Saturday, June 3, 2017

Blog Tour: Mary Ann Johnson's BECOMING A PRESENT PARENT

A number of years ago, my mother received her Master's Degree.  Before that, she had to write her thesis on teaching children the interpretation of music.  I was the proof-reader and captive audience and was therefore subject to her advisor's recommendations.

One e-mail stands out in my mind.  The advisor wanted to infuse this academic achievement of writing with some more pathos, so she recommended something along the lines of "I cherish the moments when a beloved student turns to me and says humbly, 'Mrs. Olsen, when you encourage me to achieve my very best...'"  You get the idea.  Even now, Mom and I can be reduced to giggles by the words, "I cherish the moments."

It is a style that I think of as General Conference story-telling.  If you're not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the leaders of the church come together every six months to instruct and enlighten the members and the stories they tell in the course of their discourses are always memorable.  But the stories all tend to feature a "sweet, young mother of six" or "beloved husband of fifty-three years."  General Conference stories are like click-bait headlines about "Spunky four-year-old puts hardened Democrat Congressmen in their place!!!!  I'm crying."  But because they always tie this into my faith, I forgive them for the hyperbole.

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, for one simple reason.  Mary Ann's book is not General Conference story-telling.  It's true that she tells story about her experience raising her children in all of its highs and lows, but it is a remarkably relatable medium.  

I have no kids.  I have six nephews, two nieces, a step-nephew and a dozen or so kids who treat me like a family member, but I absolutely loved reading this.  It taught me things about my relationships with children, but also with my friends and even my roommates.  When she talked about a moment when her daughter was venting about a schoolday problem and she tried to trouble-shoot the situation, I remembered that I had similarly once asked my best friend to stop fixing my feelings and let me just feel them.  

She also uses a variety of academic and unofficial sources, such as the Highlights magazine survey about parental interactions and articles by learned professionals.  She names scenarios that give you a foundation for understanding her principles that provoke thoughts about your own daily habits.

In short, the appeal of this book is that it approaches parenting with both realism and compassion and isn't afraid to admit to the author's own insecurities.  It was a self-help book that made it clear how much these techniques had already been of help to Mary Ann herself.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Blog Tour: Nikki Trionfo's SHATTER

Sorry I've been a bit absent.  I've been getting ready for a 4-country, 12ish day trip to Europe and had to get through a variety of events and writing ordeals in the last few weeks.  But I'm back and have a plan for resuming the 100 books review thing.  I also hope to have my normal site back up very soon, but have had issues with hosting and with domain.  So here I am for the meanwhile, with a debut novel.

Now, to give you a bit of background, Nikki first ran into me at Life, the Universe and Everything Symposium.  I'd been on some Facebook writing support groups and she kept saying that if we saw her, we should take a picture with her.  So on the first night of the symposium, I was standing at the elevators when I saw a blonde person cosplaying the cover of It Came From the Great Salt Lake.  I immediately turned to her and said, "You're Nikki and I'm supposed to take a picture with you and your anthology."  We did just that and ran into each other a few times over the next days.  In other contexts, she's the person who throws a dance party for LDStorymaker's Conference (This year's theme was the Never-Ending Story...maker's Party).  She's having a dance-off and carnival for her book launch this Friday and I wish I were able to go.

So, here's her murder mystery!  Salem Jefferson is the survivor of a sister who died in a gas explosion and is also the daughter of a grower in orchard country of California.  She's on her mock trial team, runs cross-country and is, it seems, the only person who doesn't believe that Carrie's death was accidental.  This is complicated further when a Hispanic worker is found buried on her family property with a gang symbol carved into his shoe and hard evidence of foul play.

The various threads of this book are the best thing about it.  I cared passionately about the murder mystery as much as the outcome of the mock trial competition.  The entire mystery hinged around a union strike that was hitting its crisis point and I think it's the only YA book I've seen that has dealt fairly with both sides of a tough issue without asking the reader to pick one of those sides.  I did find a typo in Spanish in the book, but that's just my preternatural ability to nitpick any translations.

The characters were dynamic as well, though some of the minor characters felt like they should have been consolidated into one because they were indistinguishable from each other.  While Cordero was the most prominent secondary character, I was dying for more information on Slate and his sister Anna.  A character named Envy (what was WRONG with her parents?  Were they Puritans?) played an important role, but I felt that she hadn't been given sufficient development for it to have the right impact.

Nevertheless, the story was interesting.  The dynamics were credible.  It made me very homesick for my own section of California, where we had ghettos instead of orchards, but I knew people who resembled every character in the book.

Now for the semi-annoyed perspective.  As I said, this is a debut novel of someone who's been in anthologies.  I recently read one that Nikki was in called Under A New York Skyline.  I'll be reviewing that later, but I had a fundamental period of eye-rolling about the story that first came from the title, "Crosstrain My Heart and Hope to Die."  It's about a hip-hop teacher facing off with the hunky meathead of a crossfit instructor from next door and of course they have a love-hate romance.  Very '80s movie plot and one of those "Well, that's cute, but when does that actually happen?" examples that I often find when reading.  Going from that fluff to this gave me the same feeling that I experienced when, after having read every book in the Twilight series, I read The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  Or how Natalie Portman dragged me through Attack of the Clones before stunning me in V for Vendetta.

It's good to find a writer who can write multiple genres and Nikki definitely has a passion for each of her stories, but I wish the tones were more consistently gripping.  I'll be rereading Shatter a lot and have recommended it to friends and family already, but I won't say the same about the ode to hip-hop.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book blitz: Tarragon: Dragon Mage

I'm having issues posting pictures at the moment, but will tell you about this first and update later.  


After hundreds of years, the gates to Tarragon are open once more, fulfilling age-old prophecy. However, Anwen’s journey is far from over. The dragons still sleep and she has no clue how to wake them. Forced to retreat from the Mountain, she and her newfound friends must devise a new plan to wake the inhabitants of Tarragon.

Meanwhile, the Mage Circle, a group of dragon mages with a vendetta, is camped outside the Gates. Calling on allies of their own, they will stop at nothing to gain control of the Dragon City and all who dwell inside.

To complicate matters even more, Anwen’smother has joined the party. But even with the help of all her friends, can Anwen overcome the ordeals set before her or will this spell the end of the dragons and the world as we know it?

Character Casting
Anwen Porter – Daisy Ridley
Daphne Millard - Claire Holt
Courtney Willis - Teresa Palmer
Walter Watkins – LL Cool J
Margo Pack – Julianne Moore
Tyler Durand - Zac Effron
Callum Durand - Eric Winter
Josef Forster - David Lambert
Emi - Maggie Elizabeth Jones
Madame Matilda Millard - Melissa McArthy
Mathias Porter - Joshua Jackson
Kern Nurrim - Mark Harmon
James Porter – Dennis Quaid
Mr. Miller -  David Bradley

Snippets
Snippet 1:
Courtney stopped abruptly as the scatterings of a cave-in came into view. “Oh no,” she whispered, one hand to her mouth. Moving slowly, she noticed a body slumped in the hallway. “Please don't be dead,” she said over and over again as she moved closer. She couldn't help but wonder which of her friends lay there, and what had happened to the other.
The closer she came, the more detail came to light. She recognized Tyler Durand as he lay on his side. His light-colored hair lay limp against his head. His skin was unnaturally pale. At least she didn’t think he was dead. It took a lot to kill a dragon. But just beyond him, a little more out of the way, lay AnwenPorter. And she wasn’t moving.

URL Links
Official Facebook Event page:
Author Social Media Links:
Twitter @karliemlucas

Book Buy Links

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Blitz: Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Day 3


I am a stay at home mom, who loves to read and write clean historical romance. I enjoy thinking back to a simpler time, a time when men and women were true heroes. I also believe that a good romance can be told without needing to know all of the details;)

All of my stories will tell of people who find true love, and who find their happy ever after. Sometimes the road might be rocky, but that makes it all worthwhile!

Cora left England for a new life in America as a mail order bride - only to find the man she’s come to marry has been killed in a gunfight. She has a sister in Kansas, but how can she get there? 

Jesse needs this job driving cattle to Kansas so he can marry the woman who’s given him an ultimatum - buy land and settle down, or she’ll marry someone who will.

But, his cook’s been killed in the same gunfight, leaving him without anyone to drive the chuckwagon. His right hand man, an old cowboy with a soft heart, has a solution for both Cora and Jesse - one he might not like.

Dressed as a boy, Cora heads off with a team of cowboys, led by a man who isn’t happy about her being there. Kansas is a long way away…and a lot can happen before they get there.
 Q&A With The Author:


1.  Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

A mom, who loves nothing more than spending time with my family.  I prefer the quiet of living in a small town than being in a city.  I’ve always loved to read, and being at home with a good book is just as exciting to me as traveling the world.
2. What do you love most in the world?
I love my family.  I grew up around all of my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and cousins.  And I have a sister and two brothers, who all still live in the same town with their families.  My girls get to grow up knowing everyone, and see the importance of family above anything else.  Being able to just do things on a regular basis with my family is truly the thing I love most in the world.
3. What do you fear most?
This is a tough one.  I have some fears, but I think the one that gets me the most is just that my kids won’t be happy.  All I hope for them is that they find happiness, and never have to face life with worry.  When I went through treatments for breast cancer, I felt so bad that they were having to deal with that at such a young age.  I wish I could take that fear away from them, and show them to grab life and just be happy, no matter what happens.
4. What is your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?
Well, it had always been to write a book, but since that’s been done, my largest unfulfilled dream now is to earn enough money for my husband to be able to give up truck driving.  I want the kids to have both parents home regularly, and he’s worked hard to allow me to be a stay at home mom when the kids were small.  I’d like to pay that back.
5. What is the hardest thing you've ever done?
The hardest thing I’ve ever done was say goodbye to my grandparents.  I grew up with them all close to me, and they were a huge part of my life.  I was with each of them when they passed, and each time, having to let them go was the hardest thing for me to do.  But, after all they’d done for me over the years, I knew I had to be there when they needed me.
6. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?

My story…well, I decided after I had cancer that I didn’t want that to be what defined me.  I didn’t want that to be what people thought when they saw me.  I get told all the time that people actually forgot I had it.  It was a horrible time of my life, but I’ve moved past it and now try to just stay positive.  It helped me to realize what was important, and that nothing is ever guaranteed in life.  So, I took a chance and started writing—the thing I’d always wanted to do but was too afraid to even try.  And, I’m not going to let myself say “someday I’ll do that” anymore.  If there’s a way to do it now, and it’s something I want, I’m going to do it.  And I want to teach my kids to do the same thing.  




Book Blitz: Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Day 2



Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical romances. Robyn currently lives with her husband in California, USA, near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” 

She is a member of Women Writing the West, and American Night Writers Association. She enjoys any kind of history including family history. 


When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

Running from hostile Indians attacking Salina, Kansas in 1862, feisty Kizzie Atwell, Grandma Mary’s oldest grandchild, runs into freighter Leander Jones traveling the Smoky Hill Trail. He is as interested in her as his stallion is in her mare. The two join forces to prevent the Fort Riley Army captain from requisitioning their beloved horses for the cavalry. Avoiding bushwhackers and fighting off a thieving bullwhacker binds their bargain.

In 1865, at the victory dance held at Fort Riley to celebrate the end of the Civil War, Kizzie is asked to participate in a fund-raiser to aid the Sanitary Commission helping injured and sick soldiers. It involves chaste sweetheart kisses in exchange for tickets purchased by officers and guests. As a contract freighter for the Army, Leander is invited. Much to Leander’s chagrin, before his chance to claim his kiss, Kizzie’s uncle steps in and puts an end to the kissing game.

Is Leander out of luck, or will the bargain Kizzie and Leander made three years earlier to save their horses lead to a more romantic bargain sealed with a kiss?

     10 top favorite things:


1.      I love my computer so I can use it to write stories
2.     I love my sewing machine so I can quilt when I need a break from writing
3.     I love paper and ink books that fill my bookcases
4.    I love my Kindle, Nook and Deseret Book apps because my bookcases are already full of paper and ink books
5.     I love my camera so I can take photographs
6.    I love my photo-editing program so I can tweak my photos so they look even better
7.     I love Yosemite National Park because it is so pretty in any season
8.    I love museums because of all the wonderful historical items they display
9.    I love Columbia State Park and Mono County because they capture the history of the California Gold Rush
10.                        I love my car because it comfortably takes me to all my favorite places


Australia:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Kizzies-Kisses-Grandmas-Wedding-Quilts-ebook/dp/B01MT0UO6Q/

Book Blitz: Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Day 1




Kate Cambridge is an emerging author of Sweet Historical Romance and Sweet Contemporary Romance. She is a hopeless romantic, strong supporter of women's rights, and loves to create stories that inspire, and characters who seem real long after "The End."

Visit KateCambridge.com for more information, or KateCambridge.com/Choice to join the Choice Readers group for special launch-day pricing, contest, and more. Be one of the first to know what happens next...

Kate loves to connect with readers!


 The greatest inspiration is often born of desperation.

One year ago Hannah Quinn scored her dream job, and now the fate of the museum she loves will rise or fall on her next exhibit. But wait... there's a problem. She doesn't have a clue what her next exhibit will be!

When a trunk with two quilts is donated to the museum, Hannah's boss thinks she's wasting her time chasing down the history of the quilts, regardless of their beauty; but Hannah persists. She knows there's something special about these quilts, and a story that demands to be told.

Little does Hannah know, her friend Callum, a researcher and consultant, plays an unexpected a role in her investigation that leads to questions and discoveries that threaten the foundation of all she holds most dear.

Will her desperation to discover the story of the quilts cause her to lose the very thing she loves the most - or will the secrets she uncover lead her to more than she ever dreamed?

 Snippet #3


“She hurried past the doctor before Dr. Wagstaff could see the tears forming in her eyes. Hannah knew it wasn’t just her mistake that upset her, it was the sensation of the quilt under her fingertips. It stirred something in her, something that she couldn’t explain.”





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 82: Powerful Perennials

As many of you know, I am a published novelist.  Cedar Fort Books has been good to me and I've made some good friends among the authors.  So when I put out a notice that I would be willing to review books by people from my publisher, I got a bunch of responses.  We'll get to those later, but one of the requests was for a gardening book, Powerful Perennials.

I admit that I am not a gardener.  I have a succulent named Janet and last year, I killed my roommate's bell pepper plant by accident.  My roommate, meanwhile, has a complicated system of starter pots and seedlings and a kind of mini-greenhouse sitting on our kitchen table until the plants are ready to go in the ground.  But I'm interested in learning and that's one of the reasons that I took an interest in that request.  (Plus, the author shares a name with my favorite aunt.)

Nedra Secrist doesn't just give you the kind of advice that you find on the back of a seed packet or the side of a houseplant container.  I was relieved by the tone of the book as soon as I read the prologue and found that she had experience instructing gardeners from those who do it for stress relief to those improving their health.  She knows what it's like to try to make an Eden out of a desert and has practical advice that isn't Greek to me.  (Though, given my background in classics, Greek might have helped.)

I plan to pull this book out again when it comes for next year's efforts.  I might just request a corner of our garden to be my personal lab.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 83: A TIME OF ANGELS

I asked my roommate to name a genre and said I'd review a book from that category.  She chose historical fiction and after listing the two books I'd reviewed, I remembered my favorite book set in the time of the Spanish Influenza.

The story takes place in a very tight-knit community in Chicago, 1918.  Hannah and her sisters live with relatives while their parents are unable to come home from the war.  Meanwhile, people in their building are falling ill and coming to her wise old relations for help.  There's no telling if or when Hannah's own family will fall prey to the influenza and what she will do if her worst fears come true.

I love this book on a number of levels.  Her family dynamics are well-written, showing both the respect Hannah has for her elders and the misunderstandings that come from the generational gap.  She has a complex love for her family, but also cares for people who are only related by address.  This is also a very realistic depiction of a practicing Jewish family and the near-familial closeness of those of their same faith reminds me of having lived in Provo, where most of my neighbors were people I saw on Sundays.

Mostly, I enjoy that the drama is almost entirely a matter of what-if and worst-case scenarios.  Fear can be related to very intangible things, but no less powerful than fear of an assailant or a weapon.  Hesse does a great job of focusing on things that are more terrifying to the characters than the war on distant shores.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day 84: HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDPA

Once in a while, Katey and I pick a library and spend an afternoon there, reading picture books to each other.  Sometimes, they're familiar--in our first session, I got choked up reading my favorite book (The Polar Express)--but more often, they're books that struck as us funny or interesting or profound when we thumbed through them earlier that day.

Yesterday, we had one such session.  I read a book about Irish step dance (complete with accents), a short biography of Babe Ruth (Boooooooooooooooooo), an Arab fairy tale about camels, a book about winter and finally, today's review subject.

I have many fond memories of my maternal grandparents.  We lived in Oregon near them and would have outings to Eagle Creek, where we would have pancakes and sausages and go fishing.  On my sixth birthday, Grandma had me stay overnight and taught me how to use a typewriter.  Even when we moved to Massachusetts, Grandma and Grandpa Nelson would come to visit and Grandpa would almost always fix something around the house.

This book, therefore, amused me greatly.  It instructs children on how to feed, entertain and comfort their elderly guest.  It even deals with how to calm a grandpa who has separation anxiety.  It shows "empathy" for Grandpa's need for a nap and understanding of what grandparents really treasure about their hosts.

And don't tell him, but I'm totally getting this book for my dad to keep around the house for when my nephews and nieces visit.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day 85: THE MARTIAN

As you can probably tell, I enjoy telling the stories behind how I find books.  Some of them will be more ordinary--I'll be reviewing a book I had to read in Mrs. Elliott's Honors American Literature class in 1998--but I do like connecting a book to a place, a time or a person.

In this case, it's San Jose, CA over Memorial Day weekend a couple of years ago.  I was spending five days with my brother's family and as soon as he picked me up from the airport, my brother turned on an audiobook.

There aren't many books that start out with profanity that I would recommend.  The first sentence ends with one in the past tense.  Then you get a bit of context and you realize that you wouldn't be able to be polite in a similar situation.

Mark Watney, a member of the Ares III mission to Mars, was hit by flying debris during the mission evacuation.  His vital signs flat-lined and in spite of his crewmembers' efforts, they were unable to recover the body.  Where it gets complicated is that the first line of the book is from Mark's first log, recorded after he woke up alive and alone on Mars.  He is a botanist and a mechanical engineer who might be able to live long enough for the next mission to Mars to arrive at the Schiaparelli Crater in a while.  That is, if the hazards of the uninhabitable planet don't kill him first.  And the future astronauts don't know he's alive.

The book is phenomenal.  Andy Weir basically posted it on his blog and crowd-researched the plot, the science, etc.  Followers would give him information on complications or how to make things work.

Back on earth, there is a huge public relations issue after America lost an astronaut.  They hope that the next mission will be able to recover his remains and to their horror, they discover that his body doesn't show up on the satellite footage and someone is moving the equipment around and using the solar panels.

While the story is riveting (I actually screamed for joy when something went awesomely right), my favorite moments are things like the US Postal Service having to stop circulating Mark Watney's commemorative stamp because they've never had a stamp for a living person before and the NASA/JPL efforts to help him being called Project Elrond.  (In the movie, Sean Bean of Boromir fame is in on this project.)

So be prepared for a bit of profanity and lots of hatred towards disco music.  But read this book and feel the way you did when you first saw Apollo 13.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Day 86: INSTANT MOM

I found this book on one of my mailing lists recently and immediately recognized the name Nia Vardalos. If you don't know the name, you probably remember her film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Having laughed myself silly at how familiar the Greek culture was to me, since I knew a lot of Greek-Americans in Boston, I impulse-bought her memoir.

The book chronicles her efforts to become a parent, whether going through IVF or suffering a miscarriage or finding out that her surrogate had been unable to get pregnant.  Then things turn as she finds herself able to adopt a young girl and she learns to cope with life as a parent.

Adoption stories are near to my heart.  I have a sister who is a year and twenty days older than me, but since she's been part of our family since she was three days old, I never knew life without her.  I remember having a conversation with her son about how he feels towards his step-brother.  He said something along the lines of "We're not brothers if we're not blood-related" and I immediately lamented that I couldn't be Aunt Kaki if that's all that counted.  As soon as he remembered that I'm his aunt without a blood relation, he conceded that it counted.  I also have a 7-year-old in Lowell who calls me Auntie Kaki (his brother isn't that articulate yet) and three Filipino-Cambodian children who do the same.  So I'm well aware of how close a family adoption, formal or otherwise, can create.

Nia never makes light of the subject, even some of her experiences border on the hilarious.  There are sacred moments in the book, such as when she has a dream about holding her hand out to a little girl with blond streaks in her hair and when, months later, the blond-streaked little girl she just met calls her Mommy.  As expected, her huge Greek family has things to say about her adoption of an American child.

The best part of this is that it's non-fiction.  I found myself crying in understanding of her pain after only thirty-two pages and getting just as emotional when the adoption was finalized.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 87: HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

Remember when I told you about my first job, shelving books at the public library?  I had an excellent boss who worked with my school schedule and treated me as a valuable member of the staff.  But before that, she was adamant on one particular thing.  On my first day, she handed me a copy of Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle and told me I had to read it before I was allowed to work under her.

You may have seen the excellent animated movie and it does share some of the elements, but let's set that aside for now.  This is a story of a girl who, like any industrious peasant, runs afoul of a witch in her quest for her life's purpose.  She is transformed into an elderly woman and has to work out how to break the spell.  The only reliable source is the wizard, Howl, who has a reputation for causing trouble and also being invaluable.  When she infiltrates the castle as a kind of housekeeper, she finds a fire demon who knows how to avoid a question, a young apprentice wizard who gets easily distracted and a little discouraged at times and the wizard himself, who is temperamental and eccentric.  They have their own priorities and obstacles and there are often misconceptions to overcome and a secret identity for Howl that I would, in a million years, never have seen coming.

It's one of those books that refuses to fit into any category and is therefore appropriate for many ages.  I am personally more fond of the sequel (because it's one of the most absurdly adorable love stories I've ever read), but the number of subplots and twists does nothing to detract from the well-paced and character-driven story.

And I will quote my favorite line:  "I think we should live happily-ever-after.  It should be a hair-raising experience."

Day 88: BROKEN CHORDS

Since this is a book about an instrument with 88 keys, I thought I'd use it for this particular day.  I also accidentally missed its day because I was up against an anthology deadline.

The author is Barbara Gilbert and the book is a relatively short one, in which a virtuoso (she refuses to be called a prodigy) is accepted into the finals of a high-pressure piano competition.  Her most likely rival is attempting for a third time to win the resulting scholarship and has given up everything (including his apartment) to make this last-ditch effort.   Meanwhile, the main character is unsure if she wants to win and questions why she is playing in the first place when an injury forces her to scale back her life as a musician.

I have an absolute obsession with books written accurately about musicians and their training.  I read a book last year that had a wonderful plot, but the piano teacher spent every lesson in the book in awe of her student's fluid arpeggios and the way her hands moved gracefully over the keys.  This, clearly, was not written by someone who has taught any kind of music lesson.  My piano teacher is my mother and while she will sit back and quietly take notes when I'm playing a Beethoven sonata or a Bach invention, she notices plenty.  She can tell when I am half an inch too far back on the bench and have collapsed wrists.  She notices a different in the sound when I play with the inside edge of my finger instead of the flat part.  I remember putting on headphones and playing a Haydn sonata on an electronic keyboard.  She could tell from the click of the keys that I needed to change my fingering.  That is the kind of expertise and attention to detail that I expect from acclaimed music teachers.

It might be snobbish to say that I wish more people got into the technicality of music in books and Broken Chords delivers.  In this, a disaster is caused by a person applying insufficient pressure to one of the pedals during the competition.  Clara talks extensively about the difficulty of relearning a section of a concerto with new fingering because she relies so much on muscle memory.  I relate to this book because I remember knowing the shape of the first notes of a piece, but forgetting the position on the keyboard so that I started playing it several notes higher than it was meant to be and having to readjust my hands when I hit the note that wasn't where it should be.  I relate to her frustration with her wrist injury because I sprained mine on Thanksgiving one year and had to give up any piece that made me do octaves for a month.

But this is not just a story for obsessive musicians.  The characters are extremely real, whether the daughter who struggles to identify when her parents are proud of her to the brother who feels overshadowed by his virtuoso of a sister, to the rival who plays Gershwin to relax before his critical performance.  It's a book for anyone straining to find true humanity in fictional characters.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book Blitz: The Essence of Courage




 As women we encounter multiple challenges, while simultaneously wearing
many hats. We need courage to face our challenges and commitments. In Song
of Solomon 4, Solomon ascribes the essences of his locked garden to the
courageous woman he has taken as his wife. This inspirational study will
provide an opportunity for you to discover:

• The secrets of the fruit, spices, and essential oils in Solomon’s locked garden.

• A deeper meaning of these fruits, spices and essential oil essences in Scripture by studying different women in the Bible.

• How others learn through their struggles and triumphs when you meet Cinnamah-Brosia and the women with whom she does life.

• Encouragement to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the essence of courage in your heart.

• Fun facts about the spices and essential oils, along with ways for you to
enjoy incorporating reminders of the fruit they represent into your life.


Pulled reluctantly into women’s ministry nearly four decades ago, Lynn Watson now treasures the opportunities that were provided to lead, encourage and mentor women through relationships and Bible studies. She wrote a few of the studies, too. Drawing from those experiences, along with years serving others professionally in the complementary healthcare field and her love for essential oils, Lynn delights in bringing her readers freshly inspired insights drawn from and focused on the many fruits, plants, oils, and spices mentioned in God’s Word. Married since 1973, Lynn and Steve call Bartlett, Tennessee home. Their
home is filled with handmade treasures and lots of love for family, especially their five beautiful (of course) grandchildren.

Top Ten List
1.    Baking bread from freshly milled grain has become a bi-weekly ritual in our home. The aroma, the taste, and the nutritional value are impossible to beat.
2.    Weather permitting, a friend and I enjoy early morning bike rides. Gloria is my tangerine cruiser. She sports a 1970’s vintage leather purse for carrying little things like my phone.
3.    A queen at the age of 5, I also had two princesses to attend me. The local businessmen in our community held a parade. My dad and grandfather owned a construction company. My doll house sat on the float with us. A banner proudly announced, “We Build Homes Fit for a Queen.”
4.    My grandmother had a vintage stove in her basement just for making fresh donuts. I loved to help, but my grandfather and I were often accused of eating donuts faster than we helped make them.
5.    For my 60th birthday my husband gifted me a hot air balloon ride. It was a dream come true around my 61st birthday when we finally experienced the adventure!
6.    I love chocolate!
7.    Between kindergarten and high school graduation, I attended 16 different schools.
8.    For a costume party once as a child, I dressed as an organ grinder accompanied by my well loved sock monkey. 
9.    There's little sun in my yard for growing veggies, but I always have an herb garden.

10. K-LOVE is my favorite radio station.

And now a snippet:

An unsightly explosion brewed. Holding back the anger I felt, I’m certain my tongue bled ’til I could taste it. I shrugged my shoulders and may have commented, “This is not my choice to make.”
from "A Woman of the Bible Displays the Fruit: Hannah Bites Her Tongue," page 173

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Jochebed placed the basket in the water. Miriam's actions were necessarily gentle as she hid among the reeds of the Nile and waited. When Pharaoh's daughter found the baby, Miriam met the challenge. She assessed the situation while thinking very quickly on her wet feet. The Egyptian princess loved on Miriam's baby brother. In response to the hopeful sight, Miriam simply asked if the assistance of someone to nurse this baby would be helpful. A pleased adoptive “new mom” readily agreed and offered compensation for the task.
from "A Woman of the Bible Displays the Fruit: Miriam's Gentle Negotiations," page 155

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     "Ewww.... that smells like my closet floor with all my dirty clothes and smelly socks!" That was one young lady's spontaneous reaction as my husband shared spikenard with his fifth grade
Sunday school class. The day's lesson: Mary anointing Jesus’ head. We can be sure the aroma of a full pint of the oil filled the room. Shooey!!!
     The cost – not the aroma – alarmed the disciples (especially Judas, the one who later betrayed Him for personal financial gain). The others’ concerns acknowledged the fact spikenard sold for a handsome price, and the money could help the poor. There was surely a better use for the resource than pouring a whole pint of expensive oil on someone's head.
     Considering the cost and undeterred by their criticism, razzing and complaints, Mary chose to serve Jesus. She believed He was the most valuable investment opportunity in her life. Hindsight tells us she was absolutely correct!    from "The Essence of Spikenard in Scripture: What Is Your Spikenard?"  page 69