Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: April 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Plain Man by Mary Ellis ~ Sharing My Review

Purchase Link:CBD
Let me preface this review by confessing that I don't typically choose to read Amish romances. If it weren't for the publisher mailing me a review copy, I would have skipped over A Plain Man. But receiving books through the mail is like opening a gift, meant to be savored and enjoyed. So that's what I did.

For me, the book started a bit slow because it took so long to meet the main characters, and I thought Caleb acted a bit immature through his father, Eli's, eyes, which was probably the author's intention. Eventually, I warmed to the characters and enjoyed the story: a man embarks on a journey to discover who he is emotionally and spiritually.

After living in the English world for five years, Caleb Beachy finally returned home to his Amish family. At twenty-four, he struggles with the restrictions of the Amish world and his overbearing father, who's also the district's bishop. With a floundering faith, he's unable to forgive himself for the worldly things he did while on rumschpinge. Even the budding relationship with sweet Josie Yoder does little to keep him from feeling suspended between two worlds, never quite belonging to either.

At least, he used to be spirited. Now he just seemed sad. 
What was it like to not fit in anywhere? ~Josie, musing on Caleb.

A Plain Man is a story of finding oneself. It's about maintaining difficult relationships within our family and our community because we're all on this journey together. It's about forgiveness, and trusting that God's love is enough to cover the dark stains in our life, no matter how deep or how painful or how awful we think they are. When Caleb stopped focusing on himself and began to bless others, he discovered who he was and found his place in his community. I wouldn't pick up A Plain Man for the romance, but I would definitely read it again for the journey.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to the author, Mary Ellis, and Harvest House Publishers, for providing me with a copy of A Plain Man in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014


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Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter ~ Sharing My Review

Purchase Link
About the book~
She wrote the book--literally--on finding the right mate. But does she really understand what love's about?

Five hours before her Nantucket beach wedding--and on the eve of her big book launch--celebrity marriage counselor Kate Lawrence has everything in place.

Everything, that is, but the groom. She might not have a career, either, when her nationwide audience finds out their marriage guru has been left at the altar.

Enter Lucas Wright, who offers to stand in for the missing husband-to-be and marry her. Kate's desperate enough to agree--although she's sure this Mr. Wright is completely wrong for her. Can they pull it off? And why would Lucas marry her in the first place?

With her life spinning out of control, Kate wonders what good her carefully laid plans are if they only lead to chaos. Could it be that "Dr. Kate" doesn't know the first thing about love? When she seeks God's will instead of her own, Kate finally discovers true and lasting love.

Sharing my thoughts~

Jilted by her fiance, Bryan, just a handful of hours before their wedding, Kate's pain and internal turmoil literally seeps off the pages. How could this happen? She was a marriage consultant, supposedly an expert on the topic, and her book was launching along with her wedding. Lucas, a carpenter, had loved Kate since the day she rented the space above his shop. Since the groom's identity had been kept a secret, all tied up with the book's marketing plan, Lucas volunteers to step in. Kate agrees to his plan, but only for a year. Lucas is in it for the forever.

Committing a year of her life to a man she didn't love. Good grief, most of the time she didn't even like him. Not that he was a bad person. He was just so...irritating sometimes. Vexing. The way he was late and careless and so laid-back she wished she had a remote control so she could push the fast-forward button.

Yep. Major conflict ensues when organization to the nth degree marries laid back Lucas. But Lucas sets out to show list-making Kate that life happens between the pages. 

Know what you're looking for before you begin dating. As with a spontaneous shopping spree, if you don't have a goal in mind, you'll come home with the wrong thing. 
~Excerpt from Finding Mr. Right-for-You by Dr. Kate

I enjoyed the excerpts from Dr. Kate's book that plugged the beginning of every chapter, little nuggets that enticed me to keep reading. Not that I ever once thought about putting down the book, but just to give me an idea of what deliciousness I would find in the next chapter. Totally cool!

Best of all, I appreciated how this story, without words or preaching, represents Christ and His love for us. Carpenter Lucas (don't you just love that??) loved Kate. Before she ever knew of his love, he stepped in with a plan, to marry her, hoping that he would eventually woo her with his love and his actions. For me, this was an irresistible love story straight from the Word. Rich with symbolism, I can't think of a more appropriate story to read at Easter. Scoop it up! You'll be so glad you did.

Disclaimer: I purchased The Convenient Groom. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander ~ Sharing My Review

Purchase Link
About the book~
Eleanor Braddock--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--knows she will never marry. But with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor. 

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. 

But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

Sharing My Review~

Archduke Marcus Gottfried escaped the pressures of his royal heritage by moving to America. In Nashville, he finds anonymity in restoring old buildings and grafting plants, but he knows it's only a temporary reprieve. Next year, he must return to Austria and resume his...commitments. Eleanor Braddock, intelligent, but not pretty, is pushing thirty, and her dream of marriage and family has long since wilted.

There was wisdom in knowing when to let go of a dream, and even more, in knowing when it had let go of you.

With her finances dwindling and her father requiring special care, Eleanor moves in with her philanthropic aunt, who intends to honor a promise to Eleanor's father by arranging a marriage that will secure her niece's future.

Both Marcus and Eleanor have shameful family secrets, and both are being pushed into destinies not of their choosing. It surprised me to see who pushed back first, and up until 85% into the book, I still wasn't sure how the story would end. As an avid reader who can usually anticipate endings, this kept me turning pages and more than made up for the beginning, which slowed from too much introspection and not enough dialogue.

In my opinion, the spiritual thread could have been beefier. That said, a resounding theme permeated the book, that beauty is more than surface level and means something different to each person. I also 
appreciate that the author didn't wrap the broken family relationships in a neat, easy bow at the end. Family dynamics are tenuous and some relationships are not easily fixed, which the author portrayed well and true to life's sometimes harsh realities. While A Beauty So Rare packs more pages than I typically read, I thoroughly enjoyed the complex plot and three dimensional characters, and highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing A Beauty So Rare and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Annoying or Divine? You choose...

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. I just wrapped up my Christmas novella, Christmas in the Rink, and behold! Edits for two other books, Beck's Peace and Burk's Surrender, arrived in my inbox within seconds of each other. 

I expected Beck's Peace, but I was rather surprised to receive both books. Since I'm fairly single-minded, I don't usually bounce back and forth between books, especially when they feature identical twin heroes, Beck and Burk. Hello! Anybody see a problem here? Although these twin heroes, polar opposites, were so much fun to write, it was torture keeping them straight. I was afraid that somewhere along the way Burk would end up romancing Beck's heroine or vice versa.

Typically, I stop whatever I'm working on to dig into edits, but last weekend, we expected our house to be bursting-at-the-seams with family. My parents were coming, and it was the last opportunity to visit with them before they made the trek back to AK for the summer. Also, several of  our male family members were excited about heading to the NASCAR race in Martinsville, and our house made the perfect landing spot for all.

So what to do? Clean and shop for a full house or work on edits for two books?

For me, the decision wasn't too hard. Family takes precedence, and I had ten days to turn in the edits. But what if I was backed up against a tight deadline and losing a couple days in my schedule really mattered? 

Well, don't you know that very same weekend our awesome pastor preached on...divine interruptions. Kinda timely, don't you think? I won't go into details of the message, but later that week God really hammered me with this particular passage (and it wasn't even part of the sermon!). 
Do I consider the interruptions in my daily work schedule as God-appointed? Or am I more exasperated that I'm not reaching my word count goal? Ouch.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying schedules and daily goals are a bad thing. After all, God prefers organization over chaos. (1 Cor 14:33) But, since God sees the big forever picture, His plans for my day might be a bit different than mine, and if I'm praying for God to direct my path, shouldn't I be open to the opportunities he plants in front of me? 

You know how amazing God is? He stretched my time as only He can do, allowing me to accomplish all the tasks, and my editor received the edits way ahead of schedule.

What about you? Do you tend to get frustrated or annoyed with interruptions? Or do you treat them as the divine encounters they might be?

God, help me to acknowledge that You order my day, not me, and to recognize these interruptions as divine appointments. Fill me with Your joy, and allow me to be a beacon for You.

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