Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review: Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

From the Publisher:
Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”
Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?
As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?
A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.
Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

Would I Recommend This Book? One thing I do enjoy about Beth's books is that she chooses a central question that weaves into her stories.

This story was not for me.  I'm a reading teacher, and I encourage my students to give books a fair shake.  However with this one I had to know when to put it down.  With so many books on the market, this one was not for me.  I didn't connect with the characters and the plot didn't feel natural.

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

An interview with the author!





(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.)


My Rating Scale:
 5 stars= A definite favorite, will be re-read again and again, and permanently placed on my bookshelf.
 4 stars= A pretty good book, one that will be re-read eventually, placed on the bookshelf.
 3 stars= An average to good book, that may or may not be read again, probably has a place in my library.
 2 stars= A not liked book, I wouldn't read it again, and wouldn't have a place in my library.
 1 star = A book I really didn't enjoy, wouldn't read again, would not keep in my library.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Purpose of Writing

Do you post on Facebook?

Tweet?

Heart on Instagram?

My question is why do you do it?  Is it to put your best face forward?  To connect with relatives and friends?  To get noticed?

Last night I was speaking with a couple friends about blogging.  What's the purpose?  With thousands of blogs out there it seems near impossible to become the "it" blog.  The one to which many people return to read posts, comment and connect.

Again I ask, what's the purpose?  To be a sort of digital journal to your thoughts?  Perhaps, if you're a teacher, you might blog to remember things for your classroom?  Maybe you write purely for the sake of writing.

I believe that every writer writes for a purpose.  One of those purposes being to be read.  All writers want that.  To believe that our words have value.  That they connect with someone, somewhere.

Remember many things in life can wait,
but The Sunset Won't.



Saturday, June 20, 2015

Book Review: Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

The first book in the Beacons of Hope Series, Love Unexpected featured Emma Chambers.  This second story features her brother Ryan along with Caroline Taylor.  Caroline has suffered great loss and has taken over the running of the lighthouse in her father's absence.  Becoming more confident and capable in her duties Caroline is at a loss when a man who is not up to the job is hired to be the new lightkeeper.  With lives on the line will Caroline and Ryan work together to keep the lighthouse running and sailors safe?

Would I Recommend This Book?  
Yes, but it doesn't need to rush to the top of your to-read pile.  I really enjoyed the first book, this one wasn't quite as exciting for me.  (In all fairness, I tend to suffer from series syndrome and love the first book in a series and find it hard for the rest to compare.)

I enjoy the history of the series, rooted in the lighthouses along Lake Michigan.  It's interesting to learn a bit about a piece of history I really know nothing about.

I would be interested in reading more about Tessa, Caroline's sister.  Overall the characters were well written but I think it was a few small plot things that threw me off.

I liked the tying in of the driftwood, if you read the first story in the series, you will know what I mean.  You don't need to have read the first book to enjoy this story, though as always it adds to the story.

My Rating: 3/5

(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.)

LEARN MORE AND PURCHASE A COPY.

My Rating Scale:
 5 stars= A definite favorite, will be re-read again and again, and permanently placed on my bookshelf.
 4 stars= A pretty good book, one that will be re-read eventually, placed on the bookshelf.
 3 stars= An average to good book, that may or may not be read again, probably has a place in my library.
 2 stars= A not liked book, I wouldn't read it again, and wouldn't have a place in my library.


 1 star = A book I really didn't enjoy, wouldn't read again, would not keep in my library.)

Publisher's Information:
(Bethany House, June 2015)
Can she forgive the hurting man who costs her the role she loves?
After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.
Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation–the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he’s unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Being is Still the Word

In January of this year (2015) I picked being as my word of the year.  The one that was going to remind me, inspire me, encourage me.

It was chosen because I can rock "doing" like nobody's business.  I have lists for lists, I'm thinking two steps ahead.  Yes, I can sit and be lazy with the best of them, but even then my mind is running like a hamster on an exercise wheel.  

Just "being" is hard.  Being in the moment.  Taking it in.  Allowing yourself to feel whatever emotion you choose free from judgement or worry or concern.  That's a powerful thing and one I have been tackling.

I sit here writing this from the beautiful beaches of the Outerbanks, where I have rented a house for the week.

Normally I would have an itinerary of everything I want to do, see, places to eat, etc.  While I love sitting and reading, or writing, when I'm on vacation I pay to be there, so I want to see things.

This time around in being very intentional about planning less, thinking on the fly, and being content too sit, look and listen to the waves rolling in.  (If I could figure out how to post an image from my iPad I would, you'll have to come back later!)

Remember many things in life can wait,
But taking time to just "be",
And The Sunset Won't. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review: Hutterite Diaries by Linda Maendel

Hutterites, Mennonites and Amish are three branches of the Anabaptist faith.  In Christian fiction I tend to notice many books about othe Amish, a decent selection about traditional Mennonites, but very few written about the Hutterites.  Hutterite Diaries by Linda Maendel is a nonfiction account of what life is really like in a Hutterite Colony.

My Thoughts:
At first glance I was really excited about the opportunity to read and review this book.  My ancestors are Hutterties and I love reading about my family's history. (One chapter refers to the story's of my ancestor

If you know nothing of the Hutterities, their style of living, the struggles they faced before coming to America then this book might be one you would enjoy.

Linda shares about fellowship, celebrations, and values along with a bit of the Hutterite heritage story.

This book was a quick read which I appreciated.  While describing the book to someone I realized I needed to look at it as a series of short stories.  When approached that way it flows a little better on the whole, but the individual pieces were still a bit choppy.

Would I Recommend This Book?
The honest glimpse into Hutterite culture is worth the quick read, especially if the Anabaptist faiths are of interest to you. I didn't love the writing style but appreciated the insight Linda's book provided.

My Rating:  3/5 stars

(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.)

A Description from the Publisher:
What would it be like to share all your possessions and live in Christian community?
In Hutterite Diaries, Linda Maendel offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and communal faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. From stories of working together to bring in the fall potato harvest to laugh-out-loud tales of sisterly love laced with revenge, Maendel invites readers into her Bruderhof, or colony, nestled on the prairie of western Canada. Here children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.
Few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a Plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites. Maendel’s story invites readers into deeper understanding of this community of faith, calling us to take seriously the example of Jesus and the early church in our daily living.
How do I rate books?
 5 stars= A definite favorite, will be re-read again and again, and permanently placed on my bookshelf.
 4 stars= A pretty good book, one that will be re-read eventually, placed on the bookshelf.
 3 stars= An average to good book, that may or may not be read again, probably has a place in my library.
 2 stars= A not liked book, I wouldn't read it again, and wouldn't have a place in my library.
 1 star = A book I really didn't enjoy, wouldn't read again, would not keep in my library.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron


My Thoughts:
My book has a handful of earmarked pages, something I rarely do (I can't stress how rare that is for me).  I struggle with books that have two story lines, in two different time periods.  They are often put together in a manner that makes it hard to follow and harder to care for the characters.

Kristy Cambron is a master at taking two story lines, one past and one present, and weaving them together in a way that is seamless and appears effortless.  She makes you care about all the characters: William and Sera in the present day as they struggle with legal issues feel like people you might know.  While Liam and Kaja's story surrounding the London Blitz and Terezin Camp pulls you in as well.  You feel the heartache, struggle, call to purpose, love and trust in God's time (a theme throughout).

This is a book of forgiveness, hope, faith in others, faith in God and His timing.

Would I Recommend This Book?
A million times over!  I loved the first book in this series, The Butterfly and the Violin.  I really do think that reading that one first makes a difference for understanding Sera and William's story as well as the relationships between different characters and plot threads.  Kristy Cambron's writing is personal, it pulls you in and dares you to not be drawn in.

My Rating:  4.5/5 Stars ... Let's be real this is one I am keeping... 5/5!

(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.)

A Description from the Publisher:
Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor’s story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.
Present Day—With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels she’s stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy the perfectly planned future she’s planned before it even begins. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future.
1942—Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped occupied Prague in 1939, and was forced to leave her half-Jewish family behind. Now a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.
Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.
How do I rate books?
 5 stars= A definite favorite, will be re-read again and again, and permanently placed on my bookshelf.
 4 stars= A pretty good book, one that will be re-read eventually, placed on the bookshelf.
 3 stars= An average to good book, that may or may not be read again, probably has a place in my library.
 2 stars= A not liked book, I wouldn't read it again, and wouldn't have a place in my library.
 1 star = A book I really didn't enjoy, wouldn't read again, would not keep in my library.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Investments... Friendship Style

Being an adult is hard.  Creating and maintaining adult friendships is harder.  Communication, understanding, spending time together... it's an investment.

Often it's an investment worth making.
It pays back in dividends.  In conversations that calm you down.  In happy hours to support.  In sitting in the silence while one friend cries.  In being an ear to process a story.

Sometimes it's an investment that pays off in the long run.  It's knowing someone is there if you need them.  It's the catch-up dinners that take place every month or so.  It's the questions answered when you can't think anymore.

There are also times when you come out at a loss.  When you feel like you put in more than you get back.  When you aren't sure where you stand.  You get nervous as you invest.  Unsure how things will shake out.  It's a risky game.

It's hard to be friends as adults.  We are busy.  Jobs, homes, kids, significant others, health concerns, school, and more.

You have to invest your "time & energy" money wisely.
Investments can be a gamble.

Are they always worth it?

We all need relationships.  Otherwise life is lonely.

But what those relationships look like, that's up to you.

Remember many things in life can wait,
but The Sunset Won't.