Review: The Channel

The Channel—Stories from L.A. by Susan Alcott Jardine
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5

the channel

The Channel is a collection of short fictional stories, some with a touch of paranormal. Some will make you cry, some will make you think, and some will make you smile. Susan is a wonderful storyteller with a talent for leaving her readers with questions and possibilities in their minds but ending the stories with a satisfying close.

Content: Clean

Recommendation: Ages 14-Adult


Review: Cheating Death

Cheating Death by Sanjay Gupta   cheating death
Genre: Medical, Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from goodreads):

An unborn baby with a fatal heart defect . . . a skier submerged for an hour in a frozen Norwegian lake . . . a comatose brain surgery patient whom doctors have declared a "vegetable."

Twenty years ago all of them would have been given up for dead, with no realistic hope for survival. But today, thanks to incredible new medical advances, each of these individuals is alive and well . . .Cheating Death.

In this riveting book, Dr. Sanjay Gupta-neurosurgeon, chief medical correspondent for CNN, and bestselling author-chronicles the almost unbelievable science that has made these seemingly miraculous recoveries possible. A bold new breed of doctors has achieved amazing rescues by refusing to accept that any life is irretrievably lost. Extended cardiac arrest, "brain death," not breathing for over an hour-all these conditions used to be considered inevitably fatal, but they no longer are. Today, revolutionary advances are blurring the traditional line between life and death in fascinating ways.

Drawing on real-life stories and using his unprecedented access to the latest medical research, Dr. Gupta dramatically presents exciting accounts of how pioneering physicians and researchers are altering our understanding of how the human body functions when it comes to survival-and why more and more patients who once would have died are now alive. From experiments with therapeutic hypothermia to save comatose stroke or heart attack victims to lifesaving operations in utero to the study of animal hibernation to help wounded soldiers on far-off battlefields, these remarkable case histories transform and enrich all our assumptions about the true nature of death and life.

My Review:

Dr. Gupta takes his readers on a wild ride through modern medical science. I learned so much from this book! It was interesting, fast-paced, informative, but also held a certain amount of adventure and suspense as Gupta tells stories and relates interviews with people who have had amazing experiences with life and death—and in-between. Prepare to have your mind boggled with modern day science written in easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow prose.

Audio review: The audio-book was read by the author, and he is one of the best readers I’ve listened to. Gupta takes pride in his own work, and it shows through his voice. It’s not too fast or slow, is read with energy, and is enjoyable and engaging.

Recommendation: Ages 16+ to anyone who likes non-fiction, medical thrillers, or thrillers of any kind.



About the Author: Sanjay Gupta is an American physician and a contributing CNN chief health correspondent based in Atlanta, Georgia. An assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, he is also a frequent guest on the news program Anderson Cooper 360°. "Charity Hospital" won a 2006 Emmy Award for Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast. From 1997 to 1998, he served as one of fifteen White House Fellows, primarily as an advisor to Hillary Clinton. Gupta currently publishes a column in TIME magazine. He is also host of House Call with Dr Sanjay Gupta. His book Chasing Life was a New York Times and National bestseller. As of January 2009, he has been offered the position of Surgeon General of the United States in the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama; the final vetting is currently under way.


New Winner!

Why is this happening to me? sigh. oh well. new winner of



Lisa B.

I love to photograph my children and flowers, and would love to learn how to take more professional looking photos. Thanks for the chance!!

congrats! E-mail me at before February 2nd with your mailing address and I’ll send it out!



a little out of the ordinary

Geta’s Quilting Studio is having a giveaway for quilted pockets!



aren't they beautiful? wouldn't you like to win one? But the contest ends tonight at midnight! (Jan 30th) Hurry and go enter!


And speaking of Kindles…

If you read Teresa Jackson’s earlier post about the Kindle, you’ll know what I mean ;) Over at Warning:The following blog contains bitter, friendly, sarcastic, and helpful moments here is a giveaway for a Kindle!

Go enter here.


25-hour books

over at 25 hour books is an awesome giveaway where you could win a copy of Soulless, a box of tea, $10 gift card, a beautiful mug, and second place will be two Sookie Stackhouse books. Head on over and enter!


Real Books Vs E-Book Readers - What’s Your Cup of Tea?

I have the privilege of welcoming Teresa Jackson to my blog today with a wonderful and relevant article: Real Books vs. E-books, the topic we’ve all been discussing and worrying over…

Real Books Vs E-Book Readers - What’s Your Cup of Tea?

The only real passion that has stayed with me from my childhood and through all these years is my love for books. All my friends and family members know that I’m happy with a good book and that I really don’t need anything else to be content. But of late, my affinity for books is being questioned, not because I’ve lost my love of reading, but because I’m torn between the e-version and the real thing. My new Kindle is kindling up new feelings in me, but I feel like I’m betraying my one true love and being tempted by a sleeker model because it is more convenient and trendy. And even though I don’t want to accept it, I must admit that the Kindle does have its finer points.

Among its advantages are:

  • You can carry around much more than one book and not add to your burden by a single ounce. kindle
  • You can buy eBooks which are now much cheaper than the paperback version. 
  • You can download any book (that’s available in the eBook format) instantly
    without having to go to a bookstore and buy it off the shelves.
  • You can search for and skip to any part of the book in a jiffy using the tools that are available.
  • Your e-books are all saved in your Kindle account, so you don’t lose access to them even if you misplace your Kindle tool. Of course, you do now have to spend some money to buy a new gadget.
  • If you’re worried about your eyes, the Kindle uses an eco-friendly format called e-ink which is easy to read, even for a prolonged period of time. So try it before you skip it outright.

booksBut then, the merits of good old-fashioned reading still stand:

  • There’s nothing to beat the feel and smell of paper when reading a flesh-and-blood (I use this term because it seems most apt) book.
  • The Kindle and other e-Book readers could set you back by as much as $300. Besides, you also have to pay for the books you download.
  • You cannot build a library, that impressive collection of books, using your Kindle and its listing of eBooks.
  • You are limited to buying only the books that are available in the electronic format with a Kindle. 
  • Although a Kindle can hold a multitude of books, when it runs out of charge, you don’t have access to a single one of them until you recharge the device.
  • There is no strain on your eyes from staring at an electronic screen for the time it takes you to read a book.
  • The Kindle is a little flimsy and delicate, so you risk breaking it if you’re clumsy and not careful with your gadgets.
  • The Kindle can hold only 1500 books, and although this is a large number, it does not allow for memory expansion.

So you can see why I’m torn between something that’s convenient and something that has been around for ages and comforted me through thick and thin. I finally decided to buy a Kindle and put my favorite books on it. But I still make a detour to the airport’s bookstore every time I take a flight – that’s the one concession I’m still going to make for my one true love.


This guest article is written by Teresa Jackson, she writes on the subject of Nurse Practitioner Programs . Email her at



What do you guys think? Do you prefer e-books and Kindles (or any other e-reader) or real books?

Personally, I prefer real books and hope that there are enough people out there like me to keep them from going out of print. Think about Fahrenheit 451. Do we really want that? Because that’s where it’s leading… Big Brother is watching you… ;)







One day I’m going to have an office with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall bookshelves and every book I love will be proudly displayed… and they will be my friends :) Because that’s what books are, right? They’re our friends.






Leave a comment and tell me which you prefer and why.


Review: Bleeding Violet

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Genre: YA, Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 4/5  bleeding violet

My Summary: Hanna is a freak. Diagnosed with Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Hyperactivity, Insanity, and nearly shut away as a maniac-depressive, she runs away from home in search of the mother she never knew. On arriving in her mother’s strange town called Portero, she makes a deal with her mom—if she can fit in with the people in this town within two weeks, she can stay. Her mother scoffs at the idea of Hanna being able to fit into the town—but Hanna soon learns that this has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with the town. Portero is like nothing she’s ever seen or heard of or imagined before. Strange creatures, invisible doors, a police-like force with a strange sense of right and wrong, a boy who she’s not sure if she likes or hates (but knows for sure that he’s hot), and a mayor who thinks she’s a god, Hanna starts her two-week challenge trying to fit in—and ends it trying to save the lives of everyone she loves.


Bleeding Violet was freakishly amazing, morbidly exciting, and realistically romantic.

I love it when the romance between the characters is real—not two perfect people who never fight who get along perfect. No, the romance between Hanna and Wyatt was not perfect, but it was there and it was special, and it was funny.

This whole book was funny. Though parts of it were strange and morbid, a lot of it was moderately confusing in an understandable way (Does that make any sense? probably not. Remember that Hanna is insane. She hallucinates… and makes some pretty interesting things happen near the end. It is confusing because it’s impossible, but understandable because she’s crazy.). I laughed almost the whole way through. It’s light and heavy, witty and serious, all mixed with the color purple.

The characters were my favorite. All the characters were very distinct and different. Sometimes when reading a story, some of the minor characters kind of blend together and seem similar, not defined enough, because they don’t really matter. But in Bleeding Violet, all the characters are distinct. I’m not sure if telling everyone that I identify with Hanna would be a wise idea because it might scare you… but to a certain extent, I did (and do) relate to her. Not just because of my own insanity (mwa-ha-ha!) but because her character was written in a very clear personal way. The story is told from first person inside Hanna’s head, so I knew exactly what Hanna was thinking all the time. Wyatt wasn’t perfect either. He had his flaws and that made him a real person. The change in Rosalie (the mother) was… both interesting and wonderful to see (Trying to keep this spoiler-free… but those of you who’ve read it already know what I mean by “change”).

The plot was engaging and fast paced, but not rushed. The details enhanced the story, rather than slowing it down just for the sake of telling you what something looked or felt like.

Bleeding Violet has a good mix of reality and paranormal. It’s mixed well enough that you can relate to it and it feels like our present day, age, and atmosphere, but the paranormal aspects are still strong and don’t feel out of place.

The low points of the book were the writing, and the ending. The writing was nothing special, but for the most part it was acceptable. The ending wasn’t a let down, but it could have been better. It was cute and sweet, but it didn’t fix all the problems, didn’t answer all the questions, and didn’t have quite enough closure for me. 

Content: There was some sex, but no explicit details. There were some sexual references, moderate language, and some morbid details. Not for the easily offended or the weak of stomach.

Recommendation: Ages 16+ to anyone who doesn’t mind being a little freaked out or surprised by crazy people.

Will I buy this book and read it again? Yes, probably. (I read the e-book copy for review.) It will (hopefully soon) have a permanent spot on my bookshelf.



Mini-review and Tour: Alice I Have Been

*Because of my school schedule, I’m going to post a mini-review of Alice I Have Been and the full review some time later in the week, probably this weekend.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjaminalice i have been



Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.


Alice I Have Been is a fictional memoir-esque adventure exploring the story of the real Alice from Lewis Carroll's classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice is so much more than what we perceive in Carroll’s original story—as a child, she’s a deep thinker, yet brilliantly simple minded with logic that makes no sense but makes more sense than anything else at the same time.

The hero of our story, Mr. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), isn’t the average knight on a white horse—he’s twenty years older than Miss Alice, has a terrible stammer, but somehow manages to delight and enchant the Liddell girls—and his readers—anyway.


For more information, go to Melanie’s website, or click here.



Melanie Benjamin lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons, where she is working on her next historical novel. Visit her website at


**Thank you to Pump Up Your Book for supplying my ARC!**


Full review will come some time later in the week.


Review: The Heights

The Heights—a contemporary imagining of Wuthering Heights
by Brian Jamesthe heights
Genre: YA Fiction, Romance
Rating: 4, DNF


Ah. Again. A high rated book that I did not finish. “Haley what is wrong with you?” Haley stop talking to yourself.

Let me start with the positive: This book is all about the characters. James has taken characters that were only mildly relatable in Wuthering Heights and made them so realistic that you feel everything they feel. This is a mark of a good writer… but also a very painful book. The viewpoint alternates between Henry and Cathy, but it’s not distracting. It’s so easy to get inside their heads and live their lives. Almost too easy.

The negative: It was too painful to finish. I know what’s going to happen because I know the story of Wuthering Heights… and I don’t think I want to live through that. Because I know if I read it, it will feel 110% real. And I don’t think I could handle that.

This book has taken me two days to read… and each time I could only get a little bit farther before I had to stop because I was so angry at the characters for being stupid and prideful and selfish and mean and hateful, that I threw the book across the room. Twice.

I guess this sad love story is just not my kind of love story. Let’s hope I’m not jinxing myself (Haley you know you don’t believe in such things). If you love sad romance stories or love Wuthering Heights, you’ll love this—because this one hurt. I’ll save it for a rainy day when I need to force myself to break down and cry…

Content: Henry has a dirty mouth, but it’s not overdone. No sexual content, and all romance is appropriate

Recommendation: Anyone who wants a good cry… ages 13+

Cover: I know I usually don’t say anything about the cover… but really they could have done better. Henry (Heathcliff) is supposed to be dark skinned with dark hair. The guy on the cover looks nothing like him.
*angry and sad Haley now goes to the corner and pouts and finds a lighter romance to cheer herself up*



Review: Magic Under Glass

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Genre: YA, Fiction, Romance, Fantasy

Rating: 5

magic under glass 

Nimira is nothing more than a show girl in a cheap theatre, being paid pennies and fed food not worth eating to sing and dance for men who have nothing better to do at night. One night a mysterious man named Mr. Parry comes to Nimira and hires her to sing, accompanying an automaton—a  life size mechanical doll—who plays the piano. Every other girl who he has hired has run away screaming, saying that the doll was haunted. Nimira doesn’t believe such things… or does she? She realizes once she starts practicing with him that he is definitely more than a doll. She begins to communicate with him… and soon realizes that she loves him. But how can she set him free from his prison?

Nimira starts trying to uncover the secrets that are surrounding her in this strange house—a wife who is supposed to be dead, a sorcerer who has more control than he should, and a missing fairy prince who may just be trapped inside of a piano playing doll.

Magic Under Glass was an amazing and breathtaking adventure, a parallel universe with a story that I’d love to live in and experience again and again. I really cannot think of the words to describe how much I fell in love with this book and it’s characters!

Jaclyn has found the perfect way create a story that is both plot driven and character driven. The plot was fast, but not too fast. It was steady enough to keep up with, but fast enough to keep you reading. And the characters… goodness they were so special. Every single one of them, even the ones I hated (with a passion). The characters were instantly real people to me, and they became hugely important. The love between Nimira and her automaton is painful but sweet, and utterly romantic.

I would have read this book in one sitting if I had not been interrupted. It instantly draws you in at the first page, and holds you captive until the last.

The writing was detailed and descriptive and made all the words feel beautiful and sensual, like you’re drinking chocolate or breathing perfume while you read.

Ultimately this was a beautiful escape from reality, and I am desperate for the sequel.

Content: no sexual content, and appropriate language (not overdone or overused, I think there was one foul word used only once or twice).

Recommendation: Ages 14+ to anyone who wants a fast enchanting romance worth dying for.





 magic under glass paperback

(Paperback cover. I’m not sure which of the two I like better… So I put them both here. Which do you like?)

**edit: I found out from Katy @ A Few More Pages that the book is being re-printed with a different cover because Nimira doesn’t look like the girl in the top cover. Again, I like both. Although I did keep looking at the cover and thinking “that doesn’t look like her.” The author, however, did send me a character sketch. DSCN0130

So there’s Nimira (with her hair tied back ;D)

Teaser—Bleeding Violet

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

bleeding violet

Love can be a dangerous thing....

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.


“Whose blood is that?”
tell her, Poppa encouraged. I guarantee she won’t care.
”It’s Aunt Ulla’s blood.” I said. “I hit her on the head with a rolling pin.”
I risked another glance into her face. Nothing.
told you.
”And?” Rosalee prompted.
did she want details?
”Aunt Ulla’s blood spurted everywhere, onto my dress, into my eyes.” I blinked hard in remembrance. “It burned.” I fingered the smidges at my waist. “I thought I’d cleaned myself up, but apparently—“
”Hanna.” Dispite her apathy, Rosalee addressed me with an undue amount of care, as though I were a rabid dog she didn’t want to spook. “Did you kill your aunt?”
I ate the last bit of grilled cheese. I liked the grease from my fingers. “Probably.”



Interview and tour: Capturing Karma

I’m so excited to be part of Goddess Fish’s tour for Capturing Karma, by K. M. DaughtersCapturing Karma tour banner 

I had a chance to interview Pat and Kathie about their latest book, Capturing Karma.

Why did you begin writing?

We have written since we were children. We entered essay contests in elementary school, wrote plays for the neighborhood kids to perform while bored during the summer, and wow, some of those exam, “blue books” in college were total fiction, made to sound authoritative, and factual. Becoming a published author has been a life-long dream.

What inspired you to write Capturing Karma?

Capturing Karma is the third book in the Sullivan Boys romantic suspense series. Actually, a person inspired the series, rather than an event or headline, etc. NYT best selling author, Joan Johnston, coached us at an RWA chapter conference, prior to our first agent pitch, after listening to what we had planned to say. When we mentioned the hero’s family’s composition – five siblings all involved in law enforcement careers – she declared, “You don’t have one novel to pitch. You have at least four or five.”

How did you come up with the title?

Matty’s (our heroine) psychic gifts relate to a missing youth’s karma. Our hero, Brian Sullivan, is a homicide detective who has considerable difficulty accepting Matty’s “truths”. Intent on apprehending criminals, how does he capture karma - or whatever Matty’s visions represent?

What books or people influenced your writing? Was it positive influence, or negative?

A virtual library of books influenced our passion to write. Our dad, a fabulous storyteller, captured and nurtured our imagination.

How do you go about researching for your books?

Several wonderful people in our lives consult on our romantic suspense books—a  police Captain and four medical professionals working in diverse specialties. We just completed and contracted on the 4th Sullivan Boys book, entitled, All’s Fair In Love And Law and we consulted with an attorney to research that book. We research via the Internet frequently. Our inspirational romances are set in a fictional village in Croatia, and involved travel to that part of the world. We didn’t realize we were researching while visiting Bosnia Herzegovina. We were inspired to write those books while there, so that’s a case of backwards research.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

No we didn’t. Occasionally we’ll compare physical attributes while envisioning characters to people we know, or in the case of celebrities, we’d like to know.

What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?

To us it’s all about story and voice. If you have a unique story, tell it, hone it, and craft it as professionally as you can. Research publishers and be a stickler for details conforming to each publisher’s, or agent’s, submission requirements. Have faith, no matter what. Don’t give up, no matter what.

Just for fun: What are your ten most favorite things?KM Daughters headshot 2

  1. Spending time with our children and grandchildren.
  2. Dates with our husbands.
  3. Walking together – preferably on the Illinois Prairie Path.
  4. Developing our stories together.
  5. Holding our book in our hands.
  6. Fan mail from readers.
  7. Reading.
  8. Performance reality shows. We love Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol.
  9. Our annual Oscar parties. Just us, dressed in swank pajamas, eating pizza.
  10. Sister trips to anywhere in the country or the world.

Do you have any pets?

Kathie has a Boston terrier named Marty (crazy Marty Feldman eyes). We both adore her.

What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?

Pizza is our fav – liver, whether you smother it with fried onions or not, a vehement least favorite.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

We each have offices in our homes where we write and enjoy hanging framed K.M. Daughters book covers on the walls. Hopefully someday it will make for unusual wallpaper all around.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

No, ma’am. We keep both hands on the keyboard and away from our mouths.

Thank you so much!



book cover banner Capturing Karma copyAbout Capturing Karma: Veterinarian Matty Connors’ visions lead her to homicide detective Brian Sullivan once again despite her resolve to remain anonymous the past four years.  Her official work with the police in California resulted in the brutal murder of her fiancé, and since, a recurrent nightmare she barely survives.  Brian, the reputed ladies man of the Sullivan family, has yet to give his heart to a woman until Matty lays claim to it.  His black-and-white approach to solving crimes doesn’t jibe with Matty’s spooky pronouncements or her reputation for alleged infallibility.  A wild goose chase searching for a murder weapon casts doubt on Matty’s “truths” and threatens their smoldering romance.  Is Brian her nightmare slayer and ultimate truth?  When the puzzle pieces fall in place for Brian, will it be too late to save Matty?









And now,
the giveaway!


Pat and Kathie will be giving away a signed copy of the first book in the series, Against Doctor’s Orders and a silver charm for a charm bracelet to a random commenter, and to the blog with the most comments! Leave a comment for a chance to win!


Interview at The Climbing Rose

Ok so I know it’s a little late because this was posted on Friday… but anyway.


I did an interview with Blaize over at The Climbing Rose (which is such an awesome name for a blog) on Friday, click here to check it out. I ended up sharing some pretty funny memories, like climbing through windows and prom dress disasters and 101 Dalmatians…


Review: Blind Sight

Blind Sight by James H. Pence

Genre: Fiction, Christian, Thriller

Rating: 5

blind sight

Thomas lost his family in a terrible accident two years ago. He’s been living as a hermit, rejecting God, ever since. When he starts getting mysterious e-mails and phone messages from some nut saying that he needs him to save his children, Thomas at first doesn’t believe it. But on a whim he goes to the air port. And there are two children there, waiting for him, calling him “uncle Thomas.”

Thomas is dragged (by the hand of God no less) into this insane mission to save these children from a cult, bring them to their mother who has been living undercover for three years, and expose the lies that the cult has been feeding to the world. But how is he going to keep his sanity when every time he sees the kids, he thinks about his own children and his wife who died at what he sees as his own hand? And what about his forsaken relationship with God?

I’m having a very hard time trying to think of words that describe Blind Sight. It is an incredible story about a terrible loss, but more than a loss of family—a loss of a relationship with Christ, but one that is rekindled to an absolute trust in His sovereignty. Blind Sight had my adrenalin racing through all 400-pages, yet parts of it were so peaceful and uplifting that I went back and read them again.

My favorite character was Micah, the little boy. He and Michelle were twins. He was so trusting, so brave, and so fragile. He couldn’t see, so he learned to rely completely on Michelle’s guidance, and had to learn to trust a man he’d never met before (Thomas). My heart ached for him through the story.

On that note, all the characters had some sort of major flaw that made them definite real people. My heart ached (almost physically) for each of them in a different way.

The writing was contemporary prose, easy to read, fluid, but simple. It wasn’t what made the book a 5-star book, but it didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment.

The narration alternated between several different view points, and left you hanging, making it a compelling page-turner. The viewpoints were not confusing, however, because it was all from third-person perspective. Also because each character was so real, so distinct, it was easy to get inside their heads.

Because of the different view points, there were some sections where I was reading what was going on during the cult’s worship service. It was amazing in a repulsive, nerve-wracking way that sent shivers of disgust down my spine. I hated the cult with a passion, and because of that I related to Justine, the mother, very well. 

The ending was peculiar. Most books leave you with a satisfied smile on your face. This one, not so much. That satisfied smile comes after you’ve set it down and thought about it for a while—and it does stick with you. Pence doesn’t really “finish” the story in the sense that everything is wrapped up completely. You know what will happen in the future, and because of that he doesn’t have to spell it out for you. Once I sat back and thought about what God had in store for these characters and watched it play out in my head, I grinned. It’s wonderful!

Content: 100% Clean!

Recommendation: Anyone ages 10+ would enjoy this! It would be a wonderful read for a family to share, or for an adult looking for a good clean Christian-thriller, or a teenager with the weekend off of homework.


Review: Life’s Captivity

Life’s Captivity by Sharon A. Gricol  life's captivity
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 4

Summary (from Goodreads): What ties us down, holds us back, keeps us prisoners in our own lives? Michael, Ken, Jennifer, and Joe find their lives intricately entwined as they search for answers. All-too human, they falter, fall back, and then find the key. Auto mechanic, bank robber, knockout model, and popular priest-all so different, yet each comes to the same conclusion: Forgiveness is the path to joy in this life, salvation in the next, and love with God everlasting. Sharon Gricol expertly weaves a tapestry of Everyman's quest, filling the pages with richly patterned, true-to-life characters and a message for all time.

Life’s Captivity is inspirational and encouraging. The writing is lyric and rhythmic, and the pacing is relaxed enough to be calm, but fast enough to keep you interested. It is very comforting and uplifting, and a beautiful picture of how Christ works in our lives to make us more beautiful, to bring the lost to Him, and to glorify Himself.

Content: There was some language in certain parts of the book, because of the character who was speaking. I found it appropriate for the situation.

Recommendation: Ages 14+

*Thank you to Sharon and Bostic Communications for providing my review copy!*


Review: Terror by Night

Terror by Night: the true story of the brutal Texas murder that destroyed a family, restored one man’s faith, and shocked a nation.

by Terry Caffey with James H. Pence terror

Genre: True Crime, Christian, memoir


My summary: Terry woke up one night and saw his daughter’s ex-boyfriend standing in front of him with a gun. Charlie shot him several times, killed his wife, then him and his friend brutally killed his two sons. They set the house on fire, thinking everyone was dead. Terry managed to escape by God’s life-preservation alone, and made the long trek through the woods to the neighbor’s house. All Terry wanted was to die and live in Heaven with his family. But he stayed alive through sheer will-power and God’s grace. He made it to the neighbor’s house, identified the killer, then colapsed, hoping never to wake up again.

He woke up.

and He has to live with what happened for the rest of his long life.

Terry suffers from suicidal thoughts and depression, overdoses on his drugs, and can’t sleep at night because of his fear.

But God can take any situation and turn it around… Terry went back to where his house was to have a heart-to-heart with God. Terry found something there that was preserved through weeks of rain and wind, and yet was still readable. It was a page from James Pence’s novel Blind Sight (though he didn’t know it at the time) and the first lines he read were these: “I couldn't understand why You would take my family and leave me to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don’t totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You’re sovereign; You’re in control.” Terry eventually found out through some hard hunting that the character in the book who was speaking had lost his wife and children. It was as if that book was written about him.

Terry’s life changed drastically. He went into ministry, he got re-married… and he learned what unconditional love, forgiveness, and trusting God really meant.

Review: Terror by Night was an absolutely stunning book in every sense of the word. The awful things that happened to Terry, and how God restored him, are amazing. Terror by Night is like Job all over again. God took everything away from Terry—his family were dead and his house was charcoal. Terry suffered tremendously, but God restored him. God used him to restore other people. And God blessed him and gave back what he had taken away.

This book is a testimony of how God can take anything and turn it around for good, how everything that happens is His will, and how He is the one and only thing we can always trust.

A powerful message, an amazing testimony, a picture of forgiveness, uplifting, encouraging, and brutally beautiful, Terror by Night will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Content: 100% clean

Recommendation: I whole-heartedly recommend Terror by Night to everyone over the age of 14. Terror by Night is extremely emotional, several times I had to stop and put it down. There were also some disturbing images of how the children were killed. It would probably make you cry if you read it in one sitting. However, I still think everyone should read it.




terry caffey

About the author: 
Terry Caffey lives in Willis Point, Texas, with his wife Sonja and their two sons Blake and Tanner. Since the tragic loss of his first wife Penny and his son’s Matthew and Tyler, he has gone into full time  ministry, speaking and reaching out to others who have suffered unspeakable tragedy and sharing his personal message of God’s faithfulness. Terry continues to visit his daughter Erin regularly and remains steadfast in his belief that she did not mastermind the plot to kill her family.



Review: Mostly Mittens

Mostly Mittens (revised edition) Ethnic knitting designs from Russia by Charlene Schurch

Genre: craft

Rating: 4.5 mostly mittens

Summary (from Goodreads): This book features 36 delightful mitten designs inspired by traditional Russian crafts, plus four fantastic hat patterns. Inspired by the traditional crafts of the Komi people of Russia, these traditional mitten designs may look intricate, but are actually really easy to recreate.

Mostly Mittens starts off with a very interesting (brief) summary of the history of the Komi people, why they knit in the fair isle style, how the patterns came around, and lots of very interesting history about this fantastic art.

The book is basically all knitting graphs. A knitting graph is like graph paper with squares filled in to represent which stitch is knit in which color. There are basic instructions at the beginning of the book, then each pattern gives the tools needed and the graph, but the basic instructions are the same for all of them.

The patterns are all unique and intricate, but very easy to follow once you understand what you’re doing. Fair isle is very relaxing and fun, not to mention warm since the extra threads add a second, third, and at times a fourth layer of warmth to the mittens.

Many knitting books try to teach people how to knit, or try to offer pictures and explanations of certain more advanced stitches in knitting. This one does not—and it’s something I appreciate. The book is aimed for the educated knitter who knows how to use double-pointed needles, read a pattern, and understand the difference between a inc 1 and a M1 etc. It’s nice to read a book that is aimed for the level I’m at, rather than one that tries to take a brand-new knitter and make them a pro overnight. There is a list of abbreviations in the back, because all knitters abbreviate slightly different. There’s also a list of resources in the back.

My only complaint is that the basic instructions aren’t written in a very clear manner, nor are the instructions for the knit-on cast-on. Luckily the photos and drawings are wonderful, and you can pretty much understand the concept. Plus, if you’re using this book, you are already pretty experienced.

In the back there are four hat patterns, and instructions to take the mitten graphs and turn them into hats! With 36 mitten graphs, 4 sets of hats, and a million color variations, imagine what you could do with this book!

Basically, this book makes my fingers twitch and my mouth water. I’ve got to get me some fingering weight wool and size two double-pointed needles…

Recommendation: Intermediate to Experienced knitters who don’t mind using small needles. No size 15 for these! Size 0-3 are the ones you’ll use.



Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.