Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review: PIRATE OF MY HEART by Jamie Carie

You may not know this about me, but I am a complete nut for All Things Pirate. When I see the word "pirate" anywhere -- especially on the cover of a book -- I pause for a second look. The cover of Jamie Carie's latest novel certainly gave me pause. So I got the book, planning to use it in conjunction with my National Talk Like a Pirate Day post, and... didn't.

I read the novel in plenty of time to complete a review for the September 19th "holiday" post, but... the book contained very little actual pirate action and seemed entirely inappropriate for the occasion. The hero? Not a pirate. The heroine? Also, not a pirate.

So... where are the bloomin' pirates????

Well, they are in there, but... not as prevalent as I'd hoped.

I'd expected a swashbuckling adventure on the high seas -- a moving, edgy, and romantically well-crafted tale from an author whose work I have dearly loved reading in the past. But avast, me hearties! I must admit: I was doomed to be disappointed. There was barely any swashbuckling to speak of -- and the pirates that did appear were much less charismatic than the legends would have us believe.

Aarrrgh.

I'm not proud of it, but I judged this book by it's piratical title and cover art. I expected dashing rogues and adventure and... well... more pirates! But, alas... I should have read the back cover copy. That is, after all, what it's there for.

THE SITCH:
(from the Barnes & Noble product description)
(and, very likely, the back cover, too. But I wouldn't know.)

When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.

So: it wasn't the genuine pirate adventure I'd hoped for, but it was a sweet and light historical romance that I was still able (though disappointed) to enjoy. Even though I did appreciate the romance of the story, I had a few problems with some of the wine and cheese moments* along the way.


1. The heroine was somewhat brave, but not all that daring; so when she was daring, I wasn't quite sure I believed it.

2. Additionally, there was a serious flood of the word "smolder" -- in several derivatives -- in reference to a gaze, a look, his eyes, etc. (It made me cringe-- and giggle a bit -- thinking of Eugene from Disney's Tangled saying, "Here comes the smolder.")

3. And finally, the ending was very... tidy. A little too conveniently tidy for my taste. But I suppose that is somewhat subjective.

But, my pirate-fetish disappointment aside, this was an enjoyable romance to read, even with a few spare helpings of wine and cheese.

I have read several of Jamie Carie's previous novels and have been wowed by her storyweaving craft. That being said, I did not feel this particular novel was quite up to the standard of quality and originality I've come to expect from such a talented author. But -- and there is that persistent BUT again -- it was an enjoyable light romance -- a perfect lazy-weekend read. As long as you're not expecting a jolt of Captain Jack Sparrow (or, better yet, Will Turner!) I would readily recommend this novel.

If you're in the mood for a pleasingly sweet, light romance, pick up Pirate of My Heart by Jamie Carie and pass the afternoon with Captain Dorian and Lady Kendra.

Serena's Rating:








Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waterfall Wednesday, the final episode (#5) -- Now Showing at: Irresistible Reads


Welcome to the last (hiccup) installment (a tissue, please) of the Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along Event! The past few weeks have been a blog hop of fun as we drooled over knights and gowns, touched on some tender parts of our own stories, and fell in love with Lisa T. Bergren's wonderful River of Time series all over again.

This week's event is being hosted by our friend Nic at Irresistible Reads so after you've finished hangin' out with us here, hop on over to Nic's place. While you're there, make sure you sign up and leave a comment! -- You could win an autographed set of Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series!

Now let's dig into the questions Nic provided for us:

Discussion Questions for Chapters 24-28 (the end)

1. After Gabi is injured, the doctor gives her a tonic. Gabi questions the doctor several times what is in it but he refuses to tell. Would have you taken the tonic in Gabi situation?

Ooh. This is a tough one. Hmm. I tend to trust the Hippocratic Oath and that medical people want me to get better, so I probably would have taken it without much question. But... if it made me sick, that would have been it. I would refuse to take any more. Really, I would have re-flippin'-fused. It's happened before! Just ask my P.A.

2. Before the games Gabi asks Lia to let Lord Foraboschi win in the archery event as people especially Lord Foraboschi are becoming suspicious of them. But during the games Lord Foraboschi upsets Lia trying to throw her off her game. So Lia decides to win. Do you think she did the right thing by not letting Lord Forabosch bully her or do you think she took an unnecessary risk?

It was an unnecessary risk, but in her shoes I'm pretty sure that little red-suited guy on my shoulder would have encouraged me to throw caution to the wind. Yeah, I'd want to win. And maybe engage in some non-verbal trashtalk while doing it!

3. When Gabi is dying and she and Lia decide to return to the tombs so they can get the cure at home but they have to tell Marcello the truth. Even though Marcello thinks that it is madness that they are from the future he believes in Gabi because he loves her. Do you think this is believable? What would you have done if you were Marcello?

I think that even though Marcello took Gabi to the tombs, and he believed/hoped something there would heal her, hope had more to do with it than actual belief in the idea of time travel. In my opinion, he probably didn't really believe her full story until she disappeared; but he trusted her IN HOPE because he loved her and was willing to cast doubt aside in his desperation to save her.

It was believable because Marcello is THAT GUY. He just is.

4. In the end Gabi and Lia return home. Do you think Gabi will return to Marcello? Would you go back?

Well, I've read all three books, so, um.. yeah; pretty sure she'll go back. And I would totally go back if Marcello was waitng for me. Like I said, he is THAT GUY. (But I'd bring a suitcase or two filled with hygiene and medical items for sure!)

5. Looking back at Waterfall what was your favourite moment?

Even though this is really Gabi and Marcello's story, when Luca sees Lia's archery skills for the first time, well... that got my biggest smile of the whole book.
She was already on one knee, squinting and taking aim at the second as he turned, spotting us. She let the next arrow fly, and the arrow struck him in the chest, driving him backward, over the parapet wall.

"Saints in heaven, I believe I'm in love," Luca growled, running past me, sword drawn, to go to Marcello's aid. He glanced from my sister to me with a wink. (Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren, pg. 284)

Man, I love that scene!

Well, it is with sad heart and plaintive sigh that I bid farewell to Waterfall Wednesdays... but wait! We have a winner to announce! The winner from Week 3, when Waterfall Wednesday was hosted right here at Edgy Inspirational Romance is: Jamie from The Dancing Lawn.

Congratulations, Jamie! You will be receiving an autographed set of The River of Time series from Lisa T. Bergren!

As always, stay tuned for more fun and giveaways here at Edgy Inspirational Romance and make sure you blog hop your way around this final episode of the Waterfall Read-Along Event by stopping to leave a comment for Nic at Irresitible Reads!

Happy reading! And may your dreams be filled with handsome Italian knights!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Q & A with Julie Lessman (and giveaway!!!)

1. It's no secret that you're one of our favorite authors around here. What can fans expect from A Heart Revealed?

Aw, thanks, Joy—I think you know I feel the same way about you and the Edgy Inspirational blog!

And what can reader friends expect from A Heart Revealed? Sorry, I’m not partial to the word “fans” because it somehow separates an author from her readers, which I don’t like to do because we’re are all just flesh-and-blood women who enjoy a passionate story, right? Well, first of all, this is not my usual fast and furious romance with lots of fireworks because Emma is married, so obviously I couldn’t go there. Besides, that’s what Katie and Luke and Mitch and Charity are for, no??

Sean and Emma’s story is a ten-year friendship that grows spiritually and emotionally, ripening into unconditional love where two people sacrifice themselves for the other. Consequently, because the romance between the hero and heroine in this book is such a departure from my usual sizzling instant attraction right out the gate, some reviewers are saying the book is slow at first, which makes me shake my head. Of course the romance is slow … they are friends who are taken by surprise when deeper feelings evolve, which means they s-l-o-w-l-y and unintentionally fall in love. That’s why the sub stories between Katie and Luke and Mitch and Charity are so heated and … I hope … pulse-pounding, because in a Julie Lessman novel where my hands were tied with the romantic aspect for Sean and Emma, I just HAD to get my romantic fix in others ways! :)

2. Tell us about your writing journey since you've been published. Do you notice style differences between the Daughters of Boston series and The Winds of Change series?

Getting published was like buckling up in the scariest roller-coaster on the planet, and let me tell you, as much as I LOVE angst, drama and thrills, I have a fear of heights and HATE roller-coasters. Everything happens so fast—you go flying to great heights with contest wins, wonderful reviews that bring tears to your eyes and connections with reader friends that deepen and enrich your life. And then in the next pulse-freezing second, you go crashing back down to earth with 1-star reviews that cut your heart out and a truly awful obsession with Amazon rankings and book sales. The good news is that God uses this crazy lifestyle to ground and level you in HIM despite the endless ups and downs of this industry, for which I am eternally grateful.

The only difference between “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” that I can see is that in the DOB series, the books built slowly and gradually toward a multi-layered family saga where as the WOC series are chock full of family stories and subplots right out the gate. Also, believe it or not, I did TRY to tone down the romantic passion in the 2nd series a bit, but that is hard to do (uh, especially for me!) when you are writing sub plots for married couples, allowing for more romantic leeway.

3. What are your secrets to balancing your social media and blogging time with writing and editing?

HA! My “secret” is I don’t have one! Which is why Revell “suggested” they handle scheduling my blog interviews this year so that I could spend more time writing. Normally I do anywhere from 30 to 50 interviews when a new book releases, but because I LOVE to connect with my reader friends via comments on blogs, I literally would not write for two months while these blogs were going on, which is NOT good. So when I signed a new three-book deal with Revell for “The Cousins McClare” series, they limited me to ten interviews/giveaways for A Heart Revealed since this new series will come out every nine months instead of my usual twelve.

As far as “social media,” I try to limit Facebook and Twitter to beginning and end of the day so that I can focus on writing throughout.

4. What are three things on your bucket list?

Oh, what a FUN question, Joy! One, I definitely want to go to Ireland. Two, I want to meet all my favorite blogger and reader friends (like you!). And three, I would die happy if I could ever achieve the lifelong dream of becoming a Christy finalist. Catherine Marshall had a HUGE effect on me as a new Christian at the age of 23 and to ever be nominated for the award that bears the name of her first book would be a dream come true. I’m not talking winning, mind you—I just want to be a finalist. :)

5. Do you have a favorite character? Who and why?

The “favorite character” status of books I haven’t written goes to none other than Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind because when I first read that book at the age of twelve, I was so swept away by the romantic tension between Scarlett and Rhett, that I actually wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what today is my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Scarlett was not exactly a role model, I know, but I loved her strength, her confidence, her inability to be false or phony … and I especially loved the pull she had over Rhett whether he liked it or not. That’s what true romance is—a man who will cherish you and love you no matter your failings.

In my own books? Well, I love ALL my characters, of course, but the one I am most partial to will probably come as a shock to most readers. Without question, Charity O’Connor from book 2, A Passion Redeemed, was the most fun character and book to write. I actually wrote it (almost 500 pages) in two months, and that was working part-time at my day job! It just seemed to flow from me, I guess because Charity is so much like I used to be before Christ that it felt natural to be writing her story. I had to laugh at my husband while he was reading Redeemed because he couldn’t stand Charity. Poor guy, I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’s been married to her (without the incredible physical beauty) for over 30 years! :)

Don’t get me wrong, I love Faith O’Connor, but in all honesty, she is more like the woman I am today—heavily dependant on God, emotionally involved with Him and a person who prays at the drop of a hat, so I almost feel one with her.

But Charity—goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be—selfish, manipulative, lost. I think that’s why she fascinates me so much, because I look at her (and women like her) in the same way I suspect God looked at me back then—with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ Jesus. And quite frankly, I think she is just downright funny and quirky and such a hoot that she makes me laugh. And OH MY, what she does to a woman who is after her husband in A Heart Revealed?? You won’t believe it OR the fact that yes, it is something I would have done at the drop of a hat before I came to Christ! :)

Thank you, Joy, for allowing me to connect with your readers. I LOVE to hear from reader friends, so they can feel free to contact me through my website, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter.

My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways including one right now to have a character named after you or a loved one in my next book.

Also, I have a cool feature on my website called “Journal Jots” which is a very laid-back, Friday journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing.

Then finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog , a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Her “Winds of Change” series has recently released with A Hope Undaunted and A Heart Revealed. You can contact Julie through her website at www.julielessman.com.


Want more info about A Heart Revealed? Here's the book blurb:
Her heart is tied to a youthful vow . . . but can true love set it free?

Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston, escaping the husband who scarred her beautiful face. The physical and emotional wounds have faded with time, and her life is finally full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity’s handsome and charming brother, Sean O’Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she’s ever known?

Filled with intense passion and longing, deception and revelation, A Heart Revealed will hold you in its grip until the very last page.

It's GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Julie has graciously offered a signed copy of any one of her books to a lucky reader. Between now and October 11, leave a comment below responding to anything you read in her interview. Be sure to include your email address. This giveaway is open to residents in US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Thank you so much Julie for visiting us, and you are welcome back anytime!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Christian Fiction Book Club: The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

Don't you just hate those hoity-toity book clubs where you have to get all dolled up and pretend like you know which wine pairs with which meat before you even get to even sniff a book in the air, let alone talk about it? Well, good news: we don't play that game here. Here at the Christian Fiction Book Club, you can show up as pretty as a picture (or as pretty as Lovely Lydia, our host for this month) or like I usually do: unshowered, hairy-legged, and still in my jammies. So... whether you're dripping in diamonds or drooping in your fave sweats... welcome!

As I mentioned above, this month's CFBC selection is being hosted by Lydia at The Overweight Bookshelf and features a romantic historical novel, The Preacher's Bride, by author Jody Hedlund.

Here's the sitch, as it appears in the blurb at the Barnes and Noble website:



In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher—whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.

Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child—and man—she's come to love.


I'll be honest. I did not enter this book with a positive attitude. For one thing, it looked like a typical, Christian bonnet-book, to which I hold a bit of, ahem, prejudice against. And secondly: I hated the title.

When I see the word "bride" in a novel's title, I tend to expect a way-too-sweet, formula romance -- the kind that makes you want to go suck on a jalapeno just to temper the aftergag. But...

... that's not what I got with Jody Hedlund's new novel.

I got a thoughtfully written, emotionally straining, and sensually written story.

In all honesty, I enjoyed this book on so many levels that I actually felt some mild pangs of guilt about my preconceived ideas about brides and bonnets on this cover. It was a good book. It was a well-written book. It was a sensual book.

"A sensual book?" you ask. "About Puritans?"

Yep.

Hedlund translates the restraint of the Puritan culture so beautifully that even the most seemingly innocuous touches between John and Elizabeth seem almost scandalous; yet within the framework of that culture of innocence and restraint, those moments are written in alluringly passionate prose. It's been a long time since I've read such an innocently sensual book.

HOLD UP! This is, after all, a Book Club Discussion, not a regular review. So before I tarry any longer (and risk getting all hot and bothered thinking about those hand holds and long-moment glances) I'd better get after a question or two from the author's online Discussion Guide.

1. Elizabeth compares her physical appearance to the women around her and feels like a plain moth among beautiful butterflies. Why do women have such a tendency to compare themselves to others? What are the results of such comparisons? And how can we avoid the comparison trap?

Can I first say that I seriously wanted to clap when Samuel got married? Sorry, but that was justice, peeps. But to answer the question: ARGH! Why do we do that to ourselves? I made a note in my Kindle after one particular passage: How many women suffer from "look at me, I can't expect better." and end up with some loser?

What's sad is that, even in our modern society this still goes on. I don't know why we do it. -- Why I do it. -- Or how to avoid it. I suppose if I/we knew why, then I/we wouldn't do it. And then the therapists would all be broke, wiping down tables at Chilis. And what would THAT do to our economy, eh?

6. When Elizabeth lost her baby, she felt abandoned by God and by John. Have you ever felt abandoned by God or someone you love? How did you recover? What do you think of Sister Norton's statement, "Hardships are the Lord's greatest blessings to a believer. Without them we would love the Lord only for what He does for us. Our troubles teach us to love Him for who He is."

I miscarried a baby between my two girls. I felt abandoned, yes. By God, my husband, and the myriad people who said insensitive things. Sister Norton's words didn't bug me in the novel -- they came off as wisdom. And it IS wisdom. But looking at them here, imagining them spoken to me during my grief? Well, it seems a bit like Elizabeth just got Jesus Juked. Sometimes you just need someone to come along side you in silence or in agreement: "This sucks. I am so sorry this happened to you." When you feel abandoned by God in real life you don't need someone to tell you "Chin up, God will make this be awesome for you someday." Grief is big. It doesn't negate what you KNOW about God, it simply blankets it with what you FEEL about Him. When you feel abandoned, you need time, silence, friendship, and compassion. The words of wisdom, the graceful guidance, the merciful leading -- that comes later. But... it works in a novel and, therefore, I'll let Sister Norton slide by this one time. ;-)

TO READ, OR NOT TO READ; THAT IS THE QUESTION:

Until I read the author's notes at the end, I didn't realize that The Preacher's Bride was based on true story. It was gratifying to see a piece of history and a hero of the faith (and of Story) fictionalized with such finesse, and I greatly enjoyed the tension-riddled, but beautiful love story within The Preacher's Bride. I found this novel to be engrossing, sensual, and beautifully written. Read it, if you haven't. If you have, please join in on the Book Club discussion -- even if your legs are hairy and you smell funny, you are most welcome to join us!

Serena's Rating:

This month's Christian Fiction Book Club is being hosted by Lydia at The Overweight Bookshelf. Be sure to link up your discussion questions over there! Thanks for dropping by!









Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WATERFALL WEDNESDAY #4 -- Now showing at Supernatural Snark!

Waterfall Wednesdays is a temporary meme invented by super-cool Tina over at Tina's Book Reviews (the super-awesome button -- above -- was designed by Missie at The Unread Reader) Waterfall is the first installment in Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series for young adults.

(If you haven't yet dipped your heart into the River of Time and want some more dish on this series, you can check out my reviews for Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent by clicking on the book titles.)

Last week, we got to play host to the Waterfall Wednesday Read-Along Event, but this week's Waterfall Wednesday is being hosted by the always-entertaining Jenny at Supernatural Snark! Please stop by Supernatural Snark and leave some love for Jenny (after leaving your comments here, of course!) Now... on to the discussion of chapters 18-23!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTERS 18-23

1. Gabi and Lia both face several life and death situations in these chapters, having to pick up weapons in defense of those they love and experiencing first hand the brutality of close combat. If you had the choice between picking up a weapon and standing on the front lines or staying behind to tend to the wounded as necessary, which would you choose?

With a dictionary in one hand and a thesaurus in the other, I'm a word-wielding ninja -- but truth be told, I'm a writer, not a fighter. I think I'd want a weapon, yes... but I'd also want to know that I would only have to use it in an emergency.

2. Both girls get to wear extraordinary gowns to their victory celebration; what would your dream medieval gown look like?


First off, I have to stipulate that my dream gown would appear on my 16 year old body, not my 38 year old body. That being said, my dream gown would be: a shimmering copper color with gold accents and jewels, and I would be thin enough not to require any sort of breath-stealing corset torture devices.

3. Gabi has crude stitches put in and must endure both their removal as well as the cauterization of the wound. How is your threshold for pain? Do you think you would have simply gritted your teeth as Gabi does?


Because I am a bit of an accident-prone klutz, I have developed a pretty high injury-pain threshold. (I do admit that, as I'm aging, I do rely on Aleve and Advil quite a bit, though!) I tend to joke myself through medical procedures -- if it was anything long and drawn out, however, the medical people would probably want to sedate me (or at least muzzle me) before it was all over, if for no other reason than to stop the incessant, lame jokes.

4. Marcello wants to properly court Gabi after they express mutual feelings of affection, wanting to speak with her mother about his intentions. What do you think is the most romantic aspect of medieval courtship?


Romantic Courtesy. I think courtesy, even in its most basic form, is all-too-often missing from our modern society and modern relationships -- and that its absence could be the root cause of most dysfunctional/dissolving marriages. Courtesy based upon love is what, I think, makes a successful relationship last -- and could restore romance and healing to many faltering couples.

5. Gabi and Lia find themselves with conflicting desires toward the end with Lia wanting to return home and Gabi hoping to stay. Do you think that Gabi is being unfair to Lia for wanting to stay, or is Lia being unfair to Gabi for demanding they go? A little of both?

I think it's a little bit of both. Of course I'm with Gabi, and totally in love with Marcello -- but Lia's desire makes sense. The plague is coming. Their mom is all alone. There are no hair products or electrical outlets or toilets or underwires or tampons or....?

But then again, there is, of course, Marcello... ;-)

Thanks for stopping by! Make sure you head over to Supernatural Snark to check in with Host Jenny after leaving your comments below!

We've almost reached the end of our Waterfall Wednesday Read-Along Event -- just one more week to go! Join us at Irresistible Reads this time next week when Nic will be our final host!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Talk Like a Pirate -- and WIN!!!!


Avast, me hearties! You come in a fair breeze to visit the merry deck of the pirate ship, Edgy! Me hold be right full bloomin' with book booty, so in honor of this most auspicious of holidays, I am lightening the load so me ship can sail a bit lighter upon the waves.

Holiday, ye ask? Which holiday falls on Monday, September 19th, of this year? Well, I'm aghast ye don't know of it! It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course! And what better booty to be giving away to a bunch of treasure seekers as you scallywags, than a few tomes of adventure and romance upon the high seas?

Want to peek inside me ship's hold and see what books are up for the taking? Here ye be:

Lay me bleeding if I lie, but this treasure chest of four -- that's right, FOUR sea-tossed novels could be transferred to yer very own treasure chest aboard yer very own vessel in as short a time as it takes a blindfolded sailor to walk the plank! But here's the condition (There's always a condition, aye?) Sometime between this venerable holiday and seven sunsets from now (Sunday, September 25th, 2011) ye must leave a comment below --AND, most importantly, ye must word yer comment in yer best possible Pirate Speak to be considered an entry!

(My most humble of piratical gratitudes go to George Choundas for his instructive book, The Pirate Primer: Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers and Rogues, for aiding me to lay me tongue right in concocting ebbry-blastin'-thing o'arrgh-thentic pirate speak for this here giveaway.)

Good luck, me hearties! And may your sails always catch the favorable winds and yer treasure chests be fair to heavin' with books, the best treasures of all!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review- The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund and Giveaway!

There is just something soooo romantic about marrying a complete stranger only to fall in love with him later-

Yeah...I guess when you type it out like that it doesn't sound very appealing. But in Christian fiction, the marriage of convenience story line is one of my favs and The Doctor's Lady rocks this plot device.

In order to pursue careers in missions, Eli and Priscilla need to find spouses. Since neither of them is interested in getting married, they decide to be disinterested together, thus begins a beautiful business relationship.

I love how Hedlund throws Priscilla and Eli together in a cross country caravan with her former flame (cause when your husband's just not that into you, the last person you need witnessing the fact is your ex-honey and his pregnant wife). Alternately awkward and poignant moments ensue making this subplot one of my favorites of the book.

If you're looking for a highly engaging historical romance that's heavy on the romance (my favorite kind), pick up The Doctor's Lady and hang on for the ride.

Want more info? Here's the product description:
Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

My rating:








It's giveaway time!
I accidentally received this book from two sources, so I'm hosting a giveaway with the duplicate. To enter, leave a comment between now and September 30 letting me know you're interested in reading The Doctor's Lady.

Book club reminder:
On September 24, the Christian Fiction Book Club is discussing Jody Hedlund's The Preacher's Bride which is currently free on Kindle. Make sure to grab it and join the discussion at Lydia's blog, The Overweight Bookshelf.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Doctor's Lady
Bethany House (September 1, 2011)
by
Jody Hedlund




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Jody has written novels for the last 18 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).



Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), hit the CBA Best Seller list on two different occasions and has won multiple awards.



Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released this September. She has completed a third book which will be released in 2012. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!



ABOUT THE BOOK



Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.



Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Doctor's Lady, go HERE.



Watch the book trailer:








Such a great book! My review posts tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WATERFALL WEDNESDAY #3 NOW SHOWING... HERE!


Welcome to another installment of a totally rockin', short-term meme created by Tina at Tina's Book Reviews! This Waterfall Wednesday we are looking at chapter's 12-17 of Lisa T. Bergren's YA smash, Waterfall, the first novel in the River of Time series.


Joy is under the weather and, since I am soon to be declared Officially Addicted to the River of Time series, it is my pleasure to serve as host of the Waterfall Wednesday Read-Along this week. I hope you'll join in the discussion by leaving a comment and linking up with the Linky widget below -- you could win an autographed set of the River of Time trilogy from the author!

Now... let's dive in!

Discussion Questions for Chapters 12-17

1. In Siena, on her way to the ball at Palazzo Pubblico, Gabi likened her experience to being on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, the goal being "to see and be seen." If you were a peasant, watching from the crowd, what would you be thinking as this procession passed by?

I think I would probably be in awe... and a little bit jealous. Okay, a LOT bit jealous. Even in my best I would feel totally under-dressed ("And here is Serena Chase, wearing vintage K-mart she picked up at Dolores's Resale Peasant Wear Boutique!), but... even then I might be so bold as to smell my pits to check for peasant B.O. and then try to catch the eye of an unattached knight. My luck, however, I would catch the eye of someone creepy, cuz all the good knights would have noted my sniffin' of the pits (which would probably be full-on hairy European pits, no less! Ew!) and that would be the end of that!

2. Though quite nervous about dancing at the ball, Gabi discovers a strange feeling of connection to the time, the people, and the society through the unified beauty of the dance. Have you ever been in a position where you felt out of your element, but, in one, pinpointed moment, became a part of or connected to something bigger than your fear?

The only moment I can pinpoint is the birth of my first child. Following a battle with endometriosis and a couple of years of fertility issues it was an arduous 24-1/2 hours of labor (3-1/2 pushing) before "It's a girl!" was finally announced. At that moment, the exhaustion faded (briefly) and I felt like Superwoman. If I could do that, I reasoned in my happy-new-mom-haze, then I could do anything! (Obviously, I was ignorant of the challenges I would face when that squirmy, purple, cheesy McNugget of a baby became a teenager!) To be charged with directing the potential of a miracle was (is) daunting -- but at that moment I was just... full -- in the most complete and honorable sense of the word.

3. The kiss. Oh, the kiss. When Marcello finally kisses Gabi, he believes the experience to be proof that they are meant to be together. What did you think about his assumption? Were you surprised at Gabi's reaction to it? Have you ever experienced a kiss that seemed to be prophetic in a similar (or opposite!) way?

I've certainly kissed some should-have-been-prophetic frogs in my day. I mean, these guys were cute, sure -- but super toad-frogs on the Worthy-of-a-Liplock scale. At age 21, however, while slow-dancing to Kenny G (cringe) one cold winter night, I received what I will always refer to as "The Perfect Kiss." Spontaneous, gentle, and undemanding -- yet entirely romantic -- it was our first kiss and the best. I get tingles just thinking about it. A year later I married the perfect kiss-er and this December we will celebrate our 17th anniversary.

4. Many go through their teen years with a subdued sense of immortality. Do you think Gabi has a sense of this teen feeling? And did you think Gabi's converse observation, "Sometimes death came hunting and there was no way to cut it off at the pass." was informed more by the experience of losing her father, her self-admitted closet hypochondria, or the forced maturation of being transported to a different time? How does this observation show Gabi's growth as a character?

Gabi does tend to throw caution to the wind, BUT... I loved this observation. It was such a brief and eloquent way for the author to show not only Gabi's growth as a character, but the forced maturity -- and sense of mortality -- that comes from losing someone close to you at a tender age.

5. In the span of a few moments, Gabi goes from sword-wielding teen beauty to man-killing warrior. Did you think her realization of the finality of death -- and her justification for its necessity -- was realistic? And, in her slippers, could you have done the same?

I love that Marcello had to yell at her, more than once, to get her head back into the game of staying alive. This experience was a game-changer for Gabi -- a pivotal shift in her maturation as a character and as a medieval warrior. Being forced to kill in the course of defending those she cares about cemented in her mind the necessity for violent action, often to the death, to defend what (who) you love.

This scene also showed a fresh side to Marcello. We've seen him as a romantic pursuer and as a decisive warrior and leader of men, but we've not necessarily seen him in a leadership role in Gabi's life. Here, he takes a stand as her protector and defender -- which is, of course, totally romantic -- but with a surety of strength that is driven by his experience in battle as well as his growing love for Gabi. We've already learned that Gabi is fairly adept at adapting to new situations and I thought this scene was a well-played pause which moved the character development forward in a very believable way.

Now it's your turn! Fill in the Linky below (and please leave your comments for us, as well!) to join in on the discussion. Visit the other participants' blogs to see their thoughts on these chapters, and join us again next week when Waterfall Wednesday will be hosted by Jenny at Supernatural Snark!



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BBAW 2011 Book Blogger Interview Swap

As part of the fun of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I had the privilege of getting to swap interviews with Deborah from Books, Movies, & Chinese Food. As it turns out, we are both proudly quirky oddballs (in a totally fun and slightly glamorous way, of course) and the questions we posed to one another (and the answers we gave) reflect that.

After you've finished reading about Deborah here hop on over to
to say "hi!" and look around.
Who knows? Maybe you'll get to know me a little bit better!

Now that we've given a warm Edgy Inspirational Romance welcome to Deborah,
let's get on to the fun!

Question 1: While visiting a strange city, you take a short-cut through a dark alley. Suddenly you are surrounded by menacing thugs. What fictional character would you want to have by your side -- and why?

Deborah:
Hermione Granger. All she has to say is a simple spell and boom, thugs are frozen and useless. Plus, she can immediately take us out of the alley and somewhere else in a snap.

Serena's reply: Ooh. Great idea! I wouldn't have thought of Hermione! -- but I might be a little afraid of getting splinched. That has to hurt.

Question 2: Life is messy. What do you INSIST must be kept clean?

Deborah:
Eh... I'm just a messy person in general. I think everything I own is a mess somewhere. But it's an organized mess!

Serena's reply: I'm just going to assume that, as an archivist, your idea of "organized mess" is quite a bit more organized than mine!

Question 3: If an evil foreign power takes over the world and allows each person only five books for the rest of their life, which five do you pick?

Deborah:
So I'm cheating, but... 1) The Chronicles of Narnia: 7 in 1 volume collection, 2) Little Town on the Prairie, 3) The Hunger Games 4) There's a 3-in-1 edition of several Anne of Green Gables books and 5) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Serena's reply: I have to say I'm surprised! No Hobbit? No LOTR? I'm aghast! But seriously... good choices!

Question 4: You are an archivist. What collection do you most long to get your fast-filing fingers into?

Deborah:
I'd seriously love to be either a Star Wars archivist or a Beatles archivist. Both jobs DO exist but I'd need experience or connections to get into both.

Serena's reply: May the Force be with you.

Question 5: You're a movie buff who has said, "The Academy Awards are like my Superbowl." -- If you were invited to be a presenter at the Academy Awards, what category would you present the Oscar for, who would be your co-presenter, and (most importantly) what would you wear????

Deborah:
Well, I'll be honest. I don't really want to BE at the Oscars. I much prefer watching the movies that are nominated. Last year I attended the Best Picture Showcase at AMC Theaters where they showed all 10 movies in 24 hours. I stayed for 6 of them as I had watched the other 3, and I couldn't keep myself awake for Black Swan. I love guessing which movies, actors, writers, directors, etc. will be nominated. When the nominations are announced, I usually am able to be at home to watch them. Then I try to watch as many as I can before the show to make my own guesses. I'm usually pretty good overall (except for the Live Shorts --because no one ever sees those.) So... yeah, I'd rather vote and watch the Oscars than BE at the Oscars. :-)

Serena's reply: Guess I'll have to find someone else to fill the seat next to me and ooh and ahh over my Harry Winstons... if ever I walk the red carpet. ;-)

Question 6: Tell me about your blog and why you started it (for those who haven't read your "about me" page!)

Deborah:
I started my blog back in 2006. I simply wanted to tell others about the books I read. I had no idea about the book blogging community when I started. I review about 65% Christian fiction. The rest is split between YA, women's fiction, chick lit, memoirs, and contemporary fiction. I also try to blog about the movies I see in theaters (though I am severely behind on my Harry Potter review.) I really enjoy blogging and I really enjoy learning about more books. I love the community and all the people that I've met in the past five years.

Serena's reply: I'm pretty sure that I didn't even know what a "blog" was in 2006, so you certainly have the jump on me! But I'm learning -- and this community is full of fun people -- like you -- to hang with! Your blog is fun and diverse -- I love it! And I've enjoyed the opportunity to get to know you a little bit during Book Blogger Appreciation Week.


Thanks so much, Deborah, for taking the time to answer my quirky questions. All the best to you on your quest to secure a position keeping track of Sergeant Pepper and the Lonely Jedi Band!

Calling all Edgy Inspirational Romancers: Jump on over to Books, Movies, and Chinese Food and say hi to Deborah (and me!) today!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review- Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott

Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott is the story of indentured servant Will Hanby, who learns to trust the Lord in all circumstances.

The behaviors of supporting characters in this novel were often shockingly amoral and cruel and for the first time in a while I found myself grateful I didn't live in historical times when duels to the death were appropriate ways to find justice and when people could legally sign away their rights as a person.

I fell in love with Will as a hero. Though he was both malnourished and malodorous at the beginning of the story, by the end he was the kind of man you'd want to sweep you off your feet, honorable and brave lacking any noticeable B.O. (always a selling point for me).

Elliott's debut was a compelling read, with an ending I had a hard time predicting- and romance is not usually known for being unpredictable. I look forward to reading her future work.

Want more info? Here's the book blurb:
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli-until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.

On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann's dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann's compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann's father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.

When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?

My rating:



Thursday, September 08, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


Whoops, looks like my knees are blocking your view of all the cute boys in the resort pool...

I guess I was too absorbed in Rosslyn Elliot's Fairer than Morning to notice. Vacations don't get much better than reading a good book in the Bahamas. :)

Review posts this weekend.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

WATERFALL WEDNESDAY #2 -- Now showing at The Unread Reader

This week's WATERFALL WEDNESDAY is being hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader (Missie's the gal who designed that pretty button --above-- for this event, so make sure you stop by and tell her how awesome she is!)

Now... let's grab our copies of Lisa T. Bergren's Waterfall and dip our toes into the River of Time!

Question 1: Gabi's search for her sister is made increasingly difficult by the fight for territory between Castello Forelli and Castello Paratore. At this point, do you think the rivalry is warranted? Why or why not?

Okay, I'll admit it. I really don't care if the rivalry is warranted. I just want Team Forelli to win the day. Paratore is a major creep-o. De-castle him!

(BTW: When are those Team Forelli t-shirts coming out, hmmm?)

Question 2: Gabi aids Fortino by having his sickroom cleaned out and using steam to loosen the phlegm inside his lungs so he could breathe better. Have you ever found yourself in a situation that required you to rely on home remedies to aid yourself or another? What are some of your favorite home remedies?

My youngest daughter was the most flatulent baby ever. And sometimes the gas didn't want to come out, which made us all miserable. So my husband and I took an infant massage class and learned several techniques (using Olive Oil as the massage oil) to reduce her tummy aches (and set those bubbles free.) She was the star of the class, if the efficacy of the treatment (and the sound emanating from her diaper) was any indication. Later when she was a toddler, she had a middle-of-the-night ear infection. We were out of the homeopathic, but store-bought ear drops I usually kept on hand, BUT I remembered the massage therapist touting the safety of olive oil (it's edible, after all!) and used a few drops of that, with cotton balls, to ease the ear pain. CURED! -- and fast. I love olive oil!

Question 3: Marcello and his men don't hide their surprise when they learn that Gabi is skilled with a sword. What did you think of this development? Has your initial impression of Gabi changed? Do you have any secret skills?

I had a super-brief moment of, "Well, that was convenient." But I got over it. It moved the plot forward and established her as an above-standard woman in that society.

Me? Secret skills? Of course I have secret skills. I'd tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you.

Question 4: "Our lips were so close, I could feel the heat of his breath on my skin." Gabi and Marcello's feelings for one another are beginning to stir. What do you think of Marcello as a romantic interest thus far? What do you think of his intended?

I was totally interested in Marcello, romantically, at this point. I think the minute he was spotted outside the tomb, he was my -- er, Gabi's -- guy. And Ms. Rossi? Well, there's a word for that one, dear; but it ain't nearly so pretty as she is.

Question 5: Marcello and Luca take turns teaching Gabi the dances of Toscana. Would you have liked to attend a ball like the one Gabi was practicing for? do you like to dance? Do you know any cool dance moves? Extra (not really) points if you You Tube yourself dancing and share the video. Come on, it will be fun! :)

Are you kidding me??? I would love to attend a ball. In a gown. On the arm of a knight.

Oh, yes I would!

I took a ballroom dancing class about ten years ago. It was fun -- but wow! -- such a workout! My husband is the good dancer in our house, however, so I owe all my cool moves to his expert lead. On my own, I will admit that I like to Zumba in my living room, but only with the curtains closed. I imagine I look a bit like Elaine from Seinfeld when I dance, however, so that vision, my sweetlings, will not be landing on YouTube anytime soon.

Thanks for wading into Waterfall with us again! Make sure you hop over to The Unread Reader and say hi to Missie (and the rest of the gals participating in this event.) Make sure to join us RIGHT HERE next week when Joy and I get the chance to host the Waterfall Read-Along event for chapters 12-17! (Discussion Questions Follow)

Discussion Questions for Chapters 12-17

1. In Siena, on her way to the ball at Palazzo Pubblico, Gabi likened her experience to being on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, the goal being "to see and be seen." If you were a peasant, watching from the crowd, what would you be thinking as this procession passed by?

2. Though quite nervous about dancing at the ball, Gabi discovers a strange feeling of connection to the time, the people, and the society through the unified beauty of the dance. Have you ever been in a position where you felt out of your element, but, in one, pinpointed moment, became a part of or connected to something bigger than your fear?

3. The kiss. Oh, the kiss. When Marcello finally kisses Gabi, he believes the experience to be proof that they are meant to be together. What did you think about his assumption? Were you surprised at Gabi's reaction to it? Have you ever experienced a kiss that seemed to be prophetic in a similar (or opposite!) way?

4. Many go through their teen years with a subdued sense of immortality. Do you think Gabi has a sense of this teen feeling? And did you think Gabi's converse observation, "Sometimes death came hunting and there was no way to cut it off at the pass." was informed more by the experience of losing her father, her self-admitted closet hypochondria, or the forced maturation of being transported to a different time? How does this observation show Gabi's growth as a character?

5. In the span of a few moments, Gabi goes from sword-wielding teen beauty to man-killing warrior. Did you think her realization of the finality of death -- and her justification for its necessity -- was realistic? And, in her slippers, could you have done the same?

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