Saving Grace … and a Giveaway!

I’ve mentioned my friend Kim a few times in my writings here. If you’ve been stopping by this blog for the past few years, you might remember that Kim was one of the first people I met when I began blogging over seven years ago. When I first started reading Kim’s blog, I remember thinking that without fail, her words were always so positive and uplifting. I loved that about her writing … and had to wonder what it was that drew her to mine! Whatever it was, our connection through writing made us fast friends. Kim’s faith and positivity have been always been an inspiration. We’ve blogged together, we’ve talked on the phone, and we’ve met in person. I’ve stayed pretty faithful to blogging, while Kim has stepped away at times to focus on writing books. And in spite of our lack of in-person connection, our friendship has only grown stronger over the years. And I was honored when she provided me an advance copy of her latest book and asked me to write the cover review!

Kimberly McKay came on the scene as an author with her first book, Finding KylieSome of the peripheral characters of that first story were brought into the limelight in her second book, Facing Redemptionwhich in turn, spun off Kim’s third book, Coming Home

Saving Grace Cover BSaving Grace is Kimberly McKay’s fourth and latest novel, and it tells a parallel story to Kim’s last book, Coming Home. In Saving Grace, we meet Grace Aundine, a young, beautiful, twenty-something girl whose life seems nothing short of fabulous … at first glance. But beneath the surface, Grace feels her life is lacking all the things that are really important.

Orphaned at the age of seven, Grace and her older sister, Anne are taken in by grandparents they never before knew existed. The two young girls are suddenly thrown into a life of privilege in the Hamptons. With every luxury at their disposal, life should have been nothing short of a fairy tale. But the sisters soon learned that the security and unconditional love they’d known with their parents were things of the past. Their overbearing grandmother had made it abundantly clear that above all else, it was appearances that mattered most. The facade of perfection maintained by their grandmother only masked a life of loneliness. At least the two sisters had each other. But as Anne grew older and more independent, friction in the household increased. And when Anne enrolled at a college that didn’t meet their grandmother’s approval, she gradually disappeared from Grace’s world.

Grace, always the optimist and eternal people-pleaser, makes the best of her diminishing family ties and does all that she can to stay in her grandparents’ good graces, even dating a man who meets her grandmother’s strict standards. Grace’s heart isn’t exactly on fire for Zach, but she’s sure, with time, she’ll feel the stirrings of true love. That is, until she gets the annoying sense that her grandmother has had a less-than benevolent hand in orchestrating the relationship. It seems that her grandmother’s matchmaking had little to do with Grace’s happiness and everything to do with appearances. Why was she surprised? To make matter’s worse, Grace realizes Zach’s intentions are less honorable than either she or her grandmother could have known, and she suddenly finds herself in real physical danger.

God’s hand is on Grace’s shoulder as she escapes Zach’s grasp, but in so doing, finds herself estranged from the few people she still calls family. Alone, and with limited resources for the first time in years, Grace wonders how long she can manage on her own. She misses her parents more than ever before, and feels a renewed ache at her sister’s abandonment. All she’s ever done is try to make her loved ones happy and she wonders now how she could have mattered so little to them.

Knowing she has likely only temporarily distanced herself from a dangerous and abusive relationship, Grace worries where she’ll go and how she’ll manage on her own. Sitting on a beach, staring out into the ocean, at a loss as to what to do next, Grace isn’t sure how to move on. And just when she’s at her lowest point, along comes Nathanial Davis Burkette to save the day. Grace doesn’t make the greatest first impression on “Burke” and the last thing he needs is some damsel in distress to clutter up his quiet life, but he can’t deny the tug on his heartstrings.

Kimberly McKay has truly come into her own as an author with Saving Grace. This book holds just the right balance of suspense and romance, along with a bit of humor and a sprinkling of Kim’s unshakable faith in God. The characters are a beautiful blend of human frailty and strength and I love the way the story emphasizes that no matter who we are, no matter our position or circumstances in this world, the one thing we all want in this life is stability and love.

If you’re looking for a fun and adventurous read, I highly recommend Saving Grace. You can find it on Amazon, or better yet, register to win a free signed copy here.


I admit it. I read the Twilight books. Every last one of them. And I thoroughly enjoyed them too!  So much so that I could not put them down. Laugh if you want. I don’t care.

I was reminded of my enjoyment of these books when I saw thatTwilight, the movie was on television last night.  You won’t count me among the ranks of fans who can’t get enough of these movies, by the way. They are poorly acted and do not do the books justice. I know grown women who align themselves with Team Edward or Team Jacob and are anxiously awaiting the moment they can attend the premier of the latest Twilight movie. Not me. I rarely enjoy the movie if I loved the book anyway, so this comes as no surprise to me.

But as I said, I did enjoy the books enough to count them among some of my favorites.  And I’m sure there are many that would have to wonder why? 

The premise is downright ridiculous. A family of modern-day vampires, the Cullens live among the town folk in almost complete anonymity. All of the Cullens possess such physical beauty that anyone who encounters them nearly goes weak in the knees. They never eat food and never sleep. Their skin is cold to the touch and hard as smooth marble. Their complexions are white as snow and their lips are blood red. And yet no one living among these vampires has ever stopped to wonder that there is something extraordinarily different about them.

Sure. That could happen.

But the thing about these books, at least for me, is that even as I begin to read and am scoffing at the story line, I begin to buy into it.  Suddenly it seems plausible to me that there is a family of vampires, who has managed to deny their appetite for human blood in favor of animal blood in the interest of living in harmony with their human neighbors. I completely accept that they exist and that their skin sparkles like diamonds when exposed to sunlight. And that they can run and drive at mach speed without coming to any harm. And they never sleep and possess superhuman strength. And that one of them would fall passionately, hopelessly, desperately in love with a gangly, insecure human girl who possesses physical perfection that rivals that of the vampires yet somehow has not a single clue about her drastic beauty.

And lets not forget the families of werewolves who also somehow manage to go unnoticed among the humans. Hmmm. We humans are a rather oblivious group, aren’t we?

Like I said, it’s ridiculous! What logical person would buy into this stuff?

Me, and millions of others apparently. And do you know why? Because ridiculous as it is, it’s a fantastic, passionate, dramatic, exciting escape. Ever read the Harry Potter books? Remember how you felt when you first began to read about all of those things that seemed medieval yet were somehow meshed into the modern world? It was a wildly unbelievable story that we couldn’t wait to dive into. And who can’t use an escape every now and then?

I sure can. When it comes time to pick out a new book, I’ll take adventure and romance and passion and drama and a happy ending over reality any day. It’s a cheap vacation for me!

So what about you? Where do you like to escape?

Meeting Kim

I am so lucky. For the second time this month, I’ve had the privilege of meeting a blog friend in person!

I first “met” Kim in my early days of blogging and we became fast friends. I liked Kim immediately for her positive attitude and ability to see the silver lining in any situation. In fact, she is the one who inspired me to write those weekly “Life is Good” posts, which I no longer write, which is not a reflection whatsoever on the state of my life. It is merely a reflection on my inability to stick with any kind of writing routine.

Kim writes the blog Worn Out Woman. She writes there rather infrequently these days, but who could blame her since she’s actually become a published author? Yep, you heard me right. Kim wrote a whole book! An amazing book! I thoroughly enjoyed Finding Kylie which is now on its way to becoming a Hallmark movie! You should totally get yourself a copy and read it. (Shameless plug for my friend’s book, I know.)

I have communicated with Kim online for years now. We’ve texted one another, kept up on Facebook, and have talked on the phone. But this was the first we’ve had a chance to meet. It was all very spur-of-the-moment, but we made it work! Kim was in town on business and when we figured out her hotel was a mere 20 minutes from me, we decided to get together.

Obligatory fuzzy cell-phone picture taken by our very bubbly waitress

I picked up Kim at her hotel and we made a quick drive over to the Mall of America where we found a place to eat. I couldn’t tell you the name of the restaurant. All I can tell you is that Kim and I took turns talking non-stop for the entire time we were together. We realized how much we have in common and it was so comfortable spending time with her, it was if I’d known her forever!

After dinner, we walked around the mall a bit, picked up a gift of Legos for her little guy at home, and proceeded to get lost while trying to find our way back out of the mall. Don’t worry. We weren’t lost for too long before things began to look familiar and we found our way to the place we’d first entered. Too soon, I was dropping Kim back at her hotel and we were saying goodbye. I feel like there wasn’t nearly enough time. I have so much more to tell her and there’s so much more I want to know about her. So I guess we’re just going to have to make this happen again!

Snow Again

Two days ago, there was a steady, all-day rain. The snow in the front yard had begun to melt away and I could even see hints of green in the matted-down grass. Overnight Tuesday and most of the day yesterday, it snowed. Heavily. The predicted one to three inches turned out to be more like seven.

Rush hour traffic was a nightmare yesterday morning. My normal twenty-minute commute took an hour and fifteen minutes. This was thanks to a jack-knifed semi trailer right in the heart of Spaghetti Junction on I-94. The highway patrol closed down the right lane and traffic was backed up for miles. The jack-knifed semi was reported to be carrying a trailer full of fresh eggs. (Good thing it was so cold out! Can you imagine the smell if that wreck had happened on a hot day?) So as bad as I thought my day was starting, it was nothing compared to the one the driver of that truck was having. Besides, I left the house a good hour before I normally would have, so I just relaxed and listened to music knowing I would get to work on time.

The truck was in such a bad spot that it was decided there would be no attempt to haul it away before the morning rush had ended. Removing it must have been a bigger problem than anticipated. It was still there when I left work at 5:00.

Later next week it is supposed to warm up again, so hopefully that means that spring will be coming to stay this time. I’m so done with winter. I need to get back outside again, feel the sun, and see color.

I just finished reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, about a girl who watches her family from Heaven after she is murdered. (I know this book was all the rage a year ago. I’m always behind the times on these things.)

I loved the perspective of this book – the concept that Heaven looks different for each person, depending on who they are and where they were at in life when they left it. This book also led to the possibility that people still learn and grow even after they’ve left this world. The main character, Susie, spends years in “her Heaven” watching her family members. She watches them grieve and she observes the way each one copes with their loss. She spends time with them and lives vicariously through her younger sister, doing and feeling all the things she was robbed of when her life was taken. She spends time as well, learning more about her murderer and following his twisted life over the years, even finding a way to protect another girl from the same fate she suffered.

I enjoyed this book and am ready to download a new one to my Nook. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my Nook? I go nowhere without it!) I’ve been making note of books that others have mentioned on their blogs and am ready for a good can’t-put-it-down kind of book. So tell me. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

With a Really Good Book

From the time when I first learned to read, I discovered something about books. They had the potential to be a doorway into another world. Not every book was such a doorway, of course, but many were.

I loved to read so much that some of my most vivid memories of my childhood are of the trips my sister and I took to the public library. We would walk or ride our bikes those couple of miles and spend our time browsing the book shelves and gathering up as many as we could carry back home. I loved to find books I’d never read before, but I was also just as likely to borrow one I’d read time and again. One of my biggest wishes was for a back pack so that I could easily ride my bike to and from the library without fear of dropping all my books.

The thing that made me such a book-worm back then is the reason I still love to read. With a good book, I can step out of my own world and live in another for a while. With a really good book, there comes a sense of reluctance to turn the last page and find that it’s time to go back home again. (One drawback to the Nook, by the way, is that unless I pay attention to the tiny page numbers in the top corner of the screen, it is very likely I’ll have no idea how near I am to the end of the story.) With a really good book, I can be sure that the story has played itself out, can see it winding down to its closing, can settle into that sense of contentment that the characters are ready to ease back into a peaceful, safe, uneventful existence. And then, BAM! Just one more twist appears and makes it impossible for me to tear myself from the pages once again. A really good book makes me hesitate to go find another because I’m not yet ready to leave behind the people I’ve come to know and love within the pages.

But of course, I can’t live long without stepping into another world. So I will choose another one.

*Just in case you were wondering, it was this book that most recently frustrated me by coming to an end.

The Best Gift I Never Wanted

Before I left for work on Monday, while my husband was still sleeping, I took out the Valentine’s Day card I’d been hiding from him, signed it, sealed it, and left it on the bathroom vanity where I knew he’d see it when he woke up later on. He called me at work later in the day, to say goodbye before he left for work for the evening and to thank me for the card.

“Sorry I didn’t have your card out for you this morning when you woke up,” he said. “You went to bed at the same time as me, so there was no way for me to sneak it out without you seeing.”

“No biggie,” I said. I really didn’t mind. After all, by my own admission, Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark Holiday.

“It will be waiting for you when you come home from work,” he said.

We said our goodbyes, and when I arrived home later that afternoon, I found my card waiting for me just where I’d left his, on the bathroom vanity. (What can I say? It’s the one place we’re sure the other will be at some point in the day and the most likely place to make sure something is found.)

But there was something more than just a card waiting for me. That stinker had bought me a gift too. There were two boxes beneath my card. My first reaction was to feel bad because I had not bought him a gift. After all, it wasn’t a real holiday and we weren’t supposed to be buying gifts for one another, but Mark doesn’t always follow the rules in regards to such things.

I brought my gifts to the living room and opened them while Kacey watched with eager anticipation. Clearly, she knew what was inside and couldn’t wait to see my reaction. I unwrapped the boxes carefully, all the while asking Kacey why her dad thought it was alright to buy me a gift when we weren’t supposed to buy each other gifts for holidays that aren’t real holidays. She just smiled, looking like she was ready to burst. “It’s because you’re so easy to buy for,” she said.

Finally, the boxes were opened, revealing the treasures inside – an e-reader and a protective cover. I was stunned. I really didn’t deserve such a gift. And I was thrilled. I do love my gadgets and my husband knows this well. I immediately plugged it in and began to play and explore. Kacey went back to her laptop and cell phone while I periodically announced, “This is SO cool! You have to see this! Hey, look what this does! Oh my gosh, look at all the books I have to choose from!”

The Nook!

Mark had really outdone himself. He knows my love of gadgets as well as my love of reading. He knew I’d drooled over these things a time or two but would never have bought one for myself.

After about the millionth time of announcing to Kacey, “This is SO cool,” Kacey teased, “You can stop bragging now.” I decided I’d better call Mark at work and thank him for such an incredible gift.

He answered right away. “Hello?”

“I love it,” I said. “I love it. I love it. Oh my gosh, it’s so cool. I love it!” And then because he’d expect no less of me, I scolded him, “Why did you get me a gift for Valentine’s Day? You weren’t supposed to by me anything. I didn’t buy you anything.”

“I just wanted to,” he defended himself.

“You weren’t supposed to,” I reiterated. “It’s too much. We have more important things to spend our money on.”

“I have a job,” he said. “I can spend my money any way I like. You can’t tell me not to buy you a present if I want to.”

“Yes I can,” I said. “You shouldn’t be doing stuff like this.”

“Well I did.” And then he added, “Are you downstairs right now?”


“See that bookshelf next to the fireplace that’s overflowing with books?”


“Now we can clean out that mess!”

“That’s not a mess,” I said! “Those are my books! That’s a bookshelf. It’s supposed to look that way. Those shelves wouldn’t be happy if they weren’t crammed full of books.”

“I’m just saying,” he said, “that maybe we can clean some of those out of there.”

“Okay, maybe,” I agreed. “And promise me,” I demanded, “that you won’t buy me anything for our anniversary. This is more than enough.”

“I’m not promising that.”

“Yes you are,” I insisted. “I’ll be mad if you buy me anything else. Now promise.”

He laughed, “You can’t make me promise that and you won’t be mad.”

“Yes I can and yes I will.”

“I won’t spend any more than twenty bucks.”

“Nope,” I insisted.

He laughed again. “I’m glad you like it. I don’t care that you didn’t get me a gift. I knew you would like this and that’s why I got it for you.”

“I love it,” I said again. “Thank you.”

“Go enjoy it,” he said. “I need to get back to work.”

I do really love it. And what impresses me even more than the gift itself, is that my husband took the time to think about what brings me enjoyment and went to such great lengths to find a gift he knew I’d really love. I don’t always give him the credit he deserves and so this post is not so much to brag about my new toy, but to brag – publicly –  about what a thoughtful and loving thing my husband did.

I’ve already downloaded my first book and it’s tempting to sit and read and do nothing else. So if you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know what I’m up to.  ;-)