Friday, January 31, 2014

A complete guide to the world of C.S. Lewis

A complete guide to the world of C.S. Lewis

The A–Z of C.S. Lewis sheds light on the life and
writing of one of the world’s most beloved authors

While the majority of readers are familiar with C.S. Lewis’s children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia, or his popular theological releases Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, how well do they know the author himself? Although Lewis left this world 50 years ago, his writings live on, as popular as ever in the hearts of audiences young and old. In The A–Z of C.S. Lewis: An Encyclopedia of His Life, Thought and Writings (Lion Books/November 1, 2013/ISBN 978-0-7459-5586-5/$24.95), Colin Duriez provides a comprehensive introduction to Lewis’s life, family, friends, career, marriage and writings, as well as an inside look into the worlds he created, the creatures he imagined and the studies he delighted in.

“C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia are consistently among the bestselling children’s books, firmly established as classics. ...Lewis, who for many years was an atheist, is also unmatched as a popularizer of the Christian faith in recent times, and is certainly one of the most widely read believers in the history of the church. In specialist circles, his books of literary criticism — introducing writers such as John Milton or the period of the Middle Ages — are still in print, half a century after his death,” writes Duriez, a highly respected and renowned author and lecturer on both Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. “I suspect many of us have only read one kind of his wide range of writings.”

The A–Z of C.S. Lewis is the definitive guide of all things Lewis for anyone who is interested in the author and his writings — from the most devoted of enthusiasts to those who are just beginning to explore his work and the worlds he created. This highly engaging volume brings together all aspects of Lewis’s life and thought from his fascinating interests and friendships to his own readings, concerns and writings.

Arranged in alphabetical order, the book begins with The Abolition of Man — a book written in 1943 and described by Lewis as “almost my favourite” — and closes with Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. Also included are descriptions of Lewis’s most popular characters, summaries of his books, introductions to influences and inspirations, and explorations into his thoughts. Duriez also includes suggestions for further reading on numerous topics.

“This book was written to help an exploration and discovery (or rediscovery!) of his world. The rich variety of Lewis’s writings is part of an integrated whole,” Duriez explains. “He combined reasoning and imagination in a unified and bright vision of reality — and of the God he discovered, whom he came to see as the giver of reality.”

To learn more about Colin Duriez and The A–Z of C. S. Lewis, visit or follow him on Facebook (Colin Duriez, writer) and Twitter (@colinduriez).

Advance Praise

“This is one of the most useful books I know. I look for excuses to read it.”
~ Walter Hooper, Literary Advisor to the C.S. Lewis Estate

“An invaluable work of reference and a fascinating volume in which to dip and browse, this is the perfect companion for every Lewis reader by an acknowledged expert on one of the great imaginative writers of the twentieth century.”
~ Brian Sibley, author of Shadowlands

“In this rich, encyclopedic overview, Colin Duriez serves as an expert and engaging guide. I highly recommend this volume to all who enjoy Lewis’s books.”
~ Marjorie Lamp Mead, Associate Director, The Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, Illinois

About the Author

Colin Duriez is a writer, editor and frequent lecturer on the lives of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings, having spoken at a variety of conferences in the USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, Poland, Finland and the UK.

His books include The A–Z of C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis: A Biography of Friendship, J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, A Field Guide to Narnia, The C.S. Lewis Chronicles, The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), A Field Guide to Harry Potter and AD33: The Year that Changed the World.  He has also contributed to The Tolkien Encyclopedia and a number of other tomes.

Duriez has appeared as a commentator on extended version DVDs of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Walden Media/Walt Disney Pictures’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, BBC television’s The Worlds of Fantasy, PBS’s The Question of God, Focus on the Family Radio Theater’s audio dramatization of The Screwtape Letters, among others. The author makes his home in the Lake District of northwest England.

For more information about Colin Duriez and his writing, visit or follow him on Facebook (Colin Duriez, writer) and Twitter (@colinduriez). 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bruce Feiler’s THE SECRETS OF HAPPY FAMILIES Kindle HDX Giveaway!

In The Secrets of Happy Families, New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler has drawn up a blueprint for modern families — a new approach to family dynamics, inspired by cutting-edge techniques gathered from experts in the disciplines of science, business, sports, and the military. Written in a charming, accessible style, The Secrets of Happy Families is smart, funny, and fresh, and will forever change how your family lives every day.

Bruce is celebrating the release of his book with a family fun "Happy Family" Kindle HDX giveaway.


  One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 15th. Winner will be announced February 17th on the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure

to stop by the Litfuse blog on the 17th to see if you won.

The Secrets of Happy Families

The book that revolutionized our view of what makes families happy . . .
Determined to find the smartest solutions and the most cutting-edge research about families, bestselling author andNew York Times family columnist Bruce Feiler gathered team-building exercises and problem-solving techniques from the most creative minds—from Silicon Valley to the Green Berets—and tested these ideas with his wife and kids. The result is a lively, original look at how we can create stronger parent/child relationships, manage the chaos of our lives, teach our kids values and grit, and have more fun together.
The Secrets of Happy Families includes more than two hundred unique practices that will help your family draw closer and make everyone in your home happier. It has already changed the lives of millions of families, and it can do the same for yours.
Bruce Feiler


Bruce Feiler writes a column in contemporary families for the New York Times and is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including “The Council of Dads.” He is the host of several series on PBS, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters. Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.
Find out more about Bruce at

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sarah Ladd talks about her newest release, The Headmistress of Rosemere

An Interview with Sarah Ladd,
Author of The Headmistress of Rosemere 

Life is unexpected. Each day holds new surprises — some exciting, others unwanted. What matters most is how we respond to those trying situations. Sarah E. Ladd reminds us the importance of clinging to God to get us through the mountains and valleys of life in The Headmistress of Rosemere (Thomas Nelson/December 31, 2013/ISBN: 978-1-4016-8836-3/$15.99).

Ladd hopes The Headmistress of Rosemere, book two of The Whispers on the Moors series, will encourage readers to look for help in the right place. “I think a lot of people look within themselves to try to find answers to their problems,” explains Ladd. “But if we look to ourselves for solutions, we will be disappointed. Instead, we should take our problems, cares, and worries to God and lay them at His feet. Pray about them. Ask God to make His plans known. When we do this, amazing things can happen.”

Q: The Headmistress of Rosemere is the second book of a series — do you have a common theme or message throughout the Whispers on the Moors series?

I have always loved the Regency period, and I think that a lot of readers (including myself) have a pre-conceived notion of what a Regency heroine should be like. So I really wanted to challenge that – I wanted to explore what would happen if a typically Regency lady went against traditional societal expectations. So when I approached the book in this series I asked myself, “What would a young woman in the Regency period not do?” And the series was born by answering that single question!

Q: Your main character, Patience, is a 19th-century independent woman who is content focusing on her career as a headmistress. More and more women are choosing this route today and having families later in life. Why do you think this is the case?

I think a lot of this comes back to societal framework and expectations. Patience didn’t necessarily choose the path she was on. When the novel opens she is twenty-five, and at the age an unmarried woman during the Regency was considered a spinster. And the responsibilities for running a school were dropped in her lap when her father died and her brother left town—it was not something she planned to do. She rose to the occasion, however, proving her responsibility and integrity.

Women during the Regency women were not expected to choose any other path for themselves besides having a family. Today, things are so different. Women are encouraged and expected to explore their options. Women are no longer considered spinsters at twenty-five. I think it is because of these shifts in societal expectations that most women are waiting to settle down later in life.

Q: Another character, William, can’t seem to do anything right and keeps making mistakes, leaving him desperate for a way out. How should we respond when nothing seems to be going right and we don’t know where to turn?

I think a lot of people look within themselves to try to find answers to their problems. They ask themselves questions like “what can I do differently?” and “how can I solve this problem?” But if we look to ourselves for solutions, we will be disappointed. Instead, we should take our problems, cares, and worries to God and lay them at His feet. Pray about them. Ask God to make His plans known. When we do this, amazing things can happen.

Q: When readers turn the last page of The Headmistress of Rosemere, what do you hope they take away from the story?

Even though we may not understand the things that are happening in our lives, we must cling to the fact that everything that happens to us is a part of God’s will for our lives. In order to be the person that God intended us to be, we must go through the valleys to learn to rely on God’s strength.

Q: The weather plays a role in the story too. Can you tell us more about 1816, the year in which the book is set?

The Headmistress of Rosemere, takes place during the winter of 1816, which just happens to be the coldest winter on record for England. That year was called the “year without a summer.” Snow fell as late as May in London, and in the Lake District, snow was still on the highest peaks at the end of July. The excessive precipitation and unseasonably cold temperatures was very unusual – which, of course, makes it an enticing story detail!

In April 1815, the volcano Mount Tambora erupted in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). The force of the blast launched ash, dust and debris into the atmosphere. The impact was so significant that temperatures lowered globally and the sun’s rays were blocked, making the days appear darker. The altered atmospheric conditions affected weather and agriculture worldwide, especially in Canada, northeastern United States, and northern Europe.

In The Headmistress of Rosemere, snow and bitter cold is ever present. The icy, still dreariness provided the perfect backdrop for lots of heated tension! 

Q: Along with being a writer, you work in strategic marketing and brand management — how to you juggle both?

In my experience, the key to managing two careers simultaneously comes down to two things: (1) setting clear priorities and (2) time management. At the beginning of each week I set some goals and a schedule. Nothing over the top—just a little something to keep me on task for the week. I find that by knowing up front what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by prevents me from procrastinating or getting overwhelmed.

Q: How important is branding for writers, or even small business owners? And what marketing advice do you have for them?

First, let’s take a minute to define what branding is, because it is so much more than what is on your website or business cards. From my 10+ years in marketing, I define branding as an author’s “reputation” in the marketplace. What are readers saying about you? What comes to mind when an agent or another author hears your name? All the strategies and tactics you employ in your marketing should support this idea, and the key to this is communicating clear and consistent messages through your marketing channels. If you are interested in learning more, I have written an article about branding and marketing plans for authors. You can read it here.

Q: What drew you to the write in the regency period? Do you have a favorite classic writer you look to for inspiration?  

I have always been a fan of British Romantic literature. Really, I enjoy the Romantic period in general—the music, the art, etc. I have read the literature and the poetry of this era extensively, and since the Regency Period fell during this time, I would have to say those works had a profound influence on me. If I had to pick one author, however, I would have to say Charlotte Brontë, although Jane Austen is a very close second.

Q: Have you had a chance to visit England to research the setting of your books? If so, what details did you work into the story that you wouldn’t have thought to include before?

When I was in college, I went to England and Scotland for a three-week course in British literature. While there, the class visited several of the major literary attractions and studied them in-depth. Even thought I was not writing at the time, the trip had a profound effect on me, and it was truly a life-changing event.

Q: What can we expect to see from you next?

Right now I am working on the third book in the Whispers on the Moors series, which is titled A Lady at Willowgrove Hall (October 2014). I am very excited about this book and can’t wait to share more details!

Watch for more details to come on her Facebook page (Sarah Ladd Author). To keep up with Sarah Ladd, visit or follow her on Twitter (@SarahLaddAuthor).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The claws start coming out on #TheBachelor!

I don't know about you guys, but I am ready for Grey's Anatomy and Scandal to come back on. I need some enjoyable TV. Four. More. Weeks.

Maybe I can blog on curling when the Olympics come on. I know nothing about curling, but what is there to know?

So... The Bachelor... More dramatic than Russian ice dancing...

Saturday night, one of my friends brought up the question as to whether or not any of us had made New Year's resolutions. (Seems like an odd conversation starter among us, but I digress.) I said my resolution was to get retweeted by +The Bachelor. That hasn't happened yet, but I have been added back on Google +.

Most of my Google + feed is auto posts, and even the +The Bachelor page has info about Ben under the page description instead of Juan Pablo proving that no one cares about Google +. By the way, person in charge of the Google + account, you might want to update that if you happen to be checking in here.

Photo from

Alright, now onto the show. When Chris Harrison comes in to announce that there will be two group dates and a single one-on-one date, he tells them it is time to get their bags and passport packed. Why are they going to Seoul, South Korea? Of all the places... It doesn't sound tropical and romantic like Fiji or the Bahamas or Paris, but what do I know?

My bet is that 3/4 of these girls don't know where on the planet South Korea is. And why did Sharleen scream so loudly to find out they were going to the home of Gangnam style?

Clare says that her future husband is waiting across the world from her in South Korea. Does she too have a crush on Psy?

I guess the girls are just excited to be going some where, but their excitement about Korea is a bit much.

Juan Pablo likes the international trip. All of a sudden he knows all about the history, and I am sure he is going to tell us.

Lots of people and lights.

Nikki thinks if she gets the one-on-one is going to be the game changer. But, it's time for a group date first. Chelsie, Cassandra, Elise, Danielle, Kat and Nikki. OHHHHH SNAP! She's going to come unglued. All the girls are excited (at least on the outside) except her. She thinks all the other girls are annoying. The card says "POP" and her head is going to explode.

So, they are going to do something K-pop related. "K-Pop is Korean Pop," Juan Pablo explains. According to the expert Bachelor who is fed all sorts of facts before every date, it's taking over America. Really? Other than "Gangnam Style," name one. If we were on The Family Feud, we'd all fail.

In other news, the only real characteristic we know that Juan Pablo is looking for in a woman other than someone who can be a step-mother to Ca-me-la is that she must dance.

Nikki doesn't know how to share, so this group date really bothers her. No one normal shares a guy they are dating, so don't act like that is unique to you in the scheme of the entire world. Besides, all the other girls are facing the same thing right now.

So they go to the home of K-Pop and meet 21. Nikki is all of a sudden an expert talking about how huge they are. "Their YouTube video has 77 million. Million. That's a lot of views." She must be really good with numbers.

Kat is in her element evidently. She's a dancer (or medical sales rep) who has been dancing since before she could walk. I am pretty sure that isn't possible. 

Nikki is complaining again about what a bad date this is since she can't dance. She does the sprinkler. Chelsie's childhood dream is to be a background dancer for a pop group. Cassandra is the former NBA dancer, so you'd think she might have some ability to dance. Notice, I didn't say talent.

Nikki is whining about Kat thinking she is so good. Kat caught onto the choreography right away so she is showing off my teaching the other girls. 21 invites them to perform with them at their show that night. It's going to be a hot mess. It's Nikki's worse nightmare and hopes they are performing for the South Korean School for the Blind. She'll be pouting all day. She didn't realize they were so popular when their show is packed. However, in the previous clip she was going on about how huge they were and how many YouTube views that they had. I chalk that up to a bad editing job. Bad editing or Nikki doesn't understand the association between 77 million YouTube views and the definition of popularity.

They all dress up in ridiculous clothes and bring looking stupid on TV to another level. 

Chelsie asserts that Kat is trying to be a show-off with her own dance moves. Nikki throws in her two cents worth of trash talking.

Now at the mini cocktail party for the date (at a furniture museum which is evidently irrelevant), the race is on for private time.

While she had fun dancing, Kat does want Juan Pablo to know that she has a serious side too. While they are talking, Nikki is with the others trash talking about people who might be there more for something fun than something real. Nikki calls Kat fake. I can't say what I think about Nikki in a family friendly way.

Meanwhile, Kat is telling about her father being an alcoholic and her parents divorcing when she was 5. Her dad had 7 DUIs. Because those specific details are so necessary...

The rest of the girls think Nikki is the most negative, catty person in the house. That may be true.

Speaking of fake, Nikki tries to be sweet and talks about how hard it is to open up. Juan Pablo asks what she thinks about Camila. Nikki wants to meet her. She is so different than she was with the girls. She's more two-faced than the others. She thinks she's going to get the date rose again.

Back at the Hilton, Sharleen gets a date card, "are you my Seoul mate?" She knows she is interested, but isn't declaring the connection the other girls do. Clare doesn't think they are right for each other, and that may be the only thing I agree with Clare and her false teeth on.

Back at the date... It's time for the date rose, and everyone thinks they deserve the rose. Nikki gets the rose again. I'm as annoyed as all the other girls. She says she has been herself, my question is... which self?

Juan Pablo admits that he's been interested in Sharleen from day one and that she is his favorite right now. If he only knew how not into him she was. Sharleen tries to be witty, but I don't find her funny. She also does not enjoy the local delicacies. I can't say that I would either. She does find the tea house quaint and perfect.

He asks her about becoming an opera singer and cannot wait to hear her sing. She groans about singing for him, and tells him that he's a bit cheeky with a smart @$$ side.  Uh. That's different. (But, she means that in a good way because it means he isn't bland - then she gives him English lessons to explain what that means.) What girl in a serious tone gets away with that? And if she loves singing, and the guy in front of her is flirting and wants her to sing, why is she not singing?

Sharleen does admit that Juan Pablo is more interesting than she expected. Then she calls him a brat when he tells her to sing. She would never sing to a man that early in a dating relationship. Just sing.

Oh how I wish she didn't sing that little bit she did. He's all the more smitten, and they start sucking face. Now, all of a sudden she sees potential and calls it a perfect date. Judging as an outsider, I thought it was awful.

He thinks they have so much in common, but she doesn't realize it. Things were supposedly going well, and then he asks how many kids she wants. She quickly turns it on him asking how many more he wants. "Two more." She says in a diplomatic fashion, "that's fair," until he says, "maybe three." That may send her over the edge.

(Break to the Hilton where the girls are talking about Juan Pablo looking for a woman who can be motherly. They don't think Sharleen can handle spit-up.)

Sharleen is trying very hard to avoid the subject when again, he asks her point blank, "how many kids?"

Her answer is she hasn't really thought about it because she has been career focused. When she dated a dad before, she was not ready to have kids at the time. This gives him pause since the other guy had a four year daughter. For a brief second, you thought she wasn't going to get the rose because of her honesty. But, he gives it to her anyway.


So, the rest of the girls head out on their group date. It's Karaoke time. Andi wants to avoid anything singing or dancing related. Sounds like another Nikki in the making. Singing in Korean is a challenge, therefore, we quickly move on.

They set about doing tourist things. This is the first thing for Clare and, of course, she laments about how long it has been since her first date.

They go into a place where you stick your feet into water with little fish who eat your dead skin off - it's a form of pedicure. Evidently they really love Renee's feet. Andi notices Clare is territorial and uneasy when anyone else gets attention.

When it comes time to try food, Clare says, "please tell me we aren't going to eat octopus." Now, Juan Pablo is all about feeding her octopus. She's freaking out and won't eat it. Alli points out you can get octopus in any Italian restaurant in Chicago. Kelly calls her the most dramatic person she has ever seen. It's all about getting attention. I'm not into weird stuff, but I would do octopus. I like calamari even though the ones with tentacles sort of creep me out if I think about it.

At their cocktail party, who is going to get a kiss?

Juan Pablo pulls off Renee first. She'd like to get her first kiss from Juan Pablo. She seems like a real class act. She's still my first choice. They talk about what their kids would think about them kissing. Since he has already kissed six girls (his count, not mine, I've not been keeping track), he's all of a sudden worried about being a good example and is going to try not to kiss anyone tonight. 

Clare doesn't want to see him kiss Kelly and says so to all the others. Like she owns him since she had first date and kiss.

Next up is Andi. He thinks she's one of the few people who gets his sense of humor. He thinks she is just perfect, and he wants to kiss her, but he promised himself there wouldn't be any of that tonight.

The girls meanwhile count up the six. Then, Lauren goes off with him saying, "dance with me and begs for a kiss." He stands his ground. To me Lauren has been flying under the radar. Now she doesn't think he's interested since she has been denied a kiss. We go into a commercial with her ugly crying during an interview.

Back from commercial break, we find out that she is crying with him and calling him out on the kissing other girls thing. He admits he feels horrible. Andi goes off to talk to her. I'm surprised it wasn't Mama Renee. If they had gone into a bathroom, it would have been Renee.

Clare isn't going to try to kiss him. She is going to kiss him, she asserts. Once she heads off, Andi and Kelly then make fun of Clare and the octopus.

Clare starts bragging to Juan Pablo about eating it, then says she threw up in her mouth and swallowed it. She really shouldn't have brought it up. That's just gross. For some reason she had told him before that she wanted to lay off the kissing since they knew the attraction was there, so that way they could get to know each other. Now, she decides she didn't tell him "no kissing" for how long. She is doing this now given that all the other girls were talking about how he wouldn't kiss her. He starts feeding her (like always), then they start kissing (because she has sexy teeth and lips -- I call fake on both). She asks him if she had chocolate breath.

Andi is offered the rose. Take that Clare!

Finally, it is time for all the girls to arrive at a Korean palace for the cocktail party before the rose ceremony. He has noticed some drama between the girls, so he thinks it may be an interesting night.

He pulls Kelly aside first, but we don't see their conversation.

Sharleen says there is an agreement that girls with roses won't hog his time, but let's see how long that lasts.

Clare gets her fake time. Nikki decides to disrespect their "rule" and says she has to be selfish sometimes. She lurks in the shadows while Clare talks about her dad. Clare thought it was rude since she had a rose, but Clare says she's kind even though she doesn't let people walk all over her.

According to Nikki, science proves that when a guy likes a girl, he looks her in the eye while when a girl likes a guy she looks away.

Even Sharleen wonders if Juan Pablo sees the real Nikki.

Juan Pablo hints about problems among the girls. Nikki thinks that since he was with Clare before her that he thinks it's Clare. Kelly is now sitting between Nikki and Clare. She tells those two she is uncomfortable between the two of them. Clare calls Nikki out on being two-faced. Nikki thinks Clare is threatened by her. Here's the beginning of a rest of the season cat fight.

When Chris Harrison comes, Juan Pablo admits to the interview camera that this time it is hard being out of the country and any woman going home has a 12 hour plane ride feeling rejected.

The time has come... Nikki, Sharleen and Andi have roses. Eight more to be given. Two will go home.

  1. Renee assepts the first rose (yes, it's spelled like he says it)
  2. Chelsie
  3. Kelly (what happened to her dog when they left for the trip?)
  4. Danielle
  5. Cassandra
  6. Allison (what do we know about her?)
  7. Clare (Nikki is ticked)
  8. Kat

Bye bye Lauren (who looked like death warmed over) and Elise (the little girl Chelsie lasted longer than you!). Elise does throw in one last barb towards women not ready to have children and that her momma didn't want her to be around such ugly people - on the inside, not out. I wonder if Lauren's piano was already flown back home (I'm actually sure she didn't bring her own that first night).

Next week they are going some place warmer and exotic. Next week they go to Vietnam. I am sure it is politically incorrect of me to ask, but are Iraq and Afghanistan next? Is it an effort to show that countries once plagued by war are tourist attractions now. 

Missed my other posts from this season? Check them out here:

Sean and Catherine's wedding

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1

Monday, January 27, 2014

I cannot handle The Bachelor wedding episodes which shouldn't come as a surprise

When I got home from tonight, I was debating whether or not to go ahead and start The Bachelor special tonight with Sean and Catherine's wedding. After all, Sister Wives was about to come on.

I started the DVR that had already started recording the big event before I got home and when I heard Chris Harrison say, "the most romantic TV event of the year," I decided I had to stop it because I didn't have the laptop in front of me yet.

That's a big proclamation given the month of January is NOT over yet.

Within minutes, I had a message on Facebook saying, "Surely you are going to blog about 'the grown sexy' wedding!"

So, here we go.

I'm starting this late, so it will post right after midnight and Monday's show will post at 12:01 Tuesday morning since I have two posts going up this week and my weekly Sunday video post has gone up today.

Right off the bat, I too, like Sean want to know what "grown sexy" is. I am pretty sure that not grown sexy should be illegal and untelevised.

Chris Harrison gets tongue-tied in his live introduction. Before they can take a walk down the aisle, we have to see their FAIRY TALE JOURNEY. Why must every reality show contestant describe their experience as a journey? It's such an overused word. It was driving me nuts the other night on The Biggest Loser.

Now, a journey is a road trip between Los Angeles and Dallas. I have taken the Las Vegas to Dallas portion of the route they are taking. It was a trip. (And it is annoying to see the "red carpet" in the bottom right had corner of the screen as guests arrive.) They have so much fun together and she is so easy going. And they eat rattlesnake. He seemed bored to be stuck in the car while she rambles on about wedding plans though.

Grown sexy and whimsical. HUH? Yes, Sean, I still agree... vague words.

Congratulations on living separately until you are married. I really and truly commend you on that choice. I do believe that is a good example to viewers.

What is up with the live shot of the honeymoon suite cam? Nobody needs to see that. NOBODY. And nothing is going on there anyway. That's beyond dumb.

I'm zoning on their sappy talk.

Whoopie do! The cameras are there as Sean and Catherine tell his family that they have decided on a wedding date. I have a feeling they could have easily made this two hour show an hour or less. Meanwhile, all these celebrities are showing up at the wedding. I would venture to say that the happy couple knows about 20% of the people in attendance personally.

To steal someone else's post on Twitter, did you notice that Sean's dad's name is Jay Lowe? (J-Lo... Jenny from the block...) It's sweet that they asked his dad to officiate the ceremony, but he is going to be a weepy mess.

Maybe we now get to figure out what Catherine's theme is all about. She has recently been dreaming about her wedding, but not forever like most girls, so as to not disappoint herself. Since their time together up until now has been fun, and they are like kids, and since they are waiting until their wedding night, she wants her ceremony to be "grown sexy" as her coming out party. Now she wants to be grown up and sexy in all of the details. As she tells Sean, "think Robin Thicke."

It sounds like it's going to be tacky to me.

They really could have milked more attention out of all this if they'd taped a joint episode of Say Yes to the Dress (or any other of the plethora of wedding dress shopping shows) when she went shopping for dresses.

We get that you are excited for your honeymoon. You should be. Absolutely. But, we do not need to know all about all of that. It's personal. Keep it personal. We don't need the mental pictures, especially given Sean's shopping venture. There's no need for me to recap that part or her descriptions upon receiving his gift.

I don't know why they go decorate a cake then make a mess throwing decorations everywhere. Childish. Not "grown" anything. Her repeating "grown sexy" ranks with the repetition of "guard and protect your heart" from seasons ago. #annoyingBachelorphrases

Nice touch of showing Sean's groomsmen and family praying over him live, by the way!

After picking out flowers, Catherine gets ready for a very special photo session. All of what Catherine says seems immature trashy throughout the entire show, including discussing a butterfly analogy.

We just don't need all of this. #trashy #skanky #stopturningrespectfuldistasteful

We know what comes afterwards. Again, that is personal. If they weren't waiting, we wouldn't hear all this. All the references are awful. Leave them alone about it already. 

On another note, I've never been crazy about Catherine. She annoys me.

And the ceremony begins with cellos. Lots of bridesmaids. I think she said there were 12.

Lots of guests with cell phones for Instagram and Twitter, live throughout the ceremony. Meanwhile in the bridal suite, she's still getting her make-up done. Only 6 or so bridesmaids have made it down thus far, so I guess she has time. 

I don't like her hair, by the way (too much Asian princess). Or the cellos. Maybe if I recognized their selection of music, it would be different. Cute ring bearers, but I don't know why one looks like he is wearing a lei around his neck.

Are we going to take a commercial break now that it is time for the bride to walk the aisle? YES, of course, we are!

A much snazzier musical selection for her walk down the aisle. Not traditional at all. She is breathing loudly with some crazy sighs coming down while Sean is already crying. 

He's about to be a snotty hot mess.

I like his dad's summary of the love story - much shorter than Chris Harrison's. He is proud of his son. Very touching. He describes her as giggly, but he and Sean's mother are so in love with her. His dad really does a good job. A great job.

A moment to "pray" before the vows is a thinly disguised break for a commercial. Seriously. Because everyone should have a break for corporate sponsorship.

They should have been holding hands all this time. They are awkwardly holding their hands in front of them until time to do their vows. Now, she is reaching to hold hands. I think they can each come a step closer.

WHAT ARE LOVE SPRINKLES? Something she talks about in her vows. After Sean says his, his father expresses his approval of the vows. 

They cry together walking up the aisle. Or at least he does. 

One more break before guest reaction. 

Ashley and J.P. were a lot less stressed to watch it rather than participate. Trista and Ryan look old after 10 years of marriage. She's always look a bit older than most participants.

And with that, the wedding episode is over. Now on to the rest of our lives. 

OH, but a preview of tomorrow night complete with Sharleen's operatic whatever she is doing. She's just very wrong. More on that tomorrow!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What happens when you only have 15 minutes

Our class was shortened to 15 minutes today, so I was trying to pick a song they knew.

We've done "Deep and Wide" for the video before, but I needed help coming up with something quick. This was quite entertaining to me.

We tried "Blue Skies and Rainbows" and made it through one verse. I told them next week (if I remember), we needed to work on the three other verses.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Let them eat pie!

Now that Angie can walk again, we're trying to get back into our monthly Girls' Night Out routine. Rakia picked Norma's Cafe in the Bishop Arts District because she heard about their pie.

We ate fried pickles and our respective dinners first. We should have started with the pie because I for one could not breathe by the time we got out of there after eating so much.

Jenny is never one to pose for a picture.
Jenny's pecan pie.

Angie may have been looking down on purpose. She had grilled cheese for dessert.

That is some kind of Reese's concoction that Rakia has. I think it had bits of Reese's inside.

That is my coconut pie, and I did take that meringue off the top.  
 Don't you wish you went with us?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ruth Reid’s A MIRACLE OF HOPE Kindle HDX Giveaway and Facebook Party!

A Miracle of Hope is the first book in Ruth Reid's new series,
Amish Wonders, and she is celebrating the release with
a Kindle HDX Giveaway and an Author Chat Facebook Party!


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Miracle of Hope by Ruth Reid
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 11th. Winner will be announced at the A Miracle of Hope Facebook Party on February 11th. Connect with Ruth for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, prizes, and more!

So grab your copy of A Miracle of Hope and join Ruth and friends on the evening of February 11th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!



Book One in the Amish Wonders series.
How far can God’s mercy reach?
Lindie Wyse is pregnant out of wedlock and thinks an arranged marriage is the only way to preserve her future. Josiah Plank is certain he’ll never love again, but he needs someone to care for his eight-year-old daughter, Hannah. The two take on their arrangement tentatively at first but soon realize they are each in for more than they imagined.
Lindie experiences a breakthrough with Hannah when she recognizes Hannah’s special gifts, but a risky pregnancy and serious health issues threaten to demolish the foundation Josiah and Lindie are building. Will their growing love survive despite their struggles, or will their hearts become as cold as the northern winter?
Ruth Reid


Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She’s a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children.

Find out more about Ruth at

Thursday, January 23, 2014

THE CALLING | Six Chances to win an iPad, Kindle, or Nook from Suzanne Woods Fisher!

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating her newest book, The Calling,
by giving away TWO iPads, TWO Kindles, and TWO Nooks!

Two grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX or a Nook HD—winner's choice!
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. All winners will be announced February 10th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 10th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)


Book Two in the Inn at Eagle Hill series.
Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers her trademark twists, turns, and tender romance in this delightful and exciting visit to the deceptively quiet community of Stoney Ridge.
Twenty-year-old Bethany Schrock is restless. Her love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending the incredibly hot summer days wading through a lifetime’s accumulation of junk at the home of five ancient Amish sisters. About the only thing that holds her interest is the spirited and dangerously handsome Jimmy Fisher–and he seems bent on irritating her to no end.
When the sly old sisters and a guest at the Inn get Bethany involved in running the local soup kitchen and starting a community garden, she suddenly finds herself wondering, Shootfire! How did that happen? Despite her newfound purposefulness, a gnawing emptiness about a childhood mystery continues to plague her. Encouraged by Jimmy Fisher, she will seek out the answers she craves–and uncover a shocking secret that will break her heart, heal it, and point her to love.

Suzanne Woods Fisher


Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including “Amish Peace.” She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your mobile device! Download the Free App! 
Find out more about Suzanne at

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cara Putman’s SHADOWED BY GRACE “Past & Present” Camera Prize Pack Giveaway!

Cara Putman is celebrating her latest historical suspense novel,
Shadowed by Grace with a fun "Past and Present" giveaway! 


One winner will receive:
  • A Polaroid Instant Camera
  • A beautiful antique AFGRA camera (learn more here)
  • Movie passes to see The Monuments Men movie (with George Clooney and Matt Damon)
  • Shadowed By Grace by Cara Putman
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. Winner will be announced February 10th on Cara's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Cara's blog on the 10th to see if you won.



She found peace in a time of war.
Desperate to save her dying mother, an American woman accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy where she takes photographs dangerously close to the front lines during World War II. But Rachel’s real motive in this journey is to find the father she never knew, an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive at such a desperate time.
In her quest, Rachel becomes involved with what will become the Monuments Men effort to save great monuments and works of art from the Third Reich. Soon enough she will find more than she ever imagined—in war, in love, and in God.
Cara Putman


Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. The best-selling author of more than a dozen books, Cara is active in women’s ministry at her church, teaches graduate courses at Purdue University, practices law, and is a homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and 4 children in Indiana.

Find out more about Cara at

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Robin Lee Hatcher’s A PROMISE KEPT Kindle HDX Giveaway and Facebook Party!

Don't miss Robin Lee Hatcher's stunning new novel, A Promise Kept

Robin is celebrating with a fun giveaway and
an encouraging Facebook Author Chat Party.


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6th. Winner will be announced at the "A Promise Kept" Facebook Author Chat Party on the 6th. Connect with Robin and friends for an evening of encouraging book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Robin's next book!

So grab your copy of A Promise Kept and join Robin on the evening of February 6th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 2/6!

A Promise Kept


God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.
What had become of His promise?
Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.
The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she’d misunderstood.
Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.
As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?
Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption, A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher’s emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His own time and His own ways.
Robin Lee Hatcher


Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.
Find out more about Robin Lee at