23 May 2017

Carrie Turansky's "Shine Like the Dawn" -- Audiobook Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Shine Like the Dawn
by Carrie Turansky
(narration Anne Flosnik)
Tantor Audio (2017)

To be Savored!!!

I listened to Carrie Turansky's newest novel via a download from Audible.com. I really enjoy her books! 

One of the things about this book is that is is very well suited for audiobook because there is a fair amount of repetition to clarify things. That makes it easier to stop and start your listening. I usually listen while cleaning or if I am not feeling well. This is a sweet romance with lovable characters set in England. I loved spending time with Maggie and her family! I am hoping little sister, Violet, gets her own story later!

As far as narration, what a thrill! Anne Flosnik is one of my favorite narrators so having her narrate this book was a super treat. This also contributed to me wanting to savor the reading listening experience rather than rushing through it. Since it could be six to twelve months before Carrie's next novel I didn't want to binge listen. 

Extras: There are secondary romances in this book to enjoy. I will say that was a little bit distracting while listening. I think if read with the eyes that would all be a super bonus to the book. I will likely re-listen to this book sometime so I can catch all the lovely layers better. If you are a dedicated one-time read type of person you might want to opt for the ebook or paperback versions. 

Genre: This story overlaps a bunch of subgenres, which is fun. It is primarily a Christian historical romance but with mystery/suspense. There are mystery components as this is a murder mystery and some interesting "red herrings" that will have you wondering. 

Bibliotherapy: This is a great book for people to listen to while going through court cases or when involved in situations that resulted in death or injury. The unfairness in situations, the dealing with people lying, the stress of court -- all those things are portrayed very accurately in Ms. Turansky's book. This story is a contender for Bibliotherapy Book of the Year on OWG Blog. 

Giveaway: Audible.com download of Shine Like the Dawn. Answer this question -- Have you ever had to deal with a grievous injustice? How did God get you through it?

21 May 2017

Transitions & Trusting in God by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Matt & Beth Fehl

Today at Northside Christian Church our Executive Minister Matthew "Matt" Fehl, spoke about transitions, relationships, and  trust as part of current church study on life transitions. I don't know about you, but I'm in the midst of some of my own possible transitions, some of them pretty big for me. Rev. Fehl spoke about how when you isolate yourself you become overwhelmed, when you aren't getting help from others. As someone with a disability, I understand where some of that isolation comes from. When you are unable to do many things that others take for granted as ordinary, and you need help with some of those things, you end up learning that there are many people who do not want to help you. And that rejection can lead to isolation to avoid the upset that comes with people being unhelpful or in some cases downright rude.

I have found, as strange as it might seem to a fully-abled person, that it is often others (emphasizing not shouting!) WITH DISABILITIES or issues themselves who are most helpful! Yup. You read that right. It may seem counter-intuitive, but those who know the eye-rolling and smart-aleck comments one gets for doing things a certain way because of a disability, understands what it takes to be truly helpful.

Rev. Fehl talked about being in relationship and in community and learning to trust one another. I've found on this blog and in my personal groups, such as Pagels' Pals, my readers' group, that it is often the others suffering and overcoming something who are quick to pray for each other, fast to offer suggestions for help, who step into the gap and send private messages to encourage. This blog would not still be going had it not been for Diana L. Flowers, who despite her health issues came forward to join me and what a blessing she has been (we miss Diana here on the blog, but God knew she needed to focus her attention on her condition which had worsened.) Similarly, Teresa Mathews, despite her health difficulties came on board to help encourage others who are overcoming and despite having lost her husband, having had surgery for esophageal issues, having had breast cancer this past year, and a host of other Job-like problems has continues to minister to our OWG blog guests. Our other OWG reviewers who have been with us for longer and some shorter seasons, Noela Nancarrow, Marian Baay, and Bonnie Roof, despite life's difficulties stepped in to encourage others.

In my recent Christian fiction release "Dime Novel Suitor" in Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands, my heroine, Caroline Kane, doesn't trust the notion of having a husband come to her via an ad and a mail-order husband scheme. You see, she has some serious trust issues having lost her husband years earlier and her father the previous spring, who left her with her siblings and an inn to watch over. And her older sister ended up being untrustworthy as far as helping Caroline out. My heroine does, however, have some trust in God, even as rocky as that trust is. And God has used a man-made event to bring her what looks like a God-ordained answer  -- it is? Can she trust that God has brought her a possible husband even though it is through something her controlling sister contributed to bring about?

Have you ever had something like that happen -- where God stepped in even when it seemed like something driven by worldly desires? I have. God can use any situation to bring about His will. We have to LOOK, SEARCH, LISTEN, and OBEY when He gives us His direction in life. And we have to TRUST that He will prevail. As Matt Fehl said this morning -- if we can trust God with ETERNITY can we not trust Him with our present situation?

GIVEAWAY: Autographed (personalized if you wish!) copy by Carrie of Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands (Barbour, June 2017). Any Carrie's question to enter! 

18 May 2017

Audiobook Review of The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis

The Ebb Tide
By Beverly Lewis
(Recorded Books, 2017)

I listened to this novel via an Audible.com download. I'd not read a Beverly Lewis book in a while. I simply adored "Just Like Mama" a children's book I purchased years ago, about Amish life and a little girl trying too hard to be just like her very capable and beautiful mother.  So I was looking forward to this novel and I wasn't disappointed.

Like Enjoying a Favorite Ice Cream Sundae!

My review:
This is a contemporary Amish story but primarily set in Cape May, New Jersey, which becomes a character in the story. It sounds like a gorgeous place and Ms. Lewis's descriptions made me want to visit there! Sallie Riehl is living in her Amish community and has never found a love interest among those living there. A wealthy family, who has known Sallie through her job waitressing, asks if Sallie can come be a nanny to their little girl. But Sallie has finally, after saving her money for years, saved up enough to go to Australia. She hasn't yet committed to the Amish church and once she does so, Sallie won't be able to make such journeys.

SPOILER alert: But then something happens that tests Sallie's faith. She's strong and the result is she and her family accept God's pushing her in the direction of the New Jersey shore job, before she joins the Lancaster community Amish church. She's begun to consider courting with Perry Zook, a nice young man.

Sallie enjoys all the fun activities there are to do in Cape May.  She meets a marine biology student, Kevin Kreider, who expresses a lot of interest. They become friends. The romance is very slow in developing. This young man is Mennonite, so Sallie realizes they can never be together if she keeps her promise to her parents.

A very nice job with the narration. The story unfolds slowly and is a very good leisurely listen. You can take your time and come back to it and not forget where the story had left off, which I like because I'm often cleaning while I listen to audiobooks.

So take your time is listening and savoring this tasty treat of a listen! I'd highly recommend for a summer listen if you haven't already read the story.
Carrie with Beverly Lewis

This book is available at audible.com (click here), at local Christian bookstores, at book retailers such as Christian Book Distributors in CD audiobook format, and online.

Question: What are your favorite types of summer reads?

14 May 2017

Mother's Day 2017 Haiku by Clark J. Pagels

My son, Clark J. Pagels, 15, wrote me this haiku for Mother's Day. Of course, I love it! I'm sharing it as Clark's guest post for today! Isn't this the sweetest thing ever?

Wishing you all a fantastic Mother's Day! Wishing peace for those who are suffering, like my older sister, who have lost children and may happy memories comfort all of you!

Yesterday, God gave me a very nice Mother's Day gift -- I am a finalist in the prestigious Holt Medallion Awards for my Romance Novella, "The Steeplechase," which is set here where we live!

God bless our readers and God bring healing to our current bloggers, Teresa Mathews and Bonnie Roof, and to our former bloggers Diana Flowers, Noela Nancarrow, and Marian Baay!

11 May 2017

Teresa S. Mathews Reviews "THE NOBLE SERVANT" by Melanie Dickerson

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson 

Thomas Nelson Publishers
Reviewed by Teresa S. Mathews 
5 Stars***** 

Once again the beautiful Queen of fairly tale retellings, Melanie Dickerson, has breathed new life into an old classic by the Brothers Grimm, The Goose Girl. 

Magdalen of Mallin, can’t believe she has been chosen by the handsome Duke of Wolfberg to become his bride, after all it has been two years since their brief meeting and she wasn't sure he even remembered herShe, the daughter of a poor baron, whose own mother has nothing good to say to her, is finally going to be able to save her country from the poverty and starvation that has threatened them since her father's passing. 

On the way to meet her charming husband-to-be, Magdalen is betrayed by an evil servant who makes Magdalen trade places with his daughter. Arriving at Wolfberg, Magdalen hopes the Duke will realize the deception and rescue her, but as soon as she arrives at Wolfberg Magdalen is forced to tend the geese. With her identity stolen and no hope in sight of a rescue, Magdalen’s sadness is lifted somewhat by the friendship of a handsome shepherd who tugs at her memory as someone she should know. When Magdalen glimpses the Duke of Wolfberg, something seems amiss, why does the shepherd look more like the Duke she was to marry than the man claiming to be the Duke?  

 This story was enchanting from the beginning to the end, with lots of intriguing characters, including quite a few that were nefarious, but what’s a good fairy tale without a few miscreants? Reading fairy tales as a kid was always a favorite for me. Dreaming of happy ever afters with my own special prince would always bring joy to my heart and now as an adult rereading these stories brought to life again from the imagination of Ms. Dickerson is even more thrilling. I cannot wait to see where her next adventure leads me. You can never be too old to yearn for a happy ever after

***Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for providing a copy 
of this in exchange for my honest opinion.***

GIVEAWAY: Please leave a comment and your email address and you could be the blessed winner of a copy of this exciting tale that Melanie has graciously offered for our weekly giveaway! US RESIDENTS ONLY PLEASE!!

I was going through some funny old pictures and found my own version of Magdalen and her sweet shepherd; myself and my husband Carlton. I had to share them!  :-) 

07 May 2017

Seven Ways to Show Teacher Appreciation All Year Round

I was BLESSED to have some amazing teachers. I mean really and truly blessed! I attended a small elementary school, Pentland, in Newberry, Michigan and then went on to Newberry Junior High school and high school. I am very grateful for the instruction I received! Shouts outs to Avis Fretz, my fifth grade teacher, and to Ruth Hill, my high school chorus teacher and baton twirling supervisor!!!

Nowadays, with a fifteen-year-old in high school, I sometimes struggle with how to show appreciation to my son's teachers, who do so much for him. As someone with an autoimmune disorder (RA) I have been rather spastic in when and how I'm going to show my gratitude to my son's teachers. If I'm feeling lousy all during Teacher Appreciation Week I might never make it into the school that week -- it could be a month or later. But there are things we can do all year round to show some Teacher love.

1) Pray for them and their families.

2) Email them a note of encouragement or of thanks. I know I'm in the habit of emailing when I need help with something. But an email of how your child has benefitted from their teaching can be a nice surprise. On one of my recent facebook posts, my cousin Scott Davis, a teacher in Michigan, mentioned that a thoughtful note is always appreciated.

3) Give them shout outs at meetings or school. Let others know what a wonderful job they are doing. 

4) Send supplies in unexpectedly during the school year, not just at the beginning. Also, I "think" some of the classes that aren't main classes don't always get supplies, just the home room teachers, at the beginning of the year.

5) Something personal, in your hobby area, can be fun. I'm a beader. So one year I gifted all of my son's teachers with my beadwork during teacher appreciation week. One of the ancillary teachers was really touched that I remembered her because so often she'd been left out. One of my Facebook commenters mentioned, however, that children's homemade gifts can be problematic because if a teacher gets too many it is hard to throw them out to make room for the new ones. Kind of like those cute Sunday school projects that come home and eventually you have to toss them.

6) A gift card for supplies or to one of their favorite places was the big winner on my Facebook post! Most folks mentioned gift cards as a great option.  In our school district, our teachers have not been given their well-deserved raises since the Great Recession. If I could gift all my son's teachers with a huge gift card I would. Still, I find gift cards a little impersonal for certain times of year. And, frankly, I lose them or misplace them but the Facebook responders indicated that in particular for book gift cards, e.g., Barnes & Noble or Amazon, they usually spent those right away.

7) Local gifts. This year I bought some gifts from Yankee Candle factory which has a flagship store in our area. Depending on where you live, items such as locally acquired honey (aren't teachers sweet as honey?), artwork from a local artist, note cards of local landmarks (Shirley Plantation had beautiful cards as does Colonial Williamsburg), and maybe even local authors' books (like mine!).

Giveaway: GUESS WHAT? Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands will be releasing in a few weeks!!! It will be available online and in multiple retail stores and at independent Christian book stores. It includes my novella, "Dime Novel Suitor," which I had a lot of fun writing! Answer this question to enter: What made your favorite teacher your fave?

02 May 2017

Pegg Thomas's Debut Novella in The Pony Express Collection

The Pony Express Collection from Barbour

Pegg Thomas's debut is a fantastic read! I'm hoping she'll win some awards with this as a debut Christian fiction writer!

Book blurb:
Alannah Fagan escaped from a battle she wouldn’t survive. Stewart McCann left behind a battle he couldn’t face. Thrown together at Horseshoe Station, can they find something worth fighting for?

My Review: 5 Stars *****
I loved this story. The imagery of the setting. The way Pegg Thomas conveys her story, the words she uses, i.e., her "voice" really resonate with me and are perfect for the story she tells. The characters are well-developed and feel crisp and clear. I found myself rooting for all the "good guys" and praying for the villains to get their comeuppance. This is a richly layered plot in a standard length novella of about 20,000 words.

Although it is the last in the collection, you could read it first as the novellas aren't connected to each other they are stand alone novellas.

Book Links:
Purchase at B&N

GIVEAWAY: We're giving away two copies of The Pony Express Romance collection this week! So be sure to comment on Pegg Thomas's interview on the previous post, too! For this copy to enter answer the following question -- What about the Pony Express intrigues you?

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