Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: May 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Have you lost your HAPPY?

Wedding Day
Everybody's happy, right?
"Why should they stay together if they're not happy?"

This, from my twenty-three year old college graduate after a rash of friends announced that their parents were divorcing after twenty plus years of marriage.

"Happy..." I repeated, letting the word penetrate. 

As if a divorce would bring the "happy" 
back into their lives. 

I shuddered, remembering the trauma and devastation left behind from my divorce. Almost three decades later, the emotional scars still linger.

Obviously, we don't always have a choice when it comes to divorce. The other person may choose it for us. Just like we don't have a choice when cancer strikes or when we lose a loved one to suicide. 

But do we have a choice when it comes to being happy?

What do you think? Next week we'll continue this discussion along with ways to get your HAPPY back.

...weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. 
Psalm 30:5b NIV

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Outlaw's Redemption by Renee Ryan ~ My Review

About the book~
Who would guess the most formidable adversary former gunslinger Hunter Mitchell ever faced would be a fiery, violet-eyed female? Now that he's served his time, Hunter intends to claim the daughter he's only just discovered. While the law is on his side this time, his daughter's devoted aunt certainly isn't. 

Annabeth Silks can't bear to let a onetime outlaw take little Sarah. As the daughter of an infamous madam, she knows the hardship of an unstable home. But every glimpse of Hunter's reformed character dares Annabeth to look beyond his past…to the family and future she never thought to find.

My Thoughts~
Hunter Mitchell, a former gunslinger fresh out of a two year prison stint, returns to the brothel where he killed a man, intent on retrieving his daughter from Mattie Silks, the brothel's owner. Reformed and longing for a chance to start fresh, he won't allow Annabeth Silks to keep him from the sweet nine-year-old girl he just discovered was his. Annabeth can't bear the thought of losing her niece, but even tougher for her to imagine, is leaving Charity House to live with Hunter as Sarah's nanny, especially when her heart longs for more.

Initially, I passed on this book, non-committal about a reformed outlaw for a hero, but I've read other books by Renee Ryan and liked them, so I scooped it up. I'm glad I did.

What I liked...

I really appreciated the way Hunter treated Mattie, the brothel owner. By treating Mattie with respect and dignity, Hunter sealed the deal with Annabeth's heart.

Relationships are complicated. I liked that the author didn't sugarcoat Annabeth's relationship with her mother. Ryan portrayed their unusual bond realistically, showing the embarrassment, the shame, the stigma. Annabeth loves her mother, but doesn't appreciate being labeled a madam's daughter or the risk of losing her reputation and home. Mattie also loves her daughter but isn't willing to give up the finer things in life for her daughter's sake.

I also admired how the author handled Hunter's past. When he arrives on scene, he's already reformed. Ryan shows us Hunter's commitment to being a better man without being preachy.

What I didn't like so much...

Hunter had actually been married twice, which I found a bit confusing in the beginning and unnecessary.


I really enjoyed this story and getting to know Hunter, Annabeth, and Mattie, all strong characters. Great job, Ms. Ryan!

The Outlaw's Redemption releases on 7/1/13 with Harlequin Love Inspired Historical, but you can preorder it here~ Preorder Link

Disclaimer: Sending a huge thanks to Harlequin Love Inspired Historical and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review e-copy. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Have you read The Outlaw's Redemption
Do you agree with my review? What were your thoughts?

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Where Did the Years Go?

Celebrating my mom's birthday on a cruise

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
Maybe one of these years, you'll be close by and we can celebrate together. 
Wish you were here, so I could give you a hug.

This Mother's Day, today, our son graduates from UNC. 
Yay, Scott!!

Our son in Barcelona, his back-packing through Europe trip

College graduation is bittersweet, isn't it? 

As a parent, you dream about your child going off to college for four years.
That day comes, and you shed a few tears as you unload their belongings into 
a living space the size of a large walk-in closet.
You cheer for their football and basketball teams, you slave and save to pay for tuition, 
you endure their infrequent trips home without grumbling. 
You listen to them groan about how many papers come due at the same time and wince when they pull an all-nighter.

Because you know...deep in your heart, you know...
that graduation day will roll around.
That day when your child steps on to the stage, and their life really begins.
They stand proud and tall, ready and willing to make a difference in the world, 
ready to forge their own path, 
to build a life with a family of their own.

The day when you realize they're not a child anymore.

Where did the years go?

Happy Mother's Day
to all moms and to all those who fill the role of mother. 
May your special day be filled with love and laughter.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer ~ Sharing My Review

About the book~
On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he’s forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man’s daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he’s haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind—a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna’s outlaw father is dead-set against his daughter courting a preacher?

Sharing My Humble Opinion~
I first met the Archer clan when I read Short Straw Bride. (See my review here.) I loved Short Straw Bride and the author's unique writing style, so I could hardly wait to get my hands on another one of her books.

Stealing the Preacher picks up with Crock on his way to interview for a preaching position. Certain that God's will is for him to begin his career ministering to that particular congregation, he's surprised when a band of outlaws drag him off the train. Not as surprised, or as horrified as Joanna Robbins is when...oops, I don't want to give away any spoilers. With so many delightful goodies in this book, it's hard to share a review without giving them away.  

Oh, how I identify with Crock in that sometimes I think I know His will. He's given me the go-ahead with my plans, wrapped them up all neat and nice and tied with a perfect bow, and then surprises me with a different outcome altogether. This is that kind of story. Does God's will for Crock entail preaching to the large congregation or ministering to one hurting soul? I enjoyed how this story played out from the first page to the last.  

What an emotionally-charged, fully-developed romance with just the right blend of fun and playful, yet packing a strong and powerful message without "sermonizing." You never know quite what to expect. On one page I found myself chuckling, and the next, reaching for the tissues. It had everything I hope for when I pick up a book. Karen Witemeyer definitely made the top of my "must read" list with Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher releases on 6/1 with Bethany House Publishers, but you can preorder it here.

Disclaimer: Sending a huge thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review copy. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

What about you? 
Have your God-inspired plans ever gone astray?
Did His plan unravel differently than you anticipated?
Care to share your story?

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Did a little spring cleaning on my blog this week. It was kinda reminding me of the linen closet upstairs. You know...the one where you open the doors gingerly, afraid towels or spare pillows will come tumbling out. So you open the door, tug out what you need, and slam it shut, hoping all the clutter stays put because it's too overwhelming, too time-consuming, to think about cleaning.

Not that my blog was messy or cluttered. I just felt the urge to spruce it up a bit, rearrange and redesign, but that takes time. And motivation. 

I confess I wasn't blessed with an artistic design gene, and truthfully, I've been slightly timid and a little fearful about changing my blog too much. What happens if I can't fix it or worse, if I lose everything?

Well, no more fear and trepidation. I backed up my template and set about finding ways to spruce it up, to give it a new feel. Shabby Blogs, Cutest Blog on the Block and My Favourite Things Blog offer some great tutorials and free stuff like backgrounds, headers and buttons. 

Now that I know there's help out there should I mess up, I think I'll change it up a bit more often. Look around. See what you think. Like the new look?

And, no, the linen closet still looks like that. One of these days...

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