Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker


I am not a bandwagon reader, so I just read “7″ this summer, a couple of years later than many in Christian circles. I think that it was the right time for me to read it, to be honest, as this is a bonus summer for us: the rare gift of an extension on my husband’s assignment combined with not being able to teach, meant I had the entire summer to go through the house room by room, through closets, drawers, and storage shelves, in a pre-PCS purge. “7″ met me right where I was.

After reading the book and her blog for a while, I requested to blog about Interrupted for Jen Hatmaker’s blog tour, and I chose to blog here at Wives of Faith. In Jen’s own words, this is “the book of my heart, the single one I’d keep if I had to choose.” After reading it, I can see why. “7″ is merely a sequel. . . .

I'm over on Wives of Faith reviewing Jen Hatmaker's revised book Interrupted. Please head on over to Wives of Faith to read the rest of my review, and learn how you can enter the giveaway for a paperback copy of the book.

(Note: the link to the book is through Amazon Smile, which will donate a portion of your purchase to a charity of your choice. Please consider Wives of Faith, Inc. as your organization, and help support military wives ministry.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Perfect Life Begone

Are you ready for #BraverLiving ? Read on...


Are you crumbling under the burden of perfection?

You know the expectations are unreasonable–even unreachable.
And when everyone else seems more together than you, where do you turn for help?

Meet Kathi, a disguised perfectionist always looking to put everyone else's needs above her own, and Cheri, a formerly confused and exhausted poster girl for playing it safe. They've struggled just like you–and found the cure. With unabashed empathy and humor, they invite you to take part in their rebellion against perfection. Step-by-step they'll teach you how to challenge and change unhealthy beliefs. As they free you from always seeking more or needing the approval of others, you'll discover a new, braver way of living. At last, you'll exchange outdated views of who you should be for a clearer vision of who you are in Christ.

The truth is you don't have to be perfect.

You just have to be brave enough to read this book.

The Review:

When I found out I had been accepted into the launch team for this book, I thought I was pretty blessed indeed. I know perfectionism is something I've struggled with for my whole life, and often I feel like I'm alone in my struggles. What I didn't expect was finding a tribe of women on this launch team who I consider "My People." They struggle in many of the same ways I do. They all thought they were the only ones who struggled with the P-Bullies: Perfectionism, Procrastination, People-Pleasing, and Performancism. Guess what? We aren't. Those bullies are everywhere, especially in Christian women's circles. They do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, geographical location, socioeconomic status, education level, or size. 

Guess what else? Now we're all rebels. 

I am so thankful to Kathi and Cheri for writing this book. It is wonderful. It's practical, honest, has a quiz for each chapter so the reader can self-assess, and suggestions for "tiny acts of rebellion" to fight against the P-Bullies. It is sprinkled with other women's stories as well as ones from Kathi and Cheri, and I gleaned so much from this book.

Do it. Be a rebel. Join the #BraverLiving rebellion against these bullies. You can read more on the book's Facebook community page too.

My copy of the book, with summer reading program bookmark and a bracelet I won in an auction to raise money for an online friend's husband's medical bills. He passed away before the auction occurred. This bracelet will remind me to pray for her, and it will remind me to make the braver choice in fighting these P-Bullies.

If you'd like to win a copy of this book, leave a comment on this post!

Other resources:

The Blog Tour for #BraverLiving


Website Link:  http://www.TheCureForThePerfectLife.com


FREE download of Chapter 1:  http://www.thecurefortheperfectlife.com/downloads/chapter1.pdf 

Facebook Page (aka “Braver Living Rebel Headquarters”):
http://www.Facebook.com/TinyActsOfRebellion



PODCASTS:  Listen to Kathi and Cheri (the authors) chat about the 4 P "Bullies."
*Part 1
*Part 2
**Giveaway Details** 
To be eligible for this sweepstakes-type book giveaway, please leave a comment on this post before midnight Pacific time on Friday, August 29, 2014.
I will use Random.org to choose a winner, who will receive a signed copy
of this book as a prize directly from the authors and their publisher. 

 **Review Details** 
I received a copy of this book as part of the launch team from the publisher, Harvest House, solely for review and promotion purposes, with no other expectation than I post an honest review.

Monday, August 04, 2014

CFBA: A Heart to Heal by Allie Pleiter

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heart to Heal
Love Inspired (July 15, 2014)
by
Allie Pleiter


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and nonfiction. An avid knitter, harp player and non-reformed chocoholic, she spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in speech from Northwestern University and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The "dare from a friend" to begin writing eight years ago has blossomed into a career that includes numerous public speaking engagements, two books on parenting; Becoming a Chief Home Officer and Facing Every Mom's Fears and now novels for Steeple Hill Books. She is the mother of two children and, most recently, a Havanese dog named Bella.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Courage To Hope.

Guidance counselor Heather Browning is desperate. She needs a mentor to help Simon, a disabled student who is struggling at Gordon Falls High School. Unfortunately, hotshot Max Jones is her only option. Confrontational and cavalier, Max uses his flashy persona to hide the bitterness he's felt since his life-changing accident. Perpetually cautious, Heather finds Max's bad-boy bravado as intriguing as it is infuriating. But as Heather and Max work together to build Simon's self-confidence, they begin to trust each other. Max has never been slow and careful with anything. Can he be gentle with Heather's heart?

Gordon Falls: Hearts ablaze in a small town.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of A Heart to Heal, go HERE.

Pattie's Review:

Love Inspired books are a known quantity, and a known quality. When a reader of inspirational fiction picks up one of these smallish books, s/he knows what it will be and how it will end pretty much right away. The journey to the happily-ever-after, though, is the fun part.

Enter Allie Pleiter and A Heart to Heal. Max "Hot Wheels" Jones and Heather Browning's romance is the most different Love Inspired story I think I've ever read. So if you're looking for a different kind of story in this genre of known quantities, choose Allie's August novel. I recommend it for a nice end-of-summer story.




Monday, July 21, 2014

CFBA presents Firewall by DiAnn Mills

My review follows the CFBA post.
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Firewall
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 1, 2014)
by
DiAnn Mills


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops.

DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/diannmills


ABOUT THE BOOK

After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.

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

Pattie's Review:

Wow. I really enjoyed this book. It was a really good story with fun characters. I think it would make a good movie too! The story was plausible, not outlandish or unbelievable. The mystery was a good one and very difficult to unravel. I was surprised by the ending, and that, my friends is rare indeed. I can't really say much more about that or I'll break the reviewer code and give spoilers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Where is your focus?

I'm on the blog at Wives of Faith today.

This summer has been...different. I have two teenagers, so it's getting harder and harder to find time to do fun things together as a family. My oldest daughter got a part-time job, and both girls are taking summer school as well as summer dance classes. Since I wasn't able to teach a summer course myself this year, and all attempts to find an additional job were met with "Thanks, but no thanks," I began what I'm calling the Great Pre-PCS Purge of 2014. For my non-military friends, this is what you do when a cross-continental move is on the horizon.

My mission is simple: downsize the HHGs (household goods). I have become a regular consignor at the base thrift shop, and I've donated bags of clothing and kitchen items no longer needed. But as the photo above indicates, the big project the past few days has been paperwork. Lots and lots (and lots) of paperwork.

You see, as a teacher and a writer (and let's face it, a bit of a hoarder of information), I've accumulated a lot of paper. . . . You can read the rest at Wives of Faith here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Five Minute Friday on Saturday: Belong

To link with this weekend's link, visit Crystal: here.

BELONG:

Merriam-Webster defines belong in many ways, but the second part of the second definition says this:

 to be attached or bound by birth, allegiance, or dependency

This definition drew me in.

There are days I float along, feeling alone, feeling apart, feeling far away. Living in Alaska will do that to a person, when her loved ones are thousands of miles and thousands of dollars away.

But I belong to Jesus. I belong to my husband. I belong to my girls, even though day by day they become more independent of me. I belong to the chapel congregation, I belong to the women's ministry, and I belong to a unique ministry online

Even if I feel apart, left out, or ignored, I really do belong.

Sometimes it is good to remember that. Especially on the days when I feel otherwise.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A February Bride: A Review



I read A December Bride and A January Bride, so what comes next? Valentine's Day bride! I've enjoyed Betsy St. Amant's novels and blogs for a few years now, and she just keeps getting better. I really enjoyed February's offering in this series. With shades of Runaway Bride and some comedy, this book was a journey for sure. I especially enjoyed the wisdom shared by one character's mother, toward the end...and no, I won't give it away! :)

Next up for Betsy: All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes (please consider Wives of Faith for your Amazon Smile purchase).
_____
Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for  review copies of each month from December through June.

A December Bride: First in a Series


Silly me, when I started reading this series of novellas, I thought it began with January. So I read this one second.

I did not enjoy December as well as January, because the entire premise of the mixed-up couple was based in a deliberate lie to save face where face did not really need to be saved (no life threatening situations, no kidnapping or terrorism or anything really scary, unless real estate is scary to you!).

So no offense to the author, but the premise did not ring true with me. Characterization was good, happily-ever-after ending was secure, but not my favorite thus far in the series.

_____
Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for  review copies of each month from December through June.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Weeks with nothing new, then suddenly...

...two posts in one day?

I have had a huge writing slump going on in the midst of my busy life. We have had some great news (staying in Alaska another year since my husband was picked up for promotion and pinned on just over a month later) and some not-so-great news (every job I've applied for, teaching, office, and writing, I've gotten a "thank you for applying but we've gone in another direction/chosen someone else/you suck" email--well, maybe not the last one, but that's what it feels like).



Overall, though, life is good. We have stability and no waiting until nine months from now, when we'll be biting our nails to the quick waiting on orders for the next assignment.

I'm finally reading Jen Hatmaker's book 7 at long last, with a group (thank you, accountability), and it's motivating me to do the pre-PCS purge a year early (I'm not working, so what's my excuse, right?). But I'm trying to listen to the rest of the story. The rest of what God's telling me. It's not just our excessive stuff. It's the hold that stuff has on me. Emotional ties to the little things that may not take up much drawer space, but somehow they are heavy all by themselves.



I miss my family. I miss my far-flung friends. Some days living here is fine, but other days it's still hard because of the distance in time and miles and money.

I'm hoping the discipline of writing every day, if I can keep it up, will help me get back into the swing of things. Because if I'm not using this ability, this gift, I might lose it.

A January Bride: A Review



It wasn't until I went to log this book on Goodreads that I realized it was not a mistake for Zondervan to have released December, January, and February together on NetGalley. This is book #2 in the series! (My bad). So my next read will not be February, but December.

I thought this was a cute story of mistaken identity and how assumptions can get the best of us. It was a little bit predictable, but not so much that I was bored. It was a lovely and cozy read and I look forward to more in the series.

Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for  review copies of each month from December through June.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

CFBA presents Rise and Shine

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rise and Shine
River North; New Edition edition (May 1, 2014)
by
Sandra D. Bricker


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The author says that it was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer. "I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost," she says. "So it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch the Love Finds You line."

Sandie's real-life role as cancer survivor has parlayed into her steadfast commitment to raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research. Spearheading a series of devotionals for Summerside Press (such as the popular His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not), the author has stipulated that a portion of each contributor's proceeds will go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with raising funds for my pet projects ... and still pursue my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"

And one of the author's pet projects is animal rescue, evidenced by the special bond she has created with one particular formerly-abandoned puppy -- a red-haired collie with "killer brown eyes and the heart of the class clown."

ABOUT THE BOOK

Shannon Malone thought she'd found her happy ending when she married Edmund Ridgeway, but a diving accident on their honeymoon left her in a coma. Waking up to the news that she's thirty years old would have been daunting enough . . . but she also learns that Edmund has lost his interim battle with cancer and the world has marched on without her. Her gorgeous doctor, Daniel Petros, seems to know everything about her and becomes Shannon's tour guide into a whole new world of madness where reality television has taken over the planet and everyone's life appears to revolve around a tiny screen on their cell phones! As Shannon struggles to navigate through the changes-both in the world and in her-she also must discern real memories from imagined ones. Did she really ever wear capris pants and entertain in her living room, or was that Laura Petrie from her favorite classic TV show? And where is her beloved dog, Freeway? Oh, wait! That was Jonathan and Jennifer Hart's dog, not hers. Shannon's three elderly aunts flit through her life in true Sleeping Beauty style with her well-being always a priority. And Edmund's sister Millicent descends like the Evil Queen she is, trying to extract Shannon from any claim on the Ridgeway family fortune. When a tornado moves through town and Shannon is knocked unconscious, will Daniel's kiss awaken her once and for all?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rise and Shine, go HERE.

Pattie's Review:

I enjoy Sandra Bricker's writing, and this novel is no exception. "Rise and Shine" is a comfortable blend of humor and sorrow, dogs and doctors. In some ways it's predictable, since it's a modern retelling/revisioning of "Sleeping Beauty." At the same time, however, it's a nice contemporary spin with both dealing with the entire past catching up with Shannon in a very short time, reacquainting herself with God and her family, and determining her purpose in life now that she has a second chance to live. I am glad that it ended happily.

Other reviews of her books on this blog:
http://freshbrewedwriter.blogspot.com/2012/04/always-designer-never-bride.html
http://freshbrewedwriter.blogspot.com/2013/12/cfba-presents-merry-humbug-christmas.html

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Miracle Thief by Iris Anthony

I was surprised and delighted to learn that one of my favorite Christian fiction authors, Siri Mitchell, has two other books under her pen name, Iris Anthony. (She made the announcement recently, so I'm not outing her!)

The Miracle Thief at my local Barnes & Noble


Book Description:

Do you believe in miracles?

Sister Juliana does. She's seen miracles happen as she tends Saint Catherine's altar and guards her relic. Yet she doesn't quite dare to believe that even Saint Catherine could help her atone for her wicked past. 

Anna does. And she so desperately needs one. In a time when a deformity is interpreted as evidence of a grievous sin, in a place where community is vital to existence, Anna has no family, no home, and no master. 

Princess Gisele wants to. A miracle is the only thing that can save her from being given to a brutal, pagan chieftain in marriage. 

For those who come in faith, saints offer the answer to almost any prayer. But other forces are plotting to steal Saint Catherine's relic, to bend the saint's power to their own use. Penitent, pilgrim, princess — all will be drawn into an epic struggle where only faith can survive. But in a quest for divine blessing, only the most ruthless of souls may win the prize.

Review:

"Possession makes prisoners of us all; the benefit is in the coming, and the blessing comes through faith."

These words were spoken by one of the characters in this medieval tale, a relic hunter on a pilgrimage to the altar of Saint Catherine. It seems to encapsulate the message of this novel: It's faith that matters. Not works, not pilgrimages, not our station in life, not who our family is or is not.

This story of three different women on a similar and entwined journey of faith is well-written, enjoyable, and engrossing. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in this period of history.

Just a note about religion: This book is not overtly Christian in the sense of some Christian fiction, where the gospel is laid out as a witnessing tract. In fact, this is a general market release. That said, the subject matter is highly religious, as life was in Europe in this time, where belief in God was expected, any other beliefs were considered pagan, and relics were treasured.  I think the thread of faith woven into the story is beautiful in its subtlety.

Note on book link:

You can purchase the book at any book retailer, but if you choose Amazon Smile, you can donate to your favorite charity at the same time. My charitable organization is Wives of Faith Inc., a ministry dedicated to supporting and encouraging military wives.

**FTC disclaimer: I received a direct link to a NetGalley copy of this book from the author herself in exchange for posting a review on my blog and on social media outlets. No other remuneration was received, intended or implied.**