8.26.2014

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas ~ A Contemporary Fiction Review



Appalachian Blessings, Book 1
Sarah Loudin Thomas
Contemporary Fiction

Back of the book:

In a Drought, It's the Darkest Cloud 
That Brings Hope

It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.


READ AN EXCERPT

My thoughts:

My first introduction to Sarah Thomas' writing was her novella Appalachian Serenade. That story sets the stage for Miracle in a Dry Season. I was thoroughly enchanted by that tale and the characters. I couldn't wait for the release of Miracle in a Dry Season just to find out where the story was going.

The time frame is the mid '50s and the setting is the rural community of Wise, West Virginia. The main character is Perla Long. She's a young mother that has come to stay with her aunt and uncle to hopefully escape some of the nasty things being said about her in her hometown.

Perla is looking for a chance to start fresh with her daughter and she's hoping that is possible in Wise. Unfortunately small towns are small towns. Tongues begin to wag and speculations abound. The one person that Perla confides in begins to distance himself from her. A never married woman with a child is like a pariah in a pious church congregation.

Through a very dire set of circumstances the townspeople begin to realize that they need the gifts that God has bestowed upon Perla. The journey through the crisis is a heart rending experience for everyone. Casewell Phillips is attracted to Perla, but he just can't seem to get past the idea of her having a child out of wedlock. But as the days go on and he begins to submit to God's leading, he teams up with Perla to help the townspeople.

 Miracle in a Dry Season is a beautiful love story. It reminds you that God's ways are not our ways. Things that seem to be a stumbling block can easily be removed when God is in control. It is also a story about forgiveness. We're reminded that we are called to forgive just as we've been forgiven. That also pertains to forgiving ourselves and continuing on the path that has been set before us.

I look forward to reading more of Sarah Thomas' work in the future. If this debut novel is any indication of what her potential is, I'm betting we're going to be reading her novels for some time to come.


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Photo Credit: © Kristen Delliveniri









8.24.2014

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson ~ A Weddings By Design Series Review



Weddings By Design, Book 4
Janice Thompson
Contemporary Romance

Back of the book:

She didn't expect to fall in love--but roses aren't the 
only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family--especially her father--has other ideas. They've all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand--directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John's--and they want Cassia's full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston's premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family's faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi's good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop.

READ AN EXCERPT

My thoughts:

When I'm looking for a hilarious yet touching read I turn to Janice Thompson's work. She's sure to delight all of her loyal fans with this newest peek into the beloved yet wacky Rossi family. This time around there is a new family on the block. If you thought the Rossi clan was over the top, just wait until you get to know the Pappas family.  The Pappas family has moved to Galveston and set up their Greek restaurant directly across the street from Parma John's. Let the rivalry begin!

The storyline this time around centers on Cassia Pappas and her big Greek family. Cassia loves flowers and even went to school to learn floral design, but her father has other plans for her. He thinks she should be a good Greek daughter and stay and help run the family business, Super Gyros. In an impulsive moment Cassia applies for and gets a job at Patti-Lou's Petals. Unbeknownst to her at the time, the flower shop is owned by the rival Rossi family. The problem is she likes them and wants to continue on. How in the world is she going to convince her Babbas to give his blessing?

While I think you would benefit from reading the whole series and perhaps even going back and reading the beginning series, Weddings by Bella, you can just snatch this book up and read it on its own. All the zany characters are included and the shenanigans of the Rossi family are now being topped by the Pappas family. What more could you want for a lazy afternoon's entertainment?!! 

This story is full of fun. The characters are at times annoying yet moments later endearing. Once you begin reading about them you are going to wish you could meet them in real life. Or maybe you already have . . . after all don't we each have that crazy relative in our lives that we just can't live without? If you've got a quirky family that you love, I think you're also going to love the Rossi and Pappas families.

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When The Game Stands Tall ~ Every Football Player, Parent And Fan Needs To See This Movie!


Drama
PG
Runtime: 1 hr. 55 min.

About the movie:

IT'S NOT HOW HARD YOU FALL, 
IT'S HOW YOU GET BACK UP

"Winning a lot of football games is doable. Teaching kids there's more to life? That's hard."
Coach Bob Ladouceur, from the movie WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL

The New England Patriots hold the NFL record with 21 consecutive victories. The Oklahoma Sooners set the standard for NCAA Division I football teams with 47 straight wins.

Then there's the De La Salle Spartans and their incredible 151-game winning streak. For 12 consecutive seasons, the De La Salle High School football team has known only the thrill of victories and the consistency of championships.

Yet all along the way—as he builds a seemingly invincible, record-setting national powerhouse—coach Bob Ladouceur emphasizes to his young men the value of purpose and significance over the glory of titles and streaks.

It's a formula that works year after year after year—even when everyone else only wants to focus on The Streak. As he tells his team, "Winning is just a way of keeping score for the days when opportunity and perfect effort meet."

With the excitement of becoming team leaders countering the pressure of keeping The Streak alive, a new group of seniors are ready to take over. But when real-life adversity leaves the team reeling, the Spartans must decide if the sacrifice, commitment, and teamwork they have always trusted in can rebuild what is now disintegrating around them.

Starring Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig, Clancy Brown, and Laura Dern, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is in theaters now. Find a theater near you.


My thoughts:

For the De La Salle Spartans winning had become a given. If it was Friday night then victory was only a couple of hours away. Eventually the winning streak surpassed the 150 game mark.

For years Coach Ladoucer (Coach Lad) had been instilling into his players that they were more than the game. Who they were off of the field was just as important as how they played on the field. He taught his men that they were a team. They learned to stand tall together. They learned to watch each other's back.

The unity on the team impacted the entire community. There were literally kids that had grown up at De La Salle who had never seen their team lose. But eventually cracks began to develop. Other teams began to accuse them of cheating. Players started seeking their own limelight and the hard earned unity was eroding by the minute.

The the day that they thought would never happen happened. The lost. They lost the game, they lost a player and they came very close to losing their beloved coach.

When The Game Stands Tall is a movie about winning. Not just a football game, but at life. The inspiration of the Spartans isn't really about how they managed to win so many games. What is truly inspiring is how they learned to stand tall together after they fell from their lofty heights.

If you're a player, parent or fan you need to go see this movie. In an age of sports scandals this movie will remind you that the game that we all love has the potential to impact our lives in a good way. When The Game Stands Tall is what football and team sports in general should be about.

"Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall!" ~ I Corinthians 10: 12



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8.21.2014

Writer's Workshop ~ Funeral Sandwiches


2.) Share a favorite recipe from your childhood that you still make today.

Growing up in a southern family I've eaten my fair share of funeral sandwiches. After I married and moved away they kind of fell off of my radar. Funeral dinners often consisted of various casseroles but not the ones I grew up on.

I was recently reminded of them while I was at my son’s house after our newest grandson was born. A sweet family from their church brought over dinner and it consisted of what I knew as “funeral sandwiches”, a couple of bags of chips, a tin of chocolate chip cookies and a gallon of delicious sweet tea. Let me just say, southern people really know how to show their love!

Funeral Sandwiches are definitely for the living. They are the easiest thing to make and take to someone you care about. They are delicious enough to have at a special family gathering. And they are wonderful for an end of a crazy busy day meal.

So for your eating delight . . . here’s my Grandma Lillie’s recipe:

Lillie Mae’s Funeral Sandwiches

1 pkg of dinner rolls (She ALWAYS used King’s Hawaiian rolls, but Aunt Sally used regular rolls)
½ - 1 lb deli sliced ham
½ lb thinly sliced swiss cheese (we’ve also used provolone)
½ C melted butter
2 T brown sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T mustard (spicy mustard adds a nice kick)
1 tsp onion powder
(At this point Aunt Sally would add some poppy seeds. Grandma Lillie never would because they got in her dentures, not that she would ever admit to that!)

1. Split the whole package of rolls in half and lay the bottom half in your 13 x 9 pan.
2. Layer the deli ham over the top of the roll bottoms.
3. Add a layer of the swiss  cheese.
4. Put the tops of the buns back on.
5. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and onion powder.
6. Brush the top of each bun with the mixture. Drizzle the remainder over all of it.
7. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 24 hours is really the best.
8. When you are ready to make them heat the oven to 350°. Bake the sandwiches covered for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.


There you have it! Now go make a batch or two for yourself or a friend. They are a perfect way to say I care. Just remember to put them in a disposable pan so the intended recipient isn’t burdened with washing and returning! (That’s the free momma advice coming out of me!)


Want to join in the fun? Choose a writing prompt from the list below. Write your blog post. Then hop on over to Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop and link up. We'll be looking for you! 

The Prompts:
1.) Something that spooked you.
2.) Share a favorite recipe from your childhood that you still make today.
3.) A blog post inspired by the word: ordinary
4.) Begin with “I thought I saw…”
5.) Tell us about a smell that reminds you of home.


8.20.2014

My Mother's Future Husband DVD ~ A Fun Mother Daughter Chick Flick Night Idea and Giveaway!


Dove Family-Approved for all ages.
Not Rated
Run Time: 88 Minutes


Headly, a fifteen year old girl, feels her mother has been in mourning long enough and is determined to find her a new husband by summer.

Fifteen-year-old Headly and her mother, Rene, have more than just a mother/daughter relationship - since Headly's father died, mother and daughter have become best friends. When Headly experiences her first crush, she decides that her mother needs some romance in her life as well and devises a scheme to help Rene find love again.

In My Mother's Future Husband, Headly and her best friend introduce Rene to Andrew, a single dad with a four-year-old son - and sparks fly. Through it all, Headly and Rene learn that they must first deal with the pain of the past before they can open their hearts to the possibilities of the future.



My thoughts:

I just had the pleasure of watching this movie over the weekend. There was a lot that I liked about the film, but I do have a few reservations. Let me start with what I liked. The movie depicted a wonderful relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter. It showed the process of moving on after an appropriate amount of time of grieving for their husband and father. It also was candid on how hard the beginning of a new relationship, especially after a long lasting one can be.

There are some really great themes that run through the movie such as trust, not judging someone based on their looks, and how important open communication is in any relationship. Lots of good situations that can lead to some interesting conversations after the movie is finished.

As I said I do have a couple of reservations. While this is a family friendly movie I really think it is best suited to a mother-daughter chick flick night. The men in our house groaned a little too often for me to recommend it to the male audience.

The thing that I didn't really like about it is totally based on our personal parenting style. Headley is a very charming 15 year old girl. I enjoyed her character and thought her mother Rene was a loving and caring parent. But I didn't like that Headley was allowed to have a boy over to the house while Rene was gone. Even when you assume that parents are around it is okay for mixed company to be in bedrooms. Those are just no nos in our house. Let me say that nothing untoward happened or was even implied, I just didn't like it and wished that the scene had taken place elsewhere.

Beyond my reservations I say this would make a fun movie to view with your favorite girl. Pop some popcorn, curl up together on the couch and have a wonderful evening laughing together over a good clean film. (Then have a discussion about boys in the bedroom!)

The Giveaway:

We have partnered with Family Christian Book Stores to offer one of our readers a copy of My Mother's Future Husband DVD. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Rafflecopter form below. All entries are optional.

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