Thursday, January 24, 2013

Twice a Bride by Mona Modgson

From the publisher: "Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek.  When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with handsome entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn.  
With questions tugging at several hearts in town, including the Sinclair Sisters’ beloved Miss Hattie, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West.  Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?     
Filled with the resonating questions that all women face, this romance awakens hope against grief, love against loss, and dreams against life’s unexpected turns. "

This book was the fourth book of the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek.  I have not read any of the previous books.  I would advise that if you want to read this book that you read the previous three books.  Otherwise you might be bogged down in all the characters and their lives and families--plus this book will give away spoilers for the other three books.  

This book had quite a few plots and subplots.  I found it to be slightly distracting from what I thought the "main" plot was going to be.  Because of this I found the romance(s) developed less than intriguing and rather shallow.  However, I think if you loved the other three books that this book you would love just for the fact that you get to revisit the characters you enjoyed reading.

I received this book free for my honest review from WaterBrook Press.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

K-2 Students Interview Katie Ganshert

As a teacher and lover of books, I long for my students to be engaged with authors and illustrators.  

Katie Ganshert, author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows, was kind enough to let my K-2 students ask her questions!  We had fun thinking of questions that would help us learn more about being an author as well as some fun questions about herself.  I hope you enjoy the random and fun questions they asked!

Katie was wonderful to take time to answer these.  Check on my reviews on her books as well as excerpts.  You will be blessed. 

What is it like being an author?  Is it hard, fun, or boring? Is it boring because you have to sit in a desk all day?
Being an author is so many things--challenging, fun, unpredictable, satisfying, stressful, rewarding. It's definitely never boring. A lot of the work is done from my desk, but even though I'm at my desk, my imagination gets to travel all sorts of places--to different states and different stories and people. That's the power of a pencil and a piece of paper and our imagination - we can really go anywhere! 

Do you ever play with children? 
Yes! It's one of my favorite things to do. I have a four year old son who likes to keep me on my toes and I have a lot of friends who have children. i love talking with them and playing fun games with them.
Do you ever have to take classes online? 
Not for writing, but sometimes I'm required to take online classes for our adoption. We're in the process of adopting a little kid from DR Congo, which is a country in Africa. Maybe Ms. Beth-Anne can show you where it is on a globe. :-)
Do you ever go on trips?
Not very often, but sometimes I get to! As a writer, I usually go to a national writing conference once every year. Last year the conference I went to was in Dallas, so that was a lot of fun! And then this past August, my publisher paid to fly me out to Colorado Springs to meet everybody at the publishing house.  

Where do you live?
I live in Bettendorf, Iowa, right along the Mississippi River. Has Ms. Beth-Anne ever shown you the "man in the middle of the USA"? Minnesota is his hat, Iowa is his head, Missouri is the body and Louisiana is the foot. Do you see him? Well, I live right on the tip of the man's nose. 

Will you come to our school sometime? (We are in Tennessee)
That might be kind of difficult, but I promise that if ever I'm passing through Tennessee, I will make sure to stop by your school. I just don't know if that will be anytime soon!
How did you think of your books? 
I think of my books all different sorts of ways. Sometimes I'll be listening to a song and the lyrics of the song make me think of a story I could tell. Sometimes I see somebody at the grocery store or at a coffee shop and I want to make them into a character in my book. Sometimes a random scene will pop into my head while I'm driving and I'll make an entire novel out of it.
Have you ever written a book in one day? 
Not a novel, but I have written short stories in a day. It usually takes me several months to complete an entire novel.
Have you ever given your book as a gift? 
Yep! I do this quite often.
What is your favorite holiday? 
Christmas! I love celebrating Jesus' birthday. My favorite thing to do is bake him a cake with my son.
What is your favorite jewelry?
I have a bracelet that I love to where and it says "One Less". This means one less orphan. I wear it as a reminder of the child we're adopting. 

Do you like snow? 
Sometimes. I like to snowboard and make snowmen with my son. But I don't like shoveling our driveway or tracking snow into the house.
How long did it take you to write the books? 
It usually takes about 6-9 months.
Has you son ever been interested in your books? 
I dedicated my second novel to him. He knows what my books look like, but he's not interested in reading them quite yet.
Do you put on music when you write?
I love music, but not when I write. I need it to be very quiet when I write.
Who draws the covers to your books? 
There is a person who works for my publishing house and her entire job is to create book covers. Wouldn't that be fun? Maybe you can work on creating a book cover for your stories.
Do you have any pets?
We have a black lab named Bubba. He's goofy and fun and we love him so much! 

If you are at your house, is it hard to focus on writing your book?
I have an office that I consider my work space. So once I step inside my office, I'm pretty much in work mode.
How did you get a publishing company to publish your book?
First, I had to get an agent. So I sat down with her at a writing conference three years ago and told her about my book. Afterward, she had me send her the whole story. A couple months later, she called and said she'd like to be my agent. My agent then submitted my novel to several publishing houses. Waterbrook Multnomah liked it the best and offered me a book contract! It took about two whole years to happen! You need a lot of patience when it comes to getting a book published!

What is it like to have a book published? 
It's a dream come true! I worked very hard and for a long time to see my book in print and on a shelf. So it's a very satisfying feeling. The harder we work for something, the more fulfilling it is when that something becomes a reality.
Do you sometimes write half of the page and then flip to another page and start writing? 
I actually don't usually write on paper. I do most of my writing on my computer. :-)
Why do you write only one word in cursive on your covers?
That's a fun question! I didn't make that decision, my book cover design team did. i think they liked how it looked. 

Do you ever give books to your family? 
Yes, I do. Usually for Christmas or birthdays.
What is your favorite color?  
What color is your house?
How many books do you want to write? 
I want to write however many books the Lord lays on my heart to write. :-) So far I've written six novels. Two of those are published. I'm hoping God asks me to keep writing for a long time because I enjoy it so much.
What is your favorite school that you went to? 
Probably my elementary school - Mark Twain Elementary. You know what's cool about it? Mark Twain was a writer!
Do you like Christmas?
I love Christmas! It's my favorite holiday.
Do you like flowers and what is your favorite kind?
I love flowers! Flowers are a big symbol in my first novel - Wildflowers from Winter. So I'd probably say my favorite kind are wildflowers.  

Do you like butterflies?
I do! I think they're very pretty. Bubba likes to chase them. 

What place do you like to go to write?
I usually write in my office at home. That's where I can concentrate the best. 

What are your favorite clothes to wear?
My pajamas! They're super comfortable and I like to be comfortable.
Would you ever write books for children?
I do have an idea for a series for kids. I was thinking it would be fun to write a series of Children's books about these animals that are afraid of things they shouldn't be afraid of. Like a bird who is afraid of heights or a raccoon who is afraid of the dark or a snake that is afraid of mice. Each book would be about facing our fears. Do you think those sound like a good idea? Maybe you guys can write them! 

How old is your son?
He is four years old.  

How long have you been married?
I've been married for eight and a half years. 

What is your religion?  Are you a Christian?  Why do you love Jesus?
I am a Christian. I love Jesus because He is my Savior. He died on the cross for my sins so I can spend an eternity with Him up in heaven. I love Him because He comforts me when I am afraid and and He gives me peace in my heart when I'm worried or stressed out about something. He's there for me in every situation and I can't imagine my life without Him.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert Review & Excerpt

Robin Price has her hands and heart full.  Robin owns a struggling cafe, Willow Tree Cafe, that is made from memories of her late husband.  Her spunky son is the center of her life, but single-parenting, and managing the cafe and wearing her thin.

Suddenly her life adds another stress--the town wants to build condos where her cafe and a local ministry are located.  Ian McKay is heading the operation and constantly in her life to persuade her to sell. The town begins to form opinions and pick sides as business and personal mix.

 Ian has his own motives for making sure the condos are built, but all Robin can see is her own need for the cafe.  Ian's family business depends on this business deal and Robin feels that the Willow Tree Cafe is part of her family.  Both Robin and Ian will struggle with the grief that is hidden inside of them, and come to surrender their plans and themselves to a God of second chances.

I was thrilled to get to read Wishing on Willows after reading and reviewing Wildflowers from Winter last year.  Wildflowers from Winter was one of the top ten books I read for 2012, and I can pretty much guarantee that even though it is early in the year, that Wishing on Willows will be on my top ten for 2013.  Here's why.

Katie Ganshert has this uncanny ability to write about really hard topics, topics that matter and people really deal with, in a way that isn't just "writer's fluff."  Novels are often the stuff that we read because it escapes real life, but Ganshert doesn't do that.  She brings in the hard, heart-wrenching things that we deal with and walks us by faith in God's plan.

Robin wrestles with God and Ganshert writes what many of us think and have gone through, "She's believed, with absolute certainty, that God could have healed her husband.  Nothing was beyond His power...But God didn't heal Micah. And now Willow Tree was slipping through her fingers...and she found herself in the exact same place as before.  Certain God could save it, unsure if He would."  Ganshert walks Robin and us through the way God works, not always in our way, but in a way that always shows His love.

Something else really well done was how Ganshert allowed us to love Robin & Micah's relationship and yet feel as Robin allowed room in her heart to let go of the pain and to continue her journey with God passed the pain of the past.

Both Ian and Robin were well developed, as well as the character's that surrounded them.  It was wonderful to learn more about Bethany and Evan--because as readers we get attached to our characters, so I was happy to see them.

I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone--but I would want them to read Wildflowers from Winter first.  Both are excellent books.

I cannot wait to read more from Ganshert.  Her two books have been a highlight on my reading list.

Read the an excerpt for Wildflowers from Winter here.
Read the first three chapters for Wishing on Willows here!  I think that with each chapter the book got better.  And that is how a good book should be.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top Ten Books for 2012

I know I read 48 books this year, possibly more since I didn't keep track and had to try and remember all of them.

These are not in order because it is hard for me to rank these books because they are not all the same genre and I did not read them all for the same reasons.  Some I read for fun, others for spiritual growth, some for book clubs, and others because I was reviewing them and fell in love with them.  

So here are my top 10 favorites that I read in 2012.

Gold Cord by Amy Carmichael. 
This book is one of my all time favorite books now.  I am lending it, but when I get it back I plan to re-read it.  Blessed and enriched through Amy Carmichael's love and devotion to God.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen
I have never read a book like this, and I wasn't sure how I was going to get through pages and pages about food, but it has challenged the way I view food (even though I'm already a vegan/vegetarian) and I love to be challenged.

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
I had never read Mitch Albom before, even though I'd heard of Tuesdays with Morrie.  Albom's writing style flows and brings out poignant messages without blaring them in your face.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows.
A book of letters.  I didn't think I would get into this, but by the end I really enjoyed it.  Now I want to go visit Guernsey Island.

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher
I chose this because not often do "Christian Fiction" authors make the relationship the character's have with God so smoothly.  It was natural to read, and continuous throughout the book--both things that I find rare in a Christian Fiction book.  

Son by Lois Lowry.
The final book to The Giver series.  I love Lois Lowry and have since fourth grade when my teacher had us read Number the Stars.  

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
This was another surprise for me.  I expected to read a normal Christian fiction book, but was really surprised by the way Camden handled the characters and situations.  The heroine isn't perfect, nor is she weak.  The hero has flaws and even the love story has actual, real obstacles.  The way Camden also handled the "conversion" situation was something I really appreciated.  We don't always have "aha" moments with God, and many times it is more subtle.  I enjoyed this book immensely.  
Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert
If you have recently been in grief you may or may not want to read this book.  The author writes that well.  Katie writes so vividly of the emotions and pain of grief that you can feel it through the pages.  I love how Katie wrote in such a way to make you feel the characters' feelings.  Something I thought was really well done was how spiritual leaders are viewed as God, and many times people turn way from God because of that.  However, the book showed that God is who we are to focus our eyes on, not merely others.  Great book.

Spiritual Warfare for Women by Leighann McCoy
I had selected this book to review and had put off reading it because I wasn't really ready to read it.  Then some things happened and I knew I needed to read it.  So I did.  I was so blessed.  God used McCoy to grow me spiritually and expand my idea of what it meant to fight spiritually.  I highly recommend this.  

The Great Controversy by Ellen White
I have wanted to read this for--a long time, but I was working on finishing the other four books.  I was deeply encouraged through this book, particularly as relates to "the time of trouble" that the Bible talks about.  Seeing God's love and the way He has been with His people through out history and will be with us always really was amazing.  The book ends with "God is love" and it couldn't be better summarized.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley

From the publisher: 
The Brides of Last Chance Ranch, #2
Molly Hatfield comes to Arizona Territory seeking stability and security. But living in Cactus Patch provides her with more than she ever dreamed.
There is nothing Molly wouldn’t do for her teenaged brother, Donny. Blaming herself for the accident that left him wheelchair bound, Molly has dedicated her life to his care. But in 1896, gainful employment for a woman is hard to come by. So when Molly learns that an eccentric rancher in Cactus Patch, Arizona, is looking for an heiress—someone to take over management of the ranch in exchange for future ownership—she jumps at the chance to provide a real home for her brother.
However, Molly didn’t bank on meeting Dr. Caleb Fairbanks, the town’s charming unmarried doctor. Caleb has a way with Molly that makes her nervous. But it’s how he is with her brother that really alarms her. Caleb sees past the wheelchair and genuinely likes Donny, but Molly fears he’s putting unrealistic ideas into her brother’s head. Falling in love with Caleb would threaten everything she’s worked for, even her brother’s future happiness. But it could be the very reason God brought her to Last Chance Ranch.
My review: 
I enjoyed the fun and spunky characters. Both the primary and secondary characters were engaging.  I was happy to hear some about the characters in the first "Last Chance Ranch" series, although, if you don't want to know what happens in the first book before reading it, then definitely pick up the other book.  Both books are worth the time to read it.
Smething that I thought was well done was about Donny and the way he felte with his wheelchair.  H was trapped but more than just physically he was trapped by what he emotionally and mentally thought.  It is encouraging to see the struggle and success that Donny goes through.  
I am eager to learn more about what will happen with some of the secondary characters that were brought up in the last two books.
I would recommend both books to anyone, but I have to admit that I liked the first book better.
I received this book for free from Booksneeze for my honest review.