Suz's love for COWS + Allan's work with LASERS = one unique blog name! Welcome to our blog filled with race recaps, pictures of our labs, and everything else we share with blogland!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What I've Read Wednesday #2

I finished Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage on Friday when we had our most recent snow day. I thoroughly enjoyed it especially since it spans the entire lifetime of the dog, Meteor.  It's a shorter book so that makes it a pretty fast read. It's most certainly a Christmas book but as cold as it's been lately I enjoyed it just as much curled up in front of a warm fire in February.


Between, Georgia is still on the TBR (To Be Read) pile but I did read Robyn Carr's latest book The Homecoming since the next one in the series is coming out in March. Robyn Carr is one of my favorite authors and I'm amazed at how well she weaves together so many people's stories and introduces a new character whose story eventually appears in a later novel. I've read her entire Virgin River series and this one is from her Thunder Point series. You can read any of her novels as a stand-alone novel but I recommend starting at the beginning of the series. Virgin River is the first book in the Virgin River series and The Wanderer is the first in the Thunder Point series.

One of my favorite authors!

I started one of Robyn's stand-alone novels (The House on Olive Street) and I like it so far but I'm only one chapter in. I plan to finish that one and read Debra Clopton's new book (Betting on Hope) by the end of the weekend since it looks like we are going to get snowed in this afternoon. A projection of 4-6 inches of snow means all the schools and most businesses are closed. It's great living in the south in the winter!


What have you been reading lately?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Musings #1

With all the unpleasant weather we've had lately there's been a lot of time spent inside. Top that off with Allan coming down with the flu and pneumonia just in time for Valentine's Day and we've barely had contact with the outside world! We've been obsessed with watching a TV series called The Killing on Netflix. If you enjoy a good crime drama then I highly recommend this one! The cliffhangers at the end of each episode and season keep you hitting next episode over and over.


All the bad weather has also kept Sasha, Lucky, and Rusty inside most of the time. We need some warmer days so these three can get out and exercise! They spend the day either going stir crazy or sleeping constantly. I can't help but wish for spring days and running around in the backyard with the pets. Here's to spring and warmer weather being right around the corner!

Anyone else ready for warmer days?
Is there a show you've recently become obsessed with?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Food for Thought Friday #1

A month ago I started using my Weight Watchers (WW)  app to track my food daily and my weight weekly. I hop on the scale throughout the week and keep track of that as well so if the scale isn't particular kind on weigh-in (WI) day then I won't be disappointed. So far I've lost 7.2 lbs and I'm really happy with that. Weight Watchers and I go way back to my first semester of graduate school in 2006 when I signed up for WW online and lost 35 lbs.


I kept it off for the next 3 years and it wasn't until we moved here that my weight started the up and down mess that drives me crazy. The thing is that I know WW works and if I track my food and embrace the lifestyle of everything in moderation I can still eat all the things I love and lose weight. It works for me because I don't have to give up my Coca Cola, chocolate, or ice cream to lose weight and I've always viewed WW as a lifestyle and NOT a diet. I don't do low fat, fat free, or sugar free anything (even though those are less points) because I know at the end of the day the artificial mess isn't good for me. Yes, I realize that Coca Cola, chocolate, and ice cream don't exactly scream healthy food but we all have our vices. I have been drinking a lot more water and eating more fruits and vegetables and overall I feel a lot better. Losing weight has been a nice bonus!

Next week I'll talk about my WW goals. Have you ever used WW?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What I've Read Wednesday #1

Lately I've been reading a handful of books that I've reviewed. In case you didn't catch those they were: Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer, A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings, and Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma.

Next I'd like to read Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson and with all the cold weather we are having here it looks like I'll have plenty of time to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with this one!


Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage has been sitting on a tray waiting for me to finish it since before Christmas and I'm determined to finish it this week. It's written from the perspective of the dog which is proving to be very interesting!


What have you been reading lately?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Shaking It Up

I've been blogging for nearly four years and it's time to shake it up and try some new things such as Monday Musings, What I've Read Wednesdays, and Food for Thought on Fridays. Writing about whatever was going on in my life is how I handled blogging when I first began and after this past year I stopped using the blog as an outlet to share what's going on with me. That changes today. I'd like to go back to blogging more about things I love and what is important to me and perhaps these prompts will help with that.

On Mondays I plan to share my thoughts about anything and everything that's on my mind at the moment. This may involve stories about the pets, a memory I'd like to blog about, a favorite quote, etc. While I do review a lot of books on the blog there are several others that I read, whether it's on my own or for one of the book clubs I'm in. I plan to blog about those books on Wednesdays. If I'm not currently reading anything I may share a favorite quote of mine and some thoughts about that instead. Food for Thought on Fridays might be food or fitness related or something else entirely different!

Hope you guys enjoy the new plan for our blog! Are there post prompts that you use or ones you would like to try?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma

In case it's not obvious I've been on quite a World War II reading kick lately! Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma takes place in a Japanese internment camp on the grounds of a university in the Philippines. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with that part of the world and without much description written into the story I felt as though I was reading a story and seeing the characters clearly but the surroundings blurred. Let me start by saying that I liked the story itself but there are a few things that irked me. Those include: lack of description of surroundings, the book cover (her dress was green in the story), lack of attention to detail with regard to Anita's blindness, and the improbability that it took Irene and Rand two years to run into each other in a camp with 3,000 or so people. If her platinum blonde hair stood out as much as it supposedly did when Rand initially met her in the city when he nearly ran her over and then again when he searches for her in the crowds of people in the camp later on in the story then I'm inclined to believe he would have noticed her well before the night she attempts to warn him not to try to escape. These few things really distracted away from what was a good story.

Irene and Rand couldn't come from more different worlds: he ran two successful night clubs in Manila and Irene served as a missionary with her aunt in the jungle. Their paths cross ever so briefly before the war when Rand nearly runs over Irene. It's two years later that they meet again at Santo Tomas Internment Camp when Irene's work censoring letters sends her rushing to Rand Sterling's aid but unfortunately she arrives too late. Rand is taken to Fort Santiago and tortured but by some miracle is brought back to the camp later. Never had anyone been taken prisoner there and lived to tell the tale. His arrival back to camp and into the hospital coincide with Irene's aunt becoming increasingly ill. When they are transported to a hospital outside of the camp Irene obtains a pass to be with her aunt and looks for an opportunity to make it up to Rand for not warning him in time. This is when things take a turn for both Irene and Rand and I'll stop here to avoid giving away anything!

Overall it was an enjoyable story but not my favorite World War II historical fiction. The struggle with forgiveness that both Rand and Irene faced is one that I can appreciate but I'm not certain their actions towards the end match up to what I would have expected from either character. I hate to be vague about this but if I say anything more I'll give away one of the biggest shockers in the story! If you think this is a book you are interested in then I'd encourage you to do a little research first on Santo Tomas so you have a clear visual when you start to read. I believe that would have helped me envision the area much better. I loved her last book (Daisies are Forever) which is also set during World War II haven't read her first book (Snow on the Tulips) so perhaps I'll curl up with that book tomorrow!

Book info

About the book:

Remember the Lilies (Thomas Nelson, February 2015)

Can Irene and Rand stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom?

Interred by the Japanese, missionary Irene Reynolds comes across a mysterious note while working at the censor's office. She memorizes the parts she must black out and delivers it to wealthy nightclub owner Rand Sterling. Before she knows what's happening, she's drawn into a web of secrets and danger.

Rand Sterling wants nothing more than to reopen his nightclubs once the war ends. But slimy Frank Covey wants his hand in the till---and has news that could threaten Rand's reputation if it became public. More importantly, beautiful and intriguing Irene Reynolds cannot discover this information if he expects to persuade her to become his wife.
When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, they must learn the true meaning of forgiveness---if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.
Purchase a copy:  

About the author: New York Times best-selling author Liz Tolsma is the author of Daisies are Forever, Snow on the Tulips, and the contributing author of A Log Cabin Christmas. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally.

Find Liz online: website, Facebook, Twitter

 Blog Tour Schedule

This gripping new tale from Liz Tolsma, Remember the Lilies, is a must-read for fans of WWII-era fiction. When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, she and Rand must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

Help Liz celebrate the release of Remember the Lilies with a Kindle Fire giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • One copy of Remember the Lilies
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/19. Winner will be announced at Liz's Remember the Lilies Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and WWII fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!   



RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 19th!

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings

I have read all of the books written by Regina Jennings so I wasn't surprised at all how much I enjoyed this one. In fact, it might be my favorite book she's written yet! That probably has a lot to do with the book taking place post-Civil War which is my second favorite time period next to World War II. Abigail is a Union nurse who cared for Rebel soldiers taken prisoner and with the war winding down her favorite patient makes her an offer she can't refuse. He knows he won't survive to return home and his worry over his sister being taken care of supersedes his concern over hurting his beloved and marrying Abigail. In his mind it's a win-win: Abigail has a place to call home since she doesn't have anywhere to go and his sister will be taken care of along with his family farm.

Everything goes relatively well upon Abigail's arrival with Jeremiah's mother welcoming her with open arms and his sister, Rachel, at least tolerating her presence. That is, until the real Jeremiah Calhoun arrives home and finds out he's supposedly married to Abigail. This causes quite a problem since Jeremiah spent the war praying to make it back to Laurel, his beloved. After learning of Jeremiah's supposed death Laurel had begun to spend time with Dr. Hopkins so they all find themselves in quite a pickle with Jeremiah being alive, Abigail supposedly being his wife, and Laurel falling in love with another man.

Although Abigail and Jeremiah initially get off on the wrong foot her nurturing ability with both Rachel and Jeremiah and her keen sense with horses begins to soften his resolve and he agrees to allow her to remain on the farm until the mare whose breeding Abigail paid for with her own money foals. What ensues in that time makes for a wonderful story encompassing love, heartbreak, struggle, and danger.

I cannot wait to see what Regina Jennings comes up with next! I kinda hope it's a continuation of this series!

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

Thief of Glory is set during WWII (quite possibly my favorite era) in the Dutch East Indies which I must admit is an area of the world I wasn't very familiar with in regards to the impact of WWII on its inhabitants. Almost immediately I was drawn to 10-year old Jeremiah Prins and his fondness for marbles. A game which one might attribute to mostly luck was clearly a well-honed skill developed by Jeremiah during his childhood and one that served him well during his time in a Japanese camp in the years to follow. In the first game we are privy to, Jeremiah is introduced to the young American, Georgie Smith. He promptly denies Jeremiah the opportunity to play since their game has already begun despite the local boys protests to allow Jeremiah to join. It is during this altercation that he meets the lovely Laura and is immediately drawn to her. Unfortunately after this day he believed he would not see Laura again after hearing that she has left on a ship to return home.

As his world is upended and his family is torn apart by the Japanese invaders his father tasks him with looking after his mother and three younger siblings when it becomes clear that his father and stepbrothers will soon be taken away to work in a camp. For a time he, his mother, and younger siblings are left in their home before they are hauled away to camp and the real struggles begin. Just when Jeremiah thinks that he might lose his mother Laura and her grandmother re-enter his life by appearing in the camp and save him in more ways than one.

For me this story seemed to touch on a different area of the world whose repercussions of the war I knew little about. I really enjoyed the story and the vivid descriptions made me feel as though I was there. The fact that the author brought the story to an end during the current time was one of my favorite aspects of the book because with historical fiction we are often left to wonder what happened to these people later on in life. With a bulk of the story taking place in the Japanese camp we are given a harsh look into what was reality for so many people during one of the darkest hours in history. Unfortunately for many of these people the war affected them for the duration of their life as it did Jeremiah and Laura. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys historical fiction and World War II in particular. I don't believe you'll be disappointed! If you'd like to read more about the book you can do so here. You can also get more information on the author and read chapter one.

I received this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.