Mardi Gras is always a busy time in Louisiana. For the small town of Newpointe, the festivities include a parade and a temporary spike in alcohol- related mischief. But this is not a typical Mardi Gras celebration. Someone is taking advantage of this hectic time of the year to target the wives of the local firemen. When two are killed on the same day in a nearly identical manner, the city goes into a panic. For Mark Branning, a fire fighter who is separated from his wife, the killings are especially difficult to live with. At least the other fire fighters can protect their wives. Allie won’t even allow mark close enough to protect her.

“Private Justice” is book number one in Terri Blackstock’s Newpointe 911 series. It is full of suspense, twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end. Interspersed with the suspense in the love story as Mark and Allie Branning, a young married couple who have lost sight of their love for each other.

The characters in “Private Justice” are well developed. There are subtle hints peppered throughout the story to whet the readers appetite for what’s to come in future books. This is one reader who is anxious to read the rest of the series.


LouisianaNewpointe 911Private JusticeTerri Blackstock


A public scandal has forced Mariah to flee from her home and take up residence in the gatehouse of her Aunt’s estate. Completely cut off from her family, Mariah is forced to earn a living the only way she knows how – by attempting to sell the novels she has written. To avoid causing any further embarrassment to her parents of siblings, she publishes anonymously, determined to protect her true identity. While living in the gatehouse of Windrush, Mariah discovers family secrets and a love she hopes can overcome the deep shame of her past.

In “The Girl in the Gatehouse”, Julie Klassen has written a beautiful historical tale the Jane Austen fans will adore. Her understanding of Regency Era England is apparent in the detail she uses throughout this book. The details make the reader feel transported in time. That is one of the hall marks of a good writer- the ability to pull the reader right into the book. “The Girl in the Gatehouse” is the third book by Klassen that I have read, all three have pulled me right in.

It will no doubt not be the last of her books I read.

Julie KlassenRegency FictionThe Girl In The Gatehouse

Smores Pie

I like food. That’s pretty obvious when you look at me. I mean, no one gets to be my size if they don’t like food.

Lately, though, my enjoyment of food has begun moving in a new direction. I’ve been watching cooking shows (in fact Food Network Star is on as I write this.)

My favorite T.V. chief is Gordon Ramsay. Not exactly sure why, as he is I certainly not a chief I would want to work for. But I do like watching his cooking competition on fox during the summer. My favorite part of the show would have to be the challenges. The cooks are given a style of food or a specific ingredient. I am learning a lot from it, learning about what flavors go together and how to take a chance with my cooking.

And that is just what I did this weekend. I found a dessert recipe that looked interesting and adapted it for my family. And I didn’t make it just for my family; I also made it for two friends.

The recipe was something I found on called chocolate lovers pizza. The recipe was simple and called for a graham cracker crust, dove chocolate, and pecans. I changed it a little and came up with a smores crust.

  I took a box of graham crackers and put one sleeve of them into my food processor. Once they were grounded into fine crumbs, I mixed them with on melted butter stick. I patted the mixture into the bottom of a round cake pan. It went into the oven at 375 degrees. When it came out, I immediately topped it with one bag of milk chocolate chips. It went back in the oven for two minutes. When it came out, the pie didn’t look any different. The regular chocolate chips were melted, and I used a spoon to evenly spread the chocolate.

My five year old son helped with the next part. I opened a bag of red, white and blue marshmallows. He went to town decorating it! My family and friends really liked the finished product. There are a few things I would do different next time.

1.)    Use less butter. The crust was a bit too soft. Instead of a full stick I think I will use ¾ of one.

2.)     More marshmallows. My son really enjoyed placing the individual marshmallows, but that didn’t evenly distribute it. Next time I’ll use marshmallow cream.

3.)    Peanut butter! This was my husband’s idea. He suggested spreading peanut butter on the graham cracker crust and them covering it with chocolate. Definitely worth trying.



Amish books are not my favorite things to the past I have tried and failed to read them. I think the problem is the language. The ones I have read seemed very heavy on Amish words and phrases that were confusing to me. I f I have to stop reading to look up words, I don’t always want to return to the book. This has kept me from wanting to read other Amish books.

But the premise of “The Amish Midwife,” written by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould, intrigued me even more than the word “Amish” in the title annoyed me.

Lexie Jaeger is a nurse and midwife living in Oregon. After the death of her adoptive father, Lexie finds an old wooden box containing two locks of hair and an old letter about property in Switzerland. Seeing these items awakened Lexie’s desire to know her own birth story, so she heads to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to find the answers she craves.

Clark and Goud have written a beautiful story about self- discovery, forgiveness, and family. Even more impressive to me is the fact that they have created an Amish story that is easy to understand and even easier to get lost in. it was a fun, quick read that has led me to look in to reading more Amish books. I am happy to have a new class of books open up to me.

“The Amish Midwife” has defiantly earned its place on my bookcase.

AmishLancaster County PennsylvaniaLeslie GouldMindy Starns ClarkSwitzerlandThe Women of Lancaster County

Wrong Thing or Nothing At All

Sometimes we are so scared of doing the wrong thing we do nothing.

Pastor Clive said that- or something similar to that- during his message one Sunday morning.

It’s a very accurate description of where I am with my writing right now.

I received an email recently that shook my confidence. The writer questioned my Christian witness and my ability to use words effectively. The words hurt, but I understand that they were spoken in anger. I’m not angry about them- everyone has a right to their opinion, and I’ve accepted that the writer of that email had those opinions at that time.

The problem is that those words have caused me to question myself. I have I have a novel I was hoping to finish the first draft this month.  Since I’ve got that email I’ve not been able to work on it.

I keep wondering if it’s worth it to try. If the words I use and ineffective, should I bother finishing it? Is my relationship with Christ so messed up that I shouldn’t try to share it with others?

I know that has to be the Devil talking. God has great things planned through my writing and Satan will do his best to stop it. Putting those doubts inside my head is one way of doing that.

Trouble is I’m having a hard time shaking off those negative thoughts. What other people say and think shouldn’t matter. But it does. That email I talked about? It was written by someone I always looked up to, someone that I didn’t want to let down. And I feel like I have. It’s hard to move past that.

Rather than risking letting someone else down, I am just doing nothing. Even though that doesn’t quite feel like the right thing to do.



   Amish novels have never been my favorite thing. In the past when I have tried to read them, I’ve given up in boredom. Maybe I was just reading the wrong author. “The Harvest of Grace” by Cindy Woodsmall is an Amish novel that is any, thing nut boring. I was pulled into the story from the first page.

   Sylvia Fisher is hiding from a broken heart and a secret shame by working on the Blank Diary Farm. The farm I struggling, but Sylvia it determined she can turn it around with Aaron Blank, who wants nothing more than to see his parents sell the failing farm and help him run a store, selling appliances to the Amish community.

   “The Harvest of Grace” is the final book in the Adas House trilogy. While many characters from the previous books appear here, it is not necessary to read the other books to understand this one. There was just enough explanation of the previous books for the reader to understand how all the characters fit together and their relationship to Sylvia and Aaron.

   The relationship between Sylvia and Aaron begins in an adversarial manner. As the story goes on and they came to terms with mistakes they have made in the past, the relationship becomes so much more. Its written in a simple way that is very engaging.

   This book did something that no other Amish have done, at least not for me. It made the Amish seem like real people. They might live a more simple life than I do, but they have their share of problems as well. Maybe this is what made this book so enjoyable for me- that fact that the Amish characters felt as real and flawed as people I meet every day.

   When I finished the book, I went online to look for other books by Cindy Woodsmall. Many of them have landed on my “must read” list. “The Harvest of Grace” has earned its place on my bookcase.