Monday, April 14, 2014

Thought of the Day: Fear

Fear can be a powerful emotion. Last year, I struggled with fear of many things, and I am still learning how to overcome it. One thing I have learned that I need to have is the faith of a child. Little children trust without question and know that their father will keep them safe even when they don’t understand how. I have been asking God to help me to have the faith of a child when I fear.

Photo will be updated with corrected spelling soon.

Other posts you might enjoy:
         Dealing with Anxiety
         Purple Moon Blog Tour!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages:The Silver Shawl by Elisabeth Foley

Buy it Here
Age Appropriate For: 12 and up for mild romance and violence
Best for Ages: 12 and up

The Silver Shawl by Elisabeth Grace Foley
Description: In a small town in turn-of-the-century Colorado, a young woman has disappeared from the boarding-house where she lives. Her distraught fiancĂ© is certain that she must have been kidnapped. But the case takes a new turn when a city detective appears on the scene, looking for a woman who matches the description of the missing girl. Was Charity really kidnapped, or did she have a reason to flee? Mrs. Meade, a gentle but shrewd widow lady who lives across the hall in the boarding-house, feels that there is something wrong with the story of Charity’s disappearance…but can she unravel the mystery before it is too late?

Are you like me and enjoy a good mystery, but dislike murder? You like a crime to solve, but don’t have all day to devote to a case? Well, here is the story for you.

Meet Mrs. Meade. A very Miss Marple type character (from the little I know of Agatha Christie’s heroine), meaning middle aged and endearing. She has an eye for details and takes the time to look and listen to things most people don’t and therefore ends up solving the crime.

There is a bit of romance in the book, but nothing in excess. Two of the characters are in love and share a kiss once or twice, but it wasn’t a hugely passionate scene. Even younger readers and those who shy away from romance will be happy, I think.

The violence is also kept to a minimum. There is no gory murder or horrendous violence discussed in detail. There is mention of people being rough and mean, but nothing that would make you blush, gag, or make you lose your lunch. Again, even young children can enjoy this.

The mystery itself was surprisingly good. For such a short little book, it never felt rushed. Elisabeth Grace Foley has written yet another wonderful story and I cannot wait to read more in the series.

I highly recommend this book to those who like classic feeling mysteries, low violence, and high quality writing.

Other posts you might enjoy:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blog Tour: Mrs. Meade Series by Elisabeth Grace Foley

Elisabeth Grace FoleyElisabeth, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a twenty-four-year-old homeschool graduate, the oldest of four siblings, and I live at home with my family and two dogs—a ten-year-old mini Schnoodle and a big, rambunctious German Shepherd puppy. I’m an insatiable reader; I love old books, history, Westerns and mysteries in particular. Besides the Mrs. Meade Mysteries, I’ve published a collection of Western short stories and a couple other pieces of short historical fiction. When I’m not reading or writing I enjoy music, crocheting or embroidering, watching old movies and sports, and spending time outdoors.

What inspired the Mrs. Meade series?
The Silver Shawl: A Mrs. Meade MysteryWell, the first story, The Silver Shawl, began as a vague idea for a Western story with a mystery plot. It didn’t quite work that way, so I re-imagined it as a straight historical mystery. There was a supporting character of an older lady in that original idea that I liked, so somewhere along the way of remodeling it I had the idea to make her a more prominent character and the amateur detective of the story. A little later, when I had another mystery idea in a similar vein, I realized I could use her again and make a series of it!
Do you find it challenging to write mysteries?
Yes and no. It’s a lot of fun to try and put together all the different layers of a mystery plot—the suspects, the motives, the clues. The tricky part is that it’s hard to tell whether you’ve disguised the truth cleverly enough that readers will be challenged to figure it out. I already know the solution and the significance of all the clues, so I can’t really put myself in the reader’s place and try to guess how it will look to them.
The Parting Glass: A Mrs. Meade MysteryDo you know how many stories will be in the series?
I haven’t set a number yet. As of right now I have plots sketched out for four more.

Who will enjoy the stories?
Readers who like old-fashioned mysteries, from the 19th and early 20th centuries—I’ve read loads of Christie and Chesterton and Conan Doyle and their contemporaries, and my own mysteries very much follow in their tradition. If you like Christie’s Miss Jane Marple I think you’ll enjoy making the acquaintance of Mrs. Meade. Also readers who like somewhat unusual mystery plots—I’ve endeavored to try out some more original situations, rather than simply the standard murder-mystery (although I do have plans for Mrs. Meade to take on one of those in the future!).
The Oldest Flame: A Mrs. Meade Mystery
What is your favorite quote from Mrs. Meade? 
I’m rather fond of this bit from the second story, The Parting Glass:

“You’ve been thinking again!” accused Andrew Royal rather unnecessarily.

Do you have any final thoughts?
Only to say thank you very much for hosting me here, Sarah! I’ve enjoyed it.

Enter to win!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other posts you might enjoy:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Everyday Life: The Ups and Downs and Blogger

Wasn't there supposed to be lots of princess posts last month? Yes, there were. Wasn't one of Sarah's resolutions this year to blog more? Indeed. So what happened.

Life has been full of many ups and downs lately. On the upside, I have met with some wonderful authors, had my first book signing (post on that coming soon), my energy level is up, and I am making some progress in editing. On the downside, my dad is struggling with some very difficult health issues, editing is slow, and I had a cold for a week.

I wish that I were one of those bloggers that posted no matter what was going on in my life, but I am not. I have to admit, blogging is the first thing that suffers when anything is going on in my life. I used to feel very guilty about this, but in the past year, I have come to understand that it can be a good thing.

Too often with social media, we get so worried about updating our status or writing a blog post that we don't spend enough time doing real things. We are too busy pinning pictures of gardens to plant ours. We hear something funny and we are so caught up in posting it to Facebook, we lose everything else that person says. We are too busy blogging about what God is teaching us to put in into practice.

Don't get me wrong, I like Facebook, Pinterest, and Blogger. I think they are wonderful tools that have greatly blessed my life. However, I must admit that I am a bit proud of the fact that I am not caught it the trap of feeling the need to update/check it often. I can ignore my blog and Facebook page for a week, and that is okay with me, although I do miss it.

Now that I have rambled for a bit, I am getting back to editing. I am almost finished with the first round of edits for A Different Kind of Courage.

Other posts you might enjoy:
         Becoming a Princess

Monday, April 7, 2014

Faith to Start you Week: Versions of the Bible

Before I scare you away, this is not going to be a debate on what versions are the right or wrong ones to use. I want to share some of the versions that I use in my reading and study regularly. Yes, versions as in multiple. You see, I personally don’t think there is any perfect translation, so I like reading different ones and seeing how different people translated it.

The Voice: This version is currently my favorite. It is a newer version, and it has made reading the scripture feel new to me. It  is formatted and reads more like how I think. Words have been updated to reflect current meaning and usage. However, I feel it also doesn’t dumb down the message like some modern translations do.

The NIV: As much as I love my Voice Bible, sometimes I check it against other more traditional translations. The NIV is what I grew up reading, and I still use it to study the scripture. Yes, it has its weak points, but I am of the opinion that all translations do (another reason to use multiple versions).

The NKJV: Although this has never been my favorite for reading, it is very valuable for studying the Bible. I like hearing the older words that were used. I also like seeing how words and concepts were translated differently, sometimes for the better. I definitely think it is a valuable version to use in study.
I use Bible Gateway a lot for comparing the different versions, especially when writing up a devotional blog. I love being able to compare two versions easily side by side.

What are your favorite versions to use and why?

Other posts you might enjoy:
         It is all in the Roots
         We are Chosen

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: Maelyn by Anita Valle

Maelyn (The Nine Princesses Novellas, #1)
Get it for free here
Age Appropriate For: 10 and up for mildly scary descriptions and very mild romance
Best for Ages: 10 and up

Description: Is Maelyn a real princess? Or a royal mistake? Maelyn was not born a princess. The king found her as a child, the lone survivor of a poor village slaughtered by the Red Fever. Suddenly she became a princess of Runa Realm, the first of nine orphans adopted by the king. By her eighteenth year, Maelyn rules over Runa and a family of nine sisters. But some call the princesses frauds and imposters, a handful of urchins raised into royalty. Even Uncle Jarrod, the High King of Grunwold, seems determined to prove that Maelyn no longer deserves to be a princess. With a family losing faith in her, and a kingdom growing dangerously hostile, even Maelyn begins to wonder if she is truly a real princess. And if her riches will turn to rags once again….

I have been into princess, and short stories of late. I have been devouring books on my Kindle that can be read in a couple hours. This story has been one of my favorite finds.

The story is so creative. The plot and the style were unique and charming. Anita has so much imagination and talent that I cannot wait to read her next book. If you are looking for old plots or typical stories, this is not the book for you.

Maelyn is an avid reader, as well as the princess that keeps all the sisters together. I instantly loved her as I am also a book lover, and the oldest of a lot of sisters. The only scary thing in this book comes from a description of one of the stories she reads. I thought it added a fun touch to the book. In fact, I really want to find Marlyn’s library, as it sounds so wonderful.

This book, though not strictly Christian, has good morals and is very clean. I think there might have been one very brief/not very passionate kiss, but that is really as far as the romance goes. It really didn’t play into the story that much.

I highly recommend this story for princess lovers and for those looking for something creative and fresh.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: Blades of Valor

Blades of Valor (Merlin's Immortals, #4)
Buy it Here
Age Appropriate For: 12 and up for Violence and mild romance
Best for Ages: 12 and up

Description: Thomas is finally in the Holy Land and reunited with Sir William, but is forced to travel on his own from the coast through Nazareth, and finally to Jerusalem. The road is a dangerous one—especially to a lone traveler. Bandits masquerade as slaves, traitors appear to be allies, and once again, Thomas doesn’t know whom to trust. He must rely on his own resources to discern friend from foe, and to finally discover the final key to the Druids' master plan before returning home to expose them.  Back in England, a final storm is brewing against Thomas, for the Druids are much more powerful than the Orphan King can even imagine.

I have to admit, this book was frustrating. Even though this book isn’t long, I found myself just wanting for it to be over. I really wanted to give this book five stars, as the rest of the series has been so awesome. This book, though, was more frustrating than the last one. I kept literally yelling: “Someone trust somebody already!” (You can feel sorry for my family for having to put up with me).

This book was as well written and had some of the same, fascinating aspects as the last three books. The battle between the Druids and the immortals rages on, and Thomas is caught in the middle. There is no doubt that Sigmund Brouwer has a great imagination.

Why did I end up not caring for the book? I felt the story was on repeat. Yes, Thomas in and friends are in different situations with different results, but I felt that the basic plot was repeating over and over again. Thomas thinks he can trust person A; then  he sees person A with person B. Now he knows he can't trust them, so he seeks help from C. That works out fine until he sees them with person A.

The family relations? My head was spinning by the end of the book with sudden revelations of who was related to whom and complicated relationships. I didn’t feel most of them added anything of benefit and felt a little weird at times.

With that said, the ending did keep the book from being a complete waste of time. It was a brilliant ending, I have to admit. I also really liked what happened to Isabelle.

I recommend that those who read the last three books go ahead and read it to find out what happens, but be prepared for some frustration.

I received this book from WaterBrook Press  through BookLook 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.

Other posts you might enjoy:
          Adventure Between the Pages: The Orphan King
          Adventure Between the Pages: Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer
          Adventure Between the Pages: Martyr's Fire by Sigmund Brouwer

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Interview with Author Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck
Rachel, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as the RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.
She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

What caused you to start writing?
I was writing at a young age. I started a diary in first grade. I started writing novels after I was married and felt I was to quit my job. In that down time, my creative juices started flowing.

What inspired Once Upon a Prince?
Once Upon a Prince (Royal Wedding, #1)I woke up early to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton and was captivated by the poised, confident bride. I thought, "What would it be like for a commoner to marry into royalty?" So I delved into the royal world.

One of my favorite things about Once Upon a Prince was the high moral standards of both of the main characters. Did you draw from real life examples to create them?
All novels are drawn from real life but I found the moral character of Susanna and Nathaniel came from them. It's just how they seemed to be on the page. It felt real  to give them such high standards.

Why do you think stories of princesses are so captivating?
Because we're all princesses on the inside! ;)

Do you have a favorite quote from Once Upon a Prince?
I love when Susanna reminds "Perhaps you were born for such a time as this." To me it speaks to God's perfection in our lives and we were ALL born at the right time.

If you could chose one thing your readers took away from your stories, what would it be?
Hope and sincere belief that God loves them and He is for them!

Do you have any final thoughts?
Thanks for having me!!

Other posts you might enjoy:
          Adventure Between the Pages: A March Bride by Rachel Hauck
          Adventure Between the Pages: Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck
          Becoming a Princess

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: The Lady of Bolton Hill

Buy it Here
Age Appropriate For: 15 and up for violence, drug use, and thematic elements
Best for Ages: 15 and up

The Lady of Bolton Hill
Description: When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible. But time has changed them both. Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers. Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts--and lives--hang in the balance?

Can Elizabeth Camden write a bad book? I doubt it. I only have one book of hers left that I haven’t read, and if it is anything like all the others I have read, it will be amazingly good.

This book is probably the weakest of Camden’s books I have read, but is still is better than most fiction. Again, Camden made me fall for characters I normally hate and be enraptured by a story line that I typically wouldn’t like. How does she do it? By delving deeper into the characters than most authors.

For those of you who have read Against the Tide, this gives you a glimpse into the beginnings of Bane and the woman who helped him find the right path. Although he is not the focal point of the story, Bane adds so much.

The setting was wonderful. Camden always manages to weave many historical details seamlessly into her stories. She always makes me feel as if I have been transported back in time. She obviously does her research so well that she doesn’t have to force it into the story. It just comes out naturally.

Clara was such an endearing character. I love her compassion and willingness to do so much for that compassion. She was brave, yet very much human in her fears. She works so hard to change the world, but sometimes the consequences are hard. Through everything she goes through, her strong faith and compassion shines through. She is the type of woman I want to be.

Daniel was the kind of character I normally hate. He is poisoned with bitterness and his quest for revenge seems to be endless. Yet his love for Clara and his sisters was so touching. His quest to make a better life than the tragic one he endured as a child couldn’t help but tug at my emotions. He was a very flawed hero, but a true hero none the less.

This story kept me turning pages way past the time I should have been asleep. It was gripping and an emotional roller-coaster. The ending was satisfying and just… well, it was just so Camden. She has become my standard for amazing fiction.

If you like realistic fiction, amazingly told stories, and deep characters, I highly recommend The Lady of Bolton Hill.

Other posts you might enjoy: