Friday, May 31, 2013

"Take a Chance on Me" Review

About the Book:

Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near.

New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek learning of her involvement in his wife’s case.

Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself.


For more information about this title click here.



About the Author:

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.

Susan holds a BA in mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives.

For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com.



My Take:

When I picked up this novel, I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not. I really enjoyed the first Deep Haven novel that I read by this author – My Foolish Heart – but the others I have read since have not been my favorites for various reasons (not all having to do with the author’s writing).

But as I kept reading, I became fascinated with the interesting storylines and the believable characters. I didn’t always like the characters, but they still were relatable. There was a lot of drama, but at the same time, the story didn’t seem to get all wrapped up in its own drama. The writing somehow was able to keep things more down to earth than might have happened with other novels.

I think the main reason for this was that the gospel was clearly presented several times throughout the novel. The author didn’t shy away from the truth – that Jesus Christ loves us and died for our sins – and this was the best part of the book for me. The overall themes of forgiveness and grace were also extremely compelling. When I finished the book, I just sighed and thought, “Wow…that kind of forgiveness could only come from God.”

In the other Deep Haven novels that I have read, I didn’t always like that another storyline was told in parallel with the story of the two main characters. But in this one, I liked getting the story from the sides of all four characters – Darek, Ivy, Jensen, and Claire. Their stories intertwined so much more in this novel than they seemed to in past Deep Haven books, and I liked having all four perspectives.

Aside from the four main ones, there are lots and lots of minor characters in this novel. I have found this to be the case with the Deep Haven novels, but it didn’t distract me too much in this one. What did distract me a bit was how quickly Darek and Ivy “fell in love.” It was so fast – even before all of the excitement and repentance of the ending – that it didn’t quite ring true for me. I also thought that the novel got a bit long towards in the middle. Also, even though the ending was exciting and touching, it was still pretty predictable. I don’t think that made me enjoy the book any less, but I could see where it was going very easily.

I’m having a hard time deciding if Take a Chance on Me is my favorite of the Deep Haven novels. It is a close race between this one and My Foolish Heart. I think My Foolish Heart is going to win out only because of the football part of that story!

I will give Take a Chance on Me … 4 BookWorms.

 








Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"The Face of the Earth" Blog Tour

About the Book:

When Mitchell Brannon's beloved wife of twenty years kisses him goodbye one autumn morning, he has little idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised Jill's car isn't in the garage. Her conference in Kansas City is only a few hours' drive from their little town of Sylvia, Missouri. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. "Hey, babe, I'm just now checking out of the hotel, but I'll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you."

Mitch sets the table with their best china and lights some candles, looking forward to their first weekend as empty nesters.

But at eight o'clock, the candles have burned to stubs and Jill still hasn't shown up. Mitch tries her cell phone only to get her voice mail over and over again. Their two college kids haven't heard from their mom either.

At midnight, Mitch's irritation turns to dread. And later, when the police and Missouri Highway Patrol have turned up nothing, the Kansas City hotel calls to say they've found property belonging to Jill in a hotel maid's possession.


Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill's best friend, Shelley, and together they search for clues to Jill's disappearance. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, Mitch and Shelley's friendship grows ever closer--and decidedly complicated with Jill as the tie that binds them together. Just when Shelley decides to finally reveal her feelings for Mitch, a clue to Jill's whereabouts is uncovered. But every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/kFdwM



Meet the Author:

Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including "A Nest of Sparrows" and the RITA award winning "Beneath a Southern Sky" and its sequel, "After the Rains". Deborah's first novel, "A Vow to Cherish", was the inspiration for World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, "Playing by Heart", was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, "Yesterday's Embers", appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas.
 


Find out more at www.DeborahRaney.com



My Take:

I picked this book up to read – and by the next day I was finished with it! It was that captivating. When I first started reading, I was sucked into the story right away. I stayed interested in the book until about ¾ of the way through when I did get a little bit bogged down. I kept with it, and the conclusion ended up being believable and fitting.

In this novel, I got so involved with the characters and with the search for Jill that it was almost as if I knew them. I don’t normally read books with this type of storyline because of the emotional involvement, but this one intrigued me so much that I wanted to know what would happen. (I will say that I would not necessarily want my husband to read this book…it would stress him out too much!) The good thing about this book was that even though it was emotional, it was never without hope, without God. That is definitely what redeems a sad book for me, and this novel did that very well.

I thought the relationship between Mitch and Shelley was interesting in this novel, but I sometimes felt as if I wasn’t understanding the conflict. At times it seemed as if Shelley was pushing Mitch to move on with his life, and I just don’t understand that at all. If Jill was not confirmed dead, then he is still married. Period. From Mitch’s side, though, it seemed realistic, and his part in the relationship kept the novel from become more fantasy than reality.

Bottom line, though, The Face of the Earth was a great read. It was sometimes hard to read for different reasons, but the writing and the story were excellent.

I will give The Face of the Earth … 4 BookWorms.

 
 
 
 
See what other reviewers are saying here.
 


Deborah is celebrating with a fun "Date Night" Giveaway (win a $200 Visa Cash Card!) and an Author Chat Party on Facebook! {5/30}
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   One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one – your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)
  • The Face of the Earth by Deborah Raney
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 29th. Winner will be announced at the "The Face of the Earth" Facebook Author Chat Party on May 30th. Connect with Deborah for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Deborah will also be sharing a sneak peek of her next book and giving away books and fun gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Face of the Earth and join Deborah on the evening of May 30th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 30th!

 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"The Promise Box" Review

About the Book: Every year, young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive “resident” status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides!

In The Promise Box, the second book of best-selling author Tricia Goyer’s Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, Lydia Wyse, a book editor from Seattle who grew up Amish, returns to the small community of West Kootenai to give comfort to her father after her mother’s death. She is drawn back to the familiar Amish ways after finding her mother’s most precious possession, a Promise Box of prayers and scripture. What her publisher sees, though, is an opportunity for a sensational “tell-all” book about the Amish.

Lydia soon finds herself falling in love with Amish bachelor Gideon Hooley. She wants nothing more than to forget her past and look forward to a future as an Amish bride. But will the pain of her childhood---and her potential betrayal of her community---keep her from committing her whole heart?





About the Author: USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of 35 books, including the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. Tricia and her husband John live in Little Rock, Arkansas where John works for FamilyLife. They have six children. You can find out more about Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com






My Take:

I fell in love with the setting of West Kootenai, Montana, in Tricia’s “Big Sky” series, and I absolutely loved returning to it in this novel, even more so than in the first book in this series, The Memory Jar. I also liked seeing so many of the characters from the previous books incorporated into this one, especially Marianna and her family.

While I liked Lydia and Gideon in this novel, I really felt most connected to Lydia’s mother, even though she was not an actual character in the book. She lived through her notes in the Promise Box and through Lydia’s memories. I felt a connection with her because I, too, have an only child. My daughter is not adopted, but every day I thank God for the wonderful gift He gave to us though our “one and only.” I especially loved this quote from one of Lydia’s mother’s letters: “Some women have ten children, but I wouldn’t trade ten for you.”

The circumstances and conflicts in this novel really set it apart from other Amish novels that I have read. The growth that Gideon, especially, experiences over the course of the novel is so touching and heartfelt. I thought Lydia’s part of the story at the end seemed a bit rushed and that everything was solved too quickly, but it was still a satisfying conclusion.

I thought the way that the characters learned to deal with the circumstances of their pasts was handled very well in this novel. However, I thought one of the main points somewhat hanging. At one point Ada Mae (Lydia’s mother) referred to when a visiting Amish bishop tells her that within the next year she will have a child. She writes: “I have no doubt that if it’s a promise from God it will come to pass. But can I trust a man’s words?” In my life, I cling to the promises from the Bible, not from things that are said by other people. I just felt as if this topic was left a little bit vague.

Once again, though, I like Tricia’s approach to writing Amish novels. Being Amish or English has nothing to do with it. It all has to do with whether you accept Christ as your savior. The interaction between Amish and English neighbors keeps this theme alive in her novels.

The romance between the two main characters in this novel was good, and even though it occurred rather quickly, it didn’t feel rushed.

As I said earlier, I liked being able to revisit some of the characters from previous books in this novel. But poor Eve Peachy! She doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break. I hope she has her own book in the future! I also hope that the next few books don’t necessarily deal with grief as a major theme. The Memory Jar has Sarah dealing with the loss of her best friend, and The Promise Box has Lydia dealing with the death of her mom. I understand, of course, that death is something that everyone deals with. I just feel as if I need a little bit of a break from that in this series.

I will give The Promise Box … 3 ½ BookWorms.












Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her lastest novel, The Promise Box (Zondervan), by hosting an Amish Baking Box giveaway and connecting with readers during her June 12th Book Chat Party!

ThePromiseBox300

One "promising" winner will receive:
  • Apron, hot mitts, and kitchen towels
  • Amish baking items (rolling pin, pie plate, etc...)
  • Sherry Gore's Simply Delicious Amish Cooking
  • The Memory Jar and The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 11th. Winner will be announced at the "The Promise Box" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 12th. Connect with Tricia for an evening of Amish fun - book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tricia will also share an exclusive look at the next book book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Promise Box and join Tricia on the evening of June 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 12th!

 
 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, May 20, 2013

"The Memory Jar" Review

About the Book: Every year, 30–40 young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive “resident” status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides!

Sarah Shelter has lived in West Kootenai for the last ten years and wonders if she will ever fall in love. Since the tragic death of her best friend, she carries her memories in a jar along with the small items connected to them. For just as long, she’s also been carrying around her emotions instead of allowing them to penetrate deep into her heart.

Now she’s met a kind and gentle man who may be able to break down the wall. But can Sarah risk her heart to finally achieve her dreams?

Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Series
 
 
 

About the Author: USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of 35 books, including the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. Tricia and her husband John live in Little Rock, Arkansas, where John works for FamilyLife. They have six children. You can find out more about Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com






My Take:

During the first few chapters of this novel, I have to admit that I wasn’t very engaged with it. I was so saddened by the fact that Sarah had lost her best friend, and even though the location was West Kootenai, Montana (which is a favorite setting for me after reading Tricia’s “Big Sky” series), I wasn’t able to even connect with the setting very well. For some reason – and I can’t put my finger on why – the circumstances surrounding Sarah being lost in the mountains didn’t hold my attention.

As Sarah and Jathan’s relationship developed, however, I became much more involved in the story. Maybe it was because the couple sort of reminded me of my husband and me. Even though she was great a baking, Sarah wasn’t the best at "normal" Amish woman things such as sewing, and she sometimes felt as if she didn’t fit it because of that. I like to watch college football, and I don’t always enjoy going shopping and doing other girly-type things. Jathan had a secret love for baking, and my husband does, too! Although it’s actually not a secret in our circles – you should have some of his oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies sometime! And his Oreo pie….and brownies….OK, so, it’s all good!

Anyway, once their relationship started to develop and other things started happening in their lives, I became much more engaged with the novel and enjoyed it. I liked how Sarah and Jathan actually talked to each other over the course of their relationship, for the most part. The conflict in the story was based on each of them dealing with their pasts and from outside, concrete circumstances rather than misunderstandings or assumptions.

I thought that this novel dealt with the process of grief well. Sarah mourned the passing of her friend, and she struggled to come to terms with moving on with her life, which I thought was very realistic. But this portion of the novel was not written in a way that was too depressing, after the initial event of Patty losing her life. Sarah grew tremendously in this novel, and always there was a thread of hope. Sarah’s memory jar was a neat concept, too, and how it related to her friendship with Patty was heartwarming.

One of the reasons that I like to read Tricia’s Amish novels is because of the way that she approaches the Amish way of life. She doesn’t shy away from stating that you don’t have to be Amish to have salvation. I also love the interaction of both Amish and English in the West Kootenai setting.

I do have to say that I think the characters in this book sometimes relied too much on their feelings and their own interpretations of things to make decisions, etc., instead of relying wholly on the Bible. I know how crazy my feelings can be. I would much rather fully rely on scripture rather than any thoughts or dreams I had in my own head.

The Memory Jar is a good introduction to the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, and I look forward to reading all of them!

I will give The Memory Jar … 3 ½ BookWorms.










Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Bending Toward the Sun" Review

Emilie Heinrich is devoted to her father, the only family she has left. She honors his request to get an education at the local university along with helping him in their general store. But sometimes she feels as if she might want to pursue her own dreams.

Emilie’s childhood friend, Quaid McFarland, returned home safely from the war, but neither of them expected the attraction that is now sparking between them. Once Emilie’s father finds out about their interest in each other, he is determined to protect his daughter from becoming involved with someone who is “just an Irish teamster.”

Torn between devotion to her father and a budding romance with Quaid, Emilie will need to search her heart and trust in God to guide her and to bend her in the way she should go.

Bending Toward the Sun is the second novella in a series of three by Mona Hodson. “The Quilted Heart” series of novellas is leading up to the launch of Ms. Hodson’s next series, “Hearts Seeking Home,” coming this summer.

As in the first novella in this series, I was able to connect with the main characters in this story right away. Part of this was probably because I was at least introduced to Emilie in the first novella, but I also think that the author just has a knack for quick character development. Although I have never been in Emilie’s situation before (my parents absolutely loved my husband from the beginning of our relationship), I could still sympathize with her emotions and with her circumstances. I also liked the secondary characters in this novella, especially Quaid’s family. The McFarlands were portrayed as a big, loving family, which was just very homey-feeling and a nice touch.

I liked being able to reconnect with Maren and Mrs. Brantenburg and the other ladies in the quilting circle. The quilting circle seemed to play a bigger part in this novella, and it was pleasant and encouraging to see how the friends in the circle cared about each other and helped each other in their times of need.

As is usually true with a novella, the story seemed to just be getting started when everything wrapped up and it ended. Again, this is always going to be the case when you only have so many pages, but I thought the last chapters of this one were just so quick. The romance was also a bit hurried at the end, especially since the characters hardly spent any time together during the course of the novella, but at least in this case they had known each other previously and were just now being reacquainted.

One aspect of this novella that I really liked was how Quaid was so respectful of Emilie’s father’s wishes, even though he disagreed with them. At one point, Emilie becomes angry with Quaid because she sees it as him not “fighting” for her. But Quaid is actually just being patient and respectful of Emilie’s father and trusting God for the outcome. This is such a good reminder for me to wait on God’s timing and not just rush into things on my own.

I enjoyed this second offering in this series of novellas, and I look forward to reading the final one that tells Caroline’s story.


I will give Bending Toward the Sun … 3 ½ BookWorms.











Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Be Still My Soul" Review

Night’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.

Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.

Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.

Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?

Gideon only ever cared about himself. Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?



About the Author: Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne Bischof lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their home-schooled children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. Be Still My Soul is her first novel.


My Take:


The thing that struck me most in this novel is that the author’s writing is very descriptive. While I am not always a fan of flowery writing, I thought it was well done in this novel. It really makes the reader feel as if he/she is right there experiencing the surroundings with the characters.
One of my pet peeves in historical fiction is when the time and place of the novel is vague. The reader knows that this story is taking place in the Blue Ridge Mountains by reading the summary on the back of the book, but that is all. The time and place is not explicitly stated at the beginning, and there are not enough context clues along the way to really pin down the year very well. At one point towards the end of the book, the state of Virginia is mentioned, but it is only in passing. My guess would be that this novel takes places in the early 1900’s, but I really don’t know that for sure. It is frustrating because that is such a simple thing that the author can add to the beginning of a book, and it won’t detract from the story one bit.

The main plot of this book is one that has been done before in Christian fiction, but it is one that I like. I will say that this particular novel had a unique approach in how the two main characters came to be married. I appreciate when a couple in a romantic story has to learn to love each other. It makes things more realistic than the usual love-at-first-sight type books.
Even though the main plot was interesting, I thought the overall feeling of the book was just too sad and depressing. I appreciate when an author does this in order to keep things real, but I read for enjoyment and for entertainment. When almost the entire book revolves around things that are extremely sad and seem to have no hope, then my enjoyment of the book is lessened.

I also would have liked to have had a little bit more background to the main characters. I knew what was happening to them, but I didn’t always understand their motivations, which kept me from connecting with them as well.
Even though much of this book was disheartening, the ending did give the reader more hope for the future and that Lonnie and Gideon might be able to experience true joy in their lives.

I will give Be Still My Soul … 2 ½ BookWorms.












Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Publishers through Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, May 13, 2013

Q & A with author Susan May Warren

I recently became a member of the Kick-Off team for author Susan May Warren. What that means is that I will be reviewing and promoting the books that she releases throughout the year.

I have read and reviewed several of Susan's books, my favorites being My Foolish Heart and Baby, It's Cold Outside. I will also be reviewing her latest book Take a Chance on Me in the next few weeks.

The members of the Kick-Off team were given the opportunity to ask Susan some questions, and she graciously answered them for a Q & A that we could post on our blogs. Enjoy!

Also, be sure to check out Susan's website for a contest that she is currently running - "When Someone Took a Chance on Me."




 

Where do you get your inspiration?

Great question! I get inspiration everywhere – the news, facebook posts, sermons, radio talk shows, conversations. It’s always about a question, something that makes me think…what if?

I got the story about Izzy, (My Foolish Heart) the talk show host to the lovelorn from a Brad Paisely song, "Online", about a guy who lives in his parent’s basement, but online he’s awesome (because he’s created that persona). I added to that the idea of falling in love over the airwaves, and whalla! Izzy’s story was germinated.

I got the idea for You Don’t Know Me while sitting on a plane to Seattle. The woman next to me was openly agitated, and when I talked to her (during the food and beverage service!), she told me was flying to Seattle to put her daughter into the witness protection program. Forever. The daughter was 21. The questions surrounding that situation birthed the story.

I got the idea for Take a Chance on Me from an event that happened in our town – an accident that killed a well-regarded man. In the aftermath the town took sides for or against the person who hit him, and it birthed a slew of ideas about blame and forgiveness.

I always look at the idea and see if I can ask a big spiritual question about it, or touch an emotional issue, or even raise a social question. Then I start exploring the characters interacting with the question, and how they might find answers.


During your childhood/teenage years, who encouraged your love for reading? For writing?

I never had any champions, but you know how it is as a writer – it’s in you and you can’t escape it. I loved to go to the library and pile up my backpack with books. They represented new friends, new adventures, and I spent most Saturdays plunked down in the middle of the library, turning pages. I started writing when I was fourteen – wrote my first novel on a summer vacation with my family, about a girl and her horse. It wasn’t until I married and began writing newsletters for our ministry that people began to really encourage me to write, but by then, I had the bug and was already penning novels that I never thought would be published. However, it was our supporters who pushed me to send the novels in to publishers. They believed in my books on the shelves long before I did.


If you were to cast the movie based on your book, who would you choose to play the key roles?

Take a Chance on Me? I have a key list of actors I used as prototypes:

John would be played by Tom Selleck
Ingrid would be played by Bonnie Hunt
Darek would be played by (Thor) Chris Hemsworth
Ivy would be played by Emma Stone
Jenson would be played by Scott Speedman
Claire would be played by (90210) Arielle Kibbel
 
 
What is one thing on your "bucket list"?

I would like to learn how to dance the Charleston and get better at the Lindy Hop. Actually, I’d like to take regular dance lessons and become a better all around ballroom dancer.
 
 
What are your 5 favorite things, excluding family?

Sitting on my back deck on a warm summer day, reading.
Throwing a great party.
Exploring a new place (esp. on vacation).  
Dancing. All kinds.
Brainstorming stories!
 
 
How did you become a writer? What inspires you to write? Who is your favourite author and why?

Writing was always something I loved to do, so I think I was born with it in me. Words are definitely my love language, so I love a well crafted sentence or poem, a great story. It’s how I communicate my worship, and how I find understanding and work out my thoughts.
 
I’m inspired to write by things that move me, things I want to explore, and great moments of emotion – joy, sorrow, fear, love. One of my favorite types of writing, however, is travel writing. I like to take a journal and go somewhere new and just sit and capture the setting in words. It’s better than a picture.
 
Rachel Hauck. I love her stories, her depth, her words. I’m also a fan of Siri Mitchell, Dee Henderson, Francine Rivers, Ronie Kendig, Beth Vogt, Melissa Tagg, Lisa Jordan and Dee Gist.

 
Which character do you relate to most?

MaryAnn Wallace, the character in The Great Christmas Bowl. But I’m also a lot like Ingrid Christiansen.


Why do you think Deep Haven scores a touchdown with your readers?

I love the way you phrased that question! I think it is the small town where everyone knows your name, the family connections, the beauty of the north shore, and the sense of Mayberry or maybe Mitford set in the north woods. I think reader like to escape with people they know, and learn more about their lives.


When did you decide that you wanted to write?

I was always a writer, but as I began to pen newsletters for my ministry family and our supporters, I realized I loved to tell a great story. I thought maybe I’d try and write a short story – so I wrote Happily Ever After as a short story and sent it into a contest. It won, and I began to wonder if I could write for publication. I remember getting on my knees and asking God if I should be writing articles or short stories and he said, “Write Novels.” I’d never written a novel, but that’s where I felt God asking me to invest my energies. So I began to research and study the art and craft of fiction. I wrote four novels before I got the first one published. I’m still amazed at the fact I am published –what? Whoa!
 
 
How do you find time to write with a family?

I am very focused. I write, and I spent time with family, and I attend church. I don’t have a lot of outside pursuits. My social life is spent in the bleachers, watching sporting events, or in the auditorium, at play or band rehearsal. I show up to all my kids events – but I admit, I don’t attend a woman’s Bible study or exercise class. Maybe someday, but until the kids are grown, that’s my priority.
 

Several of your stories have been set in MN, are you from this area?

Yes! I grew up in Minneapolis, and I now live on the north shore of Minnesota, in a little town 30 miles from the Canadian border called Grand Marais. Come and visit sometime!!



Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Couponing for the Rest of Us" Blog Tour

Founder of Time 2 $ave Shows Busy Woman How to Save Big
Without Spending Hours a Week Clipping Coupons
 
Couponing expert Kasey Knight Trenum will be the first to tell you that she does not like coupons. But she does love saving money. Faced with mounting bills after her husband was downsized five years ago, Trenum turned to coupons to plug the hole in their savings account. She spent hours researching how to use coupons effectively and easily reduced her family’s weekly grocery bill by 75 percent. “I’ve learned how to balance savings with having a life and without it becoming an obsession,” says Trenum. “I’ve never woken up singing the praises of a coupon; I’ve just sung the joys of saving a ton of money.”
 
Trenum shares the ins and outs of couponing and all the secrets she’s put to good use over the years in Couponing For the Rest of Us: The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Saving More. With her help, readers will discover ways to save hundreds of dollars every month and ultimately improve their family’s finances without letting it take over their lives.

Couponing for the Rest of Us shows readers:
  • Where to find coupons for what your family eats
  • How to make the internet do the work for you
  • How to find sale cycles and store match-ups (and what those terms mean!)
  • How to reinvent your shopping strategy and toss your lists
  • How to make grocery shopping less stressful - even fun!
  • How to turn money saved into money shared
  • Make couponing fit your life not become your life

“If you’re worried that you aren’t a coupon kind of girl, don’t,” writes Trenum. “You don’t have to be in love with coupons. You don’t have to compute math in your head. And you don’t have to set aside hours each week just to work on your coupons. I can’t stress enough – balance is the key to making couponing work for you. You have to figure out how to make it fit into your world; it cannot become your world.”
 
After shoppers started following Trenum out to her car to find out how she was getting such good deals, she realized she had a lifestyle solution she could share. She began teaching couponing workshops. In 2009, she co-founded Time 2 $ave, a frugal and couponing blog, to help others discover how to make couponing work for them. The silver lining to her savings from coupons became an empowering focus on giving to others. She has helped thousands improve their lives and become purposeful givers.
 
Kasey Knight Trenum is the cofounder of Time 2 $ave (www.time2saveworkshops.com), a frugal and couponing blog and conducts Time 2 $ave workshops frequently. Her weekly column can be read in Scripps newspapers nationwide, her work has been featured in Parade and All You and she has been interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered and HLN’s Making it in America. She has a personal passion for seeing women, men and families find financial freedom, be empowered to improve their lives and become purposeful givers. She and her husband and children live in Tennessee.
 
Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
 
 
Q&A with the author:
 
 
Q. I’m already busy, and couponing looks like a part time job. Do I really have time?

A. I hear your pain. If anyone thought she didn’t have time to coupon, it was me. I didn’t even consider it as a remote possibility. Time or no time, I couldn’t afford not to use couponing as an avenue to save. Soon I began to see how the benefits outweighed my investment. It was worth it to have several hundred dollars a month back in our budget, especially when our other household expenses weren’t going down. Will couponing take some of your time? Yes, but not much. I’ll show you the ropes so you can save both time and money.
 
Q. I have a small family. I don’t see how using coupons could help us much since our
grocery bill isn’t that high.

A. The size of your family doesn’t matter. Whatever your grocery bill is, there is usually room to save. Even if you only spend $50 a week, wouldn’t you like to cut that down to $20 or $30? Aside from the numbers, when you shop ahead of time to buy what you use, it takes the stress of having to go to the grocery store out of your life.
 
Q. This seems like a lot of work, and I’m not an organized person. I don’t think I can keep up with all this!
A. Oh my! If you look up “unorganized” in the dictionary, you’ll find my picture. I really (really!)
want to be organized, and I have tried to help myself in this area more ways than I can count. But you know what? I was not created that way. You can imagine my struggle with organizing my coupons. I had to find a way that worked for me (and didn’t consume my life), and that I could stick with for the long haul. Remember, couponing isn’t all-or-nothing. It’s what fits into whatever season of life you are in right now. What works for one person might not work for another; we are all unique. Be patient as you figure out what makes sense and works best for you.
 
Q. I’ve seen where couponing revolves around stockpiling and having massive amounts of food in your house. I don’t think I can (or want) to go there.

A. Fabulous! That makes two of us. My goal is to teach you how to save your family money and open up doors to give. It’s all about simplicity here; couponing isn’t an all-or-nothing deal. Couponing success isn’t measured by the size of your stockpile. I’d much rather be known for giving.
 
Q. I’ve always thought people who use coupons end up purchasing things they don’t need just because they have acoupon for it.

A. Guilty! I did it. Most people do, especially in the beginning. However, you’ll soon figure out the items that your family uses and what items make good donations. Beyond that, I’ll save you some time here. If you can’t donate it, even if it’s free or cheap, it’s not worth it. In some states you will still have to pay tax on the full purchase price before coupons. My mission has been to simplify; if my family doesn’t use it and I can’t donate it, then it’s just going to take up space in my home. You can always share your coupons with friends, schools, military programs and so forth.
 
Q. I’ve never been good at math—Can I do this?

A. Don’t worry, I was never good at math and you don’t have to be either. Besides, who said you can’t use a calculator? Throw one in your purse or use your smartphone.
 
Q. How many grocery stores do you shop each week?

A. Lately I am happy to make it to one. I have been asked this question more times than I can count. It is not necessary to shop more than one store, or even to shop every single week for that matter. Whether you save 5 percent or 70 percent, you are still saving. Couponing has to fit into your life, not become your life.
 
 
My Take:
 
Couponing has become such a craze in America over the last few years. Some stores have even tightened up their coupon policies due to people taking advantage of them. This is so sad, and it is one of the reasons that I have kind of declined in my use of coupons in the last few years. So, I was excited to read this book and see if there was some way for me to get back into it.

As I started reading this book, the first thing I noticed was that the style of writing was very conversational. It was as if the author was sitting across from me just chatting about how to use coupons to save money. It was a nice and friendly style of writing that carried through the rest of the book.

As I kept reading, I liked more and more how laid back and practical the author was about couponing and about saving money. I loved how she always pointed out that, yes, couponing is good, but it shouldn't take over your life. I also liked how she constantly reminded the reader that any money you save using coupons is money that you didn't have in your pocket before. Just because you only save $10 in a given week, it's still $10 that you didn't save last week without coupons! 

Kasey's approach to couponing is one that is easily understood and very practical. I liked the idea of buying 'stock-up' pantry items at really great prices along with the sales. This is something that is addressed differently in other coupon books I've read, and I liked Kasey's approach much better. And if you go to her blog and use the store match-ups that are listed there each week, then you don't even have to do the sale comparisons yourself! During my first week of couponing according to Kasey's method, I saved $32!!! And that was just with online printable coupons since I didn't have any Sunday paper coupons this week!

The only downside that I found to the book was that in my e-book copy, some of the formatting was not done correctly. The pictures didn't show up, and the charts didn't line up.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • "You have to figure out how to make it [couponing] fit into your world; it cannot become your world."
  • "Don't focus on the savings or the deals that you don't get. Instead, I encourage you to think about the ones that you do."
  • "But if couponing starts cutting into the time you could be spending with your family, working, doing something you love, or taking care of yourself, it's too much."

Overall, I really liked this book of practical couponing, and I hope to continue my couponing adventure in the future!

I will give Couponing for the Rest of Us ... 4 BookWorms.

 
 








Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Duchess" Blog Tour

About Duchess: Book Three in the Daughters of Fortune series.

When her country needs her, will she have the courage to surrender her glittering world and her one true love?
The golden age of Hollywood is in the business of creating stars. Rosie Worth, now starlet Roxy Price, has found everything she's wanted in the glamour of the silver screen. With adoring fans and a studio-mogul husband, she's finally silenced the voices-and grief-of the past. Her future shines bright...until the fated Black Friday when it all comes crashing down.
 
When Roxy loses everything, she finds herself disgraced and penniless. Her only hope is to join forces with Belgian duke Rolfe Van Horne, a longtime film investor. But Rolfe is not who he seems, and he has other plans for Roxy and her movies-plans to support a growing unrest in Europe, plans that could break her heart and endanger her life.
 
Find out more about the series by clicking on these links. Heiress. Baroness.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/jZmj7
 
 
Meet Susan: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.
 
Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more.
 
For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com
 
 
 
My Take:
 
When I first started reading this book, I really had a hard time remembering what had happened in the previous two books since it has been almost a year since I read Baroness. (I am a big fan of a few preface pages at the beginning of a series book in order to refresh the reader on what has taken place previously). Once I remembered most of what had happened, it was much easier to enjoy the story.

The overall theme of this novel is that Rosie is running away from what God wants her to be. This was true in the previous novel, Baroness, but it becomes even more of the central part of the story in Duchess. In fact, hers is the only story told in this third offering of the series. While the first two novels dealt with the lives of two sisters and two cousins, respectively, Duchess deals only with Rosie and is told from only her point of view. While this allowed the reader to become deeply involved with Rosie and her life, I think that it made this novel seem more drawn out than the other two. There were times when I got a bit tired of reading about the various things that happened behind the scenes during the filming of movies in the 1930s, and Rosie’s constant inner monologues of regret wore me out. I just kept thinking – well, then, if you feel that way…do something about it! Don’t just mope around!

I guess that is why I didn’t feel very connected to Rosie in this novel. While it made for a great story, I just didn’t understand her motives at all. I have never had a desire to be rich and famous, so the fact that she would sacrifice her family and pretty much everything else for stardom and the applause of others, well, I just didn’t get it. Now, like I said, it did make for a good story, especially since there was the opportunity for so much growth for Rosie over the course of the novel. Rosie is definitely not a perfect character, though, and in that way she was very realistic, even if I didn’t really relate to her feelings about things.

The various historical settings in this novel were the highlight of the book for me. Even though I got a bit bogged down in the Hollywood goings-on, the telling of that side of the story was really very good. And once Rosie and Rolfe ended up in Europe, it only got better. The twists and turns that happened with the growing unrest in Europe leading up to WWII were fantastic and really redeemed the novel overall for me.

I loved the ending of this book. I actually wish that the novel had spent more time with Rosie and Rolfe in Europe rather than in Hollywood. Even though I thought the book could have been more drawn out at the end instead of in the middle, it was still an excellent end to the series.

A series of this magnitude needs to have a big, sweeping, saga-like finish, and Duchess definitely fit the bill.

I will give Duchess … 4 BookWorms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Susan May Warren is celebrating the release of Duchess with a Kindle Fire HD Giveaway.

Duchess-KindleFireGiveaway300
One "glam" winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HD
  • Signed copies of Duchess, Baroness and Heiress
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 4th. Winner will be announced on 5/7/13 at Susan's blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.