28 February 2013

Noela Nancarrow Reviews Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow

Moonblood is the third book in the spectacular Tales of Goldstone Wood series.
Once again I was astounded at the fascinating intricacies of this clever epic allegory/fantasy. It was overflowing with unique and deeply-layered characters, strange lands and even stranger paths, and an ingenious plot unlike any other! I remain completely in awe of not only Anne’s brilliant imagination but also of her beautiful and euphonious writing!

Journey with Prince Lionheart on his undertaking to free his kingdom The Southlands from the Dragon, who is wreaking havoc, destruction, and death upon Lionheart’s kingdom and people. Experience Lionheart’s many struggles in this quest; in being humbled as a lowly servant, in falling unexpectedly in love, and in the heart-breaking decisions he made that tore at his soul. Though at times he is weak-minded and insecure, he is also a character of a quiet strength and an integrity that is buried deep within him, but not altogether extinguished. However, will this integrity and faith of his surface in time? Or will he continue to make excuses for his mistakes and terrible choices?

After betraying his beloved Una, in the most terrible way, and then banishing his long-standing devoted and faithful friend Rose Red to the dangerous Wilderlands, can Una and Rose Red ever forgive him? And can he ever forgive himself as he discovers just how far-reaching and dreadful the consequences of his actions are. What will it take for Prince Lionheart to surrender to the Silver Thrush’s words of ‘Won’t you return to me’?

We find out what became of Rose Red when she was banished to the Wilderlands, and learn the true identity of this strange, ugly girl. And we discover why she was so crucial to King Vahe and his evil plan to awaken the sleeping dragons, on the night of Moonblood.

Right along with the charismatic cast of Moonblood, we are taken on a journey of forgiveness and redemption, and learning that we cannot absolve our own sin by works.  We discover we only need to accept the grace and forgiveness of our master.
While traveling our paths, we will encounter many crossroads which may require us to make a difficult choice. How do we choose the road to take? Along the way, we will detect the signposts of trust and faith, and this is where patience is vital to stay on course.   
But will it all be too late for Rose Red and Lionheart, and for their kingdoms? The Moon is already beginning to turn blood-red…

Anne's books can be found at AmazonCBDBarnes & Noble, and other bookstores.

GIVEAWAY: We are giving away a copy of any one of Anne Elisabeth's books this week (ebook only for international winners.) Leave your email address and answer the question. 

QUESTION: There is a strong message of the importance of choices in this novel. Is there a difficult choice you have had to make that was for the good of someone?

27 February 2013

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow

Veiled Rose

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow

Veiled Rose is Book Two in the enchanting Tales of Goldstone Wood series, and most effective and satisfying when read after Book One, Heartless.  This fascinating allegory fantasy will have you diving into an exquisite tale of memorable mortal and mythical type characters, evil dragons, intriguing and unique settings, and with an inspirational and phenomenal storyline!

Throughout this story, you’ll also feel God’s beautiful and ceaseless love portrayed. Additionally, you’ll be prompted to think about the darkness that may seep into our lives when we don’t ‘follow the light’ by putting our trust in Him during life’s adversities.

In Veiled Rose, we view the individual journeys of the enigmatical veiled girl Rose Red and the kind and humorous, yet fallible Prince Lionheart. We also experience the epic battle between good and evil throughout, and ultimately the tug-of-war for our souls.

The wonderfully mysterious Rose Red lives on a forest mountain behind a village, hiding from the villagers and wearing a shroud of veils. She has only her father who works all day and her nanny; a goat named Beana for companionship, and therefore is terribly lonely. When a young lad called Leo who is spending the summer holidays at Hill House at the bottom of the mountain, ventures up the mountain to fight the ‘monster’ that he’s heard the villages whisper about, he meets the odd but interesting Rose Red. They spend many hours playing adventures and so began a deep and abiding friendship. Eventually she acquiesces to show him the monster in the cave. Who and what is the mystery of this monster? And can she trust her friend with this secret?  Leo returns five years later, and when he discovers that Rose Red’s father has died and she is barely eating, he brings her home with him to Southlands, having revealed he is in actual fact Prince Lionheart of the Southlands.

The horrifying Dragon King, who believes Rose Red is the Beloved of his Enemy, is furious to see her leave the mountain, and him. He gives her a year and a day to return or he will come for her. When she didn’t return, the Dragon attacked Southland setting everything on fire and causing great destruction across the kingdom. And even when the fires died down, the lingering poisonous smoke continued to affect the citizens and their minds making them weak and causing dark thoughts. Lionheart sets off to find a way to be able to kill the dragon and save his family and kingdom. However the Dragon King’s sister, The Lady of Dreams, plans to ensnare Lionheart by manipulating him to choose a dream that will go against his will, his new love, and to enslave him. Follow Lionheart aka Leo the Jester as he disguises himself while on his courageous quest to rid his kingdom of the evil. Likewise, join Rose Red in her own journey of grave danger and self-discovery.

I genuinely enjoyed this ingenious tale and recommend it highly for everyone! It’s especially encouraging for those who are going through difficult circumstances and finding it difficult to place their whole trust in God. And if you are feeling lonely or just different, you’ll relate very much to the character of Rose Red.

Wrapping up this review I’d love to share some words of God’s amazing love from the Thrush Songbird in Veiled Rose. “I want you for yourself. I want you to be everything you were intended to be before the worlds were formed. Everything this death-in-life has prevented you from becoming. Yes, we both want your loyalty… I will never take something from you that you do not wish to give.”
Thank you Anne Elisabeth Stengl for this treasure!

Anne's books can be found at AmazonCBDBarnes & Noble, and other bookstores.

GIVEAWAY: We are giving away a copy of any one of Anne Elisabeth's books this week (ebook only for international winners.) Anne Elisabeth is also giving away a signed copy of Starflower. Leave your email address and answer the question. 

QUESTION: Do you ever feel lonely or different and if so, what has helped you to overcome any negative feelings associated with those things?  

26 February 2013

Noela Nancarrow Reviews Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Heartless - Tales of Goldstone Wood series book 1

Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow

Heartless Has A Big Heart

‘Heartless’ is a remarkable and fascinating inspirational allegorical fantasy, set within the different world of Parumvir and other wonderful kingdoms each ruled by nobility. This enchanting and spellbinding tale provides an absolute feast of intrigue, adventure, great peril, magic and romance!  And then… there’s the dragon. A horrendously monstrous, reptilian-scaled and fire-breathing evil beast! This is a tale filled with incredible characters and fairy-tale type creatures, and layered with cleverly composed allegories.

In the Kingdom of Parumvir, we find that Princess Una has come of age. Suitors of noble status journey from kingdoms far and wide to pay their respects to her. But it is from the Unseen realm of Farthestshore that the ‘remarkably unremarkable’ Prince Aethelbald arrives to declare his love and intentions toward Una. He is however rejected by the Princess. Furthermore, his warnings to her father King Fidel of a coming great and terrible danger are not heeded. There is yet another one who is also rejected by the lovely princess and one of those rejected nobility will become dangerously revengeful. Feeling as if her dream of being swept away in love by a prince was never going to happen, she was taken by surprise when an unexpected admirer, captured her heart completely. He asks her to trust him when he had to leave to help free his imprisoned people from the dragon. But can he truly be trusted, and will she continue to trust him when he doesn’t return, and of what cost will this trust be to her and to those she loves?

Meanwhile the menacingly evil and fiery Dragon is on its way to Parumvir to claim Una, the ‘Beloved of my enemy’, a name he’d called her in one of the terrible dreams she was plagued with after touching a dragon scale at the 12 Year Market. It is Una’s kiss and heart that the Dragon seeks to claim. But her father the King, her brother Prince Felix, Oriana Palace and their city are also in the Dragon’s sights to destroy!

I loved the fantastic and unique elements throughout, such as the 12 Year Market; Woodhaven – The Halflight Realm; and the blind cat that seems to see and is more than what he seems! This riveting and intricately crafted tale is also threaded with such inspiring allegories; you will enjoy the thrill of discovering the Christian parallels as you read this story and likely even discover more as I did when you ponder the possibilities once you’ve finished. Some of them were so beautifully expressed; it was emotional at times! As was the humble and beautifully significant expressions of the Prince’s love.

Overall, Heartless is an entertaining and exciting story of God’s love and sacrifice. There are also many thought-provoking messages of encouragement we can take from this inspired fantasy tale. Una is challenged to learn not to trust her feelings or that what she sees, but to trust what she knows to be true, and to listen and obey that still, quiet voice in her spirit. The message of trust is also eloquently explained. We feel Una’s terrible despair at being betrayed, her isolation and loneliness when she becomes different, and her overwhelming fear. However as demonstrated in Heartless, it is when we place our unswerving faith in God in all circumstances that He will bring that pure peace that passes all understanding!

Anne's books can be found at Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores.

GIVEAWAY: We are giving away a copy of any one of Anne Elisabeth's books this week (ebook only for international winners.) Leave your email address and answer the question. 

QUESTION: Is there a time where you have had to rest on pure faith and not what was in front of you? 

24 February 2013

Anne Elisabeth Stengl interview

Anne Elizabeth Stengl

Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of Starflower, and the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series. Her first two novels, Heartless and Veiled Rose, have both been honored with Christy Awards. Her fifth novel, Dragonwitch, is due to release summer 2013.

Anne Elisabeth, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 

Would you tell us about the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help?
 The first few years after college, I was deeply involved in my local church. As a lonely, single girl living across the country from my family, I threw myself into this church and invested in the people there. Sadly, however, I didn't quite fit, and before long, gossip began to circulate about me. Unfair and untrue gossip. Bitter and hurt, I stayed on at the church for a few more months before finally throwing in the towel and leaving. I was so angry and so lonely, for most of my friends had been at this church, and only a few of them maintained any contact with me after I left. I tended to blame God and was very angry.

And yet, through that difficult time, God was faithful. He opened doors for my writing career, provided me with true friends, and always the love of my supportive family back home. Eventually, He led me down the path to meet my darling husband . . . whom I would never have met if I had remained in that church and life to which I had been clinging. He taught me that my relationship with Him was not about what church I attend. It's a personal relationship, one that can grow and thrive both in loneliness and in community.

Disability friendliness: Do you have any works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print? 
The Tales of Goldstone Wood are not yet in audio format, though my agent is currently looking into that possibility. I can happily say that they are available in Braille editions through Verbatim Braille Transcriptions

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
I believe that Starflower would be an excellent book for bibliotherapy. The title heroine of Starflower is a young woman from an oppressive society wherein all women have their powers of speech stripped away. They are, quite literally, mute in a country of chauvinistic dominance. But despite this disability, the women, and my heroine especially, demonstrate great strength and love, developing their own silent language among each other. Starflower herself grows into a strong character able to overcome the most terrifying odds. But her strength comes through the love she learned from her mother, and the guidance she receives from the "God-figure" of my fantasy world. She is not a warrior maiden wielding a sword, but a much stronger heroine, wielding great faith and truth in the midst of oppression and adversity.

I think Starflower's is an excellent story for young women with difficult pasts. I have had a number of dear fans write and thank me for the story, telling me how it blessed and encouraged them in the midst of difficult circumstances. Which is, in turn, a tremendous blessing to me!

Thank you, Anne Elisabeth, for agreeing to answer these questions.  Have a blessed day and keep on writing!!

Thank you! I appreciate you hosting me on Overcoming with God!

Purchase link for Anne's books on Amazon (click here.)

Giveaways: Anne Elisabeth is offering a signed copy of Starflower this week in addition to our giveaway of ANY of her books, choice of format (international winners--ebook format only.) Leave your email address and your comment to enter. 

23 February 2013

My Help, Poetry by Teresa Mathews

My Help

“I will lift up my eyes unto the hills”
I’ve heard these words before
But until today I counted them but lore.

The beauty of those spoken words
Never touched my heart so much
Until I needed your strength and your mighty touch.

The thought of a mighty God looking out for me
Seemed so far-fetched and out of place
Until to me in love He extended His grace.

He sent His son to die for me
That I could truly live
Seems so much more than anyone should ever have to give.

Now when I look unto those hills
I completely understand
My help is found in God alone, not in earthly man.

Teresa Mathews © 02/21/2013

21 February 2013

Teresa Mathews Reviews Organized Grime by Christy Barritt

Organized Grime by Christy Barritt

5 Stars~*****

In this book three of Christy Barritt's Squeaky Clean Mysteries we find our heroine, Gabby St. Claire, once again up to her elbows in crime scene goo, but when her best friend Sierra, animal lover, is accused of being the one who is behind the latest string of crimes, Gabby sets out to clear her name. 

After being called to clean several different crime scenes, Gabby discovers pieces of evidence that makes it seem as though Sierra could be responsible. Could it be true? Could Gabby’s best friend be an Eco-terrorist?  Will the FBI arrest her before Gabby can clear her name or will someone make sure both Gabby and Sierra are dead?

When Sierra disappears, Gabby risks her life to try to figure out what has happened to her, will she find Sierra in time? The more Gabby investigates the more she finds she is in over her head. Thank goodness for the help of her neighbor, Riley, whom she secretly adores. He has saved her from an untimely demise on more than one occasion.

As the story progresses there are a lot of twists and turns, and a lot of surprises. Gabby has worked hard to get her degree and fulfill her dream of working for the Medical Examiner’s Office. Will she have to kiss her dream goodbye or will another man from her past save the day? Will Gabby get to tell Riley how much he means to her and will they get to live happily ever after?

This is the first time I had the pleasure to read one of Christy Barritt’s Squeaky Clean Mysteries. I will tell you by the time I got to the last page I didn't want it to end. When I started reading this I wasn't sure what to expect since Gabby is a crime scene cleaner, but Christy does a good job describing the scenes without getting too gory for the faint of heart. I love a good murder/mystery so this book was right up my alley. I promise even if you are more into Christian romance than mystery, this book will not disappoint you, it has it all. This is definitely a must read

Christy's books can be found at AmazonBAM and Barnes and Noble and other stores.

GIVEAWAY: Christy generously offered to give away a paperback copy of either Hazardous Duty, Suspicious Minds or Organized Grime.

QUESTION: This is a fun question today, when things go missing at my house I am the one that usually finds it. How good are you at solving mysteries?  

19 February 2013

Key Witness by Christy Barritt - Reviewed by Teresa Mathews

Key Witness by Christy Barritt
Key Witness
by Christy Barritt
Love Inspired Suspense (February 2013)
5 Stars*****

Elle Phillips is doing her normal weekly bank visit when things go terribly wrong. There are two masked men yelling and waving guns and before they can be stopped they shoot one of the bank tellers. When Elle sees one of the robbers has unknowingly dropped his cell phone she takes a risk by grabbing it and dialing 911. When the lead robber realizes what she has done he threatens to kill her as he is running away.

Mark Denton, a former Navy Seal works for Iron, Inc. an elite paramilitary security firm who hires only the best of the best. There are former FBI, CIA, and Special Ops along with other members of law enforcement. Denton was at the bank that day when the robbers showed up. But he wasn’t the one to save the day; it was the beautiful young woman he had previously seen at the bank.

When Sen. Phillips comes to pick up Elle from the police station where she is giving her statement, he recognizes Denton from a previous security job so he asks Denton he will be willing to be Elle’s bodyguard. Guarding a former beauty queen with brains instead of fluff, how could he possibly say no?

When Elle starts getting threatening texts and phone calls it seems the bank robbers have found her. But when people around her are being killed Denton knows that this goes way beyond a mere bank robbery gone wrong. Will he figure out who is behind all the killings before they get the one thing Denton cannot part with…ELLE?? 

In this chilling suspense filled Love Inspired novel Christy proves what an exceptional writer she is. This is a rock-your world ride that will have you guessing until the very end who the evil mastermind is behind this terrifying plot against the gutsy Elle Phillips.This is the first book I have read in Christy’s Security Experts Series, but after reading this I went back and bought the first one too. Thanks Christy for creating a terrific book that was impossible to put down. 

Christy's books can be found at Amazon  CBDBAM and other bookstores. (CFP: Note--this book can be found in regular paperback, large print paperback, and ebook versions!)

GIVEAWAY: We are giving away a choice of any one of Christy's books this week, choice of format, (outside the USA e-book only).

QUESTION: Elle risked her life to try to stop the bank robbers. Have you ever had a time where you had to step up and be brave?

17 February 2013

Interview with Christy Barritt by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Christy Barritt

Christy Barritt is the author of Key Witness, the Squeaky Clean mystery series, as well as many others—thirteen books in all with five more releasing in 2013.

Christy, welcome to Overcoming Through Time – With God’s Help.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 

Would you tell us about the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help?
I went through a particularly difficult situation with my church last year. Though it was hard, I’ve seen the amazing ways that God has used the situation to not only increase my faith, but also to help others who are struggling.

I was a worship leader at this church for nearly a decade. I won’t go into all the details, but one day I was called into a meeting where I felt very betrayed and stabbed in the back. That same day, I stepped down from my position at the church and afterwards had to deal with the effects of that meeting on my life—issues that included bitterness, forgiveness, and overwhelming hurt.

My husband and I continued to go to that church for nine months, and each Sunday I felt like my wounds were ripped open again. My struggle during this time became: What happens when your place of healing (church and worship) becomes a place of hurt? Finally, last summer, we felt like it was time to leave and find a new church home.

I do believe that God works all things together for his good, even when it feels impossible to see. Good has come throughout the situation I endured at my former church. As soon as I stepped down from the position there, God brought multiple writing contracts my way. If I’d continued on at the church and tried to fulfill those contracts, I would have been miserable. God knew my dream had always been to write full-time, and He allowed that to happen.
I’ve also been able to minister to other people who’ve been hurt by their church—and there are a lot of people like that out there.  Some people have been hurt over splits or gossip or false accusations. Some have been called out publicly on misunderstood issues and others have had their names drug through the mud unfairly. I know that the church has lost a lot of people through hurts that have transpired within the body.

God’s taught me a lot of big lessons on forgiveness and grace. He’s also given me heart to help people who share my same wounds. This is a theme that can be found in my writing, also. God is still good, even when his people fail you. And his people will fail you because they’re all—or should I say we’re all—imperfect.

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
I love Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” I’ve clung to this verse many times and it’s helped me to remember that God does have a plan for my life, throughout the good and the bad. I always say that the good times in life make you happy, but it’s the bad times in life that build your character and faith. I think this verse is a reflection of that. Hard times have shaped me into the person I am.

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?
Great question! My book, Hazardous Duty, is just now being made into an audio book! I’m so excited about this. All of my Love Inspired Suspense books are also released in large print. Of course, the Kindle is great because you can increase the font size or listen to the books read on them. Isn’t that so cool? (CFP: Way cool!!!)

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?

I try to be authentic with my faith. I think the worse thing you can do is constantly gloss things over. I want to be real about my struggles and my doubts because I so appreciate it when people are real with me about those things. It makes me realize that I’m not alone. I think you’ll see that in a lot of my books. I hope to also show that beautiful things can come out of the darkest places.

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?

I’d have to say one of the most touching things that I learned was because of a weekend women’s retreat where I was asked to be the main speaker. Their topic was joy, and I had to prepare several hours worth of material. During that time, I was really reminded that joy was a choice and about the importance of thinking on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. (CFP: Emphasis by me: this is a recurring topic on OWG and so important!)

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?

In my book, The Good Girl, which releases in March, really touches on several subjects. It touches on legalism versus grace, caring too much what people think of you, perfectionism, disappointment with the church.

Hazardous Duty, the first book in the Squeaky Clean series, deals with doubting God, abandonment, alcoholism, kidnapping.

Suspicious Minds, the second book in my Squeaky Clean series and a Daphne Award winner, deals a lot with loneliness.

It Came Upon a Midnight Crime deals with the war on Christmas and Christians.

Organized Grime talks about the importance of forgiveness.
Race Against Time addresses being a single parent, dealing with the loss of a spouse, and trust issues.

The Last Target talks about God using even the worst circumstances to bring about good.

The Trouble with Perfect deals with perfectionism and abuse.

Lifeline, releasing in July, addresses abuse by a loved one and learning to trust again.

Final Justice (this title will probably change) releases in November and talks about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the power of positive thought.

Whew, that’s a lot of bibliotherapy possibilities, yay! Thank you, Christy, for agreeing to answer these questions!

GIVEAWAY: We're giving away a choice of any of Christy Barritt's book this week, choice of format (outside USA-ebook choice only.)

15 February 2013

C.J. Chase--Bibliotherapy and Mental Illness

On my first visit to Overcoming with God, I wrote about how drastically my life changed the day my husband and I learned our younger son Nathanael had Down Syndrome. Through that experience, we learned that God can turn sadness into joy. I included a character with Down Syndrome in my first book, and I’m thrilled to report that right now as I type, plans are underway at our church to develop a ministry to other families with special needs.

Caroline, the young woman with Down Syndrome, also appears in my second book, as does another character with a different kind of special need. But this condition isn’t visible on the face. In fact, it is one family members seldom discuss with any but their closest friends and relatives. Mental illness.

The intrepid heroine of my latest book has a sister locked away in an asylum. Because my book is set in the past, I chose a brain trauma injury instead of a heredity illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to explain her behavior. I figured the characters of the time period could better understand an injury.

I wish I could say our “modern” era is more understanding. Well, perhaps it is, but only to a degree. The truth is that mental illness is still highly misunderstood, often misdiagnosed, and usually stigmatized.

Our family spiraled into the darkness of mental illness around the same time Nathanael was born. My husband had had some stress issues a few years earlier, and then again when Nathanael was a few months old—probably the first signs of developing bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance in the body that disrupts the brain’s ability to regulate a person’s moods. People with bipolar alternate between periods of mania (elevated moods) and depression (lowered moods). Depending on the person, cycles may be as rapid as minutes or as slow as years.

For months, my husband complained of sleeping issues, digestion problems, work stress—all classic symptoms of depression. After a trip to Asia (and attendant 15-hour time change), he returned home excited, charged, and filled with ideas for his job.  And then a few months later, he was once again stressed, tired, miserable.

I wanted to be a supportive wife. Tell me what you need to be happy, and we’ll make it work, I’d beg. But he couldn’t tell me because there is no rational reason for the depression that comes part and parcel with bipolar. I’d had no prior experience with mental illness, and I couldn’t recognize it though I was staring it right in the face.

Another trip to Asia brought another manic episode, one with symptoms conspicuous enough even for me to look back over the past few years and see the developing pattern. Elevated moods of approximately three-months followed cycles of depression lasting nine-to-twelve months. I will never the first time I voiced the words to a friend, “I think my husband has bipolar disorder.”

Then followed the frightening aftermath as I learned just how serious bipolar is. What would happen if he refused to get treatment? What would happen it the doctors couldn’t find a combination of medications that would stabilize the disease? Many people with bipolar enjoy the highs of the manic episodes too much to take their medications. Many others are unable to hold a regular job or maintain normal family relationships.

I spoke to people with bipolar disorder. I questioned family members of people with bipolar disorder. I prayed. I cried. And I made contingency plans. What would happen if he couldn’t keep his job at some point? What would happen if he refused to get treatment? Our boys were six and three at the time. Was it better for them to stay or go? At the time, I figured there was a 50% chance we’d still be married five years later.

Look at the top of this blog again: Overcoming with God. I am thrilled to tell the world that this is not my story, it’s his. He is the one sought treatment, who takes his medication faithfully, who monitors his sleep and diet, who sees his doctor regularly.

That was 13 years ago. Today, David is a deacon in our church and works full time. Our boys have only ever known a two-parent family. My husband is, in short, a bipolar success story, a man who lives a normal life, and who just happens to also have a mental illness.

And he is the one who gave me permission to go forward with our story, despite the stigma attached to mental illness. We have never told this story in such a public forum—in front of friends, relatives, co-workers, and total strangers.

I wish I could promise every bipolar story would end so happily, but I can’t. Mental illness can be an incredibly debilitating condition that robs us of our very essence. However, we can offer hope. Even in our darkest hours, God will hold our hands.

By C.J. Chase, whose new release "The Reluctant Earl" is out this month with Love Inspired Historical books and is on Carrie's best of 2013 books!  

GIVEAWAY: "Like" C.J.'s author page on Facebook and put "CJ" after your answer to this question: Do you have a loved one who suffers from mental illness? One winner will receive a copy of C.J.'s new release!

14 February 2013

One Year Anniversary for Marian Baay on the blog and Valentine's Day Party

Cake by Christy Zumbrun, Williamsburg, Virginia

We're celebrating Marian's one year anniversary with us on the Overcoming With God blog!!!  We're SO glad Marian joined us!!! She's such a blessing!!!
Marian Baay at bookstore with book by Murray Pura.
We're having a party! Isn't that a GORGEOUS cake that my friend, Christy Zumbrun made?  Although the picture was taken on my birthday, I'm afraid the cake wasn't for me!  But the cool thing is, since it is a virtual cake now, we can make the cake inside that great frosting be any flavor that we want!  

Q: What is your favorite cake flavor?  Will there be mousse filling, too?  If so, what kind?

Giveaway: We have a goody bag with treats (with chocolate, of course!) for one OWG Follower AND a copy of Julie Lessman's ebook "A Light in the Window" (on sale for half off right now, so treat yourself!!!)  Answer the Q about your cake preferences and leave an encouraging word for Marian to enter!

12 February 2013

C. J. Chase's :"The Reluctant Earl"

The Reluctant Earl

Love Inspired Historical, February 2012

5 stars~*****
Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Set in 1817, in England, this new release by C.J. Chase is on my Best of 2013 list already and the year has barely started! 

Julian DeChambelle,  the new Lord Chambelston, recently lost his father, who may have been murdered for political reasons. There's lots of suspense and intrigue in this novel. His sister has frozen out most of the family but now Julian seeks answers and comes to spend time with her and her family, including her husband Lord Sotherton.

Meanwhile, our heroine,  Leah Vance, has her own trials and tribulations. As governess she can't afford to pay for her mentally ill sister's care in the asylum. She's been spying on the Sotherton household for extra money. 

I love the bibliotherapy elements in this book, too. A returning character from C.J.'s last book is DeChambrelle's younger sister with Down Syndrome, who Leah takes under her wing.  And Leah's own sister, who suffered a head injury, receives the only available care at the time, which is pitiful.  

C.J. writes a tight plot and excellent characterization.  I love her hopeful and strong voice.  I can hardly wait for her next book and I am tempted to reread this book again, it was so well-written!

LIH books are so inexpensive, pick yourself up a copy of "The Reluctant Earl" for yourself and a friend through Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble, or at your local WalMart. A great Valentine's Day gift!

GIVEAWAY: A copy of "The Reluctant Earl" will be given away to TWO commenters on this post. Leave your email address and answer the question: Have you known anyone who required care in a psychiatric facility? What was the time frame and what were the conditions of the facility?

08 February 2013

Diana Flowers Reviews Lily by Diane T. Ashley and Aaron McCarver

Lily by Diane Ashley & Aaron McCarver
Barbour Publishing, 2012

Reviewed by Diana Flowers
5 stars~*****


A Most Delightful Summer Read!

In Lily, co-authors Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver, sweep us away to historical Natchez, Mississippi; replete with southern plantations, steamboats, magnificent balls, and the bustling sights and smells of the Mississippi River.

Lily Anderson and her two younger sisters live with their grandmother, and aunt and uncle on Les Fleurs Plantation, after the tragic death of their mother and the abandonment of their father. Lily is feeling forced by her aunt and uncle to marry someone unsuitable, and concocts an incredible leave the plantation and live where she has dreamed of living ever since she was a child-on the river aboard a steamship. She talks her grandmother into giving her her inheritance, and purchases the Hattie Belle, unaware that she is half owner with none other than the gambler, Blake Matthews!

Lily and Blake butt heads immediately as Lily wants to deliver cargo such as corn and sugarcane, whereas Blake wants to use it to create the biggest and best riverboat gambling casino on the Mississippi. Although Blake has beautiful, mesmerizing blue eyes, Lily has no intention of ever trusting another man after the abandonment of her father. But, when the wealthy and handsome, Jean Luc, begins to show an interest in Lily, has she finally found a man she can trust? And who becomes the captain of the Hattie Belle?...threatening to turn her world upside down? Who is out to destroy the Hattie Belle's business and why?

Ever since I watched the musical, Showboat, on tv years ago, I have always loved the rich, southern river settings with the steamboats and the big paddle wheels! This is my first novel by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver and it certainly did not disappoint. With wonderful main characters, and equally charming secondary characters, I was entranced to the very end! I loved the romantic tension between the main characters throughout the story, and the romance between Lily's slave and a crew member on the Hattie Belle stole my heart. A story of love, forgiveness, and salvation, the satisfying conclusion is guaranteed to leave you grabbing the tissue box.

I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Diane's books can be purchased through Amazon, CBD and other bookstores.

Giveaway: One of Diane's and Aaron's books will be given away this week. Extra counts given to OWG Followers. Simply put OWG at the end of your comment.

Question: Lily has major trust issues because of her father's abandonment. Has anyone in your life ever caused you to have problems trusting others?

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