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, 17 October 2017

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge Update

With almost eleven weeks to go in the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge, I thought I should see how many books I have left to read. Drumroll, please:

The answer is: 10! Far too many at this point in the year, requiring me to tackle one book each week. Not that I can't read this many, but it depends on how long it is and how much mental focus it requires. A cozy mystery goes faster than a book on apologetics, for example.

Anyway, in red are the titles I've read so far for this challenge. Wish me luck for the rest!

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
Zanna's Gift: a Life in Christmases
Orson Scott Card

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Back, Kind of

The break from blogging paid off. I feel like I got a better handle on managing my time - not yet perfect, but much improved. Also did more personal writing and made progress on the photo organization project, which has unfortunately proven a bigger task than I'd projected. I've decided to work backwards.

As a result of the break, I decided to post here less regularly. You can expect to see one or two book reviews each month, a similar number of posts on things I'm thankful for, and a monthly 'right now' update. If anything else shows up, consider it a bonus. (Insert smiley-face here).

Since yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving, I'll take the opportunity to share some things I'm thankful for, in no particular order:

1. Living in Canada - still one of the best places on earth to grow up and raise a family. Thankful for our democracy and the many freedoms we enjoy.

2. Family - even though our daughter chose to remain on campus for the holiday this year, I'm grateful that my family members are all in mostly good health and that a few of us were able to share a delicious celebratory meal together.

3. Work - and not just a job, but a career I enjoy, where I can be around both people and books, helping people find informational, educational, recreational reading and thus improving their lives.

4. Friends - I have what I would call a small circle of friends and some live too far away for our liking, but I value the caring, the support, the prayer, and those times when we're able to get together in person.

5. The Bible - God's Word is life. I need to be nourished by it daily.

Whether you celebrated with us this weekend or not, what are some things you're thankful for right now? Of course, I am thankful for you!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Book Review

Title: A Paralyzing Redemption: One Man's Journey from Basketball Stardom to Complete Paralysis and the Long Road Back to Walking
  Author: Brian Ziegler
  Publisher: CrossLink, 2017
  Genre: Christian memoir, inspiration
First Lines:
"I believe every human being has a life-defining moment; a moment so forceful, so dramatic, and so important it changes one's entire existence forever. I had my experience on May 27, 2000. My old way of living had come to an end, and it was the start of a life I never thought possible, a life I never thought I would want. This is a story about second chances, a story about God's mercy, and a story about Jesus Christ hearing the prayers of a desperate young man and changing his life forever."
My Review:

Ziegler's opening lines are powerful and demonstrate his ability to tell a story, one that is uniquely his own. As you read, you discover that his encounter with God prompted a change in direction from self-absorption to a dedicated Christ-focus. Not that he has yet been perfected (there is no perfect living human), but he has certainly come a long way.

I'm going to write a bit of a spoiler here and let you know that Brian's paralysis was the result of drunk driving. While he wasn't the driver of the car, he was one of its drunken passengers. I find it rather mind-boggling therefore that Brian continues to drink to this day, perhaps in greater moderation, but still... I would have liked him to discuss his thinking on this.

I also find the book title a bit confusing. What does he mean by a 'paralyzing' redemption? Is the redemption paralyzing? I don't think so - the redemption leads to action on his part - reading the Bible, engaging in prayer, getting involved in church and in outreach activities, sharing his story with others to glorify God. I suppose his choice of title is a play on his own physical paralysis, but I think a better one could have been selected.

The book suffers from some writing flaws and would have benefited from editing and proofreading. There are numerous typos, an excessive use of quotation marks, and some disorganization in chronology. I would like to have known more about C5 injuries as compared to spinal cord injuries that result in total paralysis as Christopher Reeve's did. I would like more time to have been spent on some of the medical things and on Brian's progress. He talks about experiencing a miracle healing but it seems he continues to require medications and to experience muscle spasms, etc.

In spite of these problems, I give the book a satisfactory rating because I think the story has merit and these issues could be addressed in future printings. I'm always interested in stories of what God is doing in people's lives and how He remains in the business of transformation.

My Rating: 3 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. 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Blogging Break

This is what a good break looks like!
Dear Readers,

I mentioned in a recent post that I've been contemplating what to do with this blog going forward. For now, I've decided to take a six-week, bringing me back after Canadian Thanksgiving (second Monday in October). A few things need to take priority right now, including:

1. my personal writing - i.e. working toward completing the novel and working on other writing projects

2. the photo organization project - I haven't done anything on it since returning from vacation and I want to get caught up before my 25th anniversary trip next year

3. getting the house in order so I can function better

I may pop by to share a book review the odd Tuesday, and I'll make an effort to visit and comment on your blogs. Otherwise, assume that I am healthy and being productive. I appreciate your interest more than you know.

Be well, be wise. Seek Truth.


Friday, 1 September 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. Continuing assistance from my son with doing the dishes. It's a small thing but a big help. Makes me feel good that he is seeing the need and stepping up.

2. Back to school and routines. In some ways summer is a nice break from everything, but at a certain point it's nice to get back to a schedule!

3. My funny, cuddly, lovable Boston Terrier. 

4. The variety of meal options. Not everyone in the world has this opportunity. Boredom with food is a first world "problem."

5. Relationships. People who live by the motto "Do all that you can to be at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18, NLT. 

#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, 31 August 2017

Bucket List Update

I’ve updated the bucket list I last wrote out in 2016. It includes only efforts that are a) fairly specific, b) can be accomplished in one fell swoop (or almost one fell swoop) and c) are easily checked off when done. In other words, it doesn’t include things like declutter my house and keep it clean and tidy, or build deeper friendships, even though I’m still working on those as well.
  • publish at least one picture book
  • finish my novel and get it published
  • enter and win a writing contest
  • have a #1 best seller (hey, why not dream big?)
  • obtain a Master's, or equivalent, in Creative Writing
  • study under/be mentored by an accomplished (maybe even famous) author
  • take some Gale courses in writing


  • see friends who live at a distance: especially, but not limited to, Armita, Libby, Patty, Pavlina
  • find and reconnect with friends from elementary school: Gillian and Susan 

  • finish my son's baby book
  • organize my photos and catch up on my photo albums (I did start working on this this summer)

Health and Fitness
  • lose seven pounds
  • take a ballroom dancing class
  • learn krav maga

This used to include things like learning how to sew, knit/crochet, make jams/preserves, etc. Now I am older and wiser. There are certain things I am just never likely to undertake.

  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom (Northern Ireland again, but also England and Scotland)
  • Ireland (again)
  • L'Anse Aux Meadows and Gros Morne, Newfoundland (I got there this summer!)
  • Vancouver Island
  • Bermuda
  • Cayman Islands
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Tennessee
  • Mackinac Island (I got there last summer!)
  • Manitoulin Island

What’s on your bucket list?

Friday, 25 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. As I mentioned yesterday, help with weeding the garden! It looks so much better now - not quite like Eden, I'm sure, but promising. Little weeds are already beginning to pop up again and it's now up to me to keep on top of them.

2. Friends who have traveled to places I want to go. We're 80% set on going to Hawaii next year for our 25th wedding anniversary, so I've started asking questions. Your feedback is welcome too if you've been. Which island(s), why, how long, what to see, where to stay, etc. Tips on getting an inexpensive flight!

3. Those who mentor, or are willing to mentor, my children well. Since they're at an age where they're not really interested in what their parents have to say, I'm thankful that there are others who can offer true wisdom and who have my back.

4. I continue to be grateful for extra hours at work. We just paid a big credit card bill and have another one due in early September. The additional income is much needed and appreciated as we complete the bathroom reno and pay off some of my recent travel expenses.

5. A change in how my workplace handles vacation requests. Used to be we had to submit by March 1 of the year to have seniority considered. This made it more challenging to plan ahead because you weren't sure your time off would be approved. The new procedure is for us to submit our requests by November 1. Once our holiday time is granted we can begin watching for cheap flights, book accommodation, etc. While there are a lot of places to stay in Hawaii, I'm sure they get booked up quickly, so having more lead time should be helpful.


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

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Right Now

I haven't been inspired to blog in over a week. I hope this isn't a new trend, but I'm beginning to give some thought to my blogging pattern for the fall. It's always good to evaluate how things are going and to determine whether or not what you're doing is working for you. Anyway, here's what's happening "right now":

Drinking: I've had my morning coffee, so that's good. I think one more is in order today as I'm pretty tired. Went to bed too late last night and didn't sleep that well the night before. We recently heard that Teavana stores are closing, so last night we stopped by our local branch and picked up some teas at 50% off, including strawberry daiquiri and the "jam berry" sampler.

Eating: Haven't had anything yet today, but will probably have some strawberries and a slice of sourdough rye toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Having leftover cauliflower curry from Fionn MacCool's for lunch - yummy, but very spicy! Not sure what to have for supper yet; getting bored, bored, bored with meal-making.

Reading: I quickly read JK Rowling's Very Good Lives this morning, an excellent commencement address to the Harvard graduating class of 2008. Have started Why We're Not Emergent by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, and am going to begin Into the Water by Paula Hawkins for September's book club meeting. I didn't finish Girl on the Train, so I hope I like this one better. 

Watching: We just finished watching a French television series with English subtitles. In English it's called Agatha Christie's Criminal Games. We normally wouldn't watch something with French-only audio, but the acting and storylines captivated us and we really enjoyed it. My husband is interested in learning French (I already have high school and a minor in university), so it was good for him to begin to develop an ear.

Listening: I picked up Jason Castro's Only a Mountain CD from my used CD store and like it very much. I've been a fan since his days on American Idol (he came in fourth on Season 7). David Cook won that year, but does anyone still hear from him?

Creating: I wrote up a personal experience piece on my recent trip east and have submitted it to my writers' group for critique. Hope to turn it into something saleable!

Buying: Finally ordered our shower doors for the bathroom reno! But I must admit I'm not too impressed with the amounts coming in on our last two credit card bills! Good thing I'm able to collect a lot of travel rewards for next year, but not everyone accepts American Express. Boo.

Happy About: I've been blessed to have someone helping me with weeding the garden the last couple of weeks and the front yard is nearly weed-free for the first time in ages! My new friend is going to help me at the side of the house and in the backyard next week and if I keep on top of it going forward, it should be a lot more manageable. Thankful that there are kind people in the world!

Anticipating: Visiting my mom this weekend.

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.