Thursday, March 24, 2011

Love Remains

I'll just say it right away: I like Kaye Dacus. I noticed her first on the ACFW email loop--a helpful woman who was always willing to answer even the most mundane questions from newbie writers. Her blog is also enjoyable; one of my favorites is when she recasts movies or her own books with Hollywood players. When she started publishing books, I was anxious to read them, and enjoyed her Bonneterre series very much.

I follow her on Facebook, and a few months ago I participated in a discussion for her new series on her blog (one of those brainstorming sessions that turned out to be pretty fun). She sent me the first in her new series to review--which brings me here today.

The first book in the Matchmakers series is Love Remains.

From the press release: "Zarah Mitchell and Bobby Patterson become the matchmaking focus of their well-meaning grandmothers when he moves back to Nashville to work for the Tennessee Criminal Investigations Unit. Zarah believes he chose a military career over her fourteen years ago, while Bobby harbors his own resentment over choices Zarah made that furthered her education. The grandmothers notice the feelings are still there between the couple, but will matters only get worse when Bobby investigates the agency Zarah works for? Will she be the one to leave this time, taking the opportunity of a dream job in DC?"

I enjoyed this contemporary romance. The Matchmaker Grandma Brigade (as I came to think of them) is the set-up for the rest of the series, which is cute. The characters drew me into their world, their conflicts, and their resolution, which was satisfying. For a romance, this was not too sappy or fluffy; for a Christian book, it had some real faith struggles that resonated with me. Overall, a very enjoyable read.

Book 2, The Art of Romance, comes out in May 2011, with Turnabout's Fair Play following in November 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No Safe Haven

My review at the end. Enjoy!


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
No Safe Haven
B&H Books (March 15, 2011)
by
Kimberly and Kayla Woodhouse




ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



A devoted wife and mother, Kimberley Woodhouse is a third generation Liszt student, she has passed down her love of the arts to hundreds of students over the years.

About fifteen years ago, Kimberley began writing seriously. Songs, plays, short stories, novels, picture books, articles, newsletters - you name it - she's written it. It wasn't until a dear friend challenged her to "do something with it", that she pursued publication.

Kimberley and her family's story have been on the front page of newspapers, in magazines, articles, medical journals, and most recently her family was chosen for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. They were also asked to share their story on The Montel Williams Show and Discovery Health Channel's Mystery ER. She has recorded three albums, and has appeared at over 700 venues. Kimberley lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and their two children in a truly "Extreme" home.

Thirteen-year-old Kayla Woodhouse’s zest for writing comes not only from her natural ability, but also from her love of the written word as witnessed by her voracious reading appetite. One of only a few dozen cases in the world, Kayla was born with HSAN, Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy, an extremely rare nerve disorder. Unable to sweat, or feel pain, she’s also been through brain surgery. But even through a life of extreme hardships, her ever-present smile encourages others to pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles. In addition to being homeschooled and writing with her mom, she’s an amazing swimmer, and spends up to thirty hours a week in training. No Safe Haven, her first release from B&H Publishers in 2011, written with mother, Kimberley, makes her the youngest author to have a full-length novel published by a royalty paying publisher.

ABOUT THE BOOK



Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve year-old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. It's news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna's husband (Andi's dad) in a car accident.

But as they are flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who doesn't want to save them, but to kill them.

Only one man can keep them alive: Cole Maddox, the mysterious last-minute passenger who joined them on their flight. But trust doesn't come easy to Jenna or Andi√Ďand they both sense Cole is hiding something.

A relentless tale of survival and suspense unfolds, involving military technology designed by Jenna's late husband that some would do anything to possess.

Watch the Book Video:





If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Haven, go HERE.


Pattie's Review:

I liked this book very much. It seems timely that I ordered it before we knew we were moving to Alaska, and yet here I can read about my new home state a few months before we get there!

The characters were believable, and interesting, and once I got into the multiple-voice point of view, I was able to zip through the last half of the book in one day.

Even the details were carefully worked in--it was nice to notice that the daylight time was right for April on a mountain near the Arctic Circle.

Very enjoyable! Expect more from this mother-daughter writing team.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Reading Thing 2011

This is my 5th Spring Reading Thing! Yay!

For more info for this year's challenge & guidelines, click here. As always, a special thanks to Katrina who hosts a great challenge each spring and autumn.

  • Mr. Monk is Miserable - Lee Goldberg
  • The Book Thief - Markus Zuzak
  • No Safe Haven - Kimberley & Kayla Woodhouse
  • Tea for Two - Trish Perry
  • The Life Ready Woman - Shaunti Feldhahn (finish)
  • and now I'm going to do what I really don't ever do and am not sure is allowed, but since I did list specific books, hopefully will be acceptable: I will read five other books (which I will then get rid of) from my shelves before we move to Alaska around the end of this challenge.
    1. All Eyes on Her - Poonam Sharpa (trade)
    1. The Cowboy Takes a Bride - Debra Clopton (in bag of giveaways)
    1. Texas Ranger Dad - Debra Clopton (in bag of giveaways)
    1. One Thousand Gifts - Ann Voskamp
    (gave to a friend)
  • The Yokota Officers Club - Sarah Bird (trade)
  • Good Things I Wish You - A. Manette Ansay (giving to a friend)
  • Perfect Blend by Sue Margolis (trade)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gifts 10

holy experience

Gratitude Journal: One Thousand Gifts

45. A plethora, a true abundance, of books.

46. My husband's new assignment--for now, a job and a new adventure.

47. My older, overheating laptop.

48. Teaching materials from my previous life, that will become part of my new life.

49. My old black Tumi leather wallet that is still going strong after about 15 years.

50. The problem of financial paperwork.

51. Living in a world that doesn't shake.

52. The power of prayer for those whose world has shaken literally off its axis.

Out of order:
(53. The unconditional love of a dog)
(54. A fresh DIY manicure--short nails, clear polish)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Heart Most Worthy

My review is at the end. Thanks!
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heart Most Worthy
Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
by
Siri Mitchell




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.



But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.



Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.



Her ninth novel, A Heart Most Worthy, follows prior Bethany House releases: A Constant Heart (October 2008), Love's Pursuit (June 2009), and She Walks in Beauty (Apr 2010). She Walks in Beauty won the inaugural INSPY Award for Historical Fiction in Dec 2010. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. Love's Pursuit was a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award.



Publishers Weekly proclaimed, "Mitchell delivers the historical goods."



ABOUT THE BOOK



The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream--and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times.



Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client.



Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?



If you would like to read the first chapter of A Heart Most Worthy, go HERE.

Pattie's Thoughts:

Well, the story and characters were very good. Unfortunately, I was so annoyed by the narrator's use of second person ("you will think this" or "you will know that") that it kind of ruined the overall effect of the novel for me. I think it might be from my English teacher past, or those old didactic novels of yore (think Pamela, but not in epistolary form), but second person seems very bossy to me. I don't like it.

This is not Siri Mitchell's usual narrative device, and I hope it won't be again.

Otherwise, the story is great and the characterization wonderful, as one would expect from a Siri Mitchell historical.

After I published this, I found another review by Sally Bradley that better articulates the omniscient narrator. I think you'll see that it's a little more descriptive.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Moving is Hard

I read all the time about military wives who love moving, who love downsizing their belongings and decorating new places, exploring and shopping and all those grown-up sorts of things.

I am not one of those women. I have a difficult time downsizing my stuff. I love my books. I adore having five bookshelves full; to me it's better than any other wall covering or hanging.

And yet...Chaplain Hubby wants our household goods' weight to go down instead of up. Thankfully I'm able to claim a sizeable portion of books as my own spouse "pro gear" for teaching, for which I'm grateful.

I still find the entire process emotionally draining and difficult.

Emotional

I still cannot figure out why paring down my belongings is such an emotional process for me. Besides crying over the bin of stuffed animals and outgrown girls' clothing, I mean. I have no emotional attachments to these books. Heck, I didn't even LIKE reading and studying them in the first place!

I am just a mess, I guess.

Moving is hard.