Thursday, October 20, 2016

You're Saying it Wrong

Brother and sister team Ross and Kathryn Petras put the kibosh [KYE-bosh] on modern mispronunciations, and nip misspoken phrases in the bud [not butt] with their sharp wit and empathetic approach to saying things like a smart person. This delightful little 180 page gem was like a fresh soughing [suffing] wind on a summer eve, a sugared spoonful of the bitter truth.

The fact is, most of us have been saying a lot of things just plain wrong! But not to fear, Petras and Petras don't judge and, in fact, often admit that they themselves were mispronouncing many of these words until writing this book. They also make room for the fact that many of the (previously) incorrect pronunciations have become so common that some have even found their way into a few dictionaries... so maybe we're not as wrong as we thought we were. It depends on how purist you want to be.

From the nerd word pwn to classy French terms like haute couture, Petras and Petras cover a lot of ground in little time. This is a book I will keep on hand as a reference, because I'm sure I'll continue merrily mispronouncing my way along for some time. On the other hand, I was reassured to know that I was still getting a lot things right. An entry which I was especially delighted to see here was for "gyro", that yummy Greek sandwich that so many people like to call a jy-roh or guy-roh but is actually YEE-roh; where I used to work I once had an almost-argument with a customer over the correct pronunciation of this word- if only I'd had this book on hand at the time! Now I'm armed and dangerous! Not that I'd ever have the chutzpah [kHUT-spa] to get too riled up over it. After all, as this book testifies, the English language is an ever-changing one.

I received a copy of this book free in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Love Transformed by Tracie Peterson

A Love Transformed by Tracie Peterson

After Clara Vesper's husband is killed she seeks a new start for herself and her twins by returning to the only place she's known happiness, her aunt and uncle's sheep ranch in Montana. But dark secrets from her husband's past cast a lengthy shadow over her dreams threatening her hopes for the future.

I was intrigued by the premise and setting for this book as well as the World War One era. It was interesting to watch the mystery of Clara's husband's death unfold and new things come to light, but the book sort of wavered between interesting and boring up until the last few chapters when things picked up momentum. I did admire Clara's moral fortitude, but overall as a character I'm not sure I liked her much. I was also put off by the "We were meant to be together even though we fell in love when we were kids and it's been fourteen years" theme. That might just be a personal preference since I don't really believe people are "meant for each other".

There were parts of the story which I found outright frustrating as characters behaved in a way that seemed illogical at times. The style was also a little bland, the plot predictable and the dialogue unoriginal. But, all that said, I did at times enjoy this book and it was good to see the heroine's courage and faith grow as the story progressed. I give it 3 stars.

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

The Revolutionary War has torn a seam between brothers and friends as American and British armies collide, with Native Americans on both sides of the fight. In its fray, another war rages: Reginald Aubrey is paying the price for a long ago crime that has lead to many broken hearts- the taking of a child not his own. Now as these two families mesh amidst the sparks of battle, a story of poignant forgiveness and grace and heartbreak unfolds. We find in this rich continuation of the Path Finders chronicle a reflection of Christ's love for His children as well as those who wronged Him. 

Regrettably, I did not read the first book in this series and was concerned that I may be somewhat lost starting on a sequel. It did take the first several chapters to get my bearings and grasp who everyone was and how they were connected, but before long I was swept into the story, eager to see what would come next. I enjoyed the rich text, though it also made it easy to overlook details if you hurried too fast, which I sometimes I did. I also appreciated that the characters' speech was realistic for the era in which they lived, contrary to over-modernized renderings of some historical fiction. The one thing I did find distracting was all of the flashbacks, especially during the first half of the book. In nearly every scene a character would reflect on an earlier conversation with someone that was not previously told. Sometimes it made sense to do so, other times it seemed like it would have been better to simply turn the memory into an actual scene and let events unfold naturally. But I suppose this might have been due to the author trying to keep the story from being too long. That said, this didn't necessarily take from the story, which I did very much enjoy.
Often, Benton makes you feel as though you are standing and beholding the scenes for yourself, rather than just reading words on a page. 

I am now curious about the first book and if there are to be more in the future I eagerly anticipate their release. Overall, an enthralling read. 4.5 stars out of 5.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for the honest opinions expressed in this review.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Review: Love Amid the Ashes

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews is the story of Job from a fresh angle. This is Andrew's first novel. As with her later books, we see the Biblical content elaborated upon with how things might have been and the result is a gripping story that will continually surprise you.

Here we find Dinah, the shamed daughter of Patriarch Jacob, in a place many of us never suspected to find her-- thrust into the midst of Job's struggles. Nobody knows exactly when Job's story took place and at the end of her book Andrews does offer backup for the decision to intertwine these two biblical figures. Whether Dinah and Job lived at the same time, here we find a heartbreaking and ultimately satisfying story of redemption and faithfulness in the midst of the most unimaginable struggles.

Job and Dinah start their journey together after the death of her grandfather Isaac who arranged for Dinah to wed Job's son. From there we begin to encounter an interesting and endearing cast of characters and many twists and turns along the way. Mesu's telling of Job's suffering is not for the faint of heart, yet it lends a realness to the struggles of this man who once lived and breathed and suffered, then rose from the ashes victorious. I do not claim to agree every piece of doctrine presented in this story nor the portrayal of certain characters (especially Jacob), but as fiction I found it to be a satisfying read.

I first discovered Mesu Andrews through Blogging for Books, but have sense continued to acquire her novels for the sheer pleasure of reading. She is a gifted storyteller who seldom disappoints.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Five Es of Writing

If my writing doesn't have purpose beyond simply to entertain, then I feel I have failed myself. This has often led me to give up on projects, because I wonder, "What message does this really convey? Is it valuable? Does it have substance?"

So in recent contemplation, I discovered that my goal and guidepost in writing is to bear in mind the five Es: Encouragement, Enlightenment, Edification, Entertainment, and Endearment.


This is paramount. I never want somebody to walk away from one of my books feeling discouraged or depressed. I want stories that build up and inspire us to be better people. This doesn't mean sad things can't happen along the way, or even that an ending can't be bitter-sweet, but overall I want a resounding ripple of good cheer to reverberate from my pages.


I love teaching and as I research for my books I often learn things that I am excited to share with others. I want you to be smarter when you've finished reading my stories, just as I hopefully come out a little brighter after writing them.


This perhaps works hand-in-hand with encouragement, but with the idea that you've received some nugget of wisdom from my writing in a palatable and pleasant form. I want to help people introspect and adjust because of the lessons my characters have learned.


As a fiction writer, entertainment is important to me. It's never my only aim, but certainly a big part of it-- not only to entertain, but to do so in a clean and honest way that does not have to exaggerate, but helps us see the wit and humor in everyday situations. Life is richer with laughter.


I want people to remember my characters, to sympathize with them, to befriend them. May I never write a boring character- even if boring is a part of that character's character!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything I endeavor to put into my writing, nor is this to serve as a guide to all; it is merely a personal and ever-evolving guideline.

What we project as artists says a lot about us and what is most important to us. What we "put out there" is our voice to the world. Popular culture is a sad reflection of what matters to most of the world. What about you? In writing, or even in life, what do you hope to project to others?

Friday, May 20, 2016


 El Shaddai once whispered in her dreams and by her side, like a cool breeze along the banks of the Nile. But when Miriam's brother returns with a message for Pharroah, "let my people go." and proclaims that the God of their Father's has a new name, Jehovah, Miriam struggles to adjust to a new way of life. They call her prophetess, but does Jehovah still love her as her Shaddai had, and why does she no longer hear His voice? 

  Miriam is the anticipated sequel to Mesu Andrew's novel The Pharaoh's Daughter which gave new voice to the familiar story of a baby and a basket and the daughter of the most powerful man in the world. In that book we saw Miriam as a wise young lady, now we meet her many years later as a wise old woman whose world is about to be turned over. In Miriam we discover that God is never done teaching us, even when we have much to teach others. Threaded with struggles, victories and revelations, Miriam is a bittersweet story of family and of a God who does not change but reveals Himself in new ways. 

  I loved The Pharaoh's Daughter so I was eager to read Miriam as soon as it became available to me. I dove in with little knowledge of the story or premise and found that the book was not quite what I was expecting, but it was still a great story. I especially love how Andrews gives life to familiar biblical figures and places so vividly. She is a master of her art, telling her stories intentionally and thoughtfully. While I did really like this book, I have to place it just under The Pharaoh's Daughter as it didn't quite grab me in the same frenzied Hunger Games sort of way as that novel. That said, I do recommend it! An insightful, enjoyable, thoughtful read for any lover of biblical fiction.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for sharing my honest opinions expressed in this review.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Book Review: Ignite Your Passion for God

I had a difficult time finding a book to review for my latest pick. I ended up settling on "Ignite Your Passion for God" by Kay Arthur & Mark Sheldrake, "a 6 week no-homework bible study".

The book is divided into 6 40-minute studies and is designed to go over with a group, but could also be read solo. My group was very small-- just me and my husband. The content was pretty good, putting the focus on getting your life back on track with God, examining yourself, getting rid of sin  and being bold for Christ. You pretty much just read from scripture then answer questions about what you read. I understand this is a way to ensure that you pay attention to what you read, but sometimes the answers to the questions were so obvious that all you could really do is quote what was said in the verse to begin with. That said, this book did encourage me to examine myself from time to time and opened some good conversation between me and my husband. I don't think that mature Christians will glean as much from it as Christians who haven't gone very far into their walk with God. If you feel like you're continually hitting a will in your relationship with Christ, then this book might be for you. It's an easy read and I enjoyed marking the verses along the way (another method ensuring that you pay attention to what you read). My one complaint would be that it could have been "meatier", but over all wasn't bad and I could see some people really benefiting from what this book has the offer.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.