Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Twelve Books of 2012 (A Year in Review)

What a year! There are so many wonderful things I could share that happened this year, but I regret to say there wouldn't be enough space and that I would hate to bore you. Though this year has been a tidal wave of ups and downs, good times and bad times, pain and healing, God has been right there with me the whole time.

I have grown so much this year. I ran a 5k. I am proud to call a new friend my best friend. I said goodbye, more times than I wanted. I started a little blog called Writings of Rosie. I met more friends online than I can count. I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. I'm another year older. I have rediscovered my passion for reading. I have learned to cling to God through the rough patches and through the smooth.

I hope your year was great and I pray 2013 will be even better for you. Thank you so much for following! I look forward to sharing about new books with you in 2013.

Now, I present to you my top 12 favorite books of 2012 (in no particular order):
  • With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
  • Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz
  • Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley
  • Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker
  • A Promise to Love by Serena Miller
  • Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon
  • Submerged by Dani Pettrey
  • My Stubborn Heart by Becki Wade
  • Love in Disguise by Carol Cox
  • Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren
  • The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
  • Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Christy Miller Vol. 1 by Robin Jones Gunn

My Review:
Christy Miller Volume 1 is a collection of the first three books in the Christy Miller series. I confess, I'm a little late to join the Christy fan club, but better late than never! I haven't reviewed a three-book volume before, so bear with me. (Warning, spoilers!)

What I liked about Summer Promise, the first book: Christy is a great protagonist. She's real with her struggles and teenage dreams. Miss Gunn was able to teach without sounding preachy. I loved Todd and all his whacky analogies to Christian faith. I thought it was kind of funny reading about some of the outdated technology. The thing I liked the most about this book is Christy's promise to her parents to not do anything she might regret later on. It seems to be a theme for the book and I really like that. It saves Christy from some trouble.

Christy Miller Collection, Vol. 1 (Christy Miller, #1-3)What I liked about A Whisper and a Wish: Out of the three, this was not my favorite. Maybe it was the lack of seeing the awesome characters at Newport Beach because the Miller family moved to Escondido. I felt Christy was drowning in some sort of emotional whirlpool and that didn't do much for me. One thing I did like was a verse Miss Gunn presented in Christy's Sunday school class, "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'." (1 Corinthians 15:33) It got me thinking about my life. Miss Gunn went on to make some great points using this verse. It was a highlight for me. :-)

What I liked about Yours Forever: We're back in Newport Beach! I was so happy to read about the crew from Summer Promise again. Man, this one is full of drama. Haha! Sadly for Christy, this quick Christmas break with her Aunt and Uncle doesn't quite go as planned. She is so eager to spend time with Todd and her other friends that she lets her Aunt's plans slip twice. Problems seem to pop up everywhere for Christy with no visible reason as to why. Thankfully, Miss Gunn wraps the last book with a bow.

Here are a few minor things I didn't like overall: Though this book was written a while ago, Christy's innocence made her seem more like a twelve year old than a fourteen or fifteen year old sometimes. I also did not like the so called Christians that Christy befriends in Escondido.

Whew! That was long. To quickly conclude, I will note for you that Miss Gunn's writing is fantastic. It was so easy to read, I loved it. I'll be passing this book to my twelve year old sister. :-)

I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done.

Read Chapter 1 of Summer Promise!
About Robin

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven

Back Cover (from Amazon): 
A miraculous survival. An extraordinary faith. Autumn 1755. 
Settled in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, deep within America's new frontier, the Leininger family celebrates the blessings of a beautiful homestead and bountiful harvest. Until tragedy strikes with the beginning of the French-Indian War, and the devastating raid known as the Penn's Creek Massacre. The lives of this simple, God-fearing family are forever altered when Barbara and Regina, two young sisters, are carried away by a band of Allegheny warriors. Driven by their faith in God and the powerful bonds of family, Barbara and Regina hold firmly to the belief that they are never alone, even in their darkest hour, and that they will be reunited again.

Alone Yet Not Alone
My Review: 
A heartwarming quick read!

Alone Yet Not Alone is based on a true story involving the author's ancestors. These true events occur during the French-Indian war, a period in history I have not thoroughly explored. So in some ways, it felt like I was getting an enjoyable history lesson while reading.

The story follows Barbara Leininger as she and her little sister are taken into captivity. Time passes pretty frequently and I kept up with it pretty well. For some reason, I thought for sure Barbara would learn to love being with the Indians. However, my guess was far off. The question that begs to be answered throughout the novel is this: will Barbara ever see her family or her sister again?

Because the length of this book is so short, at times I felt the story seemed rushed. But that didn't take away from Barbara's amazing faith and trust in God through her time with the Indians. She was truly inspiring.

The ending was sweet and warmed my heart. I'd recommend this to readers much younger than I. This book would be great as a read aloud to your family. Amazon suggests 8+. I will be interested to see the movie coming out this April.

About Tracy:
Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and the stories of those who have left an indelible impression on our country's heritage. She is also inspired by the testimony of God's faithfulness through seemingly impossible circumstances. Her stories of real people come alive and serve to inspire a new generation of readers.
In her free time, Tracy loves to be outside enjoying God’s creation with her husband David and their three children.

Alone Yet Not Alone will come out in January 2013

I received this book from DJC Communications in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
Scarlett Blaine's life in 1960s Georgia isn't always easy, especially given her parents' financial struggles and the fights surrounding her sister Juli's hippie lifestyle. Then there's her brother, Cliff. While Scarlett loves him more than anything, there's no denying his unique behavior leaves Cliff misunderstood and left out. So when he wishes for a rocket to Jupiter, Scarlett agrees to make it happen, no matter how crazy the idea might be. Raising the rocket money means baking pies, and the farmer's son, Frank, agrees to provide the peaches if Scarlett will help him talk to Juli. The problem is, Scarlett really enjoys her time with Frank, and finds herself wondering if, someday, they could be more than friends. Just as she thinks everything might be going her way, Cliff suffers an accident that not only affects the rocket plans, but shakes Scarlett's view of God. As the summer comes to an end, Scarlett must find a way to regain what she's lost, but also fulfill a promise to launch her brother's dream.

My Review:
Rachel Coker returns to the fictional scene equipped with an emotion-packed novel that had me glued to the pages!
Chasing Jupiter
Chasing Jupiter is her second novel, and I found it to be just as great, if not better than her debut novel, Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words. This time, our setting is in Georgia, 1969 and the central members of our new cast are, Scarlett Blaine, Cliff Blaine, and Frank Leggett.

Scarlett is special, in my opinion. She is able to communicate with Cliff and understand his quirks unlike their parents and the people in their area. She doesn't know why he's the way he is, but she still loves him. She holds so much of the house chores on her shoulders, in this way I can relate to her a bit. I've had a lot of house responsibility on my shoulders before, though not as long as she's had it. At one point, someone asks her why she does so much and she responds with, "Someone has to."

I liked the theme of peaches (peach pie, more peach pie, peach trees, ;D). I don't know why, but I did. I also thoroughly enjoyed the banter between Scarlett and Cliff and occasionally Scarlett and Frank. Rachel does a great job of tossing in enough romance to satisfy her readers, yet keep it to a minimum (no kissing, no dates). That's something I appreciate.

Chasing Jupiter took me off guard more than once with a few twists I hadn't anticipated. I love it when I can't see surprises coming! If you liked her previous work, then you'll surely love this one too.

About Rachel:
Rachel Coker resides near Williamsburg, Virginia, with her parents, who've homeschooled her since she was a child, and two sisters. She is the author of 2012's Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words. Coker has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven, at which time her parents, who owned a Christian bookstore, signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach.

I received this book from DJC Communications in return for an honest review of my opinions. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Few Announcements

Happy 12/12/12 everyone! 

I have exciting news... you ready? *drumrolls*

Writings of Rosie hit 50 followers!!!

Woo hoo!! *throws confetti* I feel so blessed by each and every follower thank you all SO much. I wish I could do a giveaway in honor but alas, not this month. Next month for sure though, I promise. ;)

Secondly, I am heading out of town tomorrow. I do have a few book reviews scheduled to go up while I'm gone for you all to enjoy until I get home on the 21st. So if things seem a little slow around here that's why.

I pray you all have a fabulous week and I will see you again when I get back! ;D 

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom---but can she trust another person to keep her safe? Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible---she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else---he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help---but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them---they must also protect their hearts.

My Review:
Another enchanting read from Melanie Dickerson!
The Fairest Beauty
The Fairest Beauty revolves around Gabe, son of Rose and Wilhelm (their story was told in The Healer's Apprentice), and Sophie, daughter of Duke Baldwin and betrothed to Gabe's older brother, Valten. Having only read The Healer's Apprentice previously by Melanie, it excited me to know that I'd learn more about Rose and Wilhelm and their family.

This retelling of the story of Snow White (who seems to be quite popular this year!), is fabulously done. It incorporates twists I could have never anticipated and brings the story to life, especially after a year of Snow White movies and shows. I am quite impressed with The Fairest Beauty. The writing and characters meet expectations and the story will pull you in until the last page.

As always, the underlying Christian message slid in like a puzzle piece with Sophie's troubles as well as Gabe's. I really hurt for Sophie as she tried to heal from all of the hurtful lies the evil Duchess spewed at her over the years. It certainly isn't something that occurs overnight! While, Gabe's problems might seem trivial compared to Sophie's they are real. I won't say too much more, I'd hate to spoil a great book like this one!

In conclusion, I really, really, liked Melanie's latest! I'm crossing my fingers as to which fairytale she'll do next! And I secretly hope it will involve Valten. :-)

Melanie DickersonAbout Melanie: 
Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist and her book, The Healer's Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). . Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Fairest Beauty will be released on January 8th 2013

Be sure to come back in January for a fun interview with Melanie! ;-)

I received this book from DJC Communications in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Writing Mondays: Pushing Forward (When You Don't Want To)

To my chagrin, I haven't written much since NaNoWriMo. I tried to take a small break and then write a little each day but to no avail. Now, I am facing a vacation later this week with little to no hope for time to write.

But I'm not going to quit.

It's going to be hard to write every single day following this one. But even if I only get 100 words down a day, that's still writing.

I have to keep reminding my inner editor, and myself, that my WIP is still a first draft, and it will probably be as rough as they come. But is that a reason to quit? I don't think so. As I write this post, I am on chapter 15 of 24. It's the same chapter I was on when I finished NaNo, and I hope to finally complete it today.

If there's anything specific that NaNoWriMo has taught me, it's that you have to crack down and fight for your novel and that's what I'm going to do.

So as I plow forward and fight to the finish, how are you doing on your WIP? Have you progressed since the end of November? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Review: Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan by Melanie Dobson

My Review:
This is the first "Love Finds You" book I have read as well as the first Melanie Dobson book I've read.

Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan
And while this wasn't a favorite, I still enjoyed it. Within the first few pages, I was ready to look up costs to visit Mackinac Island in Michigan. Miss Dobson described it so beautifully, I hope to one day visit. You will too, once you read this book. Haha!

The two stars of this novel are Elena and Chase. I really liked Elena's loyalty to her parents, though she was against their plans for her. I found her to be a sweet endearing character suppressed by her mother's standards. I loved her love for the Lord and longing to be close to Him.

I also held a high respect for Chase. He seemed to be a modern day celebrity on that island! Poor guy. He was continually bombarded by mothers throwing their daughters at him. However, not once did he take advantage of this, instead he rather hated it. He was very sick of women wanting him for money alone, which made Elena all the more attractive to him when they meet she has no idea who he is.

As far as stories go, this one is well done. Miss Dobson had two storylines going on at the same time and yet it wasn't hard to keep track of which was which at all. Overall, this wasn't a hard book to get into nor was it hard to read. I read most of it in an afternoon.

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
 It's the height of the Gilded Age, but Elena Bissette's family has lost most of its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, and they spend summers there in hopes of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls at the Grand Hotel, she spends her days walking along the island's rugged coastline. There she meets Chase, a young fisherman who invites her to watch the ships from an abandoned lighthouse. The two begin to meet there in secret, hoping to solve a decades-old mystery. Meanwhile, Elena's mother contrives introductions between Elena and the island's most eligible bachelor, an elusive millionaire named Chester Darrington. When Elena's two worlds unexpectedly collide, she will be in for the surprise of her life

I swapped a book for this one, no review required.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Review: Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart

My Review: 
Words Spoken True is an intriguing book. I don't recommend it to young teen readers.

Words Spoken TrueSet in one of my favorite time periods, this novel takes me to a part of the 1800s I haven't yet explored: the newspaper. You see, back in the day of 1855 before radios and TVs they had the newspaper. The two fictional presses we focus on in Words Spoken True are the Tribune and the Herald. These presses battle it out using their newspaper only, in hopes to achieve the town of Louisville's loyalty and readership.

First, we meet Adriane Darcy. She's a woman who's had little training to be a proper lady, in upper society's eyes. She isn't afraid to speak her mind and loves her job at her father's paper the Tribune. Her faith in God is what has kept her going after dealing with an evil stepmother who used to lock her in a closet as a child. She struggles with darkness and tries clinging to God's light.

Next we meet Blake Garrett, a stubborn gentleman who is the editor of the Herald. He tries to forget the skeletons in his closet and wants the Herald to become the top paper in Louisville. But when he meets Adriane and her fiancee Stanley he becomes determined to save Adriane from her annoying (jerk!) of a fiancee.

I liked Miss Gabhart's writing style a lot! I also really liked Duff, who became my favorite side character. However, I did feel like the romance was a little rushed near the end and I felt awkward reading the bedroom scene. (Nothing is explicit or overtly bad. Just know it's there.) But that may just be a personal quirk. Miss Gabhart gives you a real feel for the time period and brings to life an actual occurrence in history. I'll end my review here, because there's a lot I could spoil if I go on. Hehehe. :-)

I give this novel 3 stars.

Back Cover (from Goodreads):
Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over failing competitor the Herald, and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story—and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late?

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold readers in its grip until the very last page. Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart once again delivers an enthralling and enduring tale for her loyal and ever-expanding fan base.

I purchased this book, no review required.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Oh that wonderful feeling...

I won NaNo! :-D

This is such a big deal for me for many reasons. First is because I didn't win last year. School and other responsibilities just wouldn't allow for it. I was so disappointed. I berated myself about it all year and said, "Next year I'll win. Next year." And then before I knew it, November had rolled around.

Second reason is this, I wanted to feel accomplished. I wanted to know I that I could do it. I wanted some kind of self affirmation that becoming an author is the right path for me. And boy, do I feel accomplished. :-D

Third and final reason while I'm so giddy and happy, my novel is only about 55% written! I still have 45% left!  This is so unbelievable to me, to think that for my second novel I've formed an idea that might actually hit the good ol' "novel" word count.

I'd like to talk to those of you who didn't win today. I know what you're going through. Disappointment, frustration, guilt, the "what could I have done different?" questions, etc. I have some bad news. It probably won't go away until the new year rolls around, but look at it this way. Whether you hit 20k, 30k, or 40k, you still pushed yourself to your limit. You did YOUR best. That's all anyone can ask. Besides, there's always Camp NaNo in a few months. ;) Pat yourself on the back.

To close this post, I want to say thank you to all the people who encouraged me to go forward when I was ready to give up. You all are just awesome and you have no idea how you impacted me to keep moving forward. So, thanks. :-)

Final Word Count: 50,211


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig

 Back Cover (from Bethany House):
New York City, 1897

She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she's found is a web of danger.

Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother's warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.

She's then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother--but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.

With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke... a man she's grown to love?

My Review: 
Cover ArtIn a web of mystery and lies, can Cara Hamilton find the truth?

No Safe Harbor started off a little slow for my taste, but it did pick up near the end. I couldn't fathom putting it down in those last pages. Though I felt it began slowly, Miss Ludwig did a fantastic job with her pacing. It was a gradual build up to the climax, in perfect timing with my mind solving the mysteries.

Cara is girl desperate to find her twin brother, her only living kin, after two years of thinking he was dead. She's strong in her faith, which flourished under her mother's guidance as a child, and she is very compassionate.

Rourke is a man who has dedicated his life to avenging his father's untimely murder. His heart is hardened, unwilling to forgive the man he believes committed this act, Cara's brother. Then in a chanced meeting with Cara he thinks he's finally found the way to get to him. But instead of becoming calloused to her innocence, his heart begins to melt. She unknowingly helps lead him to forgiveness.

I won't say any more, in fear of spoiling! While No Safe Harbor is not a favorite, it is well written, has great characters, and has mystery that will keep you reading. :-)

I received this book from Bethany House in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Week 5 (The Homestretch!)

We're onto the last week of NaNo! Somehow, by the grace of God, I have stuck in the race to 50,000. I finally got caught up last night. :-D

Here's what I predicted to write: 9,000

Here's what I actually wrote (11/18-11/25): 11,344

Here's what I predict to write next week: (11/19-11/25): 8,328 (The remaining words to reach 50k!)

Here's my total (from last night): 41,672

Many thanks to all who encouraged me to press on! How are you all doing in NaNo?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks (What I'm Thankful For)

I know this is a day late, but I just didn't have time to spare with all the preparations and cleaning. I hope you all had a marvelous Thanksgiving, I know I did. This is my family's first Thanksgiving at our new place. For the first time in at least five years my dad's parents and my uncle's family joined us for Thanksgiving. It was a day full of laughter, games, and memories made. :-)

So with this year of "firsts" for us in our new house, comes with a tidal wave of blessings and things we're thankful for. A new house...being closer to friends...wonderful memories...

One of the things that come to mind when I give thanks is all the many friends I've made in the past seven months of blogging. :) As the 9th Doctor would say, "You all are just fantastic!"  Every single one of you has blessed me in some shape or form and I am so thankful. So, thank you. Each and every one of you.

I'm thankful for...our religious freedom in the USA...the sunlight that comes after a deary morning...a new new friends...Jesus...and so much more...

How was your Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for? :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Placebo by Steven James (Revell Blog Tour)

Back Cover (from Revell):
One man must uncover the truth-even when others will stop at nothing to keep it buried.

While investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. He seeks answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program-and answers to his own family tragedy.

Rooted in groundbreaking science, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. This taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James will keep you flipping pages late into the night.

My Review:
This is a roller-coaster ride that will keep you gripping the sides of the book!

Wow. Placebo is amazing. I cannot fathom the depth of research Steven James put into this novel, but let me tell you, it was all worth it. All the medical and psychology terms and knowledge bring this story to life in such a way I haven’t seen.

This is the first novel written by Mr. James that I have read. All bundled into it is gritty suspense, well rounded characters, psychopaths, a mystery, and a single idea: your thoughts can impact someone else. Mr. James presents this thought in a way that makes it almost seem plausible! In some cases it was actually really creepy.

Jevin, whose head we are in for the most part of the book, has just lost his wife and two sons. Their deaths appear to be because Jevin’s wife committed suicide by running their minivan into the water. It is truly heartbreaking to read, which is why I’m glad Mr. James provides him with great, supporting, friends. Jevin is also a “magician” or “illusionist”, he used to perform shows in large cities and after the deaths of his family he acquired a television show about debunking the evangelical fakes and psychics on TV.

There are three who have been working with Jevin for quite some time, by the sound of it. You have Charlene, the one who is usually on stage with Jevin, Xavier, the conspirator-slash-special effects manager, and Fionna, the one who does all the research. Together, the four of them make a fabulous team.

A small disclaimer though, I would recommend this book to mature teen readers only. There is some content that might be considered questionable for younger teens. There are also at most two “bad” words. Other than that, I found this book an excellent thrilling read.

Available November 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Special thanks to Donna for this review copy! I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Week 4

This week has been terrible. Ugh. I thought I was close to breaking down the wall of the "beginning" and kicking up the speed...but I was wrong. I am 1000 words behind. I'm starting to not care. Will I catch up? Will I finish? That's left to be determined. *sigh*

Here's what I predicted to write: 12,000

Here's what I actually wrote (11/12-11/18): 8,596

Here's what I predict to write next week: (11/19-11/25): 9,000

Thursday, November 15, 2012

To a Bullied Teen... This is for you

Hey everyone!

A wonderful lady I work with told me about a "letter" Nicole Quigley wrote over at the Huffington Post.

If you recall, I reviewed Nicole's debut Like Moonlight at Low Tide a few months ago. It's a wonderful book and deals with many of the issues teens deal with today. Including, a little bit of bullying.

Here's a link to the letter Nicole wrote for all of the bullied victims out there: To a Bullied Teen: Your Identity Is Greater Than Your Self-Esteem


Many thanks to Charleen for letting me know about this. :-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman

A Passion Redeemed (Daughters of Boston, Book #2)Back of the Book (from Goodreads):
Graced with physical beauty, though shallow of heart, Charity O'Connor is a woman who knows what she wants. She sets her sights on the cantankerous Mitch Dennehy, editor at the Irish Times, who has unwittingly stolen her heart. And although the sparks are there, Mitch refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with his ex-fiancee's sister. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat and she always gets what she wants--one way or another. Is revenge so sweet after all? Or will Charity get burned?

Full of intense passion, betrayal, and forgiveness, "A Passion Redeemed" will delight Lessman's fans and draw new ones

My Review:
Once again, Miss Lessman was able to enamor and frustrate me all at once.

It certainly did not help that this book was about Charity (you know, the single O'Connor I don't like) either. As I cracked open the book I mused to myself, "A Passion Redeemed to be sure." I can't say that this book made me love Charity, but it did lessen the dislike... a little.

I liked Mitch previously from A Passion Most Pure and was, at first, kind of upset he was falling for Charity, of all people. But, Miss Lessman won me over to the idea over the course of the 400+ page book. After all, only Mitch can seem to tame Charity with his own hard-head.

This book has it's ups and downs. In my opinion it didn't get good until Charity really made a change in her heart. As downsides go, the same complaint from A Passion Most Pure is also valid here. There is lots of passion. I also didn't like the deceit and seduction Charity carried on with. Otherwise, it's the same excellent writing. :-)

In closing, Miss Lessman has a knack for keeping things bleak for as long as possible. It seems to be a trend that doesn't fail from keeping me on the edge of my seat. I guess this is one of the many reasons I keep reading. Haha!

I bought this book. No review required.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Week 3

As Week 2 of NaNo comes to a close, many of us are starting to hit that block. You know the one I'm talking about. The evil Writer's block. I think we all tasted it in shades of grey this past week- I know I did! But thanks to some awesome word-warring friends, I got back to it. :)

Here's what I had predicted to write: 14,500

Here's what I actually wrote (11/5-11/11): 9,340 I confess, I'm a little disappointed. But, last week my great-uncle passed and that set a damper on our family for a few days. Hopefully, I'll meet my goal next week!

How are you holding up? Have you faced the evil Dr. Block yet?

Here's what I predict I'll write next week (11/12-11/18): 12,000

Happy NaNoing!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review: A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

A Passion Most Pure (Daughters of Boston, #1)Back Cover (from Goodreads):  
She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister.

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O'Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there's the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin's affections shift, it threatens to tear her proper Boston family apart.

Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Most Pure will carry your heart from the sophisticated streets of Boston to the green hills of Ireland as men go off to war and women long for their return. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, it will captivate you from the first page.

My Review:
This book is completely aggravating and yet enjoyable at the same time.

I can't explain it, but it seems to me Miss Lessman definitely knows how to create a story, a really good one at that. I fell in love with the O'Connor family right off the bat- minus Charity. They are a family built on their faith and strong values and that makes them awesome.

I felt like I really identified with Faith, the female lead and eldest O'Connor daughter. I understood her not wanting to settle for an ungodly man and I adored her unwillingness to lower her standards. She's now my fictional role model. Her relationship with God and her love for her family is so great and though her flaws, I think she amazing.

Forgive me while I gush a tad longer... Reading this book was kind of like watching a movie in a good way. I felt swept away into the action of the O'Connor household. I laughed when they laughed and I cried when they did. I have never felt such a connection with a fictional family.

All that being said; no book is perfect. Though Miss Lessman promotes a pure passion and abstinence (hence the title, "A Passion Most Pure"), there is several heated...erm...passionate kiss scenes scattered through the book with the parents, a few with Charity and Collin, and lastly between Collin and Faith. No worries, nothing is ever too descriptive but it did make me skim the page and move on quickly.

In sum, I was captivated with Miss Lessman's world. Nothing ever seemed happy-go-lucky for too long, there was always some twist or drama that I never saw coming. If you like good writing, stable characters, a wonderful setting, and romance piled in one- you'll enjoy this one. :-)   
   I purchased this book, no review required.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

Pearl in the Sand
Isn't this cover gorgeous??
Book Blurb:
Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible's answer is yes.

Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab's untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well--walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness.

A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith...of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another's worth and find healing in God

My Review:
Pearl in the Sand will take you back in time to just before the Israelites conquered Jericho.

I really enjoyed this one! Miss Afshar did a fantastic job sticking to the Biblical account and still representing plausible personalities for Rahab and Salmone. Staying as true as one can to the Bible always earns points with me.

Rahab is presented, at first, as someone whose lost herself. She doesn't believe in her people's gods, her father has sold her into prostitution, and she just feels hopeless... Until she hears about Israel's victories and their one God. A curiosity stirs within her as she seeks out their God... and finds peace.

Salmone is a man struggling with his pride. He knows what the right thing is but he's growing sick of doing it "God's way". So you can imagine his reaction when Joshua said Rahab and her family would be joining the tribe of Judah. Thankfully, he grows and improves his attitude.

I found this book very enjoyable, despite a few things that can't be avoided. I appreciate Miss Afshar keeping details to a minimum when it came to Rahab's profession before the fall of Jericho.

I traded a book for this one, no review required. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Week 2

Whew! Week 1 of NaNo is over. I hope you all had a successful weekend-start like I did! :-)

Here's what I had predicted to write: 5,500 (And I forgot to count Sunday... So make that number 7,000)

And here's what I actually wrote (11/1-11/4): 11,671 Wow! I never thought I'd hit this number so soon!

I'm so proud of myself for coming so far so soon! How have you all done so far?

Here's my word target for this coming week (11/5-11/11): 14,500

Happy NaNoing!

Friday, November 2, 2012

And we have a winner!!! :-D

Congratulations to Patty! She has won Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund. Thank you all so much for participating! This giveaway was so much fun, I just might do another in the near future!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Review: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Back Cover (from Bethany House):
Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.
But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home. 

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something. 

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

Silent Governess, The, Julie Klassen, 978-0-7642-0707-5My Review:
With each novel I read from Miss Julie Klassen I become more and more in love with her stories and her writing!

The Silent Governess is the third book I have read from Miss Klassen, and within its pages we journey with Olivia Keene. From the first few pages we learn that Olivia was trained by her father at a young age to be good with numbers. This knowledge as well as her schooling at Miss Cresswell's proves to be quite beneficial in her future. Especially when she flees everything she's known.

Lord Bradley is a fine character. Though at times he seems a little rough around the edges, he has a profound love for his young cousins. Watching he and Olivia grow in their faith and fall in love was so enjoyable. I spent most of the afternoon reading!

Once again Miss Klassen has provided a well thought out plot, characters, and a realistic setting that has me pining to go back. :-)

I checked this book out at the library. No review required.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes (Revell Blog Tour)

Back Cover (from Revell):
Her head is in the clouds. His feet are planted firmly on the ground. Can love cover the distance?

Cassandra Bainbridge may be a bit of a bluestocking, but when Geoffrey Giles is near, love seems a fine alternative to passion for Greek and the physics of flight. With his dashing good looks and undying devotion to her, the earl of Whittaker sets Cassandra's heart racing with his very presence. It seems his only flaw is his distaste for ballooning, the obsession that consumes so much of her thoughts.

When a terrible accident compels her to end her betrothal, Cassandra heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. With time on her hands and good friends to help her, she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when Lord Whittaker slips back into her life, will she have to choose between him and her dream?

My Review:
Flight of Fancy is a fascinating tale of love in the Regency era.

It took about fifty pages for me to really get into the story of Cassandra Bainbridge and Geoffrey Giles. From then on the story drew me in, urging me to discover what will happen next. Miss Eakes poses so many questions I began to wonder if she would answer them all! I can gladly assure you she does.

Flight of Fancy, A, Laurie Alice Eakes, 978-0-8007-3467-1Sewing, house-managing, and dancing might interest most women, but not Cassandra. She would much rather stick her nose in a good book about ballooning or the Greek language. She is also known for her rebellion against her father’s wishes. Though her flaws, I thought she was a strong character.

Geoffrey, or Whittaker as he’s known in Flight of Fancy, is head over heels in love with Cassandra. Because of his fear of heights, he does not care much for Cassandra’s dream of becoming an aeronaut, but he does try to support her near the end. Whittaker really grew as a character, and I liked him.

I really felt for poor Whittaker more than I think I did for Cassandra and her extensive injuries. He comes up against so many obstacles, that to hear that his beloved wishes to end their engagement—for the second time—crushes him. However, it doesn’t stop him from pursuing her.

A few things I didn’t like about Flight of Fancy was the lack of a translation section at the back of the book. I came across more than one French word or Regency-era term that I didn’t understand and having a section at the back explaining each term would have been very helpful. Overall though, I liked this book but not enough to make it to my favorites list. 

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

About the Author:
Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of Lady in the Mist, A Necessary Deception, Heart's Safe Passage, and several other novels. She won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007 for Family Guardian. Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats.
 I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Week 1

Technically, NaNo starts in two days but nonetheless it does start this week. When I have time to think about it, I panic. Like now. My procrastination is biting my rear end. I am proud to say, however, that I did make a giant step forward with my outline. :-D

Something I would like to do during NaNo is have a weekly NaNo update (this will replace "Writing Mondays"). In this update I'll share the words I've accomplished, my next word target for the week, and perhaps a little excerpt. Hopefully, those of you who are doing NaNo, can share your updates here in the comments and we can all encourage one another. :-) 
My word target for this week is:  5,500

Good luck, Wrimos!

Psst, by the way, don't forget to enter my giveaway! Three days left!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Review + Giveaway! Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Hey everyone! I have another giveaway for you all! Told you I had great things in store. ;-) But before we get to that, let's start off with my book review and etc.

Back Cover (from Bethany House):
Michigan, 1883
In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs?

Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick.

Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.

Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?

Unending Devotion, Jody Hedlund, 978-0-7642-0834-8My Review: 
Unending Devotion is a perfect title for this book.

I eagerly opened up the book and dove into the pages. This is the first book I’ve read from Jody Hedlund and I really enjoyed her writing style. In Unending Devotion, she shows us what a lumbering business looked like and she tackled the troubling topic of prostitution in 1883. This is a side of the late 1800s I haven’t seen before, and I liked how Miss Hedlund handled it.

Our headstrong, save-the-world, heroine is named Lily. Orphaned at a young age, all she’s wanted is to keep her and her sister together, to have a family. When circumstances force Lily to leave her sister with a family, she could never have known the consequences. Lily is hired on to help take care of sick woman. When the woman passes from her ailments, Lily receives a letter from Daisy, her younger sister, saying she’s run away. Lily begins the search of a lifetime trying to find her.

Our number-crunching and noble hero is Connell. He runs three lumber camps in Harrison and is a member of a very wealthy family. He ignores the blatant drinking and prostitution because it keeps his men from leaving. When Lily arrives in Harrison he never realized he’d fall in love with a woman so headstrong.

From the very start this book tugged at my curiosity and wouldn’t let go. There were some moments I was disgusted at Lily’s foolishness and other moments I was grinning ear to ear at the romance between her and Connell. I loved how real and flawed Miss Hedlund’s characters were. I also loved how you never really knew what was going to happen next, it’s something I really appreciate in books. :)

About the Author:
Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of The Doctor's Lady and The Preacher's Bride. She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Book Trailer:

Now for the fun part, the giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do to the sad realities of the cost to ship internationally, U.S. entries only. Sorry!

I had not received this book from Bethany House at the time of this review.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Promise to Love by Serena B. Miller (Revell Blog Tour)

Promise to Love, A, Serena B. Miller, 978-0-8007-2117-6Back Cover (from Revell):
Can a marriage of convenience ever become one of true love?

Ingrid Larsen, a young Swedish immigrant, arrives in Michigan in 1871 to search for her brother who has disappeared into the woods to work the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a newly-widowed farmer who is struggling to raise five children on his own.

Marriage would solve both of their problems, and so Ingrid proposes to a man she barely knows. She will fight to protect her new family--but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.

My Review:
An enthralling read from the start!

When I picked up A Promise to Love, I never would have guessed I would be clinging to the book until the end. This book is utterly fantastic. Miss Miller’s writing and characters, from the start, transport you back in time to Michigan in 1871.

In the first few pages, we meet Ingrid. Oh, how I loved Ingrid! She and her twin brother, Hans, moved to America from Sweden. They made a promise to meet each other when they parted. But when he doesn’t show up, Ingrid fears the worst and moves to White Rock to take a position as a maid for a snobbish woman. It’s there in White Rock that Ingrid’s life takes a turn.

There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. One in particular is how Miss Miller was able to write Ingrid’s broken English. It gave the story another layer of accuracy, it made me laugh, and it made me smile.

Miss Miller has done a wonderful job with her latest release. Her writing is so easy to read and her characters so lovable. I read A Promise to Love in a day simply because I couldn’t put it down for very long. I was so sad to see it come to end.

Those who liked Janette Oke’s Love Come Softly series will enjoy this one. :-) 

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

About the Author: 
Serena B. Miller is the author of The Measure of Katie Calloway and Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman's World, Guideposts, Reader's Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more. She lives on a farm in southern Ohio.

I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done.