Thursday, January 29, 2015

Adventure Between the Pages: Beyond All Dreams

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Description: Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.  Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.  Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress. From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for themselves?

For someone who is a booklover, who enjoyed politics, and has been to DC, this book was a dream come true. Seriously, could the setting have been any more perfect for me? I think not.
I loved Anna from page one to the very end, but then, Camden is the queen of characters as far as I am concerned. Luke is also someone who feels so real and so perfect for Anna. Their strengths, weaknesses, fears, and foes were all so real. They were both flawed yet so wonderful.

Although I loved the story and the characters, I have to admit I felt that the spiritual message was a bit weaker in the book than it was in the others. The whole story was good, be not as strong as Into the Whirlwind or Against the Tide. This did not keep me from enjoying it immensely. There were also a couple of places where some crude/indelicate references were made, but those were made about people who were married.

The setting was by far my favorite part of the book. Having had the privilege of traveling to Washington, DC a couple of years ago, I was able to really see the places she described. I felt as if I was revisiting this historic city. I also agree with Luke, the Library of Congress is gaudy, and less money should have been spent on it.

The political side of things was intriguing to me, as I have worked at my state capitol and find political history very interesting. Although many events were fictional, they felt very authentic. Camden really did great job of capturing the spirit of political life.

I highly recommend this book for those who like flawed heroes, historical fiction, and libraries.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I am complacent

After feeling like I could never measure up to God's standards in my youth, I was so freed when I was reintroduced to the concepts of God's grace and love. Nothing I did or didn't do would make him love me any more or less. His grace not only covered my sin before I was saved, but also after. However, in the last couple of years, I have gotten far to comfortable in my faith. It started just as a much needed time of rest after the upheaval of changed in my thinking, but quickly became a comfortable spot that I would not budge from. If God loved me, what was the point in worrying about my sins?

In the last few months, God has used the Bible and people around me to remind me of a tension. A tension that all Christians must live with, and I think struggle with, until we are in heaven. We do live under grace and nothing we do will change the love the Father has for us. However, as Paul said, we should not keep sinning so that grace may abound.

Each of us has different sins we struggle with. I struggle with the ugly sins of pride, being judgmental, and hardheartedness. These sins may not sound as bad as some of the sins that you normally hear people confessing, but the Church at large deems these acceptable sins. God loves me despite these awful sins, but He does want me to free me from them. Therefore, I need to be on my guard, and when I do sin, I need to being it before God, confess, and ask for his help.

I am finding that most sins are because I don’t trust God with something. I don’t trust Him to deal with a person or work in their lives, so I take it on myself. I don’t trust His timing for my projects, so I try to force my agenda into His plans.

I refuse to be complacent about my sins any longer. I will rest in my Father’s love, while doing battle with the sins that have invaded my life. I will not be complacent any longer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Adventure Between the Pages: Stranded by Dani Pettrey

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Age Appropriate For: 16 and up violence, romance, and references to the modern slave trade
Best for Ages: 16 and up
Stranded (Alaskan Courage, #3)
Description: When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn't satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn't lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby's position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn't the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.  Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He's surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

Yes, I went right from the second to the third book. I was so eager to find out what happens to the McKennas and Darcy. I also have to confess that I have a strange enjoyment for mysteries that take place aboard boats, so this one was right up my alley.

This one did deal with some harder subject matter of the modern slave trade. However, I felt that it was handled in such a way that never made me feel too uncomfortable, yet didn’t whitewash the topic either. Sadly, it is a reality for many women around the world.

I liked Darcy from the moment she stepped into the last book. She reminded me so much of a character from my favorite TV show – Sue Thomas FBEye – with whom she shares both a name and profession. Although Gage isn’t my favorite McKenna, he was a compelling character, especially when he talked of his son.

I am so sad that I only have one more book in this series. I wish it could go on for many more books. I could read about the McKennas a lot. If this were a TV show, I would watch it over and over again.
I highly recommend this book to those who love adventure, mystery, and a nice dose of romance.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

While I've been Gone: Our Etsy Store

My sisters and I opened an Etsy Store!

Isn't it pretty? This is one I made.

My sisters and I

My sister Mikayla made this!

My sister Rebekkah made these!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adventure Between the Pages: Shattered

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Description: Piper McKenna couldn’t be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed--but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him. Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon's career. With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada's rugged backcountry--and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

After reading the first book in this series, I dove right into the second. I now adore the entire McKenna family and how each of these books build on one another. The stories are connected, like they would be in real life.

Piper is probably one of my favorite McKennas, because she reminds me so much of my youngest sister as well. I was excited to be able to read her story and Landon’s. The two of them together, solving a mystery, was perfection. Their romance was well balanced between physical attraction and getting to know each other.

The thing I love the best about Pettrey’s writing is the characters. While the mystery is sometimes a bit weak, the characters more than made up for the shortcomings. They just leap off the page and compel me to keep reading.

I am really enjoying the series and cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.

Was this helpful? Please vote it up on Amazon.

Other reviews you might like:

The Silver Shawl by Elisabeth Grace Foley  The Case of the Tabloid Tattler (The Kitten Files, #1)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Very Speicial Cover reveal

I have taken part in a bunch of cover reveals, but none of them as ever made me has excited as this one!!!

My sweet friend Rachelle and I have exchanged our writing for a very long time. She has been my editor, my cheerleader, and my encourager. Now, she is going to be a published author!

Synopsis: In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor—at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.
An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.
But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome? When Dirk’s plan fails, could all be lost?

Bio: Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

As I have had the privilege of reading this book and, I know that you will love it. You need to go and pre-order a copy of Rachelle's book on Amazon!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Speaking Honestly

The past couple of years, my writing on this blog has been sporadic at best. Some of it was due to the fact I was busy, sometimes I wasn’t sure what to say, most of the time it was because I have been dealing with things that no Christian wants to admit struggling with, and I was afraid to talk about it on the blog. I knew that if I wrote a lot, it would come spilling out. Seriously, who wants to admit that you are struggling with depression and anxiety when your life is amazing? I am afraid that I have a good deal of pride, and I wasn’t able to overcome it to share what was going on until I had dealt with it.

So, now I have admitted to you two of my biggest failures: pride, and not trusting God. It was not easy for me to admit either, but I felt it was time. Too many people think they have to keep it all together on the surface. We feel we have to present a mask of the perfect Christian, and we end up feeling hollow. Why? Because only the mask gets loved (1).

I am grateful that God has brought me through my battle with depression and that I do not have to daily live under that cloud (some people, for physical, and emotional reasons cannot). God used my family, some wonderful books (2), and new friends to help me overcome the anxiety and depression that I struggled with. He also reminded me, in countless ways, that no matter what I was feeling, he was right beside me and would never leave me.

There are still days I battle with worry, but I remind myself that I am commanded not to. I am learning to leave my cares and worries in the hands of my Heavenly Father, as well as learning to be honest and humble with those around me.

It might take me a while and many trials and errors before I become good at opening up, and lose my pride, but I am striving toward that goal.

1.  Thanks to John Lynch for this amazing image

2. Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George, The Shadow Things by Jennifer Freitag, What are you Afraid of? by Dr. David Jeremiah 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Writing Saturday: Waltz into the Waves - A sneak peek

Here is an excerpt from my soon to be released short story, Waltz into the Waves. You can pre-order your copy here.

I swung around at my father’s voice. He stood atop the sand dunes, waving to me. I hoped he was not coming to take me home.
“Father! Come and join me. This water is lovely!” The seawater swirled about my ankles, and the sand squished between my toes. I didn’t want to leave.
My father threw back his head. I could hear his laugh even though he was far away.
“I thought you might rather persuade another to join you!” He yelled.
“Who? Cynthia perhaps?” Even the name of my dear friend, who was a servant on the neighboring estate, brought a smile to my face. Being a rather odd girl, I didn’t have many friends. Cynthia was my senior by a full ten years. She had taken me under her wing when my mother had died shortly after my birth. Cynthia was a good friend and understood the deep attachment I had to my father. She, however, did not understand my love for the ocean. She feared the waves almost as much as I loved them.
“I was thinking you might prefer Alex’s company this day.” I could almost see my father’s eyes dancing.
“He is here?” I lifted my skirts and ran as fast as I could in the sand.
My father was still laughing when I reached him.
“Is he truly here?” I threw my arms around my father’s neck. His eyes were indeed dancing. The same way they danced in the winter when he and I would work on gifts for each other, making a game out of who could keep the gift a secret the longest. They also danced that way on long summer days, when we worked together to build castles in the sand or hunted for crabs.
He wrapped his arms around me and gave me a squeeze before nodding. “He arrived minutes ago and came right over to see you.”
I shrieked with joy and pulled away from my father. Taking fists full of my skirt, I started racing back toward the house. Soon my bare feet were slapping against grass instead of sand. As I approached our neighbor’s manor, I slowed my steps. Shielding my eyes from the sun, I gazed toward the house, where Cynthia worked. I saw him! Alex stood with his broad back turned to me. His hands rested on his hips as he watched servants carry in his trunks.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Finds of the Week: January 9, 2015


 "And what if the beauty of blessing others with our gifts is less about giving a perfect product or performance and more about giving the best we have to give and giving it with a sincere and whole heart?" by Elisabeth Allen

"The only way I was going to find the restoration I craved was by seeking God." by Jessica