Thursday, February 26, 2015

AMISH? REALLY? WHO WOULD HAVE EVER GUESSED.


Title: The Beekeeper’s Son
Author: Kelly Irivn
Publisher: Zondervan (January 12, 2015)
Pages: 352

WOW! I freely admit that I am not a fan of Amish fiction. I also admit that I have not read many Amish books, nor many authors that write Amish fiction. What I can admit is how blown away I am with THE BEEKEEPER’S SON by KELLY IRVIN.

Upon receiving a copy of THE BEEKEEPER’S SON, I tossed in my pile of books in need to read and reviewed, not giving it much thought. Truth be told, at a glance I read the title as The Bookkeeper’s Son. Once it reached the top of my stack, it was then that I realized the true title. Suddenly my interest peeked.

THE BEEKEEPER’S SON is not the first I've read by KELLY IRVIN. I am not one for suspense or mystery, so once I read one of MS IRVIN’S stories that was in the genre I so love, I started to realize I might just become a fan of Amish fiction after all.

Deborah Lantz is not happy about the move she and her family is force to endure, all for the sake for her mother to remarry. Remarry a man who is nothing like Deborah’s deceased father.

Phineas King has scars. The ones on the inside are no less destructive to his life as the ones on the outside. Upon bumping into the new girl, he is not surprised at her response to his appearance. After all, it wasn't something he hasn't dealt with for the past twelve years.

Deborah’s mother, Abigail, may have come to Texas to marry a man she once turned down, and Deborah with every intention to leave Bee County as soon as possible, but it seems God has His own plan.

I found it most helpful to have a list of Amish vs English words to refer to, as well as a reference to the characters names grouped with family members. I appreciated that the Amish words were kept to a minimum. If not done so, for me, it makes for a difficult read.

This amazingly unique telling of Beauty and the Beast surpassed any hopes I had for Amish fiction. I LOVE the main characters. At first, I was not interested in Deborah’s mother’s situation, but before long, I found myself just as intrigued with Abigail and Mordecai as I was Deborah and Phineas.

I truly loved everything about THE BEEKEEPER’S SON. MS IRVIN is an amazing storyteller and writer. I cannot believe I am stating this, but THE BEEKEEPER’S SON has earned a place of one of my favorite novels. Never would I have imaged that to be true of an Amish story.

I urge anyone who is a reader of Christian romance, whether historical or contemporary, to give this amazing book a try, even if you never pictured yourself reading an Amish novel. You won’t be sorry you did.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

WHO IS YOUR THUNDERSHIRT?


I told a pen pal about the ThunderShirt. 
Know what he said?
God is my thundershirt! 
Who is your thundershirt?


Friday, February 20, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

WELCOME AUTHOR NANCY MEHL

WELCOME NANCY MEHL




A LITTLE ABOUT NANCY

Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twenty books and just finished a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Finding Sanctuary series, “Gathering Shadows” was released in May of 2014. The second book, “Deadly Echoes” became available in February.  The third book, “Rising Darkness will release late in 2015. She is also working on an Amish cozy mystery series for Guideposts.

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Q&A

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself:  How did you start writing?  What has kept you writing?
I started writing when I was 45. I’d thought about it off and on, but one day I finally decided to give it a try. It didn’t take long for me to discover I loved writing novels. After a few years, I went before the Lord and asked Him if this was something He actually wanted me to do. I didn’t want to spend years doing something that wasn’t His will for me. He answered me in the affirmative, and I’ve been writing ever since. When things get tough, I fall back on my belief that I’m called to write.   

2.     How would you describe Deadly Echoes?

Deadly Echoes is not just a story of suspense. It’s also a story of healing. Sarah Miller’s parents were brutally murdered when she was young. Eventually thrown into the foster care system, she is devastated again when her sister, Hannah, is adopted and she isn’t. Sarah spends her life grieving for her parents and for her sister who has virtually disappeared. Sarah lives life convinced Hannah was adopted because she was prettier and smarter. These feelings of insecurity follow her, even when a kind woman offers Sarah a home when she ages out of the system, finally giving her a sense of safety and love. In Deadly Echoes, Sarah will not only have to fight for her own life and the life of Hannah’s daughter, she will come face to face with her shattered sense of self worth and her deep fear of abandonment. 

3.     Can you give us a brief explanation of the plot?

After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school. 

Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed. 

As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder. Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide--even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.

4.     What inspired you to write this particular novel?

Actually, I’d been thinking about jealousy and competitiveness. Why sometimes we feel threatened by someone else’s success, looks, or possessions. I was wondering what causes us to compare ourselves to others in the first place. Jealousy is like a slow poison that can work its way into every area of our lives if we open the door to it. It weakens us and steals our joy. I believe a lack of knowing who we are in Christ makes us susceptible to the green-eyed monster. Addressing this problem inspired Deadly Echoes.

My main character, Sarah Miller, was orphaned at a young age. Her sister, Hannah, was adopted, but Sarah wasn’t. Even though her life has turned out well, She’s never lost her belief that Hannah was adopted because she was prettier and more worthy of love.  Sarah would never admit to being jealous of Hannah. She truly loves her sister, yet she lives under Hannah’s shadow, accepting a false reality based on her own feelings of inadequacy. As my story unfolds, Sarah will not only have to deal with threats from the outside, she will have to look inward and deal with her own demons.   

5.     Can you tell us about your next book?

The next book in my Finding Sanctuary series is Rising Darkness. This is a special story to me because I’m actually bringing back a character from my Road to Kingdom series. Sophie Wittenbauer was a troubled teenager back in Kingdom, Kansas. I always felt that her story needed to be finished, and I’m happy I can finally do that for her.

After Sophie left Kingdom she worked hard to make something out of her life. Now she’s a newspaper reporter. She recently stumbled across some information that could lead to an incredible story. The kind of story that could launch her career as an investigative reporter. However, to uncover the truth she must travel to Sanctuary, Missouri. When she discovers there is a Conservative Mennonite community living there, she almost scraps her plans. Being around people that remind her of her past in Kingdom is the last thing she wants. But the desire for fame and fortune drive her to ignore her fears and go to Sanctuary. Once there she runs into a face from the past. Jonathon Wiese is the pastor of a nondenominational church in the small town. Sophie is mortified at seeing him again. She’s thought about him almost every day, and her feelings for him are just as strong as they ever were. Thankfully, he doesn’t make the connection between the sophisticated woman she’s become and the dirty uneducated teenager she used to be. As she tries to deal with seeing him again, she begins to uncover clues that could lead to finding a notorious criminal who vanished years ago. But before she can find him, he seems to have found her. Sophie will not only have to face her love for Jonathon, but also the very real fear that she will never leave Sanctuary alive.

6.     If you weren't a writer, what would you be?

A social worker. I worked in social services until I started writing full time. Or a teacher. I love teaching. Or a veterinarian because I’m passionate about animals. Or... Hmmm. Probably a good thing I’m an author. It saves a lot of confusion.



DEADLY ECHOES
by 
Nancy Mehl

After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.

Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed. 

As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder. Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide--even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.


A FAVORITE OF MINE


One of the things I LOVE about 
October - January...



Thursday, February 12, 2015

ALWAYS AN INCREADABLE READ

Title: Beyond All Dreams
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (January 6, 2015)
Pages: 368

BEYOND ALL DREAMS by ELIZABETH CAMDEN is the fifth book I’ve read by her, and certainly won’t be the last. If there is one thing I am certain of, it is that when I pick up a book by ELIZABETH CAMDEN, I know I am going to be whisk away into another world. One I have no desire to leave.

Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the Library of Congress. When she discovers something is amiss in regards to her father’s death, she puts her shyness aside and seeks the help of Congressman Luke Callahan.

Luke Callahan is Anna O-Brien’s opposites in every way. Despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress, Luke is bound to capture her attention. Could there be something to this thing called, loved at first sight?

MS CAMDEN’S writing is without question one of the best I've encountered. Her choice of words keeps me at awe, inspiring me to write. Her characters are always well formed, and three-dimensional, as if they could walk off the pages. It is one thing to write well, but another to create unique lines and that MS CAMDEN does superbly.

Each story MS CAMDEN creates if a fully developed plots. Not just any plot, but one with substance. One that will draw you in and not let you leave until the last page. A mix of fiction and history gives way to an exciting storytelling that will both entertain and educate. 

The way MS CAMDEN weaves together unique characters, history, a believable plot, and faith are a gift not many possess. There is no hesitation to whether or not I will purchase and read MS CAMDEN’S next novel. That is a given.


*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

Friday, February 6, 2015

WRITERS WON'T WANT TO MISS OUT ON THIS ONE


Title: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
Author: K.M. Weiland
Publisher: PenForASword; 6.1.2011 edition (July 1, 2011)
Pages: 192

My writing journey has been a slow one. My life is full, and I’m in a busy season of my life. Still, the desire to write is constantly present. 

Once I made the outrageous decision to write a novel, I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s, On Writing. Though it inspired me to dive in, it failed to give me concrete structure; hence, I became a seat-of-the-pants writer. I’ve gain knowledge along the way, perfecting my craft as I go from published and unpublished authors, the internet, classes, workshops, books on writing, and from reading others work. If there is one thing that can be said about writers it is that many have a strong opinion of whether one should be a pantser (Seat-of-the-pants-writer) or a plotter (An outliner).

I plunged full force into writing, though a bit unsure, content in my approach. Over time, the words of outliners began to sink in. Then I hit a brick wall. I realized my writing was missing something, and if I were not mistaking, it meant I needed to change my approach to staring a novel. I began to add different methods such as characterization and goal, motivation, and conflict charts. Still my stories lacked.

Convinced that I needed to make some serious changes, I gave in to the idea that I needed to do some major legwork before beginning a story. When I spotted OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL: MAP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS by K.M. WEILAND, I read the reviews and pondered the thought of purchasing it. Did I really want to become an outliner? Could I even do it?

Something I have learned over time is the variations of the words pantsers and plotters. It is not an all or nothing approach, or one-size-fits-all. One of the things that drew me to MS WEILAND’S book on outlining is her attitude of the two approaches. She neither overly praised one or badmouthed the other. It was all about finding the unique formula fit for you.

My copy of OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL: MAP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS is packed with handwritten notes, highlights and dog-eared pages. It is truly a wealth of information and an eye-opening experience. You know a book is worth every penny when you have a light bulb moment.

With too many examples to list, I will note the simplicity and examples MS WEILAND chose in OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL: MAP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS was instrumental in creating a book on the craft that will influence my writing forever. The book is written in a way that will have you looking forward to reading it each day, completing it from cover to cover.

To be honest, I was on the fence whether to purchase this book, having several books I’ve read on the craft of writing, as well as waiting to be read on my shelf. I am certainly glad I listened to the five star and not one star, reviews. I would not label this book for “new writers”, but for struggling writers, which can be at any point of one’s journey.

So impressed was I with MS WEILAND’S knowledge on writing and her style in OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL: MAP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS , I purchased a couple of her novels.

Information on OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL: MAP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS:

•           Help you choose the right type of outline for you
•           Guide you in brainstorming plot ideas
•           Aid you in discovering your characters
•           Show you how to structure your scenes
•           Explain how to format your finished outline
•           Instruct you in how to use your outline

Reveal the benefits:

•           Ensures cohesion and balance
•           Prevents dead-end ideas
•           Provides foreshadowing
•           Offers assurance and motivation

Dispel misconceptions:

•           Requires formal formatting
•           Limits creativity
•           Robs the joy of discovery
•           Takes too much time