Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blog Tour: What Happened To My Life (Review)

If you are discontent with your life today... this book is for you.

If you are stressed out and running like a hamster in a wheel ... this book is for you.

If you are unhappy, but don't know why... this book is for you.

With those lines (and a few more scenarios) Danna Demetre opens her newest book - What Happened to My Life

Part non-fiction work and part workbook, the book explores a 40-day plan for reclaiming your life. Along the way, Demetre explores ways women can:

    * slow down and make good choices
    * reinterpret life and have more realistic expectations
    * choose the very best from all the good
    * pursue God in a life-changing way

What I Thought
First off, to fully experience this book, I expect you need to do the full 40-day Bible study - which (in the effort of full disclosure) I have not completed.

With that said, I find it ironic that right before I picked up this book to read, I had a conversation with a friend who expressed some of the "If" scenarios that Demetre outlines in her "is this book for you" introduction.

My friend  expressed frustrations on how to balance work, family and faith. She also talked about a lack of joy in her life.

I listened, completely understanding everything she was saying, knowing that she was not alone - I too have experienced the same frustrations - especially when trying to balance life and a job in the church.

(But in another effort of full disclosure, I experienced the same feelings balancing life in and out of a newsroom when I was working full time as a journalist. 

Somehow, I think, like most women, I struggle with finding a way to have joy and contentment, even when life well, tossed me a few lemons.

I appreciated Demetre's hard hitting questions and easy writing style. I like how she incorporates "real" stories into her chapters - to help you fully understand the topics.

I also appreciated Demetre's complete openness - especially in the chapter that talks about the cancer of discontentment. It made me wonder if I have let life's disappointments over the past 12 years build up, almost like a cancerous growth, allowing it to steel my passion and joy.

I'm going to try to do the study in her book for the next 40 days, simply because I'm hoping the book will live up to this tag line - "It's time to move from simply surviving to truly thriving once again!"

(This year, my "one word" for the year has been "half-full." I've been trying to find the "half-full" things in life. I'm hoping that this study is another step in the right direction.)

More About Danna Demetre
Self-described as a continuous “work in progress," Danna Demetre has learned how to find deep satisfaction by putting first things first in each area of her life.

A survivor of marital infidelity, the heartbreak of rebellious children, the paralysis of unrelenting panic attacks and prolonged bondage to food, she has personally discovered that God’s Word is truly “living and active and more powerful than a two-edged sword.” In fact, that “sword” is much like a precision surgical knife that when turned on ourselves excises the lies we believe and replaces them with truth.

A popular international conference and retreat speaker, Demetre has a passion for encouraging others with these life-changing truths. It is her desire to help them dig beneath the surface to find greater balance and purpose in all the dimensions of their lives. Years of mentoring and teaching have earned her the reputation of being the “Christian Woman’s Total Life Coach”.

In 1996, in response to her desire for unchurched and unsaved women to hear about Christ, founded a ministry called “Women of Purpose”. This dynamic outreach ministry has produced more than 55 events at local hotels to provide an opportunity for Christian women to share their faith with friends, family and co-workers in a “non-church” setting.

Demetre loves partnering with women’s ministry leaders to host outreach events in their own churches using the very effective model of Women of Purpose.

Speaking
A popular conference and retreat speaker, Demetre’s personal transparency, natural style and sense of humor allow her to address a myriad of subjects with ease. Her audiences are both comforted and challenged by her passionate and practical approach to real life issues. She believes all the answers to life can be found in God’s Word and shares those truths in creative and memorable ways.

Writing
Scale Down...a Realistic Guide to Balancing Body, Soul & Spirit. She has also written The Heat Is On...Health, Humor & Hope for Women Facing Menopause and Change Your Habits…Change Your Life. What Happened to My Life? is her fourth book.

Demetre's reputation for integrating living truths of Scripture with real life and her willingness to “go deep” and authentically share her own journey has endeared her in the hearts of thousands of readers.

Radio/TV
Demetre has produced and co-hosted a daily Christian radio talk show and weekly health show called Health Solutions Today on KPRZ Radio in San Diego, California. She has been featured on many national radio and television programs to include “Life Today” with James and Betty Robison, the “700 Club” with Pat Robertson, “Living the Life” with Terry Meuwssen and Moody’s “Midday Connection” with Anita Lustrea.

Professional Health Experience
With over 25 years practice in the health and fitness industries, Demetre’s professional experience is diverse and includes many years as a registered nurse, fitness professional, corporate marketing manager and trainer for a Fortune 100 company.

Demetre and her husband, Lew, have three adult children and live in San Diego, Calif. with their 12-year old adopted grandson, Jesse. They are active in their local church and also welcome opportunities to speak together.

Contact Info
For booking information, please call (619) 444-3400, or email info@dannademetre.com You can visit her website by Clicking Here!

Buy This Book
Amazon,
Christianbook.com,
Barnes & Noble.com
Local bookstore.
Bulk discounts on orders of 20+ available from www.direct2church.com
Online Resources
Read an excerpt online

About the Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit http://www.revellbooks.com/.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coming Soon!

I'm happy to toot this new digi scrap project...it includes one of my favorite designers, Danielle Young a designer who hubs out of Oscraps.com.

Keep watching...it's AWESOME!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blog Tour: Life, In Spite of Me (Review & Interview)

A cold, dreary and lonely January night in Illinois can be bleak for someone at the top of their game.

But for a teenage girl, facing heartache, pain and depression, the bleakness can seem as endless as the darkest winter night - and it can often lead to choices that have life-altering implications.

Such is the case found in the story of Kristen Jane Anderson, a young woman who thought suicide would end her pain-filled life.

In one moment, a split second really, Anderson laid down in front of an approaching train - expecting the 33 freight cars passing over her body would bring the closure found only in death.

Instead, a miracle took place. Despite the odds, Anderson lived. She, along with co-author Tricia Goyer, chronicles her journey from a fatal choice to a life filled with extraordinary hope, in the newest non-fiction offering from Multnomah Books Life, In Spite of Me.

Recording the Story
Goyer and Anderson formed their writing partnership, in an attempt to tell Anderson’s story, thanks in part to an introduction by a mutual friend and author, Margaret McSweeny. Together, the pair worked many hours to bring Anderson’s story to life, through the written page.

Goyer said she was drawn to help tell Kristen's story, when she heard Kristen talk about the transformation which took place in her life in the days and weeks following her suicide attempt.

"It's a story of someone who was in such darkness that found Light and hope," Goyer explained. "I think it's important to tell because there are so many people who face depression and suicidal thoughts. I knew this story could help people and possibly save lives."

Through weekly, lengthy phone conversations, the pair worked to craft the tale. Stories from each call developed into different sections of the book, which eventually led to the entire manuscript.

"I felt it was important to start with the night of the suicide attempt and then tell the events leading up to the point she decided to commit suicide, and then follow the path of her moving from pain to hope," Goyer said.
"Since I write novels, that really helped me to create scenes that take readers into the story."

Graphic, and a bit gritty at times, Goyer and Anderson worked to capture the emotions Anderson felt during the days leading up to, and after her suicide attempt.

“Kristen did a great job telling me exactly how she felt, and if she couldn't tell me exactly then I kept asking,” Goyer explained. “As I was writing, I thought about some of the pain I experienced in the past and channeled the emotions from that.”

While the story takes place shortly after New Years' Eve, in January 2000, other than a brief reference to "Y2K" Goyer and Anderson chose deliberately, not to let the story become bogged down with dates or a specific time line.

"We wanted to make the book as relevant to today as possible," she explained. "We felt the dates weren't as important as the story."

Instead, she continued, they wanted the book to talk about one young woman's decision to die and God's plans to give her abundant life.

“I think people who have faced any type of struggles in their lives will find hope from this book,” Goyer said. “I hope people will walk away with a feeling that if God could help Kristen then He can reach them and meet them in their time of need. I hope they are amazing by God's goodness!!”

Goyer said through the entire process, God taught her several lessons.

“God has taught me that He has plans for me, too,” Goyer said. “Kristen is a gift to my life. I also learned that some books need time and refocusing to discover ... but they are worth all the effort!”

What I Thought
I received this book in the mail after a horribly busy day at the church. I planned to "thumb" through it a bit, but put it aside until later in the week, when I could give it more attention.

That was until, I opened the book. Quickly, my planned TV watching (Dancing with the Stars) was abandoned. The opening lines hooked me into Kristen Anderson's story.

Honestly, I didn't put the book down until I reached the last page.

Simple, honest and quite straight forward, the memoir crafted by Anderson and Goyer will stick with you, long after you finish reading it.

I found myself drawn to the pain, agony and despair Anderson felt as life, well, kind of piled up on her. I've seen girls (of all ages - including adults) crumble under the weight of many of the things she faced. I understand the choices which led to Anderson's suicide attempt.

I also believe that God has a better plan - and is using Anderson to give voice to it. This is an amazing story of faith, hope and overcoming adversity.

In the weeks since I first read the book, I've found myself referring people to this amazing resource - not only for those facing suicidal thoughts, but also those dealing with the hard reality of life.

Anderson's story does not glorify suicide, nor does is it a "Cinderella" story, where everything ends "happily ever after" due to earthly things. Instead, it's a testament to the extraordinary hope that she found through a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

I can only imagine the lives God will touch through Anderson's story - and her Reaching You Ministries. I know it has touched mine in a small, yet meaningful way.

Want To Know More?
Watch a recent video interview by Kristen here.

Anderson interviewed by Oprah

Anderson on a Billy Graham Special

More About Tricia Goyer
Tricia Goyer is the author of 24 books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough.

She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003.

Goyer's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Goyer writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Goyer is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions.

Goyer and her husband, John, have been married for 20 years, and have four children. John Goyer works at FamilyLife in Little Rock, Ark., while Goyer writes from home and homeschool. "We love writing and our family loves serving and caring for others."

In the last three months the Goyer family has moved 2,000 miles (from Montana to Arkansas), adopted a baby girl and begun searching for a new church home. "We're excited about what God is doing with us in Little Rock!"  For more info, about Goyer visit www.triciagoyer.com.

Want to read reviews (and interviews) with Goyer about some of her other novels? You can find a complete list here: http://kaytebug2002.blogspot.com/p/book-reviews.html

More About Kristen Anderson
Kristen Anderson is the founder of Reaching You Ministries, the author of Life, In Spite of Me, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, has been featured on Oprah and is a popular speaker at colleges, women’s and youth events, churches, and suicide prevention outreaches.

If you would like to invite Anderson to speak at an event, or to find out more information, click here. To find out more about Reaching You Ministries visit www.reachingyouministries.com or visit the group's Facebook page.

Read What Others Think
Join the Blog Tour and see what others think about this book. Click here for details.

Life, In Spite of Me is a remarkable story of life beyond despair and hope that triumphs over tragedy.”
   —Louie Giglio, pastor, Passion City Church/The Passion Movement

“Suicide is a liar and a thief. It promises peace to those who are escaping but delivers unimaginable pain and rejection to those left behind. Kristen Jane Anderson’s riveting story unmasks the thief and gives hope a face.”
   —Dr. Dennis Rainey, president, FamilyLife Ministries

“When I first met Kristen, I was overwhelmed with her smile, and then I saw her wheelchair. It was a defining moment for me. I had not heard her story or why she’d ended up at Moody. But it was her smile—and it is still her smile—that dismantles me. Kristen has something. It is something otherworldly. She had every reason to die, but now she has every reason to live. I hope you’ll read her story, see her smile, and know why she lives.”
   —Michael Easley, former president, Moody Bible Institute

It's A Contest
Win a copy of Life, In Spite of Me and a Tricia Goyer Library!
Tweet this: Don’t miss Life, In Spite of Me by @TriciaGoyer! The amazing story of #KristenAnderson journey back from #suicide! http://bit.ly/98PKmo (must use both hashtags #kristenanderson and #suicide)

For a chance to win a 5 book Tricia Goyer library – any five books of your choice!

And/or

Leave a comment {HERE}  for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of Life, In Spite of Me.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blog Tour: This Fine Life (Review)

In This Fine Life, author Eva Marie Everson begins the novel by introducing readers to her main female character - Mariette Putnam - a typical girl living in the 1950s/60s south, who has just graduated from a strict Catholic boarding school.

At the beginning of the novel, Mariette finds herself torn between her father’s desire to see her pursue a collegiate education and a possible future in the family business, and her mother’s wish for her to marry the "right guy" and have a family.

Mariette’s inner conflict intensifies when her desire for marriage links her with a young man who may indeed be the love of her life –but doesn’t exactly fulfill any of her parents expectations.

In the end, Mariette’s desire to have “a fine life” leads her in unexpected and life-altering ways.

What I Thought
I’ll be honest. It took me a while to get into this novel. At first I was turned off by some of Mariette’s actions – especially with how she treated her parents at the start of the relationship – and eventual marriage to Thayne.

But as the pages (and years) fly by, and Mariette faces life as a young newlywed and then as a pastor’s wife, I found myself growing to like her as a character. I also found myself liking Thayne and the choices he makes throughout his life.

Overall, this story grew on me. I also liked the sub-plot introduced by Everson when Thayne – growing in his faith – decides to pursue his calling as a pastor.

Going Deeper Into The Story
I thought Everson successfully captured the stress that a young married couple might feel balancing work, family, school and eventually – the ministry.

I found her examples of what happened to Thayne and Mariette during their first pastorate – including having someone show up unexpectedly to “fix” the parsonage early one morning – to be very humorous and well, all to real.

Think it can't happen in real life? Think again. One of my seminary friends - who grew up as a pastor’s son in Tennessee, and is now a pastor himself – tells the story of how one pastor had to get “permission” for his son to have a “race car bed” in the parsonage – because it came furnished (and there was already a bed).

Another friend tells the story of how the parsonage - again came furnished - had a pair of ugly lamps. The family was expected to use them because, well, someone's grandmother must have donated them to the church.

In addition to being criticized by making the parsonage her home (a.k.a. painting the walls and making curtains) Mariette is also "faulted" as a pastor’s wife, because she can't fry chicken.

Sound unrealistic? It's not. We had a running joke in seminary – if you were going to be a pastor’s wife, you better know how to play the piano, make three-bean salad and teach children’s church. (Reason No. 101 why I’m not a pastor’s wife right now..lol). There were lots of expectations placed on women marrying a pastor (funny, those same expectations are never placed on guys marrying a woman who is becoming a pastor).

Honestly, and I think Everson has captured it a bit in her novel, being in the ministry means living in a fishbowl – sometimes it is simply a bit crowded in here – with every word and action analyzed, scrutinized and questioned.

I thought Everson created a snapshot of what life was like in the 60s and 70s for pastors. The more things change, the more they stay the same - I'll bet she could tell this same story - with a new twist - set in present day America.

Meet The Author
Eva Marie Everson is a successful speaker, a popular radio personality, and the award-winning author of Things Left Unspoken. She is coauthor of The Potluck Club series and The Potluck Catering Club series. She lives in Florida.

Want to read more by Everson? Click here to visit her author page at Revell Books.

Find the Book Online
Amazon,
Christianbook.com,
Barnes & Noble.com
A Local bookstore.

Online Resources
Online Excerpt

More About The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blog Tour: It Had To Be You (Review)

Bella's back, better than ever, trying to plan a wedding for her long-feuding Aunt Rosa and Uncle Lazarro, all while trying to arrange her fabulous wedding to the love of her life.

Will the details surrounding Rosa and Lazarro's forties-style wedding, the growing number of family members arriving from Italy - and an old mobster from New Jersey and the unexpected decision by her closest friend lead Bella to a breakdown or a break-through? Will she find her "happily-ever-after" with DJ after all?

What I Though
It Had To Be You, book three in the "Weddings By Bella" series arrived at the right time in my life. I was looking for something fun, light and well, happy, to read in the midst of a stressful week.

Janice Thompson's book - the second I've had a chance to read/review - did not disappoint me. This book picks up shortly after the end of book two - Swinging on A Star.

It re-introduced me to a fun cast of characters including Lazarro and Rosa, along with bringing a few new characters - such as Bella's slightly crazy, and absolutely passionate family from Italy.

Through it all, Thompson weaves a story that will have you laughing at times at Bella's antics. You may also find yourself cheering on Lazarro's efforts to share the gospel with his "former mobster" friend.

I recommend this book. I think it helps that I read at least one of the other books in the series, but I think if you are just looking for a fun book - and not worried about the "back story" of the main characters, you'll truly enjoy "It Had To Be You" by Thompson.

Meet The Author
Meet Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and native Texan. An experienced wedding coordinator herself, Thompson brings alive in her books the everyday drama and humor of getting married. She is the author of Fools Rush In and lives in Texas.

You can read more about Thompson by visiting her website: http://www.janiceathompson.com/

Want to Read More About Bella?
Check out Book One - Fools Rush In, the first Weddings by Bella Novel
Bella Rossi may be nearing thirty, but her life is just starting to get interesting. When her Italian-turned-Texan parents hand over the family wedding planning business, Bella is determined not to let them down. She quickly books a "Boot Scoot'n" wedding that would make any Texan proud. There's only one catch--she's a country music numbskull because her family only listens to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Where will she find a DJ on such short notice who knows his Alan Jackson from his Keith Urban?

When a misunderstanding leads her to the DJ (and man) of her dreams, things start falling into place. But with a family like hers, nothing is guaranteed. Can the perfect Texan wedding survive a pizza-making uncle with mob ties, an aunt who is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and a massive delivery of 80 cowboy boots? And will Bella ever get to plan her own wedding?

Check out Book 2 - Swinging On A Star
(You can read my review here!)

A Renaissance themed wedding, complete with period costumes and foods, a horse-drawn carriage and even a castle - no problem for Bella Rossi, owner of Weddings by Bella.

In her newest tale, Janice Thompson explores Rossi's life - which includes a perfect guy, a successful business and an ambitious themed wedding.

Her only glitch - the best man just happens to be Brock Benson, Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor. (Who just happens to be staying at her house to avoid the paparazzi.)

Find "It Had To Be You" Online
Amazon,
At The Publisher - Revell Books
Read an Excerpt Online

More About The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's a Contest!

Author Julie Cave has decided to give two of her lucky Facebook fans the privilege of naming a character in her next book, The Shadowed Mind.

The contest kicked off on May 4, and the winners will be announced on May 27 during Cave's appearance at the Creation Museum. Contest rules are as follows:

· The first winner will be an existing fan of Julie Cave before May 4 and will have successfully invited another fan. (Yep, that's past.....sorry)

· The second winner will be chosen from the new fans that join after May 4. All new fans must post the name of the fan who invited them to Cave’s page.

· Any fan who is also a subscriber of the RSS feed at www.juliecave.com will receive a second entry automatically.

Want to know more about Cave and her first book, Deadly Disclosures? You can click here to read an interview with Cave and my review of Deadly Disclosures.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blog Tour: The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk (Review)

It's been said, we speak to ourselves, in our minds, at the rate  1,300 words per minute - making constant assessments and judgments, often filtered through sinful and selfish agendas.

In fact, writes Shelly Beach, women acknowledge that they are particularly vulnerable to this temptation and dangers of self-talk as they compare and judge themselves against others.

In The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk, Beach provides a readable narrative and practical tools to help readers surface the inner conflicts that churn below the waterline of their awareness. 

These dialogues can make them blind to the scriptural truth that the vision they hold of themselves and the reality of their walk in Christ are often polar opposites. Shelly explores real-life examples and includes tools to assist in the spiritual disciplines of self-assessment, repentance, commitment, and transformation.

What I Thought
Beach's book was a bit hard to read - not because of the writing style, but because of the subject matter.

Mixing personal experiences with Biblical insight, Beach explores the lies that swirl in many minds through self talk.One chapter specifically delves into the five lies that Satan uses in the negative self-talk: Gagging God, Opposing God, Outwitting God, Equaling God and Yielding to My Dreams.

While the book wasn't the easiest to read, it will make you stop and think about the words which swirl through your mind - and if those words will affirm your life, or in fact, pile you underneath a tremendous weight of lies and deceit.

The book, hopefully, will help you  re-examine and renew the words that swirl through your head, so that you can transform your negative self-talk into a positive, life-affirming talk that can come, only through the love of Jesus Christ.

Online Resources
Find it at Moody Publishers (the publisher)
Shelly Beach's Website
Silent Seduction of Self Talk - First Chapter
Silent Seduction of Self Talk - Study Guide
Shelly Beach's Blog

More About Beach
Shelly Beach is the author of both fiction and non-fiction. She also serves as a speaker on topics as wide-ranging as self-talk, caregiving, writing and the journey of faith in Christ.

Her first novel, Hallie’s Heart (Kregel Publications), won a 2008 Christy Award for contemporary fiction in the Lits category. The book explores topics of forgiveness and self-condemnation through the eyes of Mona VanderMolen and her fifteen-year-old niece Hallie, who believes she’s responsible for the accidental drowning of her younger sister.

The sequel to Hallie’s Heart, Morningsong, was release in March of 2009.In this book, Mona, Hallie, and Mona’s sister Ellen’s lives are forever altered by the secret of one man.

Beach speaks across the country at retreats, seminars, schools, caregiving and writing conferences. I’m a member of the Christian Authors’ Network, the Advanced Speakers and Writers’ Association and the American Christian Fiction Writers.

A twenty-five year veteran of the classroom, Beach is also an adjunct professor at Cornerstone University.

Beach and her husband Dan have two adult children. She jokes that at every available opportunity, Beach and her husband are out together on our Harley Ultra  Classic, "with the wind in our hair and the bugs in our teeth."

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.
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