Monday, May 30, 2011

Making Home Work: First Ever Challenge Week!

My friend Melissa posted this on one of her three blogs (Yes! She has three blogs I am humbled by her productivity). It's a neat "contest" that might help us all get a little something extra done this week.

Take a look!

Making Home Work: First Ever Challenge Week!: "by Melissa Jagears All right readers, today we are hosting our first ever Making Home Work Challenge Week! Every fifth Monday, one of our ..."

Check Out This Great Giveaway!

The very talented Julie Lessman is giving away a copy of any one of her books on this great blog...

Giveaway Lady

This giveaway is open until June 10.

If you've never read any of her books, go to this blog. Enter as many times as you can, and hope you win.

I won Julie's first book A Passion Most Pure in a similar giveaway. See my review of it here .

I hope you'll all enter.

But I hope I win. ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Booksneeze Book Review: Daddy Dates by Greg Wright

***** 5 Stars

Okay, I’m not a daddy. I think you’ve got that figured out already.  When I went to Booksneeze to choose a book, I looked for something that had only a few reviews posted for it.  Daddy Dates had fewer than 10 reviews, so I thought, “What the hay! I’m not a dad, but I do have a daughter.” So here we are.

Daddy Dates is a treasure trove of information about the Woman Brain, an uncharted “no man’s land” Greg Wright has actively explored in order to raise “strong and confident” daughters.

            Mr. Wright covers a lot of ground in a few pages (around 200 not counting the Pop Quiz and the Top 15 Daddy Dates). Some chapters are very man-centered. “How to Talk to a Girl” (this is self-explanatory), “Totin’ the Load” (this is all about purses and other baggage girls decide to carry), “Tweening” (what’s a dad to do when girls go all curvy?) are centered on teaching dads about girls. They cover things most women already know. I was repeatedly amazed that a man could so precisely express things that most women think, but rarely say. 

            Other chapters are universal to all parents. “Friendship Rocks” (when should they date? This one will surprise you), “The River and the Whirlpool” (have friends who keep you accountable), “When Daddy Doesn’t Live There” (or Mommy), and “Lucky Number 13” (everything changes now) all apply to moms and dads. And they set some pretty high standards.

            There are two concepts in Daddy Dates that stick out to me. Reading the book, I wished that my own dad had done these things. I wished my husband did them more. And I was reminded that as my daughter grows up, I’ll need to do them too.

1.      Listen. Pay attention to what she’s saying for as long as it takes her to say it.  Don’t try to solve her problems. Sometimes she just needs to talk it out.

2.      Make it all about her.  Check your preferences at the door. This means food, movies, music, everything. If you want her to know how much you cherish her for who she is, you have to let her be that person.

While I was learning, or reviewing, all these things I was also laughing my head off and crying my eyes out, at the appropriate moments. Greg Wright is a funny guy, and he has some funny kids. This family has had some heartwarming moments.  It’s great to get a peak at those moments and what they’ve learned along the way.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

5 Stars

From the Cover:
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.

            I received this book as a prize from Casey Herringshaw’s blog Writing for Christ ~ The Audience of One. I am also acquainted with the author through her own website and the Seekerville blog, where she is a regular contributor.

  1. Faith’s faith: She is very close to her Savior, and that is evident in the frequency and the tone of her prayers.  She talks to God all the time, and she does it just like most people talk to themselves. The reader knows that God is replying when Faith quotes Scripture and sort of preaches to herself. Even when she rails at God in pain and anger, she has no doubt that she will—in the end—turn back to him to heal the pain and soothe the anger.

  1. Faith’s thankfulness:
“She was almost oblivious to the faint limp in her stride, the only mark of her childhood bout with polio….That slight hitch in her gait—that precious wonderful gimp—was daily proof she had escaped paralysis or worse” (12). 
Faith lost a great deal more to polio than the smooth stride of her childhood, but she chooses to focus on her blessings, trusting God to fill the empty places left by loss.

  1. Collin’s genuine goodness: In the wake of his own losses, Collin has gone to great lengths to earn a rogue’s reputation, and has succeeded so that even his own mother believes that’s all he is. But the goodness inside is still visible to anyone who cares to look closely (as Faith does when she watches him join in a game of kickball with the neighborhood children): 
“All at once he turned and loped to a massive oak where tiny, towheaded Theodore Schmidt sat propped against the gnarled tree. Crutches by his side…Collin tossed his coat on the ground and bent to carefully hoist Theo astride his shoulders.  The little boy squealed with delight….Collin’s first kick sailed the ball five houses away.  Champion and child went flying, the back tail of Theo’s white shirt flapping in the breeze as Collin rounded the bases.  They crossed home plate to a roar of cheers and whistles…” (9).

  1. Sibling rivalry: A sisterly brawl always livens things up, and the O’Connor household is no exception. Julie Lessman grew up with a dozen or so brothers and sisters, and her experience in the art of “sister jabbing” is evident in the rapid fire and acidity of exchanges between Faith and her sister Charity.

  1. Mrs. Gerson: This woman is an unwavering compass that always points Faith to true North. She is also a lighthouse beckoning Faith to a safe harbor when the inevitable storm breaks for her.

  1. Seamlessly woven setting: This novel begins in 1917, and its timeline runs through the end of the First World War.  From the very beginning, Mrs. Lessman expertly weaves into her characters lives the dread that precedes war and the fear and pain that accompany it.

  1. Surprising twists: This book has lots of surprises.  Sometimes you think “This might happen,” but she holds off long enough to convince you it won’t. Then, WHAM! it does, and you’re left reeling.  Other times, she comes at you out of the blue with something you never expected.  It’s a thrilling ride.

  1. Charity: Charity believes her bitterness toward Faith is warranted, but she is sadly mistaken. Her misunderstanding of certain people’s motives causes a lot of grief for a lot of people. I lost track of the number of times I thought, “Someone ought to slap that girl!”  She’s the heroine of the second book, A Passion Redeemed, and I know I’ll come to love her when I read it. But, ohhh! I just can’t stand her in this one.

  1. I don’t yet own A Passion Redeemed, so I can’t read any more of Julie Lessman’s wonderful stories for who knows how long. But I guess that’s irrelevant to my review. Sorry.
           With Faith and Collin’s story, we see the very real heart-pounding passion that comes with falling in love. Faith desperately yearns for Collin (Yes, I realize how melodramatic that sentence sounds, but it is absolutely true). With the yearning is the torturous realization that she cannot follow her feelings as long has Collin rebels against God. Collin is drawn to Faith and wants always to feel like he does when he’s with her, but his refusal to submit to God.  This beautifully parallels God’s love story with his people. God “desperately yearns” to be part of our lives. He loves us with passion that makes the inferno of young love look like a candle flickering in the wind. But our stubborn resistance to that love forces him to withhold from us his greatest blessings of redemption and fellowship.
In Patrick and Marcy’s sub-plot, we find that the passion of young love doesn’t have to fade. It will change though, from the inferno blazing out of control into something more like a well-tended hearth fire, offering heat certainly, but also drawing the lovers and their family to its light. God’s love is like that too, if we tend it faithfully in our hearts, we will always feel its warmth, and we will always know where to find that warmth when the world leaves us cold.
Julie Lessman’s tag is “Passion With a Purpose.” In this novel, she shows that passion between characters can be sizzling, without “showing” a lot of skin. She has appropriated the “love scene” for use in Christian fiction in a way few others have.

I know most of my readers know and love Julie already. But if you haven't read her books or run into her online, I highly recommend doing both. I promise you won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vote for Carol!

My dear friend Carol is in a contest on Go Ahead and Wear the Purple . She and 7 other writers entered scenes in this contest. I haven't read all eight entries, but the ones I have read are very good. It might be a tough choice.

Of course I voted for Carol's.  ;)  I'd love for you all to do the same. 

Here are links to Carol's website and blog as well. Check them out.

Carol's Blog