Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin

A Distant Melody  (Wings of Glory, #1)
Buy it Here
Age Appropriate For: 13 and up for romance and violence
Best for Ages: 15 and up

Description: Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

I have been a bit flighty when it comes to books lately. I have read a few pages in one book before jumping to the next book. This book grabbed my attention and didn’t let go until I read the last page. I wished I could afford to go out and buy copies of all of Sundin’s books.

This book will make my top 10 books of the year list for sure. I thought it was going to be another sweet romance with a little spiritual message. I was blown away by this story. Yes the romance was wonderful, but it was dominated by the characters’ personal struggles, and faith in God took center stage.

I was reminded in some aspects of this story of one of my favorite writers of this era, Grace Livingston Hill. Sundin so captured the time and the spirit of the people, I felt I was reading a book by a contemporary of the times. She obviously researched this book, and it made the book sparkle with authenticity.

Allie tore at my heart. She and I come from opposite worlds. I have two loving parents who share my faith, she has two uncaring parents that sneer at her faith. Yet, I felt as if I was riding the roller-coaster of emotions with her, struggling alongside her as she warred within herself what she should do.

How can I even begin to describe my love for Walt. We both come from strong believing families, and we both struggle with some of the same problems. Walt was such an upstanding guy, yet he has flaws. I do not think I have seen a character with so much integrity written with such believable human failings as well as Sudin wrote Walt – not in a very long time.

One of the other things I really appreciated about this book was how it reflected the realities of World War II without being too depressing. No one in the story comes through it unscathed. Everyone loses someone they know, or knows someone who receives a life-altering injury. Some people like to whitewash history, and everyone in their stories come back healthy and whole. This book was more realistic, without leaving me depressed.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes amazing historical fiction, stories that build your faith, and tales that compel you to keep reading.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Faith to Start Your Week: What is Joy?

I finally understand what joy really is. I thought I did before, but I was wrong. I used to think that joy was the spiritual form of happiness and if I was truly joyful, I would be happy about everything that happened. That made verses like this hard:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds... 
James 1:2 NIV

I could I possibly be happy when bad things happen? When my dad gets a devastating diagnosis? When someone snubs me? When someone is hurtful to someone I love? How can I possibly feel happy? You know what? I can't. I cannot be feel happy, but I can be joyful.

You see, I have the joy is not a synonym of happy. Joy is a deep understanding within your soul that everything is going to work out for your greater good and for the glory of God. My suffering is not in vain, it has a purpose and value. I look to the future with anticipation of how God is going to use me and the situations he has put me in. Am I happy about everything? I would be lying to say I was. but my heart is full of joy.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Where Destiny and Faith take you: an update on me

It is almost one a.m., and I finally had one of those moments of truth with myself. I realized that I have been avoiding my blog, because I was avoiding writing this blog post. I haven’t even posted on my Facebook page about this. The reason? I have been avoiding facing the harsh reality of the truth. For me, writing something is more than putting words down, it is putting a bit of my heart and soul onto the page. Writing about something makes it more real to me.

You see, we finally found out what was wrong with my Dad, and it was hard. He has Mild Cognitive Impairment. Okay, after writing those words down, it took me a moment to start writing again. When I wrote an email about this to someone a couple of days after the diagnosis, those words didn’t mean much, now, they mean a lot. They mean my family’s life is changed and will continue to change.

Right now, those words mean he doesn’t drive (which he hasn’t’ in almost six months), he is struggling to do his job, and conversations are somewhat hard to follow for him. Sixty percent of the people who get Mild Cognitive Impairment go on to have dementia. The other forty stay about the same or take slow steps downward.

I am going to be very honest here – I am scared. I am looking into an uncertain future for my dad, one that could change my whole family. I know in my heart of hearts that God will be there for me, like he has been every time I have needed Him. However, even though I just turned twenty-four, I still feel a strong need for my daddy.

One of the hardest things I am facing right now is people that “just want to help.” I cannot tell you how many diets have been suggested, doctors recommended, and spiritual instructions that have been sent to me and my family members. All of the people who are sending them are well-meaning people, and in their own way they are trying to show they care. However, it is hard to deal with lots of people thinking they each have the magic pill/diet/prayer that will cure my dad.

“Just speak words of healing and tell the devil to leave,” on friend said.

“This diet cures everything,” says another.

“This doctor isn’t like the doctors you are going to,” says yet another, even though they have never met the awesome team of doctors that has been helping my dad.

“It is never in God’s plan for his children to be sick.” This statement shocked and made me think more than any of the others. It made me realize why I hate the advice I have been getting. It isn’t the advice itself; it is really what I am hearing between the lines.

One of my favorite verses is the one that reads: “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” We live in a broken world, corrupted by sin and because of that, we will all face trouble. God never promised us an easy life. In fact, he said it would have troubles. Despite this, many Christians act as if God has lost control over their lives when something goes wrong, as if disease, heartache, and pain could not be used by and for God.

This make me think of a movie I really like (though I highly recommend a filtered version, which is the only kind I have seen). Apollo 13 is a movie that is based on the events surrounding the mission of the same name. Apollo 13 was meant to be another moon landing, but something went horribly wrong. There was an explosion and it didn’t look like astronauts were going to make it home.

One of my favorite lines in the whole movie comes when a reporter says something along the lines of this being NASA’s biggest disaster. The director of Mission Control looks the reporter in the eye and says: “I believe that this will be our finest hour.”

My parents have often told me that the light shines brightest in the darkness, and I have the strong conviction that this will be my family’s finest hour. I don’t know what the future holds for my dad, and like I said, that scares me, but I do know that God has a plan for this. This diagnosis didn’t surprise God. This wasn’t a mistake or something the devil did while God’s back was turned. God already has a plan to use this for his good.

I ask for your prayers in the weeks, months, and years ahead. It is going to be a challenge for my family; it already is. We are having to adjust our way of life, and let go of some dreams. God might choose to heal my dad, and I ask for your prayers for that. Even more, I ask for your prayers that no matter what happens, God is glorified.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

A Match of Wits (Ladies of Distinction, #4)
Buy it Here
Description: After his departure from New York two years ago to meet up with his almost-fiancee, Zayne Beckett is the last person Agatha Watson wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the New York Tribune. Quite pathetically bedraggled, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and sent back East to his family. Although she no longer has feelings for him, Agatha realizes--by hook or by crook--she'll have to be the one to get the obstinate man home. Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere and is prepared to drag his heels all the way home . . . until he finds himself slipping back into the familiar banter of his former friendship with Agatha. Once they arrive in New York, Zayne realizes Agatha's determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies, and he hopes to repay her help with some help of his own. When she rebuffs all his attempts to prove himself a knight in shining armor, the lengths to which they'll go to win this battle of wills lead to some memorable antics. Everyone else may think them a match, but nothing could be further from the truth--until Agatha finds herself in real trouble. Have these two stubborn, too-smart-for-their-own-good people been meant for each other all along?

This is one of the hardest reviews I have had to write since I started writing reviews. I normally finish a book before passing judgment, but I just couldn’t with this book. This will be my first book from Bethany House that I have written a negative review on in a long time (they are one of my favorite publishers) as well as the first review I have ever written on a book I didn’t finish.

The first chapter of the book had me laughing. I mean, who wouldn’t laugh at chasing a pig through a hotel? Agatha also seemed like a funny character whom I would love. After all, she was spirited and was always causing trouble. How much better could it get?

Sadly for me, this book quickly went from funny to ridiculous. Agatha went from being sprinted to being over the top. I might have been able to accept this book as a comedy (as I like over the top shows like Gilligan’s Island), but then they introduced a serious character, and that ruined it.

I would be willing to try this author again, as I can tell she has some talent, and I have heard some of her other books are better.
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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.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

What does Independence Day really mean? After spending over a year studying and writing about the early revolution, it is about so much more than declaring ourselves independent from England, it is all the men and women who declared for years that they would not buy taxed goods without representation, It isn't just about the Declaration of Independence, it is about the Suffulk Resolves and all the other documents that came before. It is about more than barbecue and soda's, it is about the soldiers who suffered and went hungry to win the War of Independence.

Think about it and enjoy a very happy Independence Day!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Writing Saturday: Within my book

I am still editing A Different Kind of Courage. Yes, I am discouraged about how long it is taking. However, today I am here to share with you some of the quotes found within the book. These quotes are from the main historical character that I followed, Dr. Joseph Warren.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: Full Steam Ahead

Buy it Here
Age Appropriate For: 16 and up for romance
Best for Ages: 18 and up

Description: When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead? Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping. Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans. After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world. Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?
Full Steam Ahead
I keep expecting Witemeyer to come out with a book that I think is just okay, not amazing. Yet every time, she manages to wow me with yet another awesome story. Full Steam Ahead impressed me on so many levels: the history, the setting, the characters, and, the thing that defines every Witemeyer book and sets her above so many authors, the strong faith element.

Full Steam Ahead was a bit more… well steamy than some of Witemeyer’s other books. There were several kissing scenes in this book and, often, a book with as much kissing as this one would have gotten a star knocked off for my personal tastes, but this one maintained five stars.

I liked Nicole form the first moment I started reading about her. She is so smart and sassy, yet I was surprised that she also maintained her femininity, proving Witemeyer’s skill and ability to break the molds. Nicole was an endearing character, and I hope that Witemeyer writes a prequel about her someday.
Darius was such a heart-breaking character. His pain felt so real and his quest so understandable. He was a perfect match for Nicole. Most authors miss the mark when it comes to obsessed/broken characters. However, Darius was very life-like and lovable.

About half-way through the book, I thought that this was going to be the first Karen Witemeyer book without a strong faith element, and I was disappointed. However, just a short chapter or so later, the message hit and it hit hard. I was near tears! How she wove the threads into the story without me realizing it, I don’t know, but it was awesome.

I highly recommend this book to older girls who love historical romance, strong faith, and endearing characters.

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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Interview, Giveaway, and Review with Perry Kirkpatrick

Today, I would like you to meet Perry Kirkpatrick, fellow Homeschool Author. She is here to talk about her newest book. See my review in the video below.

Perry, thank you for stopping by. Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.
The Case of the Tabloid Tattler (The Kitten Files, #1)
Thanks for hosting the last stop on my blog tour, Sarah! I'm a 22-year-old homeschool graduate, wife to my best friend Tyler, mother of two little boys, self-published author of four books, and freelance book designer.

What inspired The Case of the Tabloid Tattler?
A bored mind. Literally. My brain was feeling all restless so I started randomly writing the beginning of a story. One idea followed another, and pretty soon I actually did have a story on my hands!

Do you know when Mia will solve her next case?
Mia is currently working on her next case; it's something to do with a missing dog, oddly enough. I'll be sharing updates on her progress on my blog.

My review