Plain Retribution by Dana R. Lynn

I received this book in my swag bag at the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat (CFRR) and it was the first one I read as it was small and I was waiting for the next book in the current series I was reading. I love suspense/mystery, but I’m not really into Amish fiction; although I’m not actually sure if I’ve ever read one before, it just hasn’t seemed to interest me.

Anyway, I decided to give this one a try. The main character is Rebecca Miller, a former Amish girl who decided to leave the faith after her rumspringa. She also happens to be deaf. During her rumspringa, she and three other teenagers were kidnapped and held in a basement for two days. Only three of them were found alive.

The book begins when Rebecca is 25 or 26 years old, 10 years after the attack. She is a rather nervous person after what she’s been through, especially considering she can’t hear an attacker coming. Dana starts with the action right away. Seriously, the suspense starts building on the first page and something big happens on page three. I think every single chapter had something big happen, keeping up the intensity and suspense; it was fantastic.

It’s one of those small books that you can read in a day or two, and I tend not to get those too much because the stories don’t feel too fleshed out, but this one did not have that problem. I felt like I had read a regular sized novel. The story and the way she set up the plot were very enjoyable.

Another aspect of the novel that I loved was the look at deaf culture. The associate pastor at the church where I both attend and work and his wife adopted a young girl from Haiti (who is now 21 or 22) who turned out to be deaf. This caused them to learn ASL to speak with their daughter. The wife started a class at our church teaching sign language and I attended. It has been a wonderful experience getting to know her daughter better, learning ASL (to an extent), and learning about deaf culture. It seems like she really did her research into deaf culture (I’m not sure if Dana has any history with deaf people) because everything she said matches what I learned.

For example, you would think that parents of a deaf child would learn sign language to speak with their child, at least if it’s available, but many do not or only learn enough to get by. Imagine how isolating that would be? That’s why Rebecca decides to no longer be Amish. Only two of her siblings can really sign and she can’t even understand a sermon as no one is signing it to her. Once she leaves, she is able to actually learn more about God and grow closer to him as more resources are made available to her.

Dana also mentions some of the technology like lights that flash when someone rings the doorbell or a relay service where she can sign to an interpreter who will talk to the hearing person on the other end of the line and then sign back to the deaf person what the hearing person says.

This is a book I would recommend to friends. It’s suspenseful, informative, and enjoyable. I’m glad I read it, and I’ll probably read it again.


Fun Weekend, Including CFRR!

Last weekend was amazing! My best friend Michaela (a.k.a, Baker Kella) drove up from North Carolina and we had a super fun filled weekend.

We started the fun on Thursday after I got home from work. We decided to try out an escape room, which neither of us had ever done before. It was a blast! There was some confusion when we signed up and we ended up in the Harry Potter room instead of the Sherlock Holmes room like we wanted, but it was fun. We went in with a, I want to say grandmother, and five kids. Watching them and their excitement was half the fun. We enjoyed it so much, that we stayed for the next room and got to do the Sherlock Holmes escape room! This time we were with adults. Seriously, I can’t tell you how much fun it was! I will definitely be doing some more. Oh, I almost forgot. We had the third fastest time for completing the Sherlock Holmes room! Although I think it was mostly the other people. But we did help a bit! I promise! Anyway, we loved it.

On Friday, we drove over to Cincinnati and went straight to the zoo! Oh, how I love zoos. Although some of the places in which animals are kept are kind of sad. Like the ones that seem way too small or nothing like their natural habitat. But for the most part, it was really fun and we spent six hours there! Needless to say, we left there completely exhausted.

On Sunday (don’t worry, I know I skipped Saturday), we stopped by this cool little castle that a man built for a group of kids to have their club in and we stopped at Findlay Market.

Okay, now the best part of the weekend: the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat!!!! This post is probably going to be really long as I have A LOT to say about CFRR. I might have to make this a two parter.

CFRR is an amazing event that brings together readers and writers. We started off by waiting in line to check-in and get our swag bags (I love swag bags!) and were able to have some fun conversations with other attendees in line. Once we got in, we were able to go ahead and say hello to a few authors. I didn’t think I was the fangirling kind, but it turns out I am. Especially when meeting Melissa Tagg!!!

I even got to sit by Melissa during part of the conference. AND during lunch, we were sitting at round tables and on my left was Courtney Walsh with Becky Wade next to her and on my right was Dawn Crandall with Katie Ganshert next to her. I WAS SURROUNDED BY AMAZING AUTHORS AND IT WAS AWESOME!!!

Here are pictures of me with some of the authors:

Melissa Tagg                                                                   Becky Wade




Dawn Crandall                                                             Rachel McMillan




Courtney Walsh                                                           Kristi Ann Hunter





I wasn’t super sure how much I was going to enjoy the talks, but they were so interesting. The speakers were Cynthia Ruchti, Becky Wade, & Shelley Shepard Gray. They all did an amazing job! And Becky Wade (and Dani Pettrey who wasn’t able to be there) set up a demonstration about what it takes to write a book. They have been working on novels for the last year and took videos of themselves at different stages of the process talking about it. Plus, they had a fun little worksheet for us to fill out to kind of get to experience the process a bit. I really enjoyed that.

On top of the speaker sessions, we also had author panels where a small group of the authors would discuss predetermined topics and the audience was allowed to ask questions. I attended Subtle Faith and the Change in Christian Fiction II and Book Boyfriends (in which they talked about coming up with their male leads). Both of these panels were interesting and entertaining.

Okay, I think it’s time to cut off this post and finish talking about CFRR in my next post. And there will be more pictures!

Giveaway Winner!

I was pretty excited when I pushed the button to randomly select a winner even though I wasn’t even in the drawing. It was just so exciting to see who the winner was going to be! Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you wait long. Look below to see who won!

And the winner is (drum roll):

Congratulations, Brandi! Check your email for more information.


I’ve decided that I’m going to start using Instagram more. In honor of this decision, I have added an extra entry for my giveaway for Tell Someone by Greg Laurie (I almost wrote Hugh Laurie again!) and all you have to do is visit my Instagram! That’s it! And this is a low entry giveaway as I’m still working on getting on my blogging feet so you’re chances are really good.

If you’d like to check out my Instragram (please keep in mind that I’m just starting up with it again), you can find it here.  I’m not sure what kind of pictures I’ll be putting on it yet. I’ll guess we’ll all just have to wait and see, including me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tell Someone Giveaway

Well, at least I’m only a week behind! I said I’d have this posted by last week. Oh, well.

This is the first giveaway I’ve ever done on this blog…I think, and I’m super excited about it. 😀 And the whole two people who read my blog should be pretty excited, too, because you have a very good chance to win!

Anyway, enough beating around the bush. Here is the giveaway for a hardback copy of Tell Someone by Greg (I actually wrote Hugh before I noticed) Laurie:

This is only open to people in the US (sorry everyone else!).
Giveaway ends 7/31/17 11:59:59.







Enter Giveaway HERE!

Tell Someone by Greg Laurie

I can totally see why many non-Christians can find Christians judgmental. The sad truth of the matter is that there are many Christians who are. I might have written about this in another post, but I can’t remember and it’s pertinent to this book review, so I’ll write about it anyway: It drives me crazy when Christians are at either of the extremes.

At one end, we have the judgy Christians who rain down hatred and condemnation to sinners. They are quite confused. God doesn’t want us to hate sinners, he wants us to hate sin. We’re supposed to preach to nonbelievers so that they can be saved, not condemned. It’s supposed to come from a place of love and if that’s not what a person is doing, then it’s not from God.

At the other end, we have the ‘tolerant’ Christians. These people say that it doesn’t matter what you do, God loves you and you can come to Him just how you are. There is some truth in this view: God does love you. He does want you. But He does not want your sin.

God wants something in the middle of these two extremes. Ephesians 4:15 reads, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ (ESV).” The key words here are ‘truth’ and ‘love.’ If we leave out either of these, then we are not helping these people and we are not doing what God wants of us.

This really does have to do with my book review; I promise. The book? Tell Someone by Greg Laurie. The tagline? You can share the good news. I’ll give you one guess what the book is about!

I had requested this book to review and once I got it, I wondered if maybe I should have gotten a different book instead. Would I enjoy this? Or would it be a boring read that I had to get through so that I could write my review? Answer: I loved it!

Seriously, he had me hooked before chapter one. He starts off by telling the reader his upbringing. It’s nice with these types of books to know about who is talking to you and I really enjoyed his story. He grew up with a mother who was married more than half a dozen times and was in an environment that’s not great for anyone, but especially not a kid.

But one of his mother’s husbands really made a difference in his life. This man was actually a father to him. Unfortunately, when he was still young, his mother packs him up and leaves his father who he does not see again until he is grown with a family of his own.

He then goes on to talk about his conversion which was a good read, but I really loved hearing about meeting up with his father again. Once he was a pastor with a family, he reached out and found his father. He met up with him and his new wife and talked about their lives. After hearing about what had happened in Greg’s life, the father ends up getting saved. I won’t go into the whole story, but it’s awesome and had me tearing up.

I love that he starts the book by talking about why we should tell people about Jesus. Christians know that they should, but I think it’s important to really think about why. The answer to that is because we care. We know how wonderful a relationship with God is and we want to share this with people because we care about them. We care about their life on earth, but more importantly their soul after death. If you’re evangelizing through hatred and not love, then you’re doing it wrong. God doesn’t just want us to tell people about Him, he wants us to care about them.

Later in the book he talks more about how to share Jesus, including using your personal testimony. And who does he think we should emulate in our attempts to share about salvation? Jesus! And who better than Him?

Now I have some good news for one person out there. Either later this week or next week I’ll be hosting a giveaway for Tell Someone by Greg Laurie! So be sure to check back soon and enter.

A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

This story centers around a young woman named Lydia Crawford who leaves New York to follow her fiance to Cimarron Creek, Texas where they are to be married. However, the trip is anything but ideal. As well as having to deal with the southerners’ hatred of Northerners, she also has to deal with the fact that her fiance is missing and has left behind a pregnant wife. What happened to the man and why did he marry someone else?

WARNING: When reading this book, you are probably going to want to have chocolates or some sort of sweet around. I didn’t and regretted it!

Overall, I found the book quite enjoyable and will likely read it again. I will definitely finish the trilogy. It is romance and mystery, both of which I love. The romance between Lydia and a certain Cimarron Creek man didn’t have quite the ups and downs and trials that a lot of other Christian romance books have, but it was still enjoyable to see their relationship unfold.

What really kept me turning page after page was the mystery. I won’t go into all of the details (you have to find that out for yourself!), but I will say that there is more than just the mystery of where her former fiance is. Who are the culprits? Are all of the crimes connected? Is anyone safe in Cimarron Creek?

You will find closure at the end of this book and not have to wait until the end of the triology, but I was slightly disappointed with the answer to the mystery. It worked, but…I don’t know. It just didn’t quite hit the spot for me. That might just be me though and it wouldn’t stop me from recommending it to people, and like I wrote before, I’ll likely be reading this book again.

One last thing, I love everything to do with Cimarron Sweets! It was so fun seeing that store go from a character’s mind to reality. I love reading about things like that in stories. And it’s reading about that that is going to make you crave some sweets!

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat

I’m super excited! Baker Kella, my best friend and fellow blogger, and I are going to be going to the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat for the first time this year. There are dozens of amazing authors going to be there, including Melissa Tagg! I previously wrote a review of her book entitled Like Never Before and it was excellent. It was the only book of hers I had read though, so I decided to read some more and see if it was just a one off. It wasn’t. She’s fantastic and now one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to get her to autograph my copy of Like Never Before!

cfrr-guest-bag-penIt’s a one day event that will involve prayer, worship led by Nicole Coley (I’ve never heard her music before, but I’ll listen soon), giveaways, and we’ll get to hear many of the authors speak. It’s going to be such a fun experience. And another part of the event I’m extremely excited about is the swag bag. Who doesn’t love a good swag bag? To the right is a picture of last year’s. The bag alone is going to be awesome, but I can’t wait to see what’s inside. They said there will be at least one book!

We’ll also spend some time out and about while we’re there. I’ve only been to Cincinnati once and it was just for a concert and then we left right away after it was over. I would love to try Houdini’s Room Escape. I’ve wanted to try one of those for quite a while, although I think that’d be more fun with a larger group of friends. But it would still be awesome. $28 is a bit more than I want to spend, but it does seem a good price for that experience. I don’t know, we’ll see. If you have any suggestions on what we can do, I would love it if you left them in the comments.


Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg



Amelia Bentley’s family life has left her broken hearted and she finds her safe haven in a little town called Maple Valley. She was accepted by the townspeople, started a job working at a newspaper that she loved, and began to build a life for herself.

Then we have Logan Walker. He is a young widowed man with a 3 year old who is not yet talking and a budding career as a speech writer. He normally has it all together, but lately, not so much.

The story begins with Logan finding himself as the new owner of the newspaper where Amelia works. He plans on selling to a larger newspaper that will close it down, but Amelia can’t stand the thought of her beloved newspaper no longer existing. Not the best start to a relationship.

Despite this, the two of them grow closer, break down walls, and begin healing, but not without a few speed bumps along the way.


Some of these Christian Romance novels can be quite cheesy, but this is NOT one of them. Melissa Tagg had me hooked from the very beginning with just the exchange of emails between the two characters. Seriously, their ‘conversation’ just drew me in and made me laugh. I also love that this story is so much more than just a love story; it shows struggles that the many different characters go through.

With my history with anxiety, my brain is very much drawn to people dealing with mental and emotional issues in stories; it tends to be a focal point for my brain. In my summary above I briefly mentioned that Amelia is dealing with past heartache. I don’t want to ruin the story, so I won’t go into too much detail in case you haven’t read it yet (you should!), but I will say that her pain has caused her to close herself off mentally and emotionally. The people of Maple Valley have accepted her and she’s very active in the community, but she never really opens up or lets anyone in.

That’s something that definitely resonated with me. My anxiety has normally caused me to put on a mask, to be too afraid to let people see just how anxious and bad I was feeling (although I’ve been doing soooo much better the last couple of years and have really opened up!). It’s hard to let someone in and really see what you are feeling and dealing with. And that makes the idea of finding someone like Logan even more appealing. How wonderful it would be to find a man you could actually really open up to and know would still love you anyway; A man who would help you through those tough times.

Logan’s issues have been since his wife died. After going through that, he has found himself getting further and further away from God. I think he still wants to believe, but he’s just so…lost, so hurt. I know the pain of losing someone, but not a spouse and I, thankfully, didn’t experience the drifting from God. If I hadn’t clung to Him, I wouldn’t have made it through. But I can see how that could happen to someone.

It’s a wonderful story about growing in Christ and and a wonderful love story. To sum it up: it’s an excellent book and should definitely read it. Plus, I didn’t realize that it was the second book in the series so now I get to go and read the first one! If her other books are like this one, she is going to be one of my favorite authors.

Whole30 Again

So I’ve decided to do the Whole30 again. My first time was successful, but the last time? No so much. This Whole30 has actually been easier than the previous times. I’m sure it helped that I didn’t binge on all of the bad stuff before I began a week ago (I’m just about to finish up day 7! Woohoo!). I started eating healthier a week or two before hand, so, at least as of yet, I haven’t been through the hangover phase, the kill all the things phase, or the I just want to nap phase which are normally days 2-7.

But the worst thing for me has always been the prep. Oh, the prep. This time I premade some things the weekend before I started. I made and froze fully cooked meatballs (4 meals worth), hamburger patties ready to cook, and some spaghetti meat sauce that is frozen and just needs to be heated up. Plus, I have some items that I can buy straight from the store that don’t require much work. For example, a Simple Truth rotisserie chicken and Aidell’s Chicken and Apple sausages (I wasn’t sure how these would taste, but they were actually delicious!). The former is already cooked, hot, and read to eat and the latter can be heated up quickly as they are already fully cooked as well. Stuff like this definitely makes the Whole30 much easier.


Ooh, another thing I got right this time was the mayo. I don’t think you can buy any mayonnaise that is Whole30 approved, but you can make some. Last time, I tried making the mayo once or twice and it did not turn out well. This time, I made it using my food processor instead of a hand blender and that combined with this recipe turned out some good mayo! Not as flavorful as the store bought kind, but still good.

Here is the recipe I used that was found on

Whole30 Mayo

1 egg (the original source says to bring it to room temp, but I didn’t and it was fine)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
3/4 cup light olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine egg, garlic, lemon juice and mustard in food processor. Blend until smooth. Slowly stream oil in while blending. Take your time with this step…pour in a slow, thin stream. The mayo will emulsify and thicken as it’s added. Refrigerate.

If you’ve done, or are currently doing, the Whole30, what are some of your go-to recipes?