Monday, May 4, 2015

A letter to Deeanne Gist and a review of Tiffany Girl!

I just wanted say that I have read every one of your books, including Tempest in the White City. Which obviously isn’t as hard as writing all those books but I’m proud none the less. I’ve been a die hard fan for a really long time. Okay, I'm done being fan-girly. All the talk about you crossing over in to to the secular market had made me nervous. I had a serious heart to heart with myself before finishing the book. I told myself it didn’t matter how much I loved to get my hands on the newest book Tiffany Girl if it didn’t glorify God. 

So you will understand my surprise when I decided to finish it and found that other than two other books this is by far one of my favorite books. The others, by the way, are A Bride in the Bargain and Hi Honey, I’m Home by Linda Windsor. The only thing I've noticed any different about Tiffany Girl than your other books is that it’s slightly more “edgy”.  But I've come to love that edginess about your books. I’d like to give a little background information on myself and then I’ll follow up with my review.

I grew up reading. Loved books. I remember the Dear Dragon books from elementary school. I totally ate books such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Thanks Mr. Wright) during my accelerated reader years. But sometime around middle school and high school I picked up Harlequin novels. I was obsessed. They became my companions because we moved a couple times. I had my favorite author and, as is my way, I read all of her books. After high school, I went to a Christian college and we passed my books around the dorm. During, my freshman year one of my friends was getting married and was "studying up" as she called it to prepare for marriage. Sometime during a chapel service, I felt convicted and I ripped up and threw out all 150 of my collection. It was really hard and I suppose some people wouldn’t see that. But I love books. Thinking back now, if I'd found books that were more like yours when I found these books I'd have probably have been more of a positive influence at the time. After that time, I couldn't find anything to read for the rest of college. It’s really hard to call yourself a book lover and reader while not reading. I met the love and best friend of my life and was married my junior year. My heart broke as I saw book after book that my husband read and I still couldn't find anything. I really felt that for that time God took away my love for books. To this day, I say God wouldn’t let me read.

After my first child was born a friend offered me her collection of Lori Wick’s books. I devoured them. I now own every one. The stories were funny and the love stories were warm and comforting. But after a time, I realized they didn't even come close to the love I felt for my husband. There wasn’t as much passion. Our story isn't dramatic but it's real. We have deep emotions and we make decisions that aren't necessarily the best but learn from them. So for a time, again, I wasn’t fully enjoying my life of reading.

I happened upon A Bride in the Bargain at the local rinky dink library where we lived. I haven't looked back.  It's my favorite book of all time. The characters were very real. The tension was real. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and lumberjacks :-) And I could not wait for the next book. I continued reading other things but they all paled in comparison. In all honesty, the only ones I didn’t enjoy were Deep in the Heart of Trouble and Courting Trouble. The reason I didn’t was because of the sin that Essie allowed in her life. Which, by the way, is just a reality for lots of people. And to be honest it was just because of the sin that I saw in others that were close to me that I rejected those books. The story didn’t suffer but my heart was broken for Essie. So, for the sake of argument, I did learn something from reading those 2 books even if they weren’t my favorites.

I’ve read all of them. I’ve enjoyed every other one in some way. I’ve learned from the stories of these women who put themselves out there. I’ve cried with them and laughed out loud. I’ve been so encouraged by the talent that is behind these books and by the passion of the woman who continues to author them. So, when I heard that after all these year that you had crossed over...I was sad. I was concerned for someone I’ve come to know (from a distance) as a friend. I thought…Why? When you obviously have this gift from the Lord. Why would you use it for the secular audience? Were you going to “Leave the Door open”? Were you somehow hurt by the Christian industry? There were lots of questions bouncing around in my head. What on earth was I going to read?

The thing is though, that after seeing you so humbly come before your fans and saying what you felt was what God had called you to, I could not find blame. I could not find fault. I found courage. God has not called us to witness to the Christians; He calls us to reach those that don’t know Him. If we spend too much time worrying about what other Christians think, when do we have time to reach those who really need to hear the Good Word? I’ve felt this for a while now. Not just in the books arena but also in other outreach arenas. There is a very popular Christian play/production that has repeat performances and is always packed out. But it always occurs to me that what’s the point if only Christian people come to see it? But I digress.

Thanks Deeanne for all your beautiful works! I have always been and will continue to be one of your biggest fans. I hope you continue to crank out these works of wonder and romance. I appreciate all the details of fashion, architecture, historical research and wonderful settings that go into making every one of your books (even the Essie ones) just really danged awesome.

Your admiring fan and sister in Christ,

Now for the review:

This brings me to Tiffany Girl . This is the 3rd book in the World’s fair series. The first 2 books are It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play. All 3 of these books have given me a new research project. I honestly had no idea there was a World’s fair back then. This book is nothing less than what I’ve come to expect. A strong-headed and very human female lead. A strong and very human male lead. A setting that you can see in your mind. A very flushed out history lesson. You have moments when you seriously want to slap both lead characters and moments when you just want to yell “Kiss her already!”.  The characters are very real.

Flossie is what I was and lots of girls are at that age: headstrong, arrogant, driven, emotional and naive. She’s a bundle of energy. She’s creative and she has the ability to fill up a room with joy, for those willing to abide in it. Reeve is also headstrong, arrogant and driven but he’s seen enough of the world to know that it’s not all that great. He’s lived a somewhat sheltered life but he knows how the world works. He’s willing to stay in his safe corner and he doesn’t want some free-spirited chirping woman messing with his safe life.

In spite of their similarities and differences they both evolve and grow. Reeve learns that he doesn’t so much mind the chirping magpie. He actually becomes quite fond of her and realizes that her ideas aren’t completely bonkers. He learns to see people as something other that stories. Flossie comes to some realizations that shatter her ideas about who she is as a New Woman, a daughter, a friend, an artist and how the world works. This story is one of discovery, love, hope and redemption. It takes you through what is actually a short amount of time in the grand scope of two lives. But in that time, you and the characters learn so much that you find that you’ve both changed. That’s time well spent. I highly recommend this book and all the others to anyone and everyone who loves a good love story.

***Slight spoiler alert***

Now as to the controversial parts, I only found myself wondering finding 3 things that might push the envelope and make you feel slightly uncomfortable if you haven't read any of Deeanne's books before. Reeve does notice the way Flossie’s arms were hugging her breast. Typically, I think chest or bodice or something like that would be used. Reeve does “french kiss” Flossie. Which, by the way, was just a great scene and my favorite chapter in the whole book. And a final chapter of the book is a honeymoon type scene. It’s very tastefully done but it’s there, just fyi. There are mentions of the way the New Women are treated throughout. But none are overly detailed. So honestly, if Deeanne hadn’t mentioned the change in publishing house, there’s a chance I’d have never noticed.

Get your own copy of the book on Amazon!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review: Take Flight! A Sisterchicks Devotional

I don't know about you but I have great intentions when it comes to devotions. I find a cute book and I just know I'm going to sit down every morning and spend time with the Lord. Only sometimes my intentions and the devotion and my alarm clock don't have the same ideas. Luckily, I've found that if I find a devotion book with lots of white space, a couple of key verses, a short story and not a lot of effort required on my part it works. And that my friends is what I'm loving about Take Flight!

The stories are short, usually around 4-5 pages. Followed up with what I'm calling a reflection. It's a couple pages returning the story to scripture and ending with verses to look up and a space to respond. All of this is followed up with a quote or two by fellow Sisterchicks such as Amy Carmichael and Mother Teresa. Then it sometimes wraps up with a way for you to take what you've learned "to the streets". It may be helping a friend, take a class, give flowers, etc.

This book is beautiful. I have the hard bound copy. It's just got that lovely new book smell. Yes, that is a thing. It's so pretty I don't even want to write in it :)

If you are looking for a quick surface study to get you through the mornings, this book is for you. If you love the Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn you must have this for your collection.

I received this book in exchange for my review. If you'd like to get free amazing books just click the Blogging for Books link in the side bar.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review: Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

I've been trying to pin down who these two remind me of...I think it's Rick Castle and Kate (from the show Castle). Though their shenanigans are less gross, they've got lots of chemistry and drama.

Meet Miranda Woodruff, tv homebuilder show host who is keeping a really big secret. And also meet Matthew Knox, a reporter trying to get a big scoop and it doesn't hurt that his big break may help his family. I had so much fun reading this book. It plays out like a romantic comedy and I hope it gets picked up by Hallmark or another channel because I'd totally watch it.

Miranda is a very complicated character even though she'd probably think she's just a simple person. I loved getting the inside scoop of Miranda's life and background through her eyes as well as through Matthew's. It was interesting to see that just because she had it all together on set doesn't mean that she's not prone to making mistakes in life.

In digging for Miranda's secrets Matthew unveils some of his own past. I found his "redemption" story heartwarming. I love that the story is set in the south. I recognized some of the names and felt very at home reading. This book comes highly recommended!

I got this book for writing this review. And you can read amazing books if you become a reviewer for Bethany House!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Review: Gone South by Meg Moseley

Is this cover not just to die for? It speaks volumes about the character and also Southern girls :-)

When Tish McComb heads back down South she has now clue that she's already got a reputation. But when she meets Melanie Hamilton (yeah, just like Gone with the Wind) she finds a kindred spirit of sorts. Tish's namesake was not very well loved and Melanie has made her own mark on the town. Between the two of them they have some extremely wild rides and butt heads a lot. 

Gone South by Meg Moseley was like a trip back home. I was raised in Tennessee and spent 9 years in Georgia, the culture really is like another country. 

Meg Moseley does a great job of illustrating "The South" in all it's glory. I thoroughly enjoyed this and the first book I read by Moseley, When Sparrows Fall. Can't wait to get my hands on the next!

I got this amazing book for free just for this review! Want to get free books? Visit the Blogging for Books website!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A new opportunity and review of sorts

I've been participating in BzzAgent. Have you heard of it? It's lots of fun and free. We've gotten to sample and try out all sorts of awesome products. This time around it's the Hormel Rev wraps. My kids like them a lot. They are quick and no mess! Which is perfect for throwing in to the lunchbox for co-op. If you'd like more information about BzzAgent go here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Review: Swept Away by Mary Connealy

It is so much fun to read another book by Mary Connealy! I read and reviewed the first series The Kincaid Brides. Loved them!

This series, Trouble in Texas, is off like a shot with a spin-off of sorts. The main character is Luke Stone. He is the brother of Callie from the first series. I'm in love with this whole group of books. Luke is going home after years of being away. His fathers land has been stolen and his fathers killer is still living on the property. On his way to reclaim his land, Luke rescues a damsel floating in a river and brings her along on his quest.

Several of Luke's friends from the war have taken up residence in his hometown readying for his arrival to help reclaim the land. My favorite by far is Dare (the doctor) who I believe is the main character in the next book, Fired Up. I highly recommend this whole series! It just draws you in. I can't wait for the next book.

I got this book for my review and you can get awesome books for free too from Bethany House!

Book Review: Dandelions on the Wind by Mona Hodgson

Dandelions on the Wind is a wonderful read! It is a story of lost sheep finding a home. Maren works at a farm in Missouri where she lives with a grandmother who is raising her little granddaughter. They are barely making ends meet when the little girls father returns home from war.

When "Wooly" arrives he gets a somewhat cold reception. He left things unsettled and has to work to repair the connections he severed. He also makes new connections.

I highly recommend this novella! It's a very sweet story and a great start to this series. I can not wait to read more! I received this book for my review from Waterbrook Multnomah.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano
Oh my, where to begin. I had no idea what I was in for when I requested this book from Bethany House. It was such a fun story. The lady on the cover has such a comical look about her that I just had to find out what her story was. 

Lady Eliza Sumner has been "taken" of her fortune. She travels to American with only one thing in mind and that is to get it back. She's willing to go to whatever lengths to accomplish her goal. And I mean anything!

It takes off like a shot and keeps you on the edge of your seat or pillow in my case the whole time. I fell in love with the characters from the moment I met them. 

Eliza is one of my new favorite female leads. She's a mess. She and Hamilton (male lead) are just hilarious together. I'm not sure he knows what he's in for but their life together is bound to be interesting. 

I spent so much time reading this at bedtime and trying hard to not laugh. I cannot wait for the next book and I just found out that there is a novella. I am a fan now! 

I highly recommend this book. It's a beautiful love story and has bits of mystery and action. You will not be disappointed. I know I wasn't. I can't wait to loan it out!

I got this e-book for my review and if you'd like to get free books contact Bethany House and become a reviewer!

What I read over Christmas break

Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall

I haven't had much experience with Amish fiction before reading this 3 in 1 collection. My first taste was The Scent of Cherry Blossoms, so it was nice to revisit some of the same characters. I loved the richness of the characters and the Northeast has always been an amazing place to me. Though, I've never had the pleasure of a visit. I grew up in middle Tennessee and we had occasionally seen the Mennonite people in their wagons and carriages. Though we never had any contact with them, unfortunately.

It seems like in our "modern" world there is so much to see and distract you from the story. It's so nice to enjoy a simple store of love. The simplicity of the society doesn't necessarily mean that the story is boring or plain. I enjoyed every moment of these stories. I especially loved the story of the carver and the buyer. This is an awesome holiday read. It kept me busy on our drive from Colorado to Tennessee because if you've ever driven through Kansas you know there's not a lot to see :)

I received this e-book for my review. If you'd like to learn more click the Blogging for Books button in the sidebar!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Snowman Poop Alternative

I thought it sounded like a title for an episode of Big Bang Theory :) Here is a printable I just created for the "snowman poop" I'm sending to school with my kiddos this year. I got the idea for the wrappers and cocoa from Her Hobby I thought it was super cute but my kids have both given and received the Snowman poop before so I thought I'd shake things up a little. Below is the printable and here is a picture of my finished product.

Basically, I cut a 12x12in piece of scrapbook paper into 3 4x12in pieces. Place a packet of hot cocoa mix on the piece and fold the paper over to make a little envelope. I used a glue dot to keep the package in place. Print out the labels and affix with double-stick tape or whatever you have available. Using a hole punch, careful to not pop the cocoa packet punch a hole for the ribbon to tie on your back of marshmallows. Tons of fun!

If you make these or repost, please let me know. I'd love to see what you did!

Alternative to Snowman Poop :)