Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Book Review

Title: As a Shield (a Davis Morgan Mystery)
Authors: Danny and Wanda Pelfrey
Publisher: CrossLink, 2016
Genre: Christian mystery

First Lines:

There were still a few minutes of daylight left when the former preacher turned bookseller parked his new Jeep in the Adairsville Police Department lot. Davis Morgan had been chaplain for only a couple of weeks. One neat perk for Davis was that Chief Hanson allowed him, under normal circumstances, to accompany the officers when they patrolled the little North Georgia town.
My Review:

I didn't realize until today that this is the second book in the series (the first is Out of the Depths). No doubt it would have been very helpful to read the first before reading this one. I needed more back story about Davis's relationships with his daughter's roommate Deirdre and his friend Charley. Perhaps Charley's reaction to Davis's news at the end of As a Shield would not have come totally out of left field had I known earlier facts.

At any rate, while this is a completely clean mystery written by Christian authors, it could have benefited from better substantive editing. While the writers acknowledge editing assistance in their concluding thanks, this reviewer wonders how much attention their book received. Dialogue is stilted and unnatural, certain words are overly repeated ("rapidly," for example), the bad guys are cartoonish cliches (with the possible exception of the mastermind), and so much detail is given to street names and directions that at times the reader wonders if this is a guidebook.

Characterization is also an issue as characters seem too good or too bad to be true. While there is some growth in Davis in terms of his readiness for courtship after being a widower, he comes across as considerably older than he is. This makes his romance with Deirdre - a woman young enough to be his daughter - almost creepy (to me anyway). When Barbara and her son Ted come on the scene, the reader expects the younger man to be a legitimate contender for Deirdre's affections and for Barbara to catch Davis's eye. But no.

The story itself had potential, springing as it did from the real-life discovery of bones in a cave used during the Civil War. It just needed several more rewrites and tweaks before being shared with the world.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Authors' website:

Goodreads Description:

Note: I received this book free through the Bookcrash review program in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, 11 August 2017


Want to increase positivity, joy and happiness in your own life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Safe travel. I was recently away with my mom and aunt, checking off an item on my bucket list with a trip to Gros Morne National Park and L'Anse aux Meadows (Viking settlement), Newfoundland. We even crossed over to Labrador and spent about 20 hours there. Now I am safely back home again!

2. Relatively swift recovery from illness. Toward the end of my time away I picked up a cold my aunt acquired from another traveler. I did have to call in sick Tuesday and spent most of the day sleeping, but I am feeling much better now.

3. God's creation as evidenced all around me in this magnificent country. We traveled via train, bus and ferry and there was much beauty to drink in. In Newfoundland we saw whales (Humpback, Fin, Minke, Orca), dolphins, caribou and moose, and there were still icebergs off of Red Bay, Labrador.

Unfortunately, not my photo. The only decent shot I got was of an Orca fin. 

4. Getting back on the healthy eating wagon. I did gain a bit of weight during my holiday, but I am already making better choices and eating less. I'm sure it won't be long before I'm on track.

5. Lots of extra hours at work this week. I only work part-time, so I don't get paid if I'm not there. My husband got his regular paycheque this week, but I got nothing. The additional hours will help make up for lost income. With two young people resuming higher education next month and our bathroom reno still to complete (still have to order those shower doors!), the finances are much needed.
#FridayFive was started by Lauren at Milly's Guide. What are you thankful for? Leave your reply in the comments or in your own blog post.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Right Now

Drinking: I've had my first cup of coffee for the day and anticipate drinking water and herbal tea for the rest. Maybe one more cup of coffee if needed, as I am working longer hours at my place of employment this week.

Eating: I've had hot cereal with hemp seeds, cinnamon and maple syrup, and will shortly eat a piece of sourdough rye toast to complete my breakfast. Lunch is black-eyed peas with sweet potatoes, cauliflower and rice, plus mixed berries and a Peek Frean cookie for dessert. Dinner to be determined. I gained 4-5 pounds on my recent holiday and am trying to get back into the swing of healthy eating.

Reading: I completed four books in the last couple of weeks: As a Shield, A Penny for Your Thoughts, Life Without Limits, and Don't Give Up, Don't Give In. Currently reading Miracles from Heaven. See "What's On My Nook" for authors.

Watching: Nothing. I'm too busy working this week.

Listening: My local Christian radio station as I drive to and from work.

Creating: I'm supposed to be meeting with a critique partner Monday, so I have to get cracking on my submission.

Buying: After being away, I need to replenish the groceries. Son especially complains that "there's nothing to eat."

Anticipating: Losing the weight I gained on my journey! (And then some!)

What have y'all been up to in the last couple of weeks?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

#FridayFive, Back to Basics, Part 2

Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here are some more basics I'm thankful for, picking up from two weeks ago and last week:

1. Love.  God's, parental, spousal, family's, friends'. Both from them and for them.

2. Family. Sometimes living in community is a challenge, but it's also a necessity. We need one another!

3. Friends. Friendship and fellowship are essential. We do life best when we do it with others.

4. Furry friends. The unconditional love of a pet is a gift and benefits emotional health. If you have a dog, you also get exercise when playing with or walking it, and lots of laughter.

5. The five senses. Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste contribute so much to our lives. We don't know how much until we lose one of them. I'm thankful that I've only lost one of these on occasion, and just temporarily - when I've had a cold and couldn't smell or taste anything good, for example.
#FridayFive was started by Lauren at Milly's Guide. What are you thankful for? Leave your reply in the comments or in your own blog post.

Friday, 28 July 2017

#FridayFive, Back to Basics Edition

Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! I thought I'd go back to basics for this week, even though I covered some of that last week as well. I'll try to keep this week's different:

1. Food and water. Where these are readily available, we tend to take them for granted. But much of the world is impoverished and not everyone has access to nourishing food or clean potable water.

2. Shelter. Again, we often take the roof over our head as a given, but many are homeless or have poor, inadequate housing.

3. A warm bed to sleep in at night and the ability to sleep well. I admit that as I get older, I sometimes struggle with falling asleep or have my sleep interrupted partway through the night. A good rest is invaluable and one of the keys to good health.

4. Overall good health! Many consider this the most important thing in life and it certainly makes a difference to the quality of daily living. If you know anyone who suffers from chronic pain or a chronic condition, you have an idea of the truth of that. Even short-lived sickness reminds us of how much we appreciate health.

5. Work. We need gainful employment in order to have food, shelter, something to sleep on, medicines, etc. Sometimes we grumble about our work, workplaces, or colleagues, but the fact is all work has meaning and value, and without it our struggles would be more difficult.

What basics are you most thankful for today?
 #FridayFive was started by Lauren at Milly's Guide. What are you thankful for? Leave your reply in the comments or in your own blog post.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge Update

It's been several weeks since I last posted an update on this. I've only read nine titles so far (35%), putting me six books behind at this point. My reading efforts have picked up speed in the last couple of months, but it hasn't been enough (though I'm one book ahead in my overall reading goal of 78 titles). 

Anyway, below in green are the titles I've read so far for this challenge (two of which I didn't actually complete), and in pink are the titles I've changed from my original list. I am currently reading Your Own Jesus. What are you reading?
All In: You are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life
Mark Batterson
The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It
Peter Enns
Cold-case Christianity: a Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels
Wallace J. Warner
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life
Louis Zamperini
Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey  from North Korea to Freedom in the West
Blaine Harden
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
Francis Chan
Girl Meets God
Lauren F. Winner
How Christianity Changed the World
Alvin J. Schmidt
If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life
Alister McGrath
Joni & Ken: an Untold Love Story
Ken Tada
Kisses from Katie: a Story of Relentless Love and Redemption
Katie J. Davis
Living in the Spirit: Drawing Us to God, Sending Us to the World
George O. Wood
Miracles from Heaven: a Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing
Christy Beam
Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence
Jonathan Sacks
One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity
Debbie Macomber
Put on the Armour of Light
Catherine MacDonald
Quiet Strength: the Principles, Practices and Priorities of a Winning Life
Tony Dungy
Reverend Mother’s Daughter: a Real Life Story
Mary Haskett
Jim Cymbala
Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God
Bill Hybels
Unstoppable: the Incredible Power of Faith in Action
Nic Vujicic
Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision
Andy Stanley
Why We’re Not Emergent
Kevin DeYoung
Edith Wharton
Your Own Jesus: a God Insistent on Making it Personal
Mark Hall
Orson Scott Card

Friday, 21 July 2017


Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Life itself. Too many of my friends have lost close relatives in the past ten months - people from 52 to 102 years old. We never know when we will lose someone we love or when our own time will end. Each day, each breath is a gift.

2. Time with my husband, family and friends. A couple of days ago a friend was lamenting that we hardly ever see the friends we're geographically closest to. I may be seeing her Monday! This last week or so my husband and I have been trying to spend more time together in our sunroom. We added it to the house a couple of years ago but have spent little time there. It's just like a cottage in the city - you hear very little apart from the sounds of nature.  My daughter and I had breakfast together yesterday and are having lunch with a mutual friend this afternoon. Tomorrow my husband and I get together with his cousin and his wife. 

3. Literacy. So glad to have grown up in a country where going to school was a basic right and reading, writing and math were foundational learning skills. While math has never been my strong suit, I can't imagine my life without books and I'm thankful for the gift of creativity.

4. The blogosphere. Though technology can be all time-consuming and frustrating when it doesn't work the way you expect it to, I'm thankful for the connections I've made through the web. It has opened up the world to many who would otherwise be more isolated, and revealed the hearts and minds of those in far away places. While there's no denying the moral and spiritual darkness in some, for the most part we have much in common with people of different backgrounds, races and creeds. We are all human. We're all in this together. 

5. This is less profound, but my car. I take it for granted until something goes awry. In the last week the Elantra's developed a loud hum that plays when I go above 60 kilometers an hour (at first it was 90, but then it began initiating sooner). Seems like a wheel bearing needs to be replaced. Thankfully, it's still under warranty and the dealership can fix it Tuesday afternoon. In the meantime I'm advised not to drive it more than necessary. Boo.
#FridayFive was started by Lauren at Milly's Guide. What are you thankful for? Leave your reply in the comments or in your own blog post.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Right Now

Drinking: Two cups of coffee so far. That's usually the most I have in a day, but there may be one more to come depending on how I fare. Otherwise, the usual water and herbal teas.

Eating: Had the early bird breakfast at Cora's this morning with my daughter. I had two scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon (haven't had bacon in ages), and two blueberry pancakes. Did not feel stuffed afterwards, and barely satisfied, even though that's a lot more than I usually eat. I saved my two slices of rye bread, tomatoes and lettuce to make a sandwich for lunch. Supper will probably be leftover lentil loaf, potatoes and veggies.

Reading: Your Own Jesus by Mark Hall and Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley.

Watching: Nothing. No time.

Listening: Wonder by Hillsong United. Awesome CD.

Creating: I haven't done much on the photo album project in the last week. I need to get some more of the 2006 Florida trip pictures printed off first.

Buying: Pampered Chef. I had an online party and qualify for some free and half price product. What's your favourite?

Anticipating: Lunch with my daughter and a friend tomorrow, seeing my husband's cousin and his wife on the weekend (we haven't seen them in years!), tea on Sunday with a new couple from church. How about you?

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Right Now

This is what's happening right now:
Drinking: Working on my first cup of coffee of the day. Planning on one more at some point, then water and herbal teas for the rest.

Eating: I've had a bowl of original Shreddies with almond milk. Figuring on a slice of D'Italiano white bread, toasted (only other choices are an English muffin or cinnamon waffle, both of which are higher in calories). Lunch will be some leftover pizza my son baked, but is apparently not going to finish. Someone at work is celebrating a milestone birthday and has invited us to stop by her desk this afternoon for an ice cream treat. Not sure if I'll partake since I don't really need it. On the other hand - ice cream!! I made a Greek barley salad for supper last night and there's still lots, so plan to serve it again tonight along with vegetables.

Reading: The Sayers Swindle, a mystery by Victoria Abbott. I need something light after Escape from Camp 14. Also starting Your Own Jesus by Mark Hall (of Casting Crowns fame).

Watching: Nothing. I'm working on a photo organization project these days and have no time for movies or television.

Listening: The radio, to and from work.

Creating: Traditional photo albums. Never got into the scrapbook craze. First I had to interfile loose photos from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s; now I am picking up from 2006. I actually took a photo of our dining room table, where everything is spread out, but my husband objected to me sharing it, even with my friends on Facebook. I guess that gives you an idea of the magnitude of the job. It's going to take a while.

Buying: Just the essentials, Gromit. (You know that's a Wallace and Gromit reference, right?)

Anticipating: Visiting my mom in Toronto this weekend. I haven't seen her since the end of May. She was visiting her sister for a while, then her sister visited her, so this is the first chance I've had for some one-on-one. Usually I'm there about every 2-3 weeks.

See you tomorrow for #FridayFive. What are you up to today?

Friday, 7 July 2017


Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Good neighbours. On the weekend we got together to celebrate Canada Day. One of our neighbours gave us lettuce from their garden. Tuesday and Wednesday some of us went to a visitation and funeral for a neighbour whose mother passed away.

2. Good sermons. We were reminded that God requires us to walk humbly with Him, to love mercy, and to act justly (Micah 6:8). We should know this, but sometimes we forget.

3. Good books. I enjoyed Linda Hall's Black Ice and am enjoying Elizabeth Thompson's When God Says Wait. So many books to read and so little time!

4. Good conversation. My friend Lisa and I haven't seen each other independently of book club for a couple of months. It was nice to have her over for French toast and fruit salad this morning so we could catch up. There was lots to share!

5. Good food. I've been watching what I eat more carefully lately (yes, I know - didn't I just mention French toast?!). The intermittent fasting seems to be working well, and I've been trying some new healthful recipes and getting more exercise. Thankful to see some progress, and hopeful that I'll lose another three or four pounds by the end of the month.

#FridayFive was started by Lauren at Milly's Guide. What are you thankful for? Leave your reply in the comments or in your own blog post.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Right Now

Drinking: I've had coffee and water so far today. Pretty hot and humid out there so plan to stay hydrated and drink more water.

Eating: Breakfast - plain Shreddies with almond milk, poppyseed rye toasted with peanut butter. Lunch - a bean and cheese burrito, oatmeal muffin with flax and dried cranberries, gala apple. Dinner - to be determined.

Reading: Working my way through Elizabeth Thompson's When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, Or Your Mind. Also started Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

Watching: We watched Florence Foster Jenkins on the weekend. What a horrible singing voice she had - but what a story! Meryl Streep does an excellent job of portraying her. And Hugh Grant is wonderful as her supportive husband. I wasn't happy with some of his choices, but could understand why he made them. Sometimes life is complicated and when you don't have faith to guide you...

Listening: Mostly the radio, but this morning on my way to work we listened to Wow Hits 2017: the Deluxe edition.

Creating: Organization! I decided to tackle my photographs. Went through those that were still in pouches from the developers, sorted them out according to the dates I'd written on the back, and started getting them into traditional albums. Some of them dated back to the 1990s!

Buying: Only the essentials (i.e. food/pharmacy/fuel).

Anticipating: Having my friend Lisa over tomorrow. It's been a good couple of months since we've had a chance to catch up. We'll be making French Toast and talking about life and writing.

What are you up to right now?

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hello, Summer!

I know it was officially summer on June 21, but for us the real kick-off was July 1, Canada Day. If you're American, perhaps summer really begins for you on July the 4th. Regardless of when it starts, the season usually brings a change (or changes) in routine, and that's certainly true for me.

Some bloggers give themselves a two month break at this time of year. I'm not going to do that, but my blogging will become a little more sporadic. I'll try to keep up with some 'right now' posts and many #FridayFives. I'll also pen the odd book review. Hopefully that will be enough to keep us connected through July and August.

Have a wonderful summer and I hope you'll check in here now and again. I'll try to do the same and visit your blog posts!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Crossing the Sea

 You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. - Rabindranath Tagore

Having goals and dreams is great, but no one is coming to your door to offer that dream job, ideal life partner, perfect house, trip around the world. If it's a true desire, you have to go after it. You have to plan, you have to engage. You may have to stumble and fall a few times before you find the best approach. In other words, you can't just stand there. You need to do something!

In the example above, if standing and staring at the water isn't enough, how do you cross the sea? You could try swimming (though rather foolhardy), paddling a canoe, sailing, rafting, etc. Clearly, some form of movement is required, otherwise you'll only end up with a sunburn or sand in your shorts.

What secret goal or dream is yours alone? What are you going to do about it? Or, what are you doing already...?

Friday, 30 June 2017

#Friday Five, Canada Day edition

I'm sure we all have things we could grump about, but the fact is complaining leads to the opposite of joy. Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here's what I'm thankful for this week. I call it the Canada Day edition - tomorrow we celebrate 150 years as a country!

1. Clearly, I'm grateful to have been born and raised in Canada. I have a heritage here that dates back to the 1700s, and while that's not as distant as the First Nations, I'm proud of my Canadian roots. My Irish ancestors made good decisions in settling here.

2. Everyone in Canada has the right to an education. In Ontario, students are required to stay in school until they are eighteen. The most successful countries recognize the importance of education and ensure it's available and of good quality. 

3. We have a pretty decent health care system. 

4. We have the ability to choose our leaders and make our voices heard.

5. We enjoy many freedoms. 

6. When we travel, we are generally well received wherever we go. Canadians are known as polite, respectful, well-behaved. And apparently, people like our "accent". How aboot that, eh? (We actually don't say "aboot," but others seem to hear so!)

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow citizens and expats. May we never lose sight of who we are and who we want to become as a nation. May we choose leaders who seek godly, rather than man-made, wisdom. (See this excellent post for more on that subject).

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Right Now

Apologies for not posting more regularly lately. Just been busy! And yesterday there was no Hodgepodge. But for all those who are interested, here's what I'm up to right now:

Drinking: Had French vanilla flavoured coffee this morning, and a kefir-based smoothie. I think I found the recipe online. It was pretty simple: 1/2 cup kefir (mine was strawberry and banana), 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1 cup of frozen berries (I used strawberries). It was pretty tangy at first sip so I added a teaspoon of maple syrup. It could have used more, but I managed. The naturopath says fermented foods may be beneficial for me, so I'm trying...

Eating: I had a small bowl of plain Cheerios for breakfast, and the smoothie. For lunch I have a garden salad, raspberry dressing, a plain dinner roll, and an oatmeal muffin with flax and dried cranberries. Still not sure what I'm having for supper, but I'm leaning toward quinoa.

Reading: Just started a couple of new books - Black Ice by Linda Hall and When God Says Wait by Elizabeth Thompson. Enjoying both so far.

Watching: Been too busy for movies lately, but I'll probably watch something this weekend. Should probably choose something quintessentially Canadian seeing as we celebrate our 150th on Saturday!

Listening: Just the radio, when I'm driving to and from work.

Creating: The odd blog post, the odd novel revision.

Buying: Nothing but the essentials; the bank account is struggling to keep up with the bills these days.

Anticipating: Canada Day weekend! A get-together with neighbours on Saturday and the church picnic Sunday. And friends over tonight for dessert and games!

What are you anticipating?