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.