Sunday, December 30, 2012

Read a Latte in 2013

Goal: Cappuccino level of 100 books.

Books read in 2013 are:
  1. Ashton Park - Murray Pura
  2. Zora and Nicky - Claudia Mair Burney
  3. Austentatious - Alyssa Goodnight
  4. The Calling of Emily Evans - Janette Oke
  5. Sleeping in Eden - Nicole Baart (netgalley)
  6. {manuscript by Sara Horn}
  7. Moon Over Tokyo - Siri Mitchell
  8. Help Thanks Wow - Anne Lamott
  9. The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
  10. The Do What You Can Plan - Holley Gerth
  11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
  12. Bread & Wine - Shauna Niequist
  13. Reinventing Claire - Darian Wilk
  14. Holiday Buzz - Cleo Coyle
  15. Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells - Lisa Cach
  16. The Good Daughter - Jane Porter
  17. Home Front - Kristin Hannah
  18. Stalker in the Shadows - Camy Tang
  19. The House at Riverton - Kate Morton
  20. Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story - Dee Henderson
  21. A Royal Pain - Megan Mulry
  22. Rumor Has It - Jill Mansell
  23. The Memoir Project - Marion Roach Smith

Reading Challenges 2013

I completely failed at this year's reading this year I'm hosting my own! I plan to read 12 year-long memoirs as a part of my Year-Long Memoir Reading Challenge (which can be found here).

I generally read a minimum of 100 books per year, and of course I wish to read at least 100 this next year. (Currently for 2012 I'm at 105!)

That said, here are my reading challenges for 2013:

The 2013 Year-Long Memoir Reading Challenge

Kimberly's Read a Latte Challenge (books+coffee=awesome)

Goal: Cappuccino level :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Up for a Reading Challenge?

If you like to read and like to be challenged to read memoir, perhaps this is for you? I'm beginning a reading project in 2013 to read year-long memoirs..... join us?

Reading Challenge in 2013

My first challenge to host and to do: The Year-Long Memoir Reading Challenge

Let me know if you would like to join us!

Monday, December 24, 2012


For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end.
~Isaiah 9:6-7a, New King James Version~

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fall Into Reading 2012 Wrap-Up

Year six--complete.

Thoughts: I still read fiction really quickly. I still read nonfiction really slowly. In some cases with books I know will be convicting, my inner procrastinator takes over and I don't get to them. For evidence:

My original list:
  • Seven by Jen Hatmaker

    I really, really do want to read this book. I just need the motivation to do so.
    I have read the intro about three times now.
  • Letting Go of Perfect by Amy Spiegel

    Sometimes, I cling to my perfectionism and use it to beat myself up. This is a pattern I can't seem to break out of. Perhaps in the new year.
  • Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

    I am about 2/3 of the way through. Most of Shauna Niequist's essays are so poignant, I can only read one or two before needing a break---then I get distracted by one or three fiction books and soon I'm off and reading something else. But I have loved this book a lot. I *will* finish it.
  • Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
  • Wings of Glory trilogy by Sarah Sundin {need to reread the first two to make sense of the third}: A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow

My list of other books I read but which are not on the original list--obviously, I have a problem committing to my list:

  • A Brew to a Kill - Cleo Coyle 
  • Full Disclosure - Dee Henderson
  • Vivaldi's Virgins - Barbara Quick
  • The Heart Remembers - Irene Hannon (for review)
  • Prom and Prejudice - Elizabeth Eulberg
  • Alaskan Hearts - Teri Wilson
  • Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend - Matthew Dicks
  • In the Shadow of Lions: A Novel of Anne Boleyn - Ginger Garrett
  • The Negotiator - Dee Henderson
  • Northern Lights - Nora Roberts
  • Psych: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read - William Rabkin
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows {comfort reread, well worth it}
  • The Good Woman by Jane Porter
  • At Every Turn - Anne Mateer
  • The Call of the Wild - Jack London
  • The Meryl Streep Movie Club - Mia March

Fall Into Reading Challenge History: 2007     2008     2009     2010     2011

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Yes, it's true...I connect people

My friend Angela was known on the now-closed Women at Home board as AGK, and she began a photography business a few years back. It's grown and changed along with her, and it's been a joy to watch from afar (because it can't be from a-near!).

I saw this morning that she posted some photos of my other online friend Kristen, whom I met through the (in)Courage blog as well as through my college friend Teri Lynne (if we'd had sororities in college, we'd have been sorority sisters--as it is, we shared a dorm and are two of many lovely Leslie ladies!).

So yes, I am in the business of connecting people. It's what I do, and it's fun.

Day 1: Scripture

Good morning! Time to start the Wives of Faith 12 Days of Christmas Blog Carnival.

Today's topic: What is your favorite verse of scripture at Christmastime and why?

My favorite Christmas scripture passage is Luke 2. I think it hearkens back to Linus on the Charlie Brown Christmas special. You know the part I mean, don't you?

Anyway, this is my favorite. It's the gospel in a manger-sized package, with love that cannot be contained even by a stable, or a town, or even the earthly heavens.

Friday, November 30, 2012

5 Minute Friday: WONDER

Each year at our house, we move further away from the childlike wonder of Christmas. Not for lack of trying...oh no. It's because the children are growing up.

This will be our first Christmas with two teenagers in the house. Our youngest turns 13 tomorrow (technically just past noon Central time, so about the time we'll be leaving for dance class here in Alaska). My baby is a teenager, with all that this milestone accompanies. My older baby is driving herself to school and to Walmart for "something I need, Mom."

I wonder, Where did the years go? Where are my tiny girls? Where are the matching outfits? The little tights and red velvet dresses? The ringlet curls and the innocent smiles?

I love my girls so much. I loved them as babies, as toddlers, as lisping preschoolers, as school-agers, and now, yes, I adore them as teens. They are so much more beautiful and comfortable in their own skin than I ever dreamed of being at their ages.

I hope and pray, as I gaze upon them with the wonder of motherhood, that they will be able to take that confidence, that inner strength that comes from God and a loving home, and use it to glorify Him.

Space for Creativity

I've been thinking a lot about creativity. I'm reading Madeleine L'Engle's book A Circle of Quiet and she grapples with this concept quite a bit in the first section. Creativity, the Holy Spirit, all of that.

I came across this link to a free book, but it was no longer free (thanks to Facebook, it showed up late and I still don't understand all of the Facebook nuances after this most recent update...but that's neither here nor there). However, for 99 cents, it seemed like a good purchase and a nice way to round out the end of my birthday gift card from my friend S.

You can find the book here: Creating Space. It's recommended by my friend Ann, whom I trust on all things writerly. The author's website is here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

AT EVERY TURN by Anne Mateer

About the Book:

Caught up in a whirlwind of religious fervor when two missionaries speak at her church, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. She’s certain her wealthy father will simply hand her the money. But when he refuses, she must either stand up in front of the congregation and admit failure, or raise the money herself.

Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles. It’s 1916, and the latest advancements in car engines allow some to post speeds upwards of seventy miles per hour! When she discovers her father’s company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events–races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money–she conspires with her father’s mechanic, Webster, to secretly train and compete.

But as Alyce comes across needs in her own community, money slips through her fingers faster than she can earn it. And when her friends cast aspersions on Webster’s past, she believes she might have trusted the wrong man with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?

My Review:

This book is a good historical Christian fiction novel. Accurate in historical detail (including vocabulary from the time period--I found a couple of spots where the terms in Mateer's novel matched some from Jack London's The Call of the Wild, which I'm reading with my middle schooler right now), with a spunky heroine, lesser-known subject matter (women racecar drivers) and a non-preachy spiritual component, it makes for a pleasant read. The heroine, Alyce, is very likeable, and her confusion about finding God's will for her life is certainly something with which many readers will identify strongly.

At Every Turn is the first book of Anne's I've read, and it's her second novel.

Note: Anne Mateer is the fiction pen name of D'Ann Mateer, a close friend of Mary DeMuth. She was an active mentor with The Writing Spa until that site closed.

**I received a copy of this novel from Bethany House as a part of the
Bethany House Bloggers program
in exchange for an honest review both here and on a retailer website.**

Monday, November 26, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Preparing Mt. TBR 2013

I have given myself all of 2013 to read books I already own, to purge from my four bookshelves the books I own that no longer interest me, and to either trade for credit (thank you, Title Wave Books and!), pass along to friends, or donate to the library, books I have finished or no longer wish to read.

In about 15 months, we'll know more about our future in terms of both Alaska and the military, so I am giving myself that time for downsizing my vast collection of books.

I would not call myself a minimalist in any real sense, but the household weight of books, coupled with a desire to purge what no longer interests me, weighs me down occasionally.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Year-Long Memoir Reading Challenge

I love year-long memoirs. I want to do a reading challenge of year-long memoirs in 2013. I wish I'd been the one who coined the phrase "Year-Long Memoir" but sadly, Google tells me it's not original with me.

If you are even remotely interested, I want to do a group blog thingie with this:

Let me know! :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's coming...

Friday, November 02, 2012


Back in August 2009 I began a new journaling project, based on something I saw on Ann Voskamp's blog. You can click on the link if you want to read about it. Mostly it was for me, as I had been in a time of dryness, a time of not knowing where I was going in my spiritual walk.

In the intervening time, I've lived in three states, held two different jobs, read through the entire Bible, done several Bible studies with myself and groups, and touched upon four life-themes: brave, grace, focus, and listen.

This is what my journal looked like then: August 18, 2009, and the passage was Psalm 1.

And this is today's final entry, 1173 days later, from James 5:

This is a journey I certainly plan to continue. As I head into a time of being away from home, and surgery, and - let's face it - upheaval, I will not begin my next volume until the new year. What will my theme be next year? I have no idea. But this is the next volume in the spiritual journal story of my walk with God, given to me a couple of years ago from my friend Maria:

Roots and Wings

5 Minute Friday on . . . ROOTS

I don't know who said this, but someone once said that the two greatest things we can give our children are roots and wings.

Unlike my two best friends, my family does not have deep roots like other families do. As a military family, we've moved around every few years, and we don't have one particular place we call home (well, we each do, but it's different for each!).

One of my best friends lives across the yard from her grandparents' house where she lived for much of her life. Her neighbors' parents knew her grandparents. Her kids' friends' parents are her friends. She knows the town and its people, and her roots run as deep as the huge tree out back with the tire swing.

Another of my best friends is single, but she has roots that run deep and long in her church. Her parents were charter members (I think) and helped run the church, Sunday school and treasury, for over thirty years. Only for health reasons have they stepped away from those responsibilities. She knows the people, the children, the pastor and his family.

So I may not be able to offer my girls roots of a physical or tactile nature, but they have roots that run deep in my heart. And yes, I can sure give them wings. Wings to fly, to try their best, to be adventurous, to think, to do all the things we dream for our kids.

Roots and wings.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thankful Heart Day 1

I finished my fall term grades today. So thankful!!! It's something I don't have to worry about anymore.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

Graphic by
November, the month of my birthday, the month of Thanksgiving, the start of Advent.

I won't be able to post every day in November, but I WILL be journaling through my thankfulness.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Busy by the numbers...

  • Two girls. One teen, one tween-soon-to-be-thirteen.
  • Two shows: one high school musical, one ballet.
  • Two towns: Eagle River and Anchorage.
  • Two weekends full of performances: first ballet, then musical. Three shows each.
  • Two parent-teacher conference sessions on one day: Wednesday.
  • Twenty-one research essays will be turned in to me tomorrow night. {One student emailed me this morning to tell me he's not doing the assignment and he thinks he can pass without it. We'll see.}
  • Three MUST be graded every day to make the deadline I set, which is in eight days.
  • One final exam still needs some new questions, and I have seven days to get that completed.
  • One husband who is working crazy hours for the next week.
  • One upcoming ear surgery to prepare for.
  • One TIRED woman I am!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You Don't Know Me Review

You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren

About the Book:

Sometimes the secrets we keep to protect ourselves can be our undoing.

To all who know her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses a sporting event, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the quaint harbor town of Deep Haven, Deidre received a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker.

Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on parole and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the courage to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?

About the Author:

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.

Find out more about Susan May at

Pattie's Review:

I got into this story right away, and I finished the book within 24 hours. I have to admit that there were things in this book that affected me on more than just a story level. The whole idea of living with lies and not telling the truth--not just to others, but to ourselves--was eye and heart opening to me. The sermon about 2/3 of the way through the book really got me thinking about how God loves us no matter what we do or do not do, even in the midst of our sin.

I read this over Labor Day weekend, and after I finished the novel I slept for two and a half hours. For someone who rarely naps, and who has had trouble sleeping well for most of the summer, this was a big thing for me. That I felt so drained after reading a novel, and then waking up to continue thinking about it, speaks a lot for Susan May Warren's basis of truth in the story.

This book will be with me for a long time.

To read what others are saying, click here.

I was given a NetGalley copy of this book simply in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thoughts about Writing

from Shauna Niequist, one of my new favorite writers, ever.

...[L]ife as a writer sometimes means telling even the stories you don’t want to tell, the ones you didn’t want to live through, and don’t want to re-live on the page. But re-living is a writer’s responsibility, and more than that, honesty is a writer’s responsibility.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Full Disclosure: Latest from Dee Henderson

My review is at the end. Enjoy!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Full Disclosure
Bethany House Publishers (October 2, 2012)
Dee Henderson


Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. She is a lifelong resident of Illinois.


Ann Silver is a cop's cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region's most trusted investigative positions.

Paul Falcon is the FBI's top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder.

Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn't expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention.

The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is…

Watch the book trailer:

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


I've been reviewing Dee Henderson's novels for many years, ever since she came out with the first O'Malley novel. I started my book review experience with Multnomah Publishers back in 1997 or so. I can't remember exactly how I got started, but somehow I ended up with review copies of these wonderful new Christian novels and a sheet to fill out to mail back in. I was hooked on Dee's work from The Negotiator onward, and ended up falling in love with the O'Malley self-made siblings over the next several years.

I then gushed over the military-themed novels she wrote. Who knew fiction could be so educational? I had no idea then, but in life post-9/11 after my husband joined the Air Force Reserves, those little glossaries in the back of True Devotion and its sequels really helped this very green part-time military wife--especially when he went active duty.

All that to say, I am a big Dee fan.

But you don't want to know that. You want to hear about Dee's return to fiction with Full Disclosure.

I was quite intrigued with the novel at first, then I was upset, and finally I was glued to the book so I could untangle the plot threads which were so artfully and seemingly-hopelessly knotted. It took me awhile to read, and in some ways this was a freezer book for me. I didn't want it to end, even though I had to know whodunit.

For the most part, I enjoyed the novel. I enjoyed the characters, the intrigue was really well done, the end a surprise (and after years of reading mysteries and suspense and watching episodes of NCIS, I enjoy a good plot twist and surprise), and yes, even the romance was pretty good: not too sappy, a bit non-romantic in places, even.

I really hate to give spoilers, so all I'll say about the plot thread I didn't like is that I'm not the only one who didn't like it, and while for me it detracted a bit from the O'Malley series as an entity, it did not ruin the whole thing for me overall. It just bugged me, niggling away at my brain for a couple of days while I read the novel. I think it was akin to a bit of growing-up I'm doing, not only as a writer and a thinker, but as a reader--particularly as a reader of Christian fiction for the past 30-plus years (starting with Janette Oke's prairie novels). Stretching, a bit uncomfortable, pinching at times, but in the end, acceptance.

Welcome back, Dee Henderson. I've missed you.

Friday, October 05, 2012



To visit this week's post link-up and the rules, click here.




I'm so glad you're here!

This blog, Fresh-Brewed Writer, began as my writing and book blog. I had a general topic, personal blog over at Xanga back in 2003 when I started writing "in public" for the internet. It was a scary thing, writing in the open. I started gradually moving things over here, sometimes deleting, so the only reason I know I've been over here as long as I have is because Blogger tells me I joined in 2005!

Over time, this has been the book review blog. I joined too many organizations with too many books to review, and while I do enjoy reading books as they come out, I may be scaling that part of my life back soon.

I am a writer. {deep breath}

It took me a long, long time to admit that to everyone around me. I remember once feeling brave enough to admit it during a pastoral interview (yes, the wife was interviewed too--this church in particular saw us as a 2-for-1 deal; we didn't go there), and they wanted to know how I used the gift within the church. They were ready for me to start and run a card ministry, and that was overwhelming to me, with two young girls and knowing I'd have to teach full-time to make ends meet on what they were offering in the pastor's salary package.

I didn't feel welcomed there.

I try very hard to find women in a group who look alone. Sometimes it takes all I have to go over and say hi and welcome her. Other times, I'm the smiling face at the door, welcoming everyone.

Let's pretend you're coming over. WELCOME. I'm glad you're here! Stick around, if you like. This is a small blog with few followers, but I love it here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

5 Minute Friday: Grasp



How can I grasp onto time? How can I grasp the moments as they pass, to prolong those happy, wonderful, fleeting moments?

I cannot.

That's the truth of it.

There are precious few things we can grasp. Tiny hands grow into bigger hands, and soon those hands are holding a steering wheel, or a cell phone, or even someday, a boy's hand.

All we can do is appreciate each moment, enjoy it while we have it, and perhaps, if we're able, write it down for future memory.

Heavenly Father, help me to grasp the gravity of the moments I have with my girls while they're still in my care. In my home. Help me to grasp their hands and help turn their hearts towards Yours. I love you, and I thank you for the privilege of raising Your daughters in a home that loves and serves You. Make me equal to the task. Help me to overlook my own shortcomings and focus on You. Help me to grasp Your love for me, so that I can communicate that same Love to them. Amen.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Felicities

Go to Becky's site if you would like to learn more.

It's been awhile since I did this...but I wanted to add my voice to the chorus today.

  • COFFEE--on tap today: French roast
  • oatmeal for breakfast on this fall morning
  • my Seattle: Starbucks Hometown mug that I got on our trip to Seattle/Tacoma last year for my ear surgery. It's huge. It's a reminder that we had a good Christmas away in spite of everything--and I had a surgery that potentially saved my life.
  • my youngest girl brought in her Student Council notecards for her campaign speech. I'm one very proud mama! She has her bullet points all ready and is not making crazy promises. I am so happy! Even if she doesn't make it, she already has "mad skillz" that will last her a lifetime.
  • gummy vitamin Ds. If I have to take Vitamin D, and I DO in this climate, may it be chewy and fun.

How Wide

WIDE--at Lisa Jo formerly Gypsy Mama
Ephesians 3: 17b-19

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

How wide is His love? Wide and long and high and deep.

How often do I think about this? Not often enough, apparently. Every time I read this verse, I'm bewildered and baffled. I look in the mirror and think, "How can anyone love this face? This body? This bruised and battered and selfish heart of mine?"

But He does. Oh, He does. And I will be forever grateful.

He loves me so much. Jesus died on the cross for me--and you--and my children--and my friends. Everyone. He loves us all this much.

I am a do-er, so I tend to focus on doing enough and getting things done, in order to be worthy of this wide and long and high and deep love of my Savior. What I'm re-learning is that there's never enough to be done. I will never catch up on the housework, or the schoolwork (grading never seems to end!), or the heart work. I strive and strive, and it's never enough to please myself or others.

When will I learn to rest in the wide, wide love of God? Hopefully soon. Because I'm one tired mama!

I wanted to concentrate on God's love for this devotional thought in five minutes, because otherwise I could make jokes about how wide my behind and my waist have gotten, or how truly wide the state of Alaska is. But really, let's not go there.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Into Reading 2012

Year six!

For information about this wonderful challenge, click here.
Fall Into Reading Challenge History: 2007     2008     2009     2010     2011

My fall book list to read and/or finish:
  • Seven by Jen Hatmaker {begun, but set aside}
  • Letting Go of Perfect by Amy Spiegel {begun}
  • Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist {This book is not one I can read quickly--it must be read in small doses, an essay or two at a time.}
  • Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
  • Wings of Glory trilogy by Sarah Sundin {need to reread the first two to make sense of the third}: A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow
My list of other books I read but which are not on the original list--obviously, I have a problem committing to my list:

  • A Brew to a Kill - Cleo Coyle {I had about half of it finished before Saturday}
  • Full Disclosure - Dee Henderson
  • Vivaldi's Virgins - Barbara Quick
  • The Heart Remembers - Irene Hannon (for review)
  • Prom and Prejudice - Elizabeth Eulberg
  • Alaskan Hearts - Teri Wilson
  • Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend - Matthew Dicks
  • In the Shadow of Lions: A Novel of Anne Boleyn - Ginger Garrett
  • The Negotiator - Dee Henderson
  • Northern Lights - Nora Roberts
  • Psych: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read - William Rabkin
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows {comfort reread, well worth it}
  • At Every Turn - Anne Mateer
  • The Call of the Wild - Jack London
  • The Meryl Streep Movie Club - Mia March

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Autumn Checklist

I had a summer checklist, mostly to keep myself accountable while my military husband was away on the shortest deployment ever (make no mistake, it was still a deployment--complete with angst, tears, and reintegration issues--and all that was ME!).

If you click on over, you'll see that my summer checklist remains unfinished. There are a few things that turned out to be too ambitious to complete. While I still believe in listmaking and goal-setting in general, sometimes if I get too specific with certain areas of my life, I feel nothing but failure when I do not succeed. This is why I am not blogging the 31 days in October, because my October calendar is already filling up at an alarming rate with my girls' show practices and performances. This is also why I'm not committing to NaNoWriMo 2012 until I have my follow-up ear surgery on the calendar.

All that to say, these are the things I would like to accomplish before December 21st, the day of the winter solstice.

  1. Get myself over to the Anchorage Museum. I have wanted to go since we first found out we were moving to Alaska, and it seems as if I'm the only one in my family who's interested. So I'll take myself there sometime.
  2. Complete the Fall Into Reading Challenge again this year. I have my list saved in drafts and it will pop up here at Fresh-Brewed Writer at the end of this week.
  3. Work with my friend Beth on the Wives of Faith Christmas Blog Carnival--I really need to have it set up before Thanksgiving. Preferably before Halloween, actually...
  4. Complete Christmas shopping by December 3rd so I can get the packages headed to the Lower 48 in the mail before the 10th.
Reasonable. Complete-able. Do-able.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Today's post is a part of the CFBA blog tour for Unending Devotion, the latest by novelist Jody Hedlund.......

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Unending Devotion
Bethany House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
Jody Hedlund


Jody has written novels for the last 20 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), became a best seller and has won multiple awards.

Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released in September of 2011, and her third book, Unending Devotion, is out now. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!

Jody has been married for twenty years to her college sweetheart. Jody has five children ranging in ages from 15 to 6, with a set of twin daughters in the mix to make things more lively.


High-Stakes Drama Meets High-Tension Romance

In 1883 Michigan, Lily Young is on a mission to save her lost sister, or die trying. Heedless of the danger, her searches of logging camps lead her to Harrison and into the sights of Connell McCormick, a man doing his best to add to the hard-earned fortunes of his lumber baron father.

Posing during the day as a photographer's assistant, Lily can't understand why any God-fearing citizen would allow evil to persist and why men like Connell McCormick turn a blind eye to the crime rampant in the town. But Connell is boss-man of three of his father's lumber camps in the area, and like most of the other men, he's interested in clearing the pine and earning a profit. He figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters.

Lily challenges everything he thought he knew, and together they work not only to save her sister but to put an end to the corruption that's dominated Harrison for so long.

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

Pattie's Review:

I enjoyed this book very  much. It has so many parallels to today's awareness among Christian women activists to pay attention to the sex slave trade--and do what we can to help women both here and in other countries to break free from having to sell their bodies for money--which takes on many forms in our country. {I say "women activists" because the women I read who discuss this with concern, are activists. So should we all be, in our own ways.}

I could understand Lily's struggle of her changing feelings for Connell, and being afraid of turning into a loose woman like the women she rescues. I think it's a struggle many modern women will also relate to--especially in our sex-pervasive culture.

Overall, a good read which I recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction with modern parallels.

I was given a copy of the novel from CFBA as a part of this tour, to offer my opinion about the book. I will now be donating my copy to a basket that will be a part of a silent auction to raise money for a snowmachine (that's a hearty Alaskan snowmobile) for a mission school in Galena, Alaska.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Join me on a 5 Minute Friday

JOIN--at Lisa Jo formerly Gypsy Mama

"Join the club."

How many times do we use that phrase?

"I'm tired."
"Join the club."

"I don't have money to go out today."
"Join the club."

"I don't see how we can fit one more thing into our schedule."
"Join the club."

You see what I mean? We're so quick to try to identify with people's problems or issues, we are like, "Yeah, join the club...I'm there too, let's be together."

The problem is, it seems so negative. It's not an understanding of "I understand your feelings" or even a sympathetic "I've been there and survived, and so will you."  No, it's a cynical little "suck it up" kind of response.

"Join the club."

I've had enough of "suck it up" kind of responses from people. I get that a lot in the military world (interestingly, more online than in person). We need less of that and more of a sense of belonging and community, a sense of "let's live this life together, and let's pray for each other."


Wow, I don't know why I went this direction with the word "join." Guess that's what is on my heart. I'm sure it's not as nice and welcoming a post as others (I never read others' 5 Minute Friday posts till I'm done---it's the teacher in me that won't let me do anything that's remotely like cheating!), but for whatever reason it's what flowed out of my hands today.

It's even a good day! Will you JOIN me in rejoicing that we have another day on this earth to hug our families and friends? To make a difference for Jesus?

/end of 5 minutes/

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Welcome to the LitFuse book blog tour for Colleen Coble's latest novel Tidewater Inn.

About the book:

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

About the author:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Visit her website at Twitter @colleencoble.

Pattie's Review:

This is my second Colleen Coble novel (although I'm familiar with her name from ACFW, I hadn't read her books before this summer); the first one I read a couple weeks ago was Alaska Twilight and I found it on the Alaskana shelf at the public library. I enjoyed it, and it was accurate as far as I can tell after one year living in the largest state.

I wanted to love Tidewater Inn more than I did. The premise was good, the character's profession of historical preservation is one that is fascinating, and the unsolved mysteries within the plot sounded really intriguing. However, I don't know if it was because I read a galley on my Kindle or what, but the structure of the novel seemed a bit "off" to me. It kept going back and forth between Libby and Nicole, and the real estate developers and Alec and his orphaned nephew. Not only was it jumpy, but the redemption and forgiveness seemed to come a bit too easily and smoothly for all involved {and I can't give more details because it would break the reviewer's code of conduct :) }.

I think fans of Coble will be happy with this novel, and fans of Christian romantic suspense fiction will enjoy it as well. Will I continue with the series? I'm not sure yet.

More information:

To read others' reviews, click here.

Enter Today - 8/3-8/23!
Celebrate with Colleen by entering to win a $500 gift certificate to!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $500 gift certificate to
  • A copy of Tidewater Inn.
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 22nd. Winner will be announced at Colleen's "Tidewater Inn" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/23. Colleen will be sharing the story behind the book, hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of fun giveaways - books, gift certificates and a Book Club Prize Pack! She’ll also be giving a sneak peak of her next book too!

So grab your copy of Tidewater Inn and join Colleen on the evening of the August 23rd  for a chance to connect with Colleen and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER about Colleen's giveaway and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Thank you to LitFuse, the author, and publisher Thomas Nelson
for an ebook review copy of this novel from NetGalley for my Kindle.

Friday, August 10, 2012

5 Minute Friday: Connect

CONNECT--at Lisa Jo formerly Gypsy Mama

Connections are so important.

I see my ministry as one of connection--connecting with women, connecting women with each other, and making sure that as far as it lies with me, no one is ever alone.

I think it's one of my ministries---especially on Facebook. Say what you will about that social networking site, but I've seen time and again how connections are made within my small but growing circle of acquaintance.

I'm not bragging, I'm just saying.

I have also made an effort this year to connect--really connect--with my girls. My goal is to look each of them in the eye at least once per day, tell them I love them, and give them a hug.

Sometimes this is not as easy as it might seem, and as both of them are in the throes of adolescent hormones and growing and learning about people and relationships and gaining and losing friends in this transient military life we live. I often feel like life is lived just like the previous run-on sentence: full speed ahead, act before thinking, jump into each day, speak before thinking. I don't like it much, and I'm trying to change, to live life with more purpose. Some days it works, some days it doesn't.

Make an effort today to connect--either here with me or in your own house--or with a friend across the street.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Failing Forward?

I know someone out there in cyberspace will read this and think, Get over yourself, already. And maybe I do need to get over myself. But I also need somewhere to be real, and this would be that place.

I've had this blog for several years now, and for the past few months it's really been about writing exercises and book reviews. But I also tried a couple of challenges: photo a day through July, and Bible in 90 (ok, really 99) Days. I quit the photos about July 8th, and I'm still weeks behind in the B90Days challenge.

Instead of concentrating on all that I've accomplished this summer, I look at those failed attempts (as well as the uncompleted list of summer tasks) as well as all my weak moments of the deployment, and all I see is a big fat F for failure.

My friend Sara said she'd been reading a book by John Maxwell called Failing Forward, and on a whim I looked through my husband's books and found it. (He had to move offices right before his deployment as his assignment changed for the upcoming year, so his books are now downstairs as his new office has no bookshelves.) It's now in a stack of about fifteen books I'd wanted to read this summer, but - you guessed it - I haven't yet finished.

I think it's one I will need to read. While goals are worthwhile, I tend to berate myself badly if I don't finish them.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Blog Tour: Love Finds You in Mackinac Island

Welcome to the blog tour for 
Melanie Dobson

About the novel:

As the Gilded Age comes to a close, Elena Bissette's once-wealthy family has nearly lost its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. But Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money. 

Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls, Elena spends most evenings escaping back into Mackinac's rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome laborer who shares her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned lighthouse, where they work together to solve a mystery buried in the pages of a tattered diary.

 As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly contrives to introduce her to Chester Darrington, the island's most eligible bachelor. Marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes' financial woes, and Elena is torn between duty and love.

About the author:

Melanie Dobson has written ten contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside's Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense).

 Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She later launched her own public relations company and worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years.

 Melanie and her family enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn't writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction. For more about Melanie Dobson and her books, visit

Pattie's Review:

I've seen quite a few of these titles published in the past few years, but I have not yet read any of them until now.

I thought the story was very sweet, and I enjoyed it. It was a nice read, and while the reader is in on a few secrets from early on, the main characters themselves are not, which causes some confusion and hurt feelings. Never fear, however, all turns out right in the end.

My favorite part of the story was, of course, the main character Elena. I appreciated her kind heart, her caring for the family's servant Jillian, her mother (even when she drove Elena a bit nuts with all the marriage talk), the soldiers, and even her sensitivity to gossip amongst her social set. I also liked her love of astronomy and seeing God in the universe.

Overall, I would recommend this novel to fans of sweet Christian romance set in a lovely location.

Celebrate with Melanie by entering her Kindle Fire Giveaway!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Signed copies of Melanie’s Love Find You books: Love Finds you in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana.
But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/4/12. The winner will be announced on 8/6/12 at Melanie's blog!

Just click one of the icons below to enter! Tell your friends about Melanie's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from LitFuse and Summerside Press for review.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Where are you?

I'm over at Wives of Faith today talking about being directionally challenged and God, who is most certainly not!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green

My review is at the end. away the paperback review copy of this book! Look for instructions after my review.
**Winner: Kim, comment #5!** Thank you!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wedded to War
• River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2012)
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.


When war erupted, she gave up a life of privilege for a life of significance.
Tending to the army's sick and wounded meant leading a life her mother does not understand and giving up a handsome and approved suitor. Yet Charlotte chooses a life of service over privilege, just as her childhood friend had done when he became a military doctor. She soon discovers that she's combatting more than just the rebellion by becoming a nurse. Will the two men who love her simply stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or will their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey's letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured. This is the first in the series "Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War," a collection of novels that highlights the crucial contributions made by women during times of war.

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

Pattie's Review:

Let me preface this by saying that I've been privileged to work with Jocelyn on both Faith Deployed...Again  and on the Wives of Faith blog (to which she's an occasional contributor), as well as an unnamed third project that, well, can't be named yet. So I signed up for this blog tour knowing it would be hard for me to remain impartial--and I expected a great story as Jocelyn is an excellent writer.

I was not disappointed.

This is the kind of historical fiction I like--full of facts and details, but not boring. A love story but not the kind that's all-encompassing and overpowering and too romance-y. Plus, it's about the Civil War, which I've had a bit of a crush on since fifth grade. It reminds me just a little bit of a more realistic version of Gone With the Wind.

Two favorite characters: Edward, based on the first hospital chaplain in the US (and since my husband is a trained hospital chaplain, I could vicariously relate to many of the struggles he faces); and of course our main gal, Charlotte, who seems to me to be a bit of a mixture of Gone With the Wind's Melanie and Scarlett (the best of both of them, minus the "Tomorrow is another day" procrastination).

Overall, I highly recommend this novel, and I'm looking very much forward to the rest of the series.

Special thanks to the publisher for offering this book for free on Kindle at the beginning of July. The paperback arrived as I was finishing the novel in time for this blog tour.

Which means...I am giving the paperback away! Please leave a comment telling me why you'd like to receive this book, and I'll use to choose the recipient. Available to residents within the 50 states, please. Deadline is 31 July 2012, 5 p.m. ADT (which is 8 p.m. CDT).

Odds of winning are based on the number of eligible entries, and I'll be paying media rate postage myself for a book that was donated to me from the publisher for review. No hidden agenda, just wanting to share the literary love. Book will take awhile to ship from Alaska

Friday, July 20, 2012


ENOUGH--at Lisa Jo formerly Gypsy Mama

The first thing that came to mind was the praise song:

All of You is more than enough for 
All of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with your Love
And all I have in You
Is more than enough...

Talking about God being more than enough to meet our need, satisfy the longings of our hearts.

I often feel like I don't do enough, am not woman enough or strong enough, to DO this thing called life. To live my life, to be who I am--military ministry wife, mother, teacher, friend, ministry team leader for more than one team. Writer, editor, maybe even a speaker someday.

I don't measure up to whatever ideal is in my head. And that's enough to drive me crazy.

When will I be enough?

I won't. I can't.

Not alone.

But with God, I am. He made me to be enough, but only if I allow Him access to my heart and life and the vessel I am in Him.

What an amazing thought. Revolutionary.

Now, to let it be enough to satisfy that longing in my heart to do more, be more, strive for more.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Treasure in Jars of Clay

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
  Not too long ago, my girls and I needed something fun to do on another dreary day in this cooler-than-usual Alaskan July. I had just injured myself {a story for another day!}, so anything related to walking around was a bad idea. I'd gotten a Groupon for a local paint-your-own-pottery shop, so we took the coupon to the store, got instructions from the lady in the shop, chose our items, and began working on painting our unfinished pieces. ...

Come read the rest of what I wrote over at the Wives of Faith blog today.

Almost Amish

My review is at the end. Enjoy!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Almost Amish
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Kathryn Cushman


Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all her life she knew that she wanted to write a novel “some day”. For her, “some day” came in 2003, when she started writing and never looked back.

Her first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of her closet (the dust bunnies tell her they really are terrific!). Her third attempt became her first published novel.

A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

On the homefront, she has been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for nearly twenty-five years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.

They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feel blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)

When she's not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find her trying her best to keep up with her daughters in their various theater, softball, dance, and filled-with-activity lives.


Proving the Simple Life Isn't So Simple After All

Overcommitted and overwhelmed, Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She knows she should feel blessed as a mother and wife--but she just feels exhausted. And then, the miraculous happens. Her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series about trying to live like the Amish and needs another family to join her. It's just the break Julie needs.

But the summer adventure in simple living soon proves anything but simple. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or dressing differently, each new Amish challenge raises new complications...and soon each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

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

Pattie's Review:

The recent plethora of Amish fiction has been, to say the least, not my favorite thing going for Christian fiction today. I'm sure if you wanted to search, you would find a few Amish books among my book reviews, as in the past I've enjoyed them. However, during my most recent foray to the Inspirational Fiction section of the Anchorage Barnes and Noble, it seemed to me that about every other cover had a kapped heroine and either "Amish" or "Plain" in the title somewhere. Frankly, it's a bit much for me now.

So why am I reviewing this book? Simple. It's not Amish fiction. It's about a fictional "reality" show, about stressed-out moms and overbooked teens. It's about two women, both of whom desire to make a difference in the world--one through her work, one by simplicity in life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found myself relating to aspects of both Susan and Julie. I'm learning how I can use my gifts to make a difference in the world, to say "no" to good things in order to make room for the better things God would have me do, and to enjoy my children whenever I can.

I do think fans of Amish fiction will enjoy this novel too, as it references many aspects of several Amish cultures, and the "reality" show does try to be authentic in its challenges. However, if you're like me and feel like you're tired of it and want something different, this is for you as well.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Photo a Day 8-12

Day 8: Lunch

"The Elvis" sandwich with fries at the City Diner in Anchorage - Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon

Day 9: Big

Our "big" snow this winter

Day 10: Favorite Color

Blue sky!

Day 11: Letter

My "letter" to deployed spouses--we can be God Strong!
(Photo of the book God Strong by Sara Horn, Zondervan 2010)

Day 12: Texture

Cotton Candy at the USO concert with Gary Sinise and the Lieutenant Dan Band