Monday, August 31, 2015

What I Learned in August

What did I learn in August?

Well, friends, I learned a lot about myself and not all of it was pretty. But I'll be honest and say that some of it is good for me to know, so that I can continue growing and learning and changing as an adult.

Adulting is hard.

In fact, let's make that the first in the list....

Austen in August Update


I did not finish even one book by Jane Austen during the month of August.

I feel like I've failed.

Except, I didn't.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Simply Tuesday - more than just a day of the week

To say that I was excited about reading Emily Freeman's new book Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World is truly an understatement. Even if you're only an occasional visitor to Fresh-Brewed Writer, you know that I've been in a season of great change for quite some time now.  The idea of a book that focuses on small-moment living truly appealed to me.

"Tuesday holds the ordinary, the everyday, and the small," Freeman writes. But did she decide to dismiss Tuesday? Ignore Tuesday? On the contrary, "I decided to mark them, to celebrate on purpose the messy, the lovely, and the unexpected moments of life."

In essence, celebrating "Simply Tuesday" has become so much more. On Instagram there is the fun hashtag #itssimplytuesday wherein the community of Tuesday dwellers celebrates the ordinary, small things in our lives that are worth noting. For me, it has become a way to look at the small, to take moments to sit and breathe, and to celebrate the ever-constant, often-quiet presence of Emmanuel, "God With Us" in this very human and often unsacred life.

The best chapters, for me, were "Success and Envy" and "Stairwells and Stages." I think the important wisdom offered there was perfect for me as I read this book in the midst of living as simply as I ever have--in our new house in Georgia with air mattresses and suitcases until our belongings and furniture arrived from Alaska.

If you're looking for a quiet moment to breathe in the midst of turmoil or busyness or even just LIFE, please order this book from your favorite bookseller. {I don't offer affiliate links.}

Barnes & Noble

Special thanks to Revell books for a review copy of this wonderful book, and thank you to Emily Freeman and Daniel Decker for inviting me to be a part of the launch team.

Monday, August 17, 2015

For the Love Review

I got this book as I was preparing to move across North America. For the Love gave me laughter, it gave me teary-eyed moments, and it gave me new phrases, like "off the beam" and "leggings as pants" (just say no, friends...) and the best of all: "Be Kind. Be You. Love Jesus."

If there is a book you want to give to all your friends, this would be the one. Jen Hatmaker has a smart and sassy sense of humor, and this book makes all of us feel that she's our very own bestie. She speaks truth in love and humor.

Here is my endorsement of the book. It wasn't chosen to be printed in the book itself, but it's on the website.

Biblical, humorous, poignant, and sometimes just a little bit irreverent, every chapter in Jen Hatmaker’s latest book For the Love is focused on what the title says: Everything we do, we do for the Love: love for God, love for His Son Jesus, love for His people. All His people: the people in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, in the world. I laughed and cried in turn, and my heart was moved to love God and His people in real and tangible ways. What more could one ask for in one book?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

31 Days of . . .

Oh goodness, friends. I haven't been blogging as much this week as last week. Getting my girls geared up for school (younger settled into 10th grade, older ready to move to college next week) has been my top priority.

So when I got an email today about the Write 31 Days community changing hostesses and gearing up for another October full of writing and fun, I was a bit jarred. Um, it's August. For the love!

But it's never too early to plan. So I will give myself next week to drive to Oklahoma and back home to Georgia, and I'll have plenty of car ride time to think of something. My best idea was last year's challenge. But who knows, with a move to another region of this great nation, maybe I can think of some other things too.

The Nester is the creator and original hostess, and Crystal is taking over this year as the challenge's hostess.

Also, I think I need to learn Periscope.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Austen in August? Yes, please!

My friend Leann posted about this reading challenge at Roof Beam Reader (intro post is here, master post is here) and I decided to go all in! I have been unpacking my books a few at a time, deciding which unread ones I want to read (and putting the ones I don't or no longer wish to own in the list or the donation box). I have unearthed five Austenesque fiction and nonfiction books I haven't yet read, so I am going to read them during August. I have filled my July with fictiony fluff, so reading Austen may be a good grounding experience for me.

I will also add Emma to my Kindle as well, because I haven't read it in a while. I reread Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility over the past several months, so it's about time for an Emma reread.

Friday, July 31, 2015

What I Learned in July...

Emily Freeman started it.

No, really, she did. And then my friend Teri Lynne continued it. So now for the first time I'm joining in.

1. Georgia is hot. 

2. After four years living in Alaska, I didn't think I'd miss it this much. But I do. I miss my friends, the familiarity, the mountain views, and of course the moose.

3. I stressed about and struggled with our choice of internet service provider when we realized (after we purchased the house and moved all the way in) that we are in a rural area and only had one choice: satellite (well, either that or pay just as much for a hotspot in the house with less data, that might not be reliable in service based on my cell phone coverage in the house). Imagine my relief when I saw a photo on The Nester's blog of her satellite dishes. JUST LIKE MINE except she has a cute flower bed. I felt better. She's a pro and she has the same internet as I do. I felt much better (and now that we've used up our "high speed' we're on regular speed, and may I just say it's just fine for just using the internet? I did cancel Netflix, though).

4. Apparently a supportive wife sitting in the front seat of the car while her husband drives most of the 6000+ miles across North America, holding her Kindle, can injure her shoulder enough to require a trip to the doctor for prescription-strength naproxen and a packet of physical therapy exercises to do for the next two weeks. Who knew reading was so hazardous?

5. I am blessed indeed as a book reviewer. I have been getting advance copies of books I have longed to read ever since I first heard of their existence, and they're blessing my socks off! Stay tuned to my newly-active blog for more book reviews over the next six weeks or so.

6. I read 20 books this month alone. I still have 16 boxes of books and teaching materials to sort through that are sitting in our very hot garage. With all the lizards who are hiding behind them. 

What have you learned this month?

Dancing Through Life - Review and Giveaway

Welcome to my review and giveaway of Candace Cameron Bure's new book Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction (written with Erin Davis).

I received a copy of the book in exchange for my review, and thanks to Icon Media I'll be able to offer a giveaway as well!

Pattie and her addiction

So I'm a book addict. I think we all know that by now, right?

I did spend last October writing about my favorite books, after all...
Now I am going to take a moment and catch up on what I have been reading lately.

First, I wanted to update my 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

When it was first announced that Harper Lee had a second book, a predecessor of sorts to her beloved and wonderful To Kill a Mockingbird, I think many of us who are readers and writers and teachers were first shocked, then delighted. Another novel by Lee! How wonderful! Of course it should be published with pomp and ceremony and fanfare!

I know that there is much debate in the press about this novel, not only about the odd timing (after Alice Lee’s death, it was suddenly found underneath a Mockingbird manuscript), but also that it was the rough first novel that led to the editor suggesting the change in point of view and age of the heroine. I read a couple of articles on the eve of its publication with attention-grabbing headlines about Atticus Finch being a racist, and I decided then and there to avoid reading anything else (including my friends’ reviews and comments on social media sites) and, to borrow a line from The Great Gatsby’s narrator Nick, “to reserve all judgments” until I had finished the book myself.

Monday, May 18, 2015

CFBA Presents: The Art of Losing Yourself

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Art of Losing Yourself
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
Katie Ganshert


Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.


Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together.  But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Art of Losing Yourself, go HERE.

Friday, May 08, 2015

MORE by Tammie Head

"Messy. We're all feeling it." Thus opens Tammie Head's debut book More: From Messes to Miracles.

"I wish my story were prettier."

Don't we all.

Tammie's story is certainly messy, with plenty of situations one doesn't often find in a Christian book.

"God, You know stories like mine aren't so acceptable in church."

Praise God that He provided Tammie the opportunity to tell her messy beautiful story. Because it is messy. And it is so, so beautiful.

Tammie Head's story is a remarkable one, mostly because of her willingness to share it. It's real and not pretty and if I'm honest, sometimes difficult for this mom of two teenage girls to read.

But there is hope found within this book's pages. Tammie advocates a real faith that begins in the pages of the Bible and meets people where they are: in the back room of a strip club; in a sandwich shop; in the backyard chain-smoking cigarettes; even in the pews of church.

I recommend this book for women who think their story is too messy for church people. Too messy for good Christians. Too messy for God. Because the fact is, God is still in the miracle business, and nothing is impossible with Him. No life is too messy for Jesus to work with.

This book would be good for a book club or for friends to read together. I wouldn't say it's a Bible study, per se, although Scripture permeates each page and most of the chapters conclude with good questions to discuss. But for a group looking to discuss the messy that leads to the miracle, this book would be wonderful for you.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Book Review: Heart Sisters

My copy of the book with Hiland Mountain in the background. #Alaska

I am on the launch team for Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to Have by Natalie Snapp.

I will preface this review by saying that I haven't finished the book, even though I fully intended to finish it before today (graduation, moving prep, working, and other things notwithstanding). It's just not a book one can rush. This book is so rich. Rich in wisdom, rich in Biblical examples, rich in so many good, good things.

The title alone, when I first heard about the book from my longtime friend Teri Lynne (you can read what she thinks of both the book and 19-year-old me here), was enough to capture my heart. You see, I haven't always had good experiences with friends--but every time I went through those tough times, I had other friends who came along beside me to help me heal and grow stronger, to speak truth to me and let me know I was not alone.

I have many acquaintances, but a much smaller group of heart friends. I believe in seasons of friendship, and I know that right now I am truly blessed with many women close by with whom I can share my heart. I know that as I prepare yet again to move to a new location and make new friends, that this book will go with me and help me as I forge new bonds of friendship, and as I continue to nurture my current friendships from a distance.

Chapter topics include our relationship with God, forgiveness, dealing with friendship conflicts, daughters, digital friendship etiquette, and setting boundaries. There are study questions after each chapter, making this the ideal summer or fall Bible study - leaders take note! (Especially PWOC groups--this book is great! I think so far it has offered me much to consider in our mobile subculture.)

Highly, highly recommend. And yes, I will finish this book. :)

Note: Contest Details:

One lucky winner will receive a "Girl's Night Out" - includes a $100 Visa card, mani/pedi kit, fun summer polish, a clutch handbag and a camera. You can enter by going to my Facebook Author Page ( and clicking the "Girl's Night Out Giveaway" tab. Follow the directions and voila! You're entered.
The mobile friendly link is:

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Natalie and her publisher, Abingdon Press, for the paperback copy (and the NetGalley copy too!) of the book.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

CFBA presents: Mist of Midnight

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Mist of Midnight
Howard Books (March 10, 2015)
Sandra Byrd


After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. The Tudor series’ end cap, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

A life-long lover of Victorian Gothic romances, Sandra’s new series, Daughters of Hampshire, weaves elements of that mystical, traditional genre with inspirational and literary threads. Mist of Midnight, the series’ first book, debuts in March, 2015.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens, and is passionate about helping new authors develop their talent and their work toward traditional or independent publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.


In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Mist of Midnight, go HERE.

Monday, March 09, 2015

CFBA presents: The Spy of Richmond

{Note: I haven't received my copy of the book, so no review yet.}
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Spy of Richmond
River North (March 1, 2015)
Jocelyn Green


Jocelyn Green is a child of God, wife and mom living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is also an award-winning journalist, author, editor and blogger. Though she has written nonfiction on a variety of topics, her name is most widely recognized for her ministry to military wives: Faith Deployed. Her passion for the military family was fueled by her own experience as a military wife, and by the dozens of interviews she has conducted with members of the military for her articles and books, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and its sequel, Faith Deployed...Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. She is also co-author of both Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front (forthcoming, May 2012). Her Faith Deployed Web site and Facebook page continue to provide ongoing support, encouragement and resources for military wives worldwide.


Trust none. Risk all. Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Compelled to atone for the sins of her slaveholding father, Union loyalist Sophie Kent risks everything to help end the war from within the Confederate capital and abolish slavery forever. But she can't do it alone. Former slave Bella Jamison sacrifices her freedom to come to Richmond, where her Union soldier husband is imprisoned, and her twin sister still lives in bondage in Sophie's home. Though it may cost them their lives, they work with Sophie to betray Rebel authorities. Harrison Caldwell, a Northern freelance journalist who escorts Bella to Richmond, infiltrates the War Department as a clerk-but is conscripted to defend the city's fortifications.

As Sophie's spy network grows, she walks a tightrope of deception, using her father's position as newspaper editor and a suitor's position in the ordnance bureau for the advantage of the Union. One misstep could land her in prison, or worse. Suspicion hounds her until she barely even trusts herself. When her espionage endangers the people she loves, she makes a life-and-death gamble.

Will she follow her convictions even though it costs her everything-and everyone-she holds dear?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Spy of Richmond, go HERE.