Friday, August 30, 2013

RE:View | The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer

Ah, time yet again for a review post. It really has been too long but I've been so busy! I am close to finishing another book as well and hope to have the review posted soon so be on the look out for JoAnn Durgin's "Awakening" as well!

***


There are some books you come across and you don't know what to expect. You may remember that I have decided not to read (or re-read in some cases) the back covers of books before I take them on to review. Well, that was the case with The Language of Sparrows.

Something happens when I'm about to read a book... I get excited, antsy even, wondering just what type of adventure I'm about to go on.  Who am I going to meet? What will their story be? How will it end? This was no different with The Language of Sparrows and I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! 

The Language of Sparrows

Sierra Wright knows so much but is able to say so little. After facing great trauma in her life, her mother April has moved their little family to Texas in hopes of a new start. Sierra can't seem to adjust though, despite her extreme intellect.

Sierra finally comes to find a friend in an older man, Luca, who lives near by. Though he is grouchy and rough around the edges from his time in a Romanian gulag years ago, there is more to this man than meets the eye. Unfortunately, no one, including Luca's own son, agrees with this unlikely friendship.

April faces her own issues as well - trying to provide for her daughter, worrying about her daughter's well being, and dealing with her own emotions from her distraught past.

Can these characters come together to find a hope that is beyond their painful pasts? Will they find comfort with each other and in God to overcome what seems to be impossible?

The Language of Sparrows provides deep, intriguing insights into the lives of the main characters. Rachel Phifer has skillfully woven a tale that goes beyond the surface, reaching into the depths of the human heart. I found myself drinking in her words, waiting for the next scene to unfold revealing yet another facet to this beautiful story. It is filled with thought, perspective, and the slightest touch of romance. A great read for someone who desires to engage in a story that will take them beyond the surface.

This novel will take you places you never imagined going, and trust me--you'll love it!

Happy Friday - go read a book! Personally, I'll be in Disneyland...
 ___________________________
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Conference & Exciting News

I have been given some exciting news! 

You may remember a post I did a few months ago when I said I was going to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference? Well...I have been asked to be the conference photographer! I am so humbled by this and am really looking forward to capturing this event as well as shooting headshots of various different writers, authors and agents!

I've already scheduled many appointments and am gearing up for a full weekend! If you're attending the conference and are interested in scheduling a mini-session with me, you can email me here.


In other news, I am frantically working on my next book! The character sketches are coming together nicely and I'm making it a priority to schedule some major writing time this weekend!

What are you up to? If you're attending the conference, are you finished preparing or still have work to do? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mary L. Ball {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Mary...

Mary L. Ball lives in North Carolina. She writes novels and Christian articles. Her passion is weaving together romantic tales often laced with suspense and mystery. Her books encourage people to see the magic of love, hope and a divine guidance that often lays dormant, waiting for each of us to find.

Mary is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing she’s babysitting her grandson, supporting her husband’s ministry, singing gospel music or fishing.

How to connect with Mary...


Website: http://MaryLouwrites.weebly.com
Blog:
http://marylouwrites.weebly.com/-marys-blog.html Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Marywrites
Purchase her books:
on Amazon, on Amazon UK,
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inspirational-author-Mary-L-Ball/200478210087932
Twitter: @inspires4mary

Author Interview | Mary L. Ball


Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently?
...My first novel is “Escape to Big Fork Lake.” A story about overcoming hardships and finding out how powerful faith can be.
...Coming soon is “Stone of Destiny.”

...I started writing Stone of Destiny because my oldest grandson likes to read those novels with worldly magic showcased in the writing. One day he was talking about something in one of his books and I thought wouldn’t it be nice to show the world a different kind of enchantment, one that’s based on following the Lord and believing in His wonderful, mysterious ways? 
...Therefore, with the Lord leading, Stone of Destiny was born. I choose a blue sapphire ring as the focus of Taylor’s quest (only because I liked sapphire and it’s my birthstone) I knew after writing the novel-it was to be. Later, my publisher asked if I looked up the Christian meaning of sapphire. She sent me a link and upon research, I found it to mean Heavenly joy and divine guidance among others things. I got goose bumps as I read the meaning-it fits the theme of my novel perfectly.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why? ...Yes. Granny Kay. She’s weathers storms in life, but still hangs on the Lord.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I hope everyone who reads the novel will have a better understanding that God works in his own way and that if we stand strong in our beliefs on his promises, we will overcome.

Writing
Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My motivation comes from the questions people often have about religion and the scriptures. The characters are absolute imagination. I shy away from using people I know as inspiration.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I write in hopes of showing the readers that none of us is perfect, but no matter what the situation, we all can find a divine relationship that helps us on our way in life.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Don’t give up. Many writes never become authors because they get tired of sending off queries. The publishing world moves like a visit to the ER...s-l-o-w.

You
What is your favorite activity during the summer?
...I enjoy the being outdoors and sitting by the lake fishing.

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (I'm always learning something new). What is your favorite dessert?

...I’m not a big sweet eater; nevertheless, when I do indulge I enjoy a good Strawberry Shortcake with whipped cream.

___________________
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview Mary! You next book sounds really exciting. I love when things seem "coincidental" (like the jewel choice) but we know it's God's hand! And I love how you compare the publishing world to an ER visit (haha). I have noticed that good things take time and I can only assume it's the same in this case ;) I look forward to hearing more about your future books!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Valerie Comer {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Valerie...

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
 
How to connect with Valerie...

Website: http://valeriecomer.com
Blog: http://valeriecomer.com/blog 
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ValerieComer
Facebook: http://facebook.com/valeriecomer.author 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/valeriecomer 
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/valeriecomer/ 
Other (my website for aspiring writers): http://towriteastory.com 
http://farmlit.com
 
Author Interview | Valerie Comer

You & Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Although I always liked to write, I didn't get serious about it until 2002 when I landed a job in a small town flooring shop with many empty hours every day. So long as I was ready to be fully present when needed, my bosses were fine with how I spent the rest of my time. I was a slow learner and wrote eight complete novels before selling a novella. It took me a long time to figure out how much prep works for me, as I live in no-man's-land between plotting and pantsing. Honestly, for a while what kept me writing was that it had become a habit. It's what I did at work, and if I didn't write, I'd have had to fill my time some other way. So I kept plodding along, learning and growing and writing.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Oh my! This is like asking which child is my favorite. Okay, not quite. Hmm. Let me think. Right now my new release is my fave. Except for the one coming out in March, which is the one I'm editing now.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest? Two things. Waiting is really, really difficult. For the first 6-7 years I knew my novels weren't good enough yet, but once they got closer and I began to seek an agent and publication, the wait seemed interminable. The other hardest thing is that writing a novel takes so long. There really isn't a shortcut. You don't learn all of the same things writing short stories as novels, and you have to have them complete before you can dissect them to see what did and didn't work.
...The easiest thing about publication? Watching the money roll in. JUST KIDDING! There isn't anything easy about getting published. Thankfully the journey is as much fun as the destination.



Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...My contemporary romance Raspberries and Vinegar released on August 1.

Josephine Shaw: complex, yet singleminded. A tiny woman with big ideas and, some would say, a mouth to match. But what does she really know about sustainable living as it relates to the real world? After all, she and her two friends are new to farming.
Zachary Nemesek is back only until his dad recovers enough to work his own land again. When Zach discovers three helpless females have taken up residence at the old farm next door, he expects trouble. But a mouse invasion proves Jo has everything under control. Is there anything she can't handle? And surely there's something sweet beneath all that tart.

.
..It's the first book in the Farm Fresh Romance series, which follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods.

...I'm working on books two and three now as they're scheduled for release in March and December 2014. This series means a lot to me because it portrays the lifestyle I lead, or at least aspire to. My husband and I, together with our adult kids, farm, garden, and keep bees. We strive to keep our food as clean and local as possible and lead environmentally responsible lives. Of course, like everyone else, we don't meet our own ideals, but it doesn't stop us from trying.


Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...The main character, Jo Shaw, intrigues me. She's a little spitfire of an environmentalist and often says the wrong thing. Most of her fellow characters think she's whacko. I probably like her because she says all the stuff I think but would never utter out loud because I'm a nonconfrontational introvert. And when I see how folks react to her, I realize it's a good thing I keep my mouth zipped sometimes!

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I hope people will think a little more about where their food comes from, and whether or not God cares about what they eat.


Writing
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?

...I've now written 10 novels (most of which you will never hear about), so I've used up the "easy" inspiration. Still, I find ideas for characters and stories everywhere. Sometimes I base a character loosely on someone I know, but usually I mix traits from enough people so they're not recognizable. Though, I have to say, I had a good laugh when I found that my daughter and daughter-in-law tried to decide if Jo was modeled after either of them (the answer is no).


When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to entertain, definitely, but I'd also like people to think. I knew that Jo could come on a little strong. I tried to add a lot of humor so her fervor wouldn't turn readers off.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...I have a lot of advice for up-and-coming writers! I've taught various workshops online and in person, including one called "From Beginning to End" designed to be an overview of the process of writing a novel.

A few months ago I decided to create a writing course which I offer for free on my other website, http://towriteastory.com.

...The course and website are divided into six sections: planning, plotting, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Because I had such a hard time learning how to plot (and still struggle with it, frankly), I feel I can offer a good balance to newer writers. I know one size doesn't fit all, but that each must look at their own personality, strengths, and weaknesses, and devise a system that works for them, often by trial and error.

...Besides the course, which people can start any time as it's all set up automatically, I blog weekly on related topics with some guests adding their expertise.

...When I started writing, it was difficult to simply get a grasp of the process ahead. It's so easy to get lost in each step (researching, creating characters, etc) that it's difficult to keep the big picture in mind. This is what I'm trying to provide for my students.

...If any of your readers would like to join the class, I'd love to invite them over. The course sign-up is prominent on the site sidebar at http://towriteastory.com.

You

What is your favorite activity during the summer?
...I love a lot about summer—except for the heat! My husband and I like to pull our little holiday trailer up beside a mountain stream for a few days at a time. He enjoys fishing. With no Internet connection and a limited amount of battery available to keep my laptop powered, I read a lot or brainstorm when not picking berries or cooling off in the creek.

...At home on the farm, my summer life revolves around my young granddaughters and my garden. We plant a huge garden and process a lot of food for winter meals, but the heavy work hasn't started yet in August. Now I get to wander outside and let supper choose itself from the surplus. Yum!

What are you currently reading?
...Ruth Logan Herne writes small town stories for Love Inspired—you could almost call her stories farm lit, too. But the one I'm reading right now is called Try, Try Again and it takes place in New York City— a long way from farm lit. Either way, Ruthy's fun voice shines through!

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?
...It would have to be chocolate anything! I love gooey brownies. Yum.
___________________
Thank you so much for this great interview! It was great getting to know about you and your writing. I've never heard about farm lit but am sure there's a great market for it. Plus, I love the cover for you book - it makes me smile :) I hope my readers will take advantage of your website and free course.

Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your summer, Valerie.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

James R. Callan {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about James...

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his fifth book in this area released in 2013 and two more scheduled for 2014.

How to connect with James....

Website: http://www.jamesrcallan.com
Blog: http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/13fCBdp
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/VlgFi5
Twitter: @jamesrcallan
Author Page on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
--> Preferred purchase links for A Ton of Gold
A Ton of Gold on Amazon http://amzn.to/UQrqsZ
A Ton of Gold on Amazon -Kindle http://amzn.to/12PeHJb

Author Interview | James R. Callan

You and Writing

--> Tell us a little about yourself: How did you start writing?
...First, I want to thank you for having me on your blog site. I truly appreciate this opportunity. Thanks. 

...I was interested in writing in my twenties, but soon found I could not support a family on writing. So, I returned to graduate school in the field of mathematics. For thirty years, I worked as a mathematician and computer scientist. And then one day, I said, “The kids are all grown and self-supporting. I can go back to my first love, writing.”

--> Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?
...That’s like asking me if I have a favorite child. They are all my favorites. But, as is often the case, the one I’m working on is most on my mind now and so today, it is my favorite. It is called The Silver Medallion and it is the sequel to A Ton of Gold. I expect it to be published in 2014. About half of the story takes place in Mexico, a place close to my heart. And in it, a young woman travels to the jungles of Mexico to rescue two young girls held captive by a cruel and ruthless bandito. This is not an adventure seeking woman, but a computer scientist who is terrified by what’s she is doing, but cannot leave these girls in captivity.

--> What is the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The easiest is the first draft. The story is unfolding and it is an exciting time. I’m not worried about any of the details that will have to be refined in the rewrites. The hardest? Initially, finding an agent and publisher. But once the books are published, clearly the marketing and social media are the hardest – for me, a least.


Your Writing

Tell us a little about your latest published book.
...A Ton of Gold was published in 2013 by Oak Tree Press. I had done some research in information retrieval and had long wanted to use someone in that field as a protagonist. Then, I read an old Texas folk tale about a wagon load of precious metal being hidden in a lake back before Texas became a state. Those two ideas tumbled around in my head for some time and eventually A Ton of Gold came out. Its basic question is, can an old folk tale affect the lives of people today? Crystal Moore is certainly affected as murder, arson, and kidnapping swirl around her, all because of a long forgotten folk tale.

--> Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...A Ton of Gold is fortunate in having a number of great characters. Of course, Crystal is a favorite because she has to grow so much during the book. Her no-nonsense 76 year-old grandmother is a favorite of many readers including myself. Then there’s the former bull rider who plays an important part. And, Crystal’s street-wise friend adds a lot of fun. Plus … well I’d better stop.


--> What is one take-away from the book you hope readers identify with?  
...Family and self-esteem are essential ingredients. If you let someone trample your self-esteem, you are in trouble.


Writing
 

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...For A Ton of Gold, I explained above where it came from. The sequel, The Silver Medallion, was inspired by a three paragraph story I read in the newspaper. It’s 95,000 words long, so a lot of imagination came into play. But the basic inspiration was from real life.

What is your overall intention with your stories?
...First and foremost, I intend to entertain. If the reader is not entertained, I have failed. But secondly, I like to look at ordinary people who find themselves faced with extraordinary circumstances, and rise to handle it.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing?
...Write, write and write. Then read. Then write some more. And don't give up on a manuscript you believe in. Madeline L'Engle's masterpiece A Wrinkle in Time faced rejection 26 times before being published and then winning the Newberry Medal.

You
What is your favorite activity during the summer?
...My favorite activity anytime is traveling.

What are you currently reading?
...I have just finished Next Always by Nora Roberts. (I believe you need to read all genres, not just the one you write in.) Next on my list is The Alzheimer's Conspiracy by Stephen Woodfin.

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?
...Almost any flavor of ice cream. But, if you put a slice of warm pie underneath the ice cream, I’d say that about impossible to beat. 

Again, thanks for hosting me. Right now, I think I’m going to go find some lemon meringue pie – and ice cream.
___________________________

Thanks so much for the wonderful interview James. I love that you are combining the things you are passionate about, using your previous career to influence your writing. Also, the idea of using a folk tale as inspiration for a novel is great! I love when history (even if it's just a verbal tradition) comes to light in modern day. 

I hope you enjoy that pie and ice cream, James and as for you, Thinking Thoughts readers, I hope you stop by Amazon today to pick up a copy of A Ton of Gold.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Angela Strong {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Angela...

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first article to a national magazine while still in high school. Her debut novel Love Finds You In Sun Valley, Idaho released in 2010. Lighten Up is the first in her Body and Soul Series, with the second book Shake It Up releasing March 2014. When she’s not writing, you can find her at home in Idaho with her three teen/tweens and hubby where life is always an adventure.
How to connect with Angela...


Blog: http://angelaruthstrong.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angela.r.strong
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4746114.Angela_Ruth_Strong
Purchase her book on Amazon

Author Interview | Angela Strong 
 
You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Creative Writing was always my favorite subject. The kids in my carpool would read my assignments out loud and everyone would laugh all the way home. I’d sometimes pretend that I lost one of my stories so I had to write another one to turn in for credit. That’s what I did for fun. In fact, when I took journalism in high school, I’d finish my assignments early in case anybody else needed me to do their writing/editing/layout for the newspaper. After that came college then writers conferences. It’s nice to be able to make money from the business, but really I’m still that same little girl in the carpool van who gets joy out of the enjoyment her writing brings others.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written?
...My favorite book is always my next book. :)

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...It’s all hard until it’s done, and then I’m like “that was easy!” Like a mother going through childbirth. It’s horrible and painful and she doesn’t know if she can make it, but then the baby is born and it’s so beautiful and worth the effort that she can’t wait to do it all over again.

Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...Lighten Up: Bethany is a pastor’s daughter who can’t forgive her dad for running off with the church secretary until she falls in love with her pastor.
...I wrote it because I’m a pastor’s daughter who grew up in the church, and I saw a lot of things Christians do that aren’t discussed in Christian fiction. I was hurt by one of these things. Then I found freedom when I realized that “mercy triumphs over judgment every time.” I want to share that freedom with the world.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Mick. He’s not attractive. He has a large head and pock-marked face. Think mafia movie. The kind of guy you would run away from if you saw him in a dark alley. But he is the sweetest, most enthusiastic guy ever. He’s also very honest about his many embarrassing stories. As the church’s token single male, every woman wants to set him up/marry him off. Unfortunately, he falls for Bethany who so isn’t interested.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

...We are all capable of messing up big time. So first, we need to set up accountability to keep us from falling to temptation, and second, we need to grant mercy to those who have fallen.

Writing
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?

...Both. Though I love the moments when something happens, and I can be like, “That is so going in a book.” I also love the moments when I create a character, and then I run into them on the street. And I stare. Because I thought they only existed in my imagination.
...I know some authors have systems for this kind of thing. I use their systems on occasion. But more often than not, I make up this writing thing as I go. Sometimes I’ll have an idea and write the novel in one month, other times I write multiple synopses over years until it finally comes together.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I have a mission statement for life that also applies to my writing: 
 
My mission is to inspire, create, and encourage hope in myself and others.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Don’t think of your writing as right or wrong, think of it as working or not working. Enjoy the process and learn as you go.

You
What is your favorite activity during the summer?
...I’d have to say that as of my 2nd anniversary celebration this past weekend, it’s zip-lining! Though I love everything about summer.

What are you currently reading?
...Jonah. I’ve got a deadline at the end of the month, so I’m not reading anything except the Bible right now. And Facebook. But that doesn’t really count, does it?

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?

...Crème Brulee. Had it served in an actual pineapple on the last day of my honeymoon in Maui. Worth going back for.
____________________

Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today, Angela! What a great interview :) I can tell that you love to write not only for others, but for yourself which is such an encouraging thing to hear.  I also love your mission statement. I think every author should have one.  I can't wait to hear about more books from you.

Readers, make sure you check out her blog and purchase a copy of her book!

Friday, August 2, 2013

RE:View Friday | A Variety

I've been a busy reading like crazy when I'm not working on photos or my next book... It's always a difficult balance to keep as a writer. You need to be writing, but you also need to be reading!

If you're a writer, how do you keep the balance? Any creative ways you keep up with your reading and your writing?

I have had the chance to read some great books though, so I thought I'd share them all together today. Maybe this will help you bulk up your 'end of the summer' reading list?

The Soldier's Sweetheart | Deb Kastner

Set in Serendipity, Texas (and part of the Serendipity Sweethearts series from Love Inspired) Samantha Howell is in for a surprise when Will Davenport, recently retired from active duty in the Army, shows up on her doorstep. Samantha is a self-sufficient woman who's used to running her own business while Will is a man with a plan as well as a past he can't seem to get away from.

I really enjoyed reading this novel by my dear friend and critique partner Deb! She paints a vivid picture of small town life in Serendipity, and her characters leap off the page with their real-life struggles and authentic emotions. Will is a hardened Army veteran and Samantha is a woman who wants to take the world on her shoulders. They both must find ways to overcome themselves in order for them to work together against a threat to the quiet way of life in this small town.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who want's to read a sweet love story that portrays genuine characters who overcome real-life problems to find not only love, but a deep reliance on God.

Darkest Hour | Nike Chillemi
--> Set in New York in 1948, Darkest Hour follows the story of Hank Jansen, the Nassau County’s medical examiner and working single mom, Lucinda Bryne, on a search for the truth about the death of Lucinda’s employer, Doctor McCloud. Hank takes an unusual interest in the case when Lucinda is unjustly accused and he gets to know her loving family and adorable son.

As I was reading this novel, my mind immediately filled in the blanks with the film noir feeling. I could see the locations clearly and the factual details, time-period specific, were helpful to picture the rest. Being a fan of the 40s, I enjoyed these details, which really enhanced the story.

It did take me a bit to get into the story initially, but I believe the style is best suited to this genre and time period. It has a drier feeling, more factual and straight forward, like watching a crime show from the 1940s. I was satisfied with the ending though there were a few times when I felt like the details were a little contrived or too coincidental to be realistic. It didn’t take away from the overall story too much though.

In all, if you enjoy crime fiction, especially historical and from this time period, I think you would enjoy reading this. I hadn’t read any of Nike’s other novels, so you won’t be at a disadvantage to understand/enjoy this novel.


The Nun and the Narc | Catherine Castle 


-->Sister Margret Mary O’Connor is not your typical nun. In the style of The Sound of Music, we follow Sister Margret as she embarks on an adventure in Mexico that will end up changing not only her life, but that of Jed Barringer. Jed, part of the DEA in Texas, is following a lead on a drug cartel when Sister Margret butts in, putting not only herself but Jed in danger, too.
I loved following the relationship between Sister Margret and special agent Jed. It’s an intriguing idea to have a nun who is placed in a situation where she is challenged – both literally and spiritually. I will say that, as you may expect, the novel has Catholic undertones due to the fact that Margaret is a novace (or, a nun in training). Obviously, this is not a bad thing at all, it is just a part of the novel I wanted to point out.

I would definitely recommend this novel by Catherine! It reminded me, just a little bit, of a MacGuyver story (one of my favorite television shows) not that it was gadget oriented, but in that it had that type of feeling. It was a fun read!

The Real Deal on Love and Men |  Michelle Mckinney Hammond

So what is the “Real Deal” on men and dating? I think that Michelle puts forth a comprehensive explanation of all things related to men, dating, relationships, and marriage. She doesn’t avoid any topics and approaches each of them head on with bold enthusiasm. I found her approach to dating refreshing – she explains that it is not for “mating” but for “fact finding”. It’s used as a way to find out if you’ll have a lasting relationship with someone. She also addresses online dating, expectations in relationships, setting boundaries, and even divorce.

Another thing that I appreciate about this book is that Michelle includes letters she’s received from women from all over and then her response to those issues. It is always helpful to hear from other women who have the same (or similar) issues as you do. I found a lot of her responses to be helpful and straightforward.

On a note of caution, I would say that I “heard” Michelle emphasizing a lot about self. There were a few times I interpreted what she was saying as “rely on you to change things”. She did emphasize the Lord’s role in it, but there was a lot of focus on getting the “life you want”. As I said in my post about self, I don’t think it’s about us getting anything. I don’t think it’s about us at all. Sure, it would be great to “get” a husband, but that’s not the ultimate goal, Christ is.

With these slight reservations, I’d definitely recommend this book (coming out September 1st)! I think her practical applications and the wide range of subjects that are portrayed definitely make this a good resource. As you’d do with any book you’d turn to for advice, read with caution and discernment always turning back to the Bible for the final word on anything.

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I received a free copies of these books for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the books or post reviews. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in these reviews are honest and entirely my own.