Friday, May 30, 2014

going gluten free: introduction

Today marks my fourth day of following a gluten-free diet. But don't confuse me for a bandwagon jumper. Just a few months ago, I scoffed at the idea of going gluten free and thanked the Lord that, while I may have a myriad of health issues, celiac disease isn't one of them.

Then I learned I have a thyroid condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and that changed everything.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) between my sophomore and junior years of college. I had some scary symptoms that made my doctor suspect diabetes, especially since my dad has Type I, but the results came back pointing to the thyroid. I was told that I would have to take an inexpensive pill every day for the rest of my life, have lab work done once or twice a year, and that would be that.

And it was...until it wasn't. In 2010, I started having some weird symptoms—tingling hands, heart palpitations, anxiety, extreme fatigue, headaches, light headedness. I wore a heart monitor and had a brain scan. Everything came back normal. My doctor was mystified. I began seeing a chiropractor, who diagnosed a neck sprain. For a few months, I saw him three times a week, and I still see him once a month. He also had me start taking an iodine supplement called Iodoral. Almost immediately, I began to feel better.

Flash forward to the fall of 2012. Following an ill-fated two weeks on birth control (prescribed because of extremely painful periods), during which time I was constantly nauseous and emotional, I began to feel "off." Besides fatigue, heartburn, and fairly frequent abdominal pain, I couldn't really pinpoint what was wrong, but I knew something was. Every once in a while, my doctor (by this time a different doctor than the one who diagnosed the hypothyroidism) would adjust my thyroid meds—sometimes up, sometimes down—and she "diagnosed" me with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after an abdominal ultrasound didn't turn up anything alarming. She also tested my Vitamin D, which was very low. Supplements helped me feel some better, but I still knew something was wrong.

Then in October 2013, she ran a full thyroid panel and discovered my thyroid antibodies were high. She said this meant I had Hashimoto's, and we would regulate my meds by how I felt, rather than what the regular thyroid test said, for a while. She also recommended I stop taking the Iodoral. She didn't make a big deal about Hashimoto's, and I started feeling better once I stopped the Iodoral.

By April of this year, I was feeling horrible again, and I'd gained 10 pounds since October, though my eating habits and activity level remained the same (which is to say that I didn't really exercise—I wanted to, but I hadn't had the energy for it since starting to feel bad in 2012, but I didn't gain any weight until I stopped taking the Iodoral). When my blood work showed that my thyroid antibodies were still sky high (999), she referred me to an ENT. I had an ultrasound of the thyroid done, and it didn't show any suspicious nodes, which was good news. The bad news was the ENT couldn't really do anything for me, but he did take time to explain Hashimoto's. His recommendation was that I switch to name brand Synthroid (I had been taking a generic ever since my initial diagnosis), recheck my labs in three months, and then possibly see an Endocrinologist.

At this point, my frustration level was sky high. I had pinned my hopes on the ENT having answers, and when he didn't, I wasn't sure what to do. I thought about making a nuisance of myself and demanding a referral to an endo, but I'm not that girl (yet, anyway). What was I to do? I knew I didn't want to wait around anymore, but I had no idea what my next step was. Then, one night, I was on Facebook, and one of those Someecard pictures popped up in my feed. I can't remember what the photo was, but it had been shared from a page called Hypothyroid Mom. I clicked through to the page and found ... hope.

The women posting on Hypothyroid Mom are women just like me. We don't share all of the same symptoms, but someone mentioned each and every thing I deal with. It sounds crazy, but never before had I considered that there are other people who can truly understand what I'm going through—because they're going through it, too.

After finding Hypothyroid Mom (which is also a website), I started reading everything I could about Hashimoto's. There's a lot of conflicting information out there, but one thing that most people agree on is that a gluten-free diet can really help those with Hashimoto's to feel better. (I'm not talking about regular MD's here—the consensus across the board from patients and more "natural" doctors is that most doctors don't really understand Hashimoto's and treat it completely based on lab work.)

I truly believe God led me to the Hypothyroid Mom Facebook page. I had reached the end of what I knew to do, and this page has pushed me to start learning about my condition and take control of my health. I honestly don't know if going gluten free will help me, but why not give it a shot? I'm tracking my symptoms, what I eat, and how much I exercise each day. So far, I haven't really seen a difference, but it is just the fourth day. I'll post again next week about how I'm feeling and what I'm eating.

Until then, if you also struggle with thyroid issues (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto's, or Graves'), I'd encourage you to sign up for the Thyroid Summit. It starts June 2, and it's free to watch. I'm sure I won't watch everything, but I plan to view the presentations that pertain to me.

Here's to better health and surviving Hashimoto's!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"i'm nobody: the lost pages" by alex marestaing

About the book: We're all broken on this side of heaven, but we can make beautiful things from the pieces. Agoraphobic Caleb Reed is about to step outside for the first time in seven years, meet indie filmmaker Iris Elliott . . . and definitely not fall in love. It's all because of the notes, the weird and wonderful notes he keeps finding on his front porch, notes signed by someone claiming to be long dead poet Emily Dickinson. Caleb's parents think he's losing his mind, as always, but he knows they're wrong. Something's going on outside—something strange, something terrifying . . . something beautiful.

Read the EPIC Award nominated novel that critics are saying is "fresh", "powerful" and "unlike anything" they've read. In a world full of anxiety, I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages is a triumphant tale of faith over fear and one that kids and grown-ups of all ages will love. (A London Book Festival Honorable Mention Winner)

My take: I'm Nobody is a delightful young adult novel about fear, grief, and the power to overcome—with a dose of intrigue and magic.

Agoraphobic Caleb slowly comes out of his self-imposed prison as two things happen—he begins receiving mysterious notes from a stranger, and he reconnects with grade school classmate Iris. His journey back to the real world is both fascinating and heartbreaking.

One thing I absolutely love about this novel is that I couldn't tell where it was going. I've become pretty adept at anticipating plot twists, but I certainly didn't anticipate where this novel was headed. The ending is supremely satisfying and magical in the best kind of way.

I do have to note that I found some of the point of view shifts to be a bit jarring—the reader is inside just about every character's head at some point. Also, my copy had quite a few typos. But overall, this is a fantastic novel! I would have loved it in junior high, and I love it today. I'd say it's completely appropriate for ages 12 and up, and perhaps even for more mature 9 to 11 year olds.

Content note: The "magic" of this novel is more of the Disney variety—sweet and harmless. No witchcraft or demons here.

My rating: 4-1/2 stars

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.


About the author: Author Alex Marestaing loves to create. He's written for media outlets such as The Walt Disney Company, Lego, Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins, and The Los Angeles Times and has authored three YA novels. His latest, I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages, recently won an honorable mention at the London Book Festival and was nominated for a 2014 Epic Award. Though he spends most of his time imagining ideas for the youth market, he's also written for faith based publications and has covered his favorite sport, soccer, in Europe and the U.S. for Sports Spectrum Magazine and Yanks Abroad. When Alex isn't writing or speaking at conferences, you'll most likely find him hanging out in California with his wife, three kids, and Milou, his dog.

Alex can be found at his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"the heart's pursuit" giveaway information

I'm very excited to read Robin Lee Hatcher's latest novel, The Heart's Pursuit. I'll be posting my review near the end of the tour, so I wanted to get you the information about the giveaway now. Keep reading to find out how you can win a $200 Visa cash card!

Robin Lee Hatcher's latest novel, The Heart's Pursuit, is receiving critical praise: "The Old West lives again in this inspirational romantic adventure. . . . Themes of forgiveness, justice and mercy dominate the story and add to the characters' depth. Hatcher treats readers to a rich sensory experience—you can taste the desert dust and smell the smoke and stench of a crowded gambling hall." (Publishers Weekly)

Robin is celebrating the release of her novel by giving away a $200 "Romantic Weekend Getaway."
heartspursuit-400-click

  One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card (Get away for the weekend with that special someone!)
  • The Heart's Pursuit by Robin Lee Hatcher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 8th. Winner will be announced June 9th on Robin's website.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Robin's blog on June 8th to see if you won.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"love finds you in sugarcreek, ohio" by serena b. miller

About the book: A mysterious outsider casts a long shadow on Ohio's Amish country. Policewoman Rachel Troyer has always looked after her three elderly Amish aunts, proprietors of a farmhouse inn near Sugarcreek, Ohio. The idyllic town is popular with tourists, who come to sample its famous Amish goods. But one thing is clear to Rachel—Joe Matthews is no tourist. When the bearded stranger lands on her aunts' doorstep, begging shelter for himself and his young son, Rachel is suspicious.

Will she be able to uncover Joe's secrets despite her aunts'—and her own—growing affection for him?

My take: Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio is an amalgamation of genres—Amish, romance, suspense, and mystery—that combine into a novel that's much better than I anticipated. Really, I don't know why I'm surprised, as I've enjoyed the other novels that I've read in the "Love Finds You" line. Still, I'm pretty tired of the Amish genre (with a few notable exceptions), so I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this novel.
However, in Sugarcreek, the main characters are not Amish, no one decided to become Amish, and no one contemplated leaving the Amish—which shows you this isn't your typical Amish novel!

The plot is intriguing, and Miller throws in several plot twists that I didn't anticipate at all—especially as the novel neared the conclusion. Rachel and Joe are both compelling characters, and Rachel's aunts—especially Anna—are quite endearing. I really loved almost everything about the novel. The only thing I didn't care for was the Stephanie character. She's a pregnant teen who really seemed to be included solely to contribute to a major plot point. Neither her entrance nor exit struck me as particularly realistic, and I wish either she had played a more major role in the novel or she hadn't been included at all.

Overall, Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio is a great novel. It's mysterious, romantic, and thought provoking. I definitely recommend it! I also recommend the movie based on the novel. Though I haven't seen it yet (and probably won't for some time, as it's airing on Up TV, a channel I don't get), it sure looks good! Plus, it stars Tom Everett Scott ("Shades" on That Thing You Do) and Sarah Lancaster (Rachel on Saved by the Bell: The New Class)—two throwbacks to my teen years! Check out the trailer below, and if you happen to get Up TV, be sure to tune in on June 1.

My rating: 4 stars

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Read my reviews of other "Love Finds You" books: Mackinac Island, Michigan by Melanie Dobson and Glacier Bay, Alaska by Tricia Goyer & Ocieanna Fleiss.

About the author: Prior to writing novels, Serena Miller wrote for many periodicals, including Woman's World, Guideposts, Billy Graham's Decision Magazine, Reader's Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and The Detroit Free Press Magazine. She has spent many years partnering with her husband in full-time ministry and lives on a farm in southern Ohio near a thriving Amish community. Learn more about Serena at http://serenabmiller.com.

About the movie and viewing party: 
  love_finds_you_sugarcreek 
Guideposts Books is excited to announce the premiere of a new film based on the book Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio (Summerside Press) by Serena Miller. The movie, produced by Mission Pictures International and filmed last fall in the actual town of Sugarcreek, will premiere on Sunday, June 1, 2014, at 7:00 PM EDT on Up TV (formerly the Gospel Music Channel). Visit the movie website for more information.
sugarcreekmovie-banner
Serena and Guideposts will be celebrating with a Facebook viewing party

Join Serena and readers on Facebook while you tune in to watch Love Finds You in Sugarcreek to share your thoughts about the movie, chat with other viewers, and win fun prizes. Just use hashtag #LFYSugarcreek to join the discussion on June 1st.

Check your local listing for UpTV (http://up.viewerlink.tv) to find out when it airs in your timezone.

Excited? Help me spread the word! Just share this link and information on your social media along with the hashtag #LFYSugarcreek! Plus, we'll be tracking the hashtag and giving away Amazon & Starbucks cards to people at random who help to promote all throughout the month of May. Winners announced at the Love Finds You in Sugarcreek viewing party on June 1st.
 

"This is so exciting for Serena Miller and Guideposts! We are thrilled that Up TV has chosen Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio to make into a movie,” said Lenore Lelah Person, vice president and editorial director of Guideposts Books and Inspirational Media. “With Serena’s wonderful story and a beautiful backdrop in Ohio Amish country, fans of the story and the series will enjoy seeing it on screen. For more information read the media release.

UPTV LFYSC.300x250.C.R3For those who are not familiar with the Love Finds You™ series, this will be a great opportunity to introduce them to these uplifting and engaging romances. Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio is one of more than 50 releases in the popular Love Finds You™ series uniquely titled after actual American towns with unusual but intriguing names and combines travel, romance and faith in one package. The series includes both historical and contemporary releases, and each fictional story draws on compelling history or the unique character of a real place. Stories center on romances kindled in small towns, old loves lost and found again on the high plains, and new loves discovered at exciting vacation getaways. Mission Pictures has purchased the movie rights to the entire series and plans to produce additional films based on the series in the future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

introducing "a bridge unbroken" by cathy bryant + giveaway

Today, I'm spotlighting Cathy Bryant's new release, A Bridge Unbroken. I'll have a review of the book in a few weeks, but today I want to introduce you to Cathy and tell you about a great giveaway!

Welcome to the BlitzKat blog tour for Cathy Bryant’s A Bridge Unbroken. Another Miller’s Creek Novel set in the heart of Texas, A Bridge Unbroken brings two new characters to the forefront while still giving fans a glimpse of their favorite characters from the past, including the old geezers and Mama Beth.

About the book: Letting go to build a bridge…

Dakota Kelly wants her painful past to disappear. A plan to start afresh is derailed when she co-inherits her late grandfather’s farm with the man responsible for the scars on her heart. But Chance Johnson isn’t the only ghost from the past. Someone else is out to get her and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Will Chance and Dakota lay aside their grudges to restore the old farmhouse and bridge, or will evil forces sabotage their attempt at forgiveness?

Click HERE to read a sample chapter of A Bridge Unbroken.

| Purchase Print Version | Purchase eBook Version |

The Other Miller’s Creek Novels

“Miller’s Creek, Texas…where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth’s front porch beckons…”

About the author: A native daughter of the Lone Star State, Cathy loves spinning tales about life in small town Texas. When she’s not weaving stories about the fine folks in Miller’s Creek, you’ll find her rummaging through thrift stores, feeding her reality TV addiction, or up to her elbows in yet another home improvement project in the mountain cabin she shares with her minister husband of over thirty years. You can find out more about Cathy and her books at www.CatBryant.com.

Here are a few other places to meet up with Cathy in cyberspace:

|Facebook| Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | YouTube | Google+|

Reader friends on Facebook may want to visit the following groups, the first for book bargains and the second to discuss all things Miller’s Creek.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChristianBooks.Giveaways/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MillersCreekReaders/


About the Blog Tour and Launch Party: Cathy is celebrating the new addition to the Miller’s Creek family by making several prizes available to reader friends--including a $100 Visa Card Giveaway. Winners will be announced at the interactive Facebook Launch Party on May 22, 2014.

https://www.facebook.com/events/315502748601792/
Other prizes include: t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, bookmarks, eBooks, print books and Amazon Gift cards.

Enter the grand prize drawing for the $100 Visa Card now by clicking one of the links below. But hurry, because the contest ends May 22, 2014. (NOTE: Some contest tasks can be completed daily for extra chances to win.) The grand prize winner will be announced at the A Bridge Unbroken Facebook launch party on May 22.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE DRAWING VIA CATHY’S WEBSITE.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER VIA THE GIVEAWAY TAB ON CATHY’S FACEBOOK PAGE.

Or enter via the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
See you at the party!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"dream treaders" by wayne thomas batson

About the book (from the publisher): Book #1 in a trilogy from fantasy author Wayne Thomas Batson explores the concept of dreams and their effects on us.

People are fascinated by dreams, and the Bible has a great deal to say about them. From Jacob’s dream of the heavenly stairway in Genesis 28 to angels visiting Joseph during dreams in Matthew 1 to the Apostle John’s “waking dream” from which he obtained the book of Revelation—dreams have been powerful ingredients of God’s plan as revealed through Scripture.

Fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton discovers he has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord, who wreaks chaos in the Dream World. But as Archer’s dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life.

Rigby Thames, the new kid from England, builds a suspicious rock star-like following at Dresden High School a little too quickly. Even Archer’s best friend and confidant, Kara Windchil, seems taken in by the cool guy with the wild blond hair, which definitely rubs Archer the wrong way. Archer must face two foes in two worlds, but he cannot succeed alone. Archer sets off to find other dreamtreaders in a desperate attempt to defeat the enemy terrorizing his friends and family.

My take: Dream Treaders begins as Archer is in the dream world, trying to infiltrate Shadowkeep. He must get back to his anchor before the Nightmare Lord gets him. Confused? I was. I struggled to get my bearings in this world that made no sense. Had the author chosen to introduce Archer in the real world, then go to sleep and begin his work as a Dreamtreader, I could have followed along. But as it is written, I was very confused and hadn't yet formed any kind of attachment to Archer, so I wanted to stop reading. Had I not agreed to review the book, I would have.

And I would have missed out on a great YA/fantasy novel. By about the third chapter, I was flying through the pages, anxious to see what would happen next. The whole novel unfolds at breakneck speed, but once I had my bearings, the speed worked well. It does end in a cliffhanger, but as it's book one of a series, I'm fine with that.

So much YA fiction is geared toward girls, so it was refreshing to read a YA novel that would appeal to both genders. This would be a great series for junior high and high school age kids.

My rating: 4 stars

Buy the book. 

About the author: Wayne Thomas Batson is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Door Within trilogy, The Isle series, and The Berinfell series. As a middle school reading teacher, Wayne writes adventures set in imaginative locales because he believes that we all dream of doing something that matters.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Amazon.com through its Vine reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

introducing "silenced" by dani pettrey + sweepstakes

One of my favorite book series over the last couple of years has been Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series. I read and reviewed Submerged and Shattered as they came out (Shattered even made my Top 10 of 2013 list), and I currently have the third book, Stranded, on my "to be read" shelf. And now book four, Silenced, is coming out, and I couldn't be more excited—it's Kayden & Jake's story, and I've been so interested in Jake from the beginning!

Get your copy of SILENCED by Author Dani Pettrey!

Here's a bit more about the book: A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna’s route leads her to a face-to-face encounter with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something sinister? When the case is handed to the overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin. With Jake’s past now revealed, he’s ready to use his talent for investigation again-–but he could never prepare for where the case will take him.

Kayden and Jake soon realize that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is on to them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger.

But the truth is far worse than either of them imagine.

Sounds intriguing, right? I can't wait to get my hands on the book! I'll be reading and reviewing both Stranded and Silenced in the next month, but in the meantime, I want to tell you about a great giveaway!

About the giveaway: In celebration of Silenced's release, author Dani Pettrey and Bethany House Publishers are sponsoring a sweepstakes where you can win one of three great prizes!

GRAND PRIZE:

ALASKAN AIR ADVENTURE

In SILENCED, Kayden’s adventurous nature and skills as a pilot come in handy as she and Jake race to uncover the truth. If you’ve always dreamed of hopping on a plane to chase your own adventures, but don’t have a well-trained pilot and a Cessna at your disposal, we’ve got the perfect prize for you.

The Grand Prize winner will receive: a $250 gift certificate to Alaskan Airlines, good toward travel to multiple destinations across the Continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii.

SECOND PRIZE:

DENALI DEVOTION WALL ART

As Jake and Kayden crisscross the Alaskan wilderness looking for answers, they also see some of the most glorious scenery on earth:  soaring mountains, crystal clear lakes, and incomparable wildlife.  Could there be any better setting for a glowing romance? Now you can share in the romantic scenery, even if you don’t live in Alaska.

The Second Prize winner will receive: The Kiss at Wonder Lake 31″ x 23″ Framed Art Print

THIRD PRIZE:

RUGGED ROMANCE PICNIC PACK

Kayden has always been practical, no-nonsense, and slow to trust. She’s definitely not a romantic-at-heart who longs for a handsome man to whisk her away for a picnic in the mountains.  Right? ; )

If you, like Kayden, have secretly dreamed of a romantic mountain-top picnic, this is the prize for you.

The Third Prize winner will receive: The ultimate picnic pack for a romantic afternoon. This insulated backpack includes silverware, plates, napkins, plastic long-stemmed glasses and a wide selection of gourmet picnic snacks.

How to enter: Go to http://www.danipettrey.com/rugged-romance-sweepstakes/ and complete the entry box, anytime between May 1 and May 21.

This giveaway starts May 1, 2014 and ends May 21, 2014 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, May 23, 2014, and announced at DaniPettrey.com.

So head on over to Dani's website to enter. Or don't. 'Cause if you don't enter, I have a better chance of winning ... and I'd really like to get my hands on one of those prizes!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"a promise in pieces" by emily wierenga

About the series: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book (from Litfuse): A baby quilt touches many hearts as it travels from family-to-family and through generations.

After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women's Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier's last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.
Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she's not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier's baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.

Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child's name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever happened to Mattie—and if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quilt—years later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

My take: I've read several of the Quilts of Love books with mixed results. Some I've really enjoyed, and others have been difficult to get through. But A Promise in Pieces? It's in a class of its own.

One thing that makes A Promise in Pieces unique is the way it's told. It begins in the year 2000 as Clara, her husband Oliver, and their children and grandchildren are traveling to New Orleans to deliver a special quilt to a museum. This portion (and all other portions in 2000) is written in third person. Then Clara begins telling her story—and the story of the quilt—to her grandson Noah, and this part is written in first person from Clara's perspective. What's different about this is the reader can actually hear Clara speaking to Noah—it's as though this portion was a transcription of Clara's speech. Wierenga switches seamlessly between Clara's story and the action in 2000 as she unveils Clara's story in pieces.

Ultimately, though, what makes A Promise in Pieces special is the story itself. Clara and Oliver's love story is so sweet and unusual, and the story of the quilt and how it touched so many lives is truly special. And near the end, when Clara faces something she'd dreaded her whole life, well, let's just say I had to stop reading for a bit to regain my composure! The end is not what I expected, but it's very fitting for Clara.

At a mere 193 pages, A Promise in Pieces can be read in an evening, but the story will stick with you much longer than that. It's one of those novels that I would love to see made into a film. (Hallmark???) I highly recommend it!

My rating: 5 stars

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Read my reviews of other Quilts of Love novels: Aloha Rose, Tempest's Course, and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas.

About the author: Emily Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist, a monthly columnist for The Christian Courier, and the author of Save My Children (Castle Quay Books, 2008), Chasing Silhouettes (Ampelon Publishing, 2012) and Mom in the Mirror (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). Emily resides in Alberta, Canada. This is her first novel.

Learn more about Emily at http://www.emilywierenga.com.

About the giveaway: The latest Quilts of Love release, A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga is receiving glowing reviews.

Emily is celebrating the release of her debut novel with a "Women Helping Women" shopping spree giveaway.
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  One winner will receive:
  • $200 to spend at Emily's favorite shops, Noonday Collection & Vibella (Click through to learn more about how these companies exist to make a difference in the lives of women!)
  • A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga
  • A Stitch and a Prayer by Eva Gibson
  • Rival Hearts by Tara Randel
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 10th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog on May 12th. Then be sure to stop by the Quilts of Love Facebook page on May 29th for the "Quilting Bee" Facebook party with Emily and other Quilts of Love authors. RSVP for an evening of book chat, quilting tips & tricks, prizes, and more!

Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

i used to love writing...

Today, I spent my entire lunch break—all 30 minutes—rereading old blog posts both on this blog and on Cinematic Survey. And here's what I remembered, in the midst of occasionally cracking myself up (because really, I totally get my own humor!)—I used to love blogging. I used to love writing. It gave me joy. Whether I was gushing about Dean Cain (it's really the crush that never dies), analyzing Dawson's Creek (a post that led to yet another blog), or simply talking about life, I was writing because I wanted to, not because I had to. I was writing for my own enjoyment, not for anyone else.

Writing takes energy, and that's been in short supply lately. So I've stuck to the bare bones—what I have to do. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy reading and reviewing, but writing a book review doesn't exactly fill my soul with joy. How can I get back to the joy of writing?

I don't have any answers right now, but I know I want to learn to love writing again. And this is a step in the right direction—I had an absolute blast writing this post, and I don't care if anyone besides me enjoys it!

Random cat picture of the day: two of my cuties!