach and post a comment with a link to your post.

Reclaiming Nick
(Noble Legacy series, Bk 1)
by Susan May Warren

Christian Fiction/

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc
Copyright 2006
Pages: 384

(from Amazon):

Nick Noble hadn't planned on being the prodigal son. But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle--the Noble family ranch--to Nick's former best friend, he must return home to face his mistakes, and guarantee that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family. Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she's determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she thinks. So does resisting his charming smile. As Nick seeks to overturn his father's will--and Piper digs for answers--family secrets surface that send Nick's life into a tailspin. But there's someone who's out to take the Silver Buckle from the Noble family, and he'll stop at nothing--even murder--to make it happen.

***This is an excellent trilogy! It's my all-time favorite books by Susan May Warren. Be sure to grab your own copies when you have a chance.***


My Review: The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh

The Unfinished Gift
by Dan Walsh

Christian Fiction/Christmas/Historical

Revell Publishing
Pages: 249
ISBN: 9780800719241

(from Amazon):

Patrick Collins is seven years old, and on his Christmas list are only three items. He wants the army to find his father. He wants to leave his grandfather's house. And, for reasons even he doesn't understand, he wants the soldier that's tucked away in his grandfather's attic.

Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gift tells in an engaging, simple style the story of a family, and reminds us of the surprising things that affect powerful change in our hearts--like a young boy's prayers, a shoebox full of love letters, and even an old wooden soldier, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of forgiveness will engage readers everywhere.

My thoughts:

I wasn't sure what to expect when I agreed to review this book for Revell, but it was a Christmas-themed book, so I decided I couldn't possibly go wrong. Well...I was correct...this is an awesome book!! It's my favorite Christmas book, so far, for 2009! If you haven't read this book yet...I highly recommend it. It will bless your heart as it has blessed mine.

The Unfinished Gift is a very heart-warming, emotionally-charged Christmas book. There was not a dull minute to be found, and it was very hard to put down once I finally had time to sit down and read it. Be sure you have some tissues handy...you will probably need them! Don't let this turn you away from reading the book though...it's not depressing in any way...it's just so touching that you can't help become involved in the characters lives. I felt like I was right there in the thick of it with Patrick, Kathrine, Ian, and Mrs. Fortini.

I don't want to go into much detail because I would hate to give anything away. This is a book that is best if you start it without too much information...that way you get the whole effect of the story, fresh, from beginning to end. One thing I will say is that Mr. Walsh has a sequel due to release in June 2010, The Homecoming, and I can hardly wait to catch up with these wonderful characters!

If you would like to find out more about Dan Walsh, and his debut novel...please visit him at:
His website
His blog

** I would like to thank Revell for allowing me the opportunity to read/review this wonderful book. **


Let's Say Thanks......in support of our Troops!!

This website gives you the opportunity to choose/send a
handmade card to a soldier for FREE, telling them
"thank you" for their service to our great nation.

There are many different cards to choose from,
so please be sure to click the image above
to visit their website and choose your very own
card to send.

I've already chosen my card/message and sent it on it's way!!
Now it's your turn. :)

Here's the card I chose:

Isn't it great? The artist lives not far from me!


My Review: The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson

I'm slowly working on my Reading Challenge...
here's my latest accomplishment:

The Christmas Dog
by Melody Carlson

Christian Fiction/Contemporary

Revell Publishing
Pages: 172
ISBN: 9780800718817

(from Amazon):

Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. There's church, of course. But who can she bake for these days? And who would care whether or not she pulled out the Christmas decorations? Her new neighbor just adds to the problem. He's doing home improvements that don't appear to be improving much of anything. These days when Betty looks out the window, she sees a beat-up truck, a pile of junk, lots of blue tarps, and--horror of horrors--an old pink toilet. But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn a very important lesson about what Christmas is all about. This contemporary Christmas story is a timely yet gentle reminder that God can work miracles through something as seemingly insignificant as a little brown dog.

A little before seven on Monday morning, Betty woke to the sound of someone trying to break into her house. At least that was what it sounded like to her. . . . It was that scruffy dog again. Jack Jones's mongrel. The dog crouched down, whimpering, and despite Betty's bitter feelings toward her neighbor, she felt a tinge of pity for the poor, dirty animal. And Betty didn't even like dogs. "Go home, you foolish thing," she said. "Go bother your owner." The dog just whined. Betty knelt down with the screen still between her and the dog. "Go home," she said again. "Shoo!" But the dog didn't budge. And now Betty didn't know what to do.

My thoughts:

This was only my second Christmas story for 2009...I'm so far behind! I've usually read at least a handful by now. I like to start in November, but I have been busier than usual this holiday season.

At first I didn't think I was going to enjoy The Christmas Dog; it just didn't grab my attention at the beginning. I had to "force" myself to keep reading, but I eventually got into the story. However, even though it carries a really touching message, the story seemed really rushed and sporadic to me. I would have loved to spend more time with Betty, Avery, Ralph, and Jack. When the book was drawing to a close, I felt like I had just started to truly get to know them. In my opinion, this could have been an excellent story if it had only been longer.

On the other hand, I think Melody's message of finding out what Christmas is truly about is easily seen throughout the book. Betty quickly learns that it's not such a great idea to judge her new neighbor by his attitude or actions. It takes her granddaughter Avery's compassionate heart to get her to see Jack in a completely different light. Needless to say, my favorite character in The Christmas Dog was Ralph...the "star" himself. He is what kept me reading to the end; I wanted to see what he would be up to next.

If you're looking for a quick, heart-warming read, you really should pick up your own copy of The Christmas Dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, or her other books, please visit her at: Her website

** I received my review copy of The Christmas Dog, compliments of Revell **