Review of CLOSE TO HIS HEART
Life in 18th Century England, without the “benefit” of modern conveniences we rely on today, was much simpler. Love, however, was not. Leonora Pruner explores this in her latest novel, Close to His Heart.
Despite their deep love for one another, Grace Carstares and Lord Henry Buryhill face a rough road. Misunderstandings, anger, and hurt feelings keep them from enjoying the happy marriage both long for. When Grace loses her memory, Henry sees a chance for them to start over. Only she sees him as a complete stranger, and not one she is sure she wants to get to know.
This book was beautifully written, with wonderful detail. Ms. Pruner’s descriptions made me feel as if I was walking through the grounds of Westwood along with Grace. The love that both Grace and Henry have for the Lord was simply stated. It was a part of them, a part of what drew the two of them together, but never really preached. It was seen especially when Grace had an encounter with a beggar at a London party and then later when she came across an escaped slave. Many today could learn a lesson from the way she acted in both of these situations—showing God’s love through kindness to others is more meaningful and more powerful than any words we could use.
This is the first book by Leonora Pruner that I have read. With a new book scheduled to be published before Christmas, I know this will not be the last of her books to grace my bookshelves.
To learn more about Leonora Pruner or order this book, please see this website: http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-close-to-his-heart.shtml
August 24, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books, Reviews | blog tour, book, book tours, Books, Christian fiction, Christianity, Leonora Pruner, London, Nordskog Publishing, Women's Fiction | 1 Comment
Review of JUNGLE SUNRISE
Jonah Frost has hit rock bottom. Divorced, working at a job that he feels is beneath him, and constantly hung-over, drunk, or getting drunk. The highlight of his day is his morning stop at Starbucks, where he holds a brief conversation with a cute barista. When his linguist brother accepts an assignment in the Amazon Jungle, Jonah tags along. Maybe this will be the new start that he needs.
In his first novel Jungle Sunrise, Jonathan Williams draws on his experiences as a missionary with the Xtreme Team to paint a riveting picture of the dangers of life in the Amazon Jungle. Each character has a unique personality. The blending of the characters makes the book more powerful and more difficult to put down.
There were a few places in the book where I was confused. It’s a pet peeve of mine when the author says something about what “you see” or “you feel” in the book. To me, that makes it harder to follow the action in the novel. Williams did do this once or twice when describing the scenery of the jungle. Just a minor annoyance that really did not take away from the experience of this story.
What I liked the best about this book was the way the missionary characters spoke about God’s love. Instead of sharing His love in words, they shared it with their deeds. They were kind and caring, showing more than telling what they believed. I never had any doubts that this book was written from a Christian perspective, about mostly Christian characters. Yet there was nothing at all “preachy” about it.
Overall, I have to say this is a good book. I recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of adventure, but without the means to seek it out in the real world.
August 18, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books, Reviews | Christian fiction, Jonathan Williams, Jungle Sunrise, Noble Novels, Nordskog Publishing | 1 Comment
Medical Drama With Heart
At Sierra Mercy Hospital, the patients are not the only ones in need of healing.
Sounds like the lead-in for a television medical drama, doesn’t it? I think that is what attracted me to Candace Calvert’s novel Critical Care. I am a big fan of medical drama. It started with my parents—I can remember watching Trapper John, M.D. with Mom and Dad when I was a kid. The one must-see show for me now is Grey’s Anatomy. The one drawback to that show, is the immoral behavior of the entire hospital staff. If hospitals are really run like the ones on TV…. WOW! I can’t even imagine.
Sierra Mercy Hospital is a bit different. Sure, there are still romances among the staff members. In this book, the romance is based on mutual respect and shared experiences, rather than solely on physical attraction.
Calvert uses her extensive medical knowledge and years of health care experience to create believable characters, interacting in a realistic setting.
After a deadly explosion at a daycare center, the emergency room staff at Sierra Mercy find themselves in need of help. Not all of them are willing to admit to that need, though, let alone ask for it. That puts Claire Avery, the nurse educator assigned to provide stress counseling in the ER, and Dr. Logan Caldwell, the head of the emergency department, at odds. She is still dealing with a trauma from her own past, while he operates on the belief that problems need to be left outside the hospital.
I was captivated with this book from the first page. Though it was not on my official “must review” list, I couldn’t put it down. Critical Care is the first Candace Calvert novel that I have read, but it will definitely not be the last.
August 6, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books, Reviews | Authors, Books, Candace Calvert, Christian fiction, Critical Care, Medical Drama, Mercy Hospital Series, Sierra Mercy, Tyndale, Women's Fiction | 1 Comment
Where The Idea Came From
Earlier this week, I posted my review of the book Beachcombers by best-selling author Nancy Thayer. Today, I’d like to share with you a little more from Nancy. Below, you will find a guest post from her, all about where the idea for her novel came from. It’s some fun insight into the way the writer’s mind works!
THE IDEA FOR BEACHCOMBERS
The idea for Beachcombers came to me when I was literally walking on the beach. I was thinking about mermaids, specifically the Hans Christian Anderson story in which the mermaid, in order to be with the man she loves, can walk on land, but only at the cost of great pain. Well, I thought, isn’t that sort of the human condition? Not to be gloomy about it—life is wonderful—but no one gets to spend life on this earth without some pain, some loss.
I was also thinking about how the economy had caused so much loss—not mere loss of money, but loss of jobs, loss of self-esteem, loss of hope. How do we all go on from that point?
We go on with the help of our family and our friends, of course.
And that made me think about my sister Martha. She’s eight years younger than I am, so when we were young, we weren’t quite so close, to put it mildly. She was a darling blue eyed blond who didn’t have to help with the housework because she was “the baby.” I felt like the drudge. No, wait. I was the drudge! When I was fourteen, I wrote a poem to her titled, “You are the flower, I am the weed.”
Martha is now a nurse. We call her for advice when we’re sick. We’ve called her for advice when our dog was sick! She constantly cheers and supports and inspires me. Over the years, she’s helped me in more ways than I can possibly count. Thinking about her made me want to write about sisters, sisters who had experienced loss, who were forced to change and grow up, who grow apart and come together.
I also thought about my own children, who are in their thirties now, independent, successful adults. My daughter Sam has given me two grandchildren and is working on the third, and I think babies are the happiest things in the world! So I knew babies would be in there somewhere.
Finally, I knew the book would be set on Nantucket. This wind-swept isolated island provides so much inspiration for so many people. I interviewed a friend who makes lightship baskets. I spent time in our historical museum, relearning the island’s fascinating history. And of course I went back to the beach often, to be refreshed. I know that many people come to the island to be healed, to find love, to find magic. What about those of us who live here?, I wondered. Can Nantucket be magic for us, too?
With those thoughts, and that question, I sat down and started writing Beachcombers. I wrote about island crafts and island beaches, about people who were born here and people who visit, about love and disagreements and separations and worries and hope. My next book will be set on the island, too.
I love the island so much, and I’ve had so many people email me to ask about what the island looks like, that I had some photos taken and posted on youtube under Nancy Thayer. I hope you enjoy them!
Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of Summer House, Moon Shell Beach, The Hot Flash Club, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, Hot Flash Holidays, The Hot Flash Club Chills Out, and Between Husbands and Friends. She lives on Nantucket. You can visit Nancy Thayer’s website at www.NancyThayer.com.
July 29, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books | Authors, Beachcombers, book tours, Books, Nancy Thayer | 1 Comment
Fun Summer Read
Abbie, Emma, and Lily Fox are three sisters who grew up on Nantucket. Abbie was able to escape the island and memories of her deceased mother by taking a job as a nanny in England. Emma has made a name for herself in the financial world of Boston and has fallen in love with a man who shares her passions. Only Lily—the youngest sister who is constantly treated like a baby—is left on the island, living with their father and working for a local magazine. All three seem content with their lives—until the nation’s financial crises interferes.
All at once, Emma loses her job, her life savings, and her fiancé. She returns home, where Lily is quickly overwhelmed with taking care of her sister, the home, and keeping up with her own job. Her concern for her father—whose construction business has suffered in the slowed economy. When Lily voices concerns about her father and the woman he has allowed to rent the girls’ old playhouse for the summer to her oldest sister, Abbie feels she has little choice but to return home. To Nantucket. What follows is a summer none of the girls will ever forget.
In her novel Beachcombers, Nancy Thayer has crafted a moving tale of family, friendship, and finding yourself. Each woman faces her own crises. Through it, she learns more about herself, what she wants for her own life. The girls also learn how to appreciate their father and his happiness.
There is a lot going on in this book, so many storylines happening at one time that it could easily get confusing for the reader. However, Thayer’s skillful handling of the transitions between chapters and characters keep that from happening. I found it easy to keep the stories straight as I read, at times wanting to skip chapters to find out how a certain situation was going to be dealt with.. Her immense knowledge of the Nantucket area made the little island come alive in my mind.
The one complaint I have about this book is the same one I have with many mainstream novels. I don’t believe the language and bedroom scenes were necessary. Though Thayer’s love scenes are not o overly graphic, they do contain too much detail for my tastes.
Overall, I’d say Beachcombers is a must read for summer.
You can purchase Beachcombers at the following link….. http://www.amazon.com/Beachcombers-Novel-Nancy-Thayer/dp/0345518284
July 27, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books, Reviews | Nancy Thayer, Ballantine Books, Fictions, Beachcombers, Women's Fiction | 1 Comment
Search for SYMMETRY
Jessica Cassady is fighting to keep herself grounded while her life begins to fall apart. It starts with a late-night phone call to her husband’s hotel room, which is answered by a woman. Follow this with the realization that her constant hair pulling is a disease, the discovery of a lost chance at love from years ago, and the separation of her parents, and Jess has every reason to fall apart. Instead, she takes control of her illness, reaches out to others in similar situations, and forges new friendships. She also finds a new appreciation for her mother as they comfort one another over their marital problems.
Joyce Sterling Scarbrough’s novel Symmetry is a very real tale of love and life. She details Jessica’s illness in a very informative way. Before reading this, I had no idea there was a hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania). Joyce explains the illness, the symptoms, and the treatment that works for Jessica in a very compelling way. This is not the entire plot of the book, nor is it the one thing that truly defines who Jessica Cassady is. Rather, it is one trait that has made her into the woman she has become. As the author suffers from a form of this disorder herself, she is very knowledgeable on the subject. I really enjoyed the way she used this book as a way to highlight the disorder rather than making it into a novel strictly about tricohtillomania.
There is one little thing I did not like about the book. The woman who causes a rift between Jessica and her husband is named Lynn. Couldn’t she have picked a more fitting name for that character? Seriously now! Lynn? It bugs me to be blamed for soemthing I didn’t even do!
This was a fun read and a great book. I look forward to reading more from Joyce Sterling Scarbrough in the future.
Sorry there is no picture for this book. Technical issues this morning!!! You can purchase the book at this Amazon.com link http://www.amazon.com/Symmetry-Joyce-Sterling-Scarbrough/dp/1603181466
You can visit Blue Attitude, the blog of Joyce Sterling Scarbrough, at http://joycescarbrough.blogspot.com/
July 20, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books, Reviews | addiction, Authors, Books, Fiction, Joyce Sterling Scarbrough, L&L Dreamspell, Symmetry, trichotillomania, Women's Fiction | 2 Comments
Happy birthday to Karen Kingsbury!!
As you may know, Karen is one of my favorite authors. When a new book by Karen comes out, I am usually at the front of the line to get it. I’ve read every one of her books that the local library has in circulation, and I am actively working to purchase the titles I don’t have. Her stories are that inspirational to me.
From Karen, I have learned to not listen to others and just write from the heart, just write the story that God has given me. Once upon a time, I was told that if I didn’t include sex scenes in my books, no one would read my work and I’d be wasting my time. The fear that the one who said that to me was right—not to mention the fear of just what God might be asking me to do!—kept my pen quite for a long time. And then I started to read Karen’s Redemption series. The members of the Baxter Family, all raised in a loving, God-fearing home, are human. They may love God, but that doesn’t keep them from making mistakes. One of them is even an unwed mother. Karen shows the effects of sex, without a graphic love scene. I love that! Reading about the Baxter Family gave me the courage to follow my dream and God’s leading. I will forever be grateful to Karen Kingsbury for that.
My favorite of her books is Shades of Blue. It’s a story of love, healing, and forgiveness for a man and a woman who believe they have done the unforgiveable. If you haven’t read that one, I highly recommend that you do so. But you will need to have tissues handy! My least favorite of her books is her latest one, Take Four, the final book in her Above the Line series. Oh, the characters are very well developed and they all feel like close friends. And the storyline is engaging, following nicely from the first three books in the series. What I don’t like about it is what she did to Bailey Flannigan! Sure, she says she is working on a series that revolves around Bailey. Problem is, I don’t like how she left things and I don’t want to wait to find out what happens next!
Oh well. Patience is a virtue, right? Maybe god is using Karen and her books to help me learn more about being patient!
To celebrate Karen’s birthday, I am giving away a birthday gift to one lucky blog reader! The gift is a birthday box of goodies from Kat’s Coffees and More. The box contains a Crème Brulee one pot (enough flavored coffee to make one 12 cup pot), a Cookies n Cream sugar cookie mix, an assortment of flavored lemonades and limeades, and one chicken coating mix (available in your choice of garlic herb, garlic pepper, Italian herb, lime pepper, smoky mesquite, southwest chipotle or pecan). To win, simply leave a comment on this blog post. Tell me what your favorite Karen Kingsbury book is, or just tell Karen happy birthday! One winner will be chosen from all responses received by midnight eastern time on Sunday, July 18, 2010. Please be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.
Good luck to all.
And to Karen, I pray for God’s continued blessings on you and your family.
Find out more about Karen Kingsbury and her books at http://www.karenkingsbury.com
You can see the entire line of goodies from Kat’s Coffees and More here http://www.katscoffees.com
You can’t judge a book by its cover.
Isn’t that how the old saying goes? I’ve never fully believed that. I mean, if the cover was not intended to draw in the reader, all books would look exactly alike. At some point, I think all readers have picked up something to read based on the cover. Every now and then, choosing a book to read based strictly on the cover can lead to a hidden treasure.
That is what happened to me when I chose to read Jackie M. Johnson’s When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty.
God has really blessed me, especially where my love life is concerned. I didn’t date much in high school or college (not something I would have considered a blessing back then, but I have learned to appreciate now). I had three relationships that lasted for more than a week—and two of them were with the same man, the man whose last name I have shared for 10 years. I wasn’t really sure if I needed to read a book about healing after a relationship gone bad. But I was intrigued with the title and the empty ice cream container on the cover.
To my amazement, I was able to relate to Johnson’s stories of lost love more than I expected. The healing process she describes is not unlike what I went through in 2005, after a devastating miscarriage. A broken heart is a broken heart. We all go through the same stages of grief.
Throughout this book, Johnsons speaks with incredible honesty of the trial she has faced in love. She shows that it is possible to survive a heartbreak, and to not allow that heartbreak to control every aspect of your life. By sharing Biblical insights into grief and loss, Johnson creates a basic roadmap out of the darkness of a broken heart.
Every heartbreak is different. Each one will heal at its own pace. But recognizing what stage of heartbreak you are in will help you to see the end more easily.
If you’ve had a rough time in love, pick up this book. Will it help you find that one special someone to share your life with? No. But it will let you know that you are not alone and that there is hope.
And even if you don’t learn from the book, at least you have a unique book cover on your shelf.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer. Her other works include Power Prayers for Women and contributions to A Cup of Comfort. You can learn more about her and her work at http://www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com/, and more about this particular book at http://www.whenloveends.com
July 13, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books, Reviews | healing, Jackie M. Johnson, Moody Publishers, When Love Ends | 2 Comments
Summer Reading List
As a part of her blog tour, Sarah Cunningham, author of Picking Dandelions, asked bloggers to list some of their favorite summer reading books. Three books Immediately came to mind.
Anne of Green Gables This is an oldie, but a goodie! It was the adventures of this feisty red-head that first inspired me to become a writer. The book was over 70 years when I first read it in the mid-eighties. Still I could easily relate to Anne Shirley. My dream then was—and still is today—to create just one character who lives and breathes and endures, one who is as real to my readers as L.M. Montgomery’s Anne is to me.
Before the Season Ends This is the first in a series of three books by Linore Rose Burkard, set in Regency England. Think Jane Austen, with a Christian message. The author’s detailed descriptions of homes, transportation, clothing, and mannerisms of the period transport the reader back in time. The romance between Miss Ariana Forsythe and Mr. Phillip Mornay will leave you breathless.
The third book on my list is Waiting for Daybreak, by Kathryn Cushman. Any of Cushman’s books could be on this list. I’ve enjoyed all of them. But I think Waiting for Daybreak is my favorite. It’s the story of two strong women who are sort of floundering in life. Perhaps I like it so much because it is the only one of her three books that doesn’t deal with a mother grieving the death of her child! Whatever the reason, this book is definitely on my “Must Read” list.
July 6, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books | Anne of Green Gables, Ariana Forsythe, Authors, Before the Season Ends, Kathryn Cushman, L.M. Montgomery, Linore Rose Burkard, Phillip Mornay, Picking Dandelions, Sarah Cunningham, Waiting for Daybreak | 1 Comment
Showing God’s Love
It’s often been said that the best way to show God’s love is to love others. Give of yourself, your time, your talents, to help those around you. It could be something as simple as a card to someone who is feeling down or a meal to a grieving family. Maybe God asks you to share your financial blessings by buying dinner for a stranger or making a mortgage payment for an unemployed friend. The important thing is to love others.
Sometimes, though, we need to show God’s love by loving ourselves and making changes that make us more Christ-like. In her book Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds, Sarah Cunningham explores this idea.
I was drawn to this book for a few simple reasons. One, not only was Cunningham raised in my home state of Michigan, she actually lives in my hometown. Jackson seems to be getting a bad reputation recently. I was more than eager to read a book that shows something good can come from the city I love. Another is that she teaches at Jackson High School. Not only did I graduate from JHS, I have friends who still attend the school (Children of high school friends. To my knowledge, none of my high school friends are still enrolled in the school.). My sons will someday attend JHS, unless God has something planned that I am unaware of. The idea of a Christian teacher in those halls, one who is so unashamed of her beliefs that she willingly published her faith journey in such a public fashion, gives me hope for their futures.
What kept me reading the book was the simple, straight-forward style. Often it felt more like I was having a conversation with the author, rather than just reading the words. I laughed out loud more times than I can count while reading. My husband and sons must have thought I was losing my mind. After reading it, I feel as if I have known Sarah Cunningham for most of my life, though we have not met face-to-face.
Quite often when I read a non-fiction book, I donate it to my church library or to a friend who asked to read it. Picking Dandelions, though, will remain in my personal library. This is definitely a book I will read again.
If you are looking for an entertaining, enlightening tale of how to grow closing to Christ, check out this book. If you think you are already Christ-like and have no need to change, then you need to read this one. I promise you won’t regret it.
July 6, 2010 Posted by Lynn McMonigal | Authors, Books | Authors, blog tour, book tours, Books, Christian Living, Christianity, memoir, Picking Dandelions, Sarah Cunningham, Zondervan | Leave a Comment
Ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day to all that needs to be done? If you are a parent, an employer, an employee, a student, or even just a human, you probably feel that way at least once a week! Around here, that has been the norm for the summer.
In June, I had some unexpected surgery. Well, it was expected. Only it was expected to happen at the end of the summer. Knowing the surgery was coming, I had a list of things I planned to accomplish this summer. The biggest things on my list were outlining three novels that I have had in mind for some time now and organizing a clothing closet the women at my church are starting in August. Then my symptoms got worse and the surgery was moved up.
I was supposed to take six weeks off of work. Where the clothing closet was concerned, that made sense to me. I mean, my mid-section had just been cut open and a portion of my anatomy removed. Lifting boxes was not something that I wanted to do. But I thought that writing would be acceptable. It’s not a physically taxing thing. Mentally draining at times, perhaps. I understood my inability to write while I was taking the pain meds. Those things dulled the pain, but also made my brain feel rather fuzzy. I didn’t expect to be able to write much with my head feeling that way.
But even now, six weeks post-op and 4 weeks after I quite taking any pain meds, I am having trouble concentrating. Have I dulled it too much with the silly little Facebook games I’ve been playing? Are there really no more tales for me to tell, no more stories for me to write?
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