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).
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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.**

Sunday, April 27, 2014

CFBA Presents Paige Turned by Erynn Mangum

My review is at the end...enjoy!
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paige Turned
TH1NK (April 1, 2014)
by
Erynn Mangum

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A few things about her:

So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!

Read more about Erynn at her website.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Despite her valiant efforts, Paige Alder seems stuck in chaos. Her new job as youth intern keeps her hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop all summer long, but at least she’s loving the one-on-one time she gets to spend with the girls. The unfortunate side-effect is that now, four weeks of laundry fills her apartment. Plus, she barely has time to help her sister and best friend with their weddings! And even worse? Something is definitely wrong between her and Tyler. She apologized for what he thought he saw happen with Luke. Can’t they move past it? Or could there be something he’s not telling her—something that could change everything?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Paige Turned, go HERE.


Pattie's Review:

I read the second Paige book, Paige Rewritten, and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to book 3. I was not disappointed. Paige is a likeable and relatable heroine.  I can totally relate with her feelings of being overwhelmed, and overscheduled, and wondering if anything she's doing has eternal significance.

Erynn Mangum's style is just as readable as I found it with the Lauren Holbrook series.

I will not break the reviewer's code (by giving what Doctor Who's River Song calls "Spoilers!"), but suffice it to say the end of the book was satisfying. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Three-Word Wednesday: Keep Moving Forward

 I got to know Beth in an (in)courager group for military wives, and it's been a joy to see her journey as a writer take off.

In my own quest as a writer (instead of just teaching it one night a week), I am participating in Beth’s Three-Word Wednesday link-up.



I am borrowing today’s phrase from the movie Meet the Robinsons, which I just watched in German last week while subbing for the high school German teacher (and yes, it was in German—the animators had changed all the signs and writing in the movie to the German language. Pretty neat.).

KEEP MOVING FORWARD

When I am under a lot of stress and situations are tenuous, I am not at my best. I get snappish with my husband and crabby toward my girls. I try to remember to stay focused on God and His Word and stay positive, but more often than not I allow my circumstances to dictate my mood and my demeanor.

I am not proud of this.

The past five-plus months have been increasingly stressful as we have waited and waited (and waited some more) to hear news that would determine not only the course of our next year, but our next several years. 

It’s often said that the unofficial military motto is “Hurry up and wait!” My military spouse motto has been “Semper Gumby: Always Flexible.” But to be honest, I didn’t want to be flexible. I hate waiting this long for something that someone somewhere knew the answer, but no one would tell us.

In three other words, I hate waiting.

I was a very crabby Pattie indeed.

Enter Meet the Robinsons, the idea that mistakes are okay because we learn from them, and the phrase that continues to stick with me:

Keep moving forward.

The closing line of the film shows that it’s a part of something Walt Disney said about creativity:

Photo credit: www.livingstoncoc.wordpress.com

Of course, like many things, it’s about life too. We have to keep moving forward (or as Uma Thurman quipped, we’ll move backward and smack into something hard). Priscilla Shirer said once that she told her sons that she had to look out the front window to drive safely, not the rearview mirror at whatever they were doing. We have to look forward to move forward. Not that looking back is a bad thing—on the contrary, sometimes personal reflection is needed for growth. Much like studying history, we can give credence to our past experiences and how far we’ve come, learn from our mistakes, and strive to do better next time.

This week we were inundated with a lot of happy, happy news. We know the course of our next year, and we have at least as much job security as anyone in the military is allowed to have at any given time. Also, my daughters were both honored at school for several different things, and that makes my mama heart very happy.

So while today crabby Pattie is a not-so-distant memory, I will continue to be conscious of my reactions to things, work on keeping my outlook positive, be on the lookout for opportunities to serve, and always, always keep moving forward. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday: JOY

Today's topic for Five Minute Friday: JOY. You can read others' posts at Lisa-Jo's linkup here.

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There are few things that bring me more joy as a mom more than watching my girls do what they love.

I put my oldest daughter in a dance class in our small town when she was three years old. Just a few weeks from her 4th birthday, she was so proud to have her little black leotard and her blue wrap skirt and her tiny, tiny little pink leather ballet shoes. She took to dance like the proverbial duck to water, and her teacher said she was a natural. Usually a serious little girl, she wore a look of concentration and adhered to each position as carefully as any serious ballerina.

Just a few years later, her little sister also proudly wore her own tiny little pink leather shoes and shiny black tap shoes, dancing into everyone's hearts with her dimpled smile.

Every place we've moved since we lived in that small town, we've been mindful of finding a good dance studio, not competition-based (although of course we've done *some* competition in intervening years), with nurturing teachers and a cheerful yet studious atmosphere. Schools attached to nonprofit companies have been our best educational opportunities.

Today, my serious little girl has a smile as wide as the ocean and makes her debut onstage in a community theatre production of "Pippin." She dreams of landing on the Great White Way. Her sister with the dimples now tap-dances in sock feet every day in the kitchen, and wants to study and tap dance professionally someday.

My heart is bursting at their joy, which has become my own.
_____ 
Thank you for stopping by! Wishing you a wonderful weekend.