Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review of The Shock of Night




From the back cover:

The Darkwater Claims All Who Enter It.
All But One.

When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded, Willet Dura, reeve to the king of Bunard, is called to investigate. As he begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.

Willet returns to his task, but the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers, and his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, as though he can divine their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he's been passed the rarest gift of all--a gift that's not supposed to exist.

Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he's pulled into a dangerous conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world--a conflict  that will force him to come to terms with his inability to remember how he escaped the Darkwater Forest--and what happened to him inside it. 

My thoughts:

Willet Dura is a reeve to the king, which from what I gathered was like the king's personal detective. He has an uncanny ability to ask the questions others don't think of, or see the details lost in the shuffle. Despite his ability, this was not the life Willet had originally sought. He wanted to be a priest, but the king called every man to arms. When Willet went to war, the blood on his hands forced him away from the priesthood. Willet was also one of the only men to survive a night in the Darkwater Forest, a place were evil practically leaks from the branches. As a result, the story deals a little with Willet's PTSD. Now thanks to an unknown priest's death, the way he looks at the world and the happy ending he thought he'd finally found are changed forever.

When the story started, it had a detective vibe, which was kind of fun. It was like reading about a cop in another world. I also liked the idea of "gifts" being handed down from God. The society was completely built around who was gifted and who wasn't. It was an interesting concept, and it has a lot of potential.

The story felt very dark to me, but Patrick Carr did a great job with layering the details. The first book in a series often seems slower because there is so much new information being given to the readers. I LOVED that Willet's perspective was told from the first person. It made a big difference for me. However, I had a hard time relating to Willet as a character. I often couldn't follow his thought process until he was back from his latest scheme.

Bottom line is that I want to know more. I have questions that still need answers, and the story drew me in enough that I need to know the answers. The first book of The Darkwater Saga ended on a somber note, so I pray that the series has happy endings for the characters. I'm a happy endings kind of girl.

I received a copy of The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

Hope you all have a Merry, blessed, joyous Christmas! God bless and see you guys on January FIRST!! Oh, my goodness! Goodbye 2015! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Review of A Season to Wed



From the back cover:

They’ve helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples. Now twelve new couples will find themselves in the wedding spotlight in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk

Sometimes the road to happiness is paved with youthful mistakes.

Ten years after what she thought was her almost-wedding, Hope Prentiss discovers that the ceremony counted—and, as fate would have it, the jilted John Burke has just ridden back into town. After spending some time with John and helping plan a Christmas wedding for a mystery couple, Hope begins to wonder if she really wants a divorce . . . or a real wedding of her own.

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck

Revealing the beauty in other women might be Ginger Winters’s specialty—but it will take an unexpected kind of love to help Ginger see the beauty in herself.

Ginger Winters will be the “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade. But when high-school crush Tom Wells shows up looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her from love once again . . . despite Tom’s best efforts.

Serving Up a Sweetheart by Cheryl Wyatt

Meadow knows how to serve delicious food to match any wedding theme. But can she accept love when it’s served up on a silver platter?

Meadow Larson is having the mother of all Mondays when her roof caves in during a blizzard, right before the most important wedding contract of her career. Renovation contractor Colin McGrath offers to fix Meadow’s roof, even though he knows he is the last person she would accept help from.
But the more Meadow gets to know the new Colin, the more she realizes God may have something more permanent in store than a new catering kitchen.

My thoughts:

I loved this book. Loved it. From the gorgeous cover design to the amazing authors all the way to the end of each sweet story. I can't even pick a favorite of these three sweet novellas.

Let me break it down a little bit.

Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk -

The characters were good. Hope's bestie was the comedic relief for me. I thought she was hysterical. If John wasn't caring, sweet, charming, and hunky, he still would have been awesome because he said "darling." I'm a sucker for a man who says that, even if he is fictional. I liked Hope. She didn't draw out drama, and I could related to her.

Spiritually, Hope had to learn to be silent and trust God, and John had to learn not to run but fight for the things - and people - he loved. The biggest thing holding Hope and John back was wounds from their respective childhoods that they had never discussed or truly realized. While touching on serious things, this was still a fun story.

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck -

Ginger suffers from emotional and physical scars due to a trailer park fire she was caught in as a child. Due to the opinions of stupid people, Ginger has never viewed herself as beautiful, wanted, or even worthy. She feels like God abandoned her.

Tom always had feelings for Ginger, but because of his father's demons, he moves away before he can tell Ginger how he feels. Now he's back and he feels God's call to lead Ginger to Jesus and to help her understand her true beauty - even if it's only as a friend.

The spiritual plot was much more intense, but in a good way. It dealt with believing lies about ourselves. Lies that have shaped us, controlled us, and hindered us. This was a moving story with a deep, emotional ending.

Serving Up a Sweetheart by Cheryl Wyatt -

Meadow suffers from deep, emotional scars from her childhood and teen years. She came from an abusive home before she and her siblings were moved to her grandparents home where money was very tight. Unfortunately, love interest Colin played a big part in Meadow's emotional trauma. He gave into peer pressure and ignored the horrid way his friends treated Meadow. He was selfish and concerned with his social status, but also suffered from a difficult home life that was just more concealed due to his family's social standing.

Meadow has carried her scars into adulthood, and always looked for the bad in people first. When she sees Colin again, she struggles with forgiving him and letting those lies go. I liked Meadow because she was fun and sarcastic, and her struggle was realistic. Colin was endearing because he had given his life to Jesus years ago, and when he and Meadow met up again, he made it his mission to right the wrongs he had done to her.

My favorite part was when Colin sees Meadow again for the first time. There's no golden ray of sun illuminating her. Instead she's beating up a snowman. This was a fun story, with all too realistic struggles.

 If you're looking for a charming, romantic, wedding related read, then pick up your copy ASAP!!!

I received a copy of A Season to Wed by Cindy Kirk, Rachel Hauck, and Cheryl Wyatt from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

See you guys on December 20th! God bless!

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thankful

On November 25th, I had a baby.

My beautiful baby girl, Maddie. :)

After a day of irregular labor, two days of stalling labor, and painfully long induction, an hour of pushing, a failed forceps delivery, and then an emergency C-section, my sweetly crying baby girl was held up Simba style for my husband and I to see. After such a long and difficult pregnancy, there was the beautiful baby that had been occupying the majority of my thoughts for the last nine months.

And she was absolutely perfect. Still is.

Today's post isn't going to be a regular blog post. I was in the hospital for a six days, and am recovering from a C-section with my sweet daughter who has decided she needs to be in my arms in order to sleep. I'm still a little out of it. I just wanted to share this wonderful event with you guys, and ask for your prayers during recovery and sleepless nights.

I am so incredibly thankful for God's hand in such a long, difficult, and scary time, but I'm beyond words thankful to God for my amazing daughter. It was the perfect Thanksgiving present from Him.

Daughter. That seems so weird to say. :)

Thanks guys! I'll see you on December 10th!

V. Joy Palmer

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review of Every Girl Gets Confused




From the back cover:

Katie Fisher and Brady James may be a match made in heaven, but that doesn't seem to guarantee them a happily ever after accompanied by angelic choirs. Katie's almost-fiancé Casey is back in Fairfield, ready to rekindle their relationship. And there's nothing Katie's parents want more than for their small-town girl to leave Dallas and come home for good.

But can she really leave Brady behind? And will she ever be able to wear that gorgeous wedding dress she won?

"Every Girl Gets Confused is romantic comedy at its best. A sweet romance. A wonderful band of supporting family and friends. And enough humor to keep me smiling on each page. I highly recommend it!"--Cara Putman, award-winning author of Shadowed by Grace and Where Treetops Glisten

"A delightful mix of romance, inspiration, and humor, woven together with Thompson's trademark Texas storytelling and a happily-ever-after ending that will make you want to swoon."--Judy Christie, author of Wreath, A Girl in the Wreath Willis series

"Janice Thompson tosses her readers into a humorous whirl of romantic possibilities with characters I swear I've met in small-town Texas. Fun!"--Julianna Deering, author of the Drew Farthering Mystery series

My thoughts:

Brides. Wedding dresses. Weddings. Fun characters. Happy sigh. If I could live in this world, I would. This world is fun and witty, and centered around the greatest thing around: love. Precisely, the reason I love Janice Thompson's books so much.

Katie has entered a busy, confusing time at the start of the story. She knows she loves Brady without a shadow of a doubt. Well, maybe there's a little shadow. Everyone seems sure that it's just a matter of time before they tie the knot, but she's been down this road before, and it didn't end so well. Now her ex-boyfriend, Casey, is back in town, and because Brady is going through difficulty with his knee injury, he's pulling away from her. Casey is ready to pick up where they left off, and sneaky doubts start to sneak into the back of Katie's mind about her relationship with Brady. I love what her Aunt Alva says, "You can't let the little foxes spoil the vine." A good reminder not to let a difficult season spoil the relationships in your life.

Speaking of which...

The spiritual theme of this book was seasons, and what a good message! We all go through seasons of confusion, difficulty, heartache, and joy. I liked that we saw different kinds of season for the characters. This message was strong. No matter how difficult the season, it's just for a season. It will pass, so don't give up on God's plans.

This is the second book in the Brides with Style series. It's filled with fun throwbacks to Janice Thompson's popular Weddings by Bella Series and her Weddings by Design Series. However, the story is still different and filled with Janice Thompson's trademark humor.

I was given a copy of Every Bride Gets Confused by Janice Thompson in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given. It was such an honor to review her newest release!

God bless you guys! I will see you on December 1st!! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review of The Christmas Joy Ride






From the inside flap:
 
Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that's exactly what she's getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix--in the dead of winter, no less--the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off with Joy toward Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride--one that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it's going to be an exciting ride! Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington's, and The Christmas Cat. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.                 

From the back cover:

"I'm going on a mission, Miranda. I'm going out to spread some Christmas joy along Route 66. And no one is going to stop me."

"But you can't go driving across the entire country in the middle of winter and--"

"I can and I will," Joy declared stubbornly . . .

"I think it's a totally outrageous plan. I can't bear the thought of you being out there by yourself--and at your age too. I'll be scared sick about you being on the road . . ."

Joy had an idea, and she knew this was her chance. She had to give it one good try. "And that is exactly why I want you to come along with me, Miranda."


My thoughts:

Fans of Melody Carlson's Christmas stories are not going to be disappointed! The Christmas Joy Ride was a delightful, quick read. It's short - only 176 pages - but a charming story that fills you with Christmas warmth. I found myself wishing for snow outside, and I fought the urge to decorate for Christmas right now. Thankfully, I remembered that I was pregnant, and I didn't have the energy or the capability to maneuver those large boxes around my nine month sized bump. Regardless of the cold, hard facts, reading this story without the backdrop of garland and my Christmas décor seemed wrong on so many levels. This is a great story to read for a little Christmas pick-me-up, or even to give to someone as a gift.

Joy "Christmas Joy" Jorgenson was a delightful, spunky, incredibly generous lady. Her Godly, Christmas spirit was so loveable, and she was the type of character you expect to see revealed as an angel or one of Santa's elves in a Christmas movie. Miranda Fortner seems slightly jaded from the hard times that have fallen on her, but her love for her elderly neighbor/friend outweighs all that. As she and Joy spread God's Christmas magic, it turns out that Joy has a little Christmas joy planed for Miranda as well.

I did wish that the story was longer. There's an awful lot of stuff happening in a 176 pages. You wish for more details. More stops on their Christmas joy spreading road trip. More time spent on the developing romance at the end of the story. I'm not a fan of the widower scenario that was used for the potential love interest. It's done a lot, and it's just not a story line I like. However, the author did not spend a lot of time on that, which I greatly appreciated. I would have liked to see their attraction spread out more and given more time to develop into the love we know would happen, but again, it's a short story.

I was so, so honored to be able to read one of Melody Carlson's books for review. She has been a favorite author of mine since my preteen days. Even more fun, given that "Christmas Joy" and I share a name. ;)

I was given a copy of The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson from Revell in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

V. Joy Palmer

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Review of Vendetta

 


From the back cover:

No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Person Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels that this case is getting personal, and that she is not the hunter at all--but actually the one being hunted.

With this explosive first book in the new Nikki Boyd Files, Lisa Harris takes readers on a fast-paced pursuit of justice that will have them holding their breath until the heart-stopping finish.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed Vendetta by Lisa Harris. I can't say that the plot surprised me; it starts like your typical abduction case. However, Lisa Harris presented the information and dropped plot twists in such an excellent way that I HAD to keep reading! This was a short, fast paced read, that wasn't bogged down with unnecessary details. It was like reading a Criminal Minds script, only way less creepy! (I was only slightly disturbed in my dark, empty house. LOL.)

The only thing I disliked about this story was the guy you know Nikki Boyd is going to end up with in the end. It's not because he's a bad guy - Tyler Grant is actually quite perfect. You can see their chemistry from the first chapter. He's a strong hero, who makes you feel protected yet swoony. My problem is with his back story. As I've said before, I don't like the deceased spouse angle. I just don't. So I was a little surprised when I found out that Tyler had been married to Nikki's best friend, and that she had died. I always prefer the boy-next-door, friend I-didn't-know-I-loved, handsome-stranger-getting-in-the-way angles.

The spiritual angle in this book dealt with guilt. Guilt that resulted in the characters taking responsibility for things that are beyond our control. Nikki struggled with guilt over her sister's own abduction ten years prior, feeling like if only she had arrived earlier, her sister would still be around today. Tyler struggled with guilt over his wife's death, thinking that if only he had known she had been having dizzy spells, she and their unborn child would still be alive today. The spiritual journey these characters take is beneficial to anyone who has held onto the emotional burden of things that are a result of living in a fallen world.

Vendetta was the first book in The Nikki Boyd Files. If you read the sneak peak for Book 2, you will be anxiously awaiting the next instalment, too, as we are left hanging! That and the need to see Nikki and Tyler get together. :)

I was given a copy of Vendetta by Lisa Harris from Revell in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

God bless you guys! See you November 10th! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review of Love Everlasting




From the back cover:

Growing up in a Seattle bridal finishing school never prepared Abrianna Cunningham to become one of the brides, but now Wade Ackerman, who has always been the reliable boy next door, is indicating he wants to be more than friends. And even the people closest to Abrianna believe Wade is the man she should marry. So why is she having such a hard time choosing between Wade Ackerman and Priam Welby?

Watching Welby's relentless pursuit of Abrianna is making Wade's blood boil. Welby can offer her wealth and security, but what about character and integrity? Surely Abrianna can see past Welby's smooth tongue and fine clothes, can't she?

Caught between the devil and the boy next door, either choice she makes will change Abrianna's life forever.

My thoughts:

Congratulations fans! The moment you've all been waiting for has arrived! Abrianna Cunningham and Wade Ackerman are engaged! I don't want to give anything away, but despite Abrianna's apprehensions, the evil Priam Welby was never in the running.

Side note: Priam Welby? You know he's a bad dude just based on the name. What were his parents thinking?

I had some trouble with Abrianna Cunningham. The novel talks about her previous, "daredevil" exploits and I felt like the woman I was getting to know was rather flighty. While she asked a lot of interesting and thought provoking questions, it seemed to be the main focus for the first half of the book before we saw some action. Once the main conflict started to unfold, I was more engaged. However, once resolved, Abrianna was back to questioning everything again, and that frustrated me a little.

I liked Wade Ackerman. He was sweet, a little stubborn, and had that swoon worthy element we love in heroes. Wade's persona screamed. "I will always protect you. I will never leave you. I will always love you." Due to Abrianna's unexpected inheritance, he struggled with needing to provide for Abrianna himself before realizing that hello, they were going to be married. It was manly of him to want to provide for her himself, but also a good reality check that you work together in marriage.

I liked the ending, but really, who doesn't love a happy ending? *Sigh* Justice. A Wedding. Then flash forward to seeing the happy couple settled. That's what I like.

Truthfully, I haven't read very many of Tracie Peterson's books, but I had expected this book to be different. It wasn't bad. Just different. Not my favorite cup of tea. Perhaps it was simply the style of this series combined with the environment of the story? Regardless of my expectations, I know the author put a great deal of time and work into this story.

Love Everlasting is the third book in Tracie Peterson's Brides of Seattle Series. Fans of the series who followed the love stories of Abrianna's close friends, as well as watched Abrianna grow up and mature, will be very pleased with this final instalment.

I was given a copy of Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

See you guys on November 1st! God bless your end of October! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Pregnancy Ride

Currently, my husband and I are expecting our first child. Theorectically, we are due the end of November, but God only knows when this little one will make her appearance. Despite the fact that the nursery is not even close to being done - or built - I am ready for this baby to be here.


Mommas, you feel me. On a side note, who else is slightly disturbed by the use of that expression? Being pregnant, I don't really want extra people feeling me...

I know the baby needs to stay put for a while longer. I know it's for her health and benefit, but eight months into the pregnancy, you start to get antsy. Anybody who says otherwise is lying through their teeth. How do I know this? I'm pregnant. I know this.

Ah, to not have a watermelon gut. To not be throwing up all. the. time. To sleep through the night without a backache, hip ache, or rib ache. To be able to eat a turkey sandwich again. To not have to worry about my heart. To not have achy feet and swollen hands. To be done with contractions and hurting muscles. To not need to run for the bathroom every time I stand up. To not have heartburn anymore. To not feel sleepy all the time. To be done worrying about everything. Shall I go on?

On the plus side, I'll never forget the first time I felt my baby move one dreary morning. Or watching her wave to us during the ultrasound. Or looking at the pictures of her sweet face. I've spent so many hours watching my stomach bounce around. I love thinking about her, daydreaming about what kind of person she will be, imagining what she will look like, wondering if all my poking is giving her a complex.

Pregnancy is full of many exciting moments, woes, joys, difficulties, and blessings. It's like one of those awful fair rides that shoot you up in the air, and then drop you so fast you think you will go splat. Actually, I hate those rides, so that's a bad example. However, you get my point.

Terrifying. Exhilarating. Exciting.

It's like anything worth having in life. A career that God has given you. Marriage. Friends. Dreams.

And Just like everything in life, fear comes frolicking inside your comfy abode.

My biggest fear is "What am I going to do to screw this kid up?" That's an awful thing to think, isn't it? This hasn't been an easy journey, and while I would 100% do this again if given the choice, it's been hard. Parenting is hard, and parents make mistakes. There's just so much I could do wrong, and I think that's the driving force behind so many of our fears - "How am I going to mess this up?"

It's not that I haven't had an amazing example of mothering from my mother. It's not that I'm not equipped to take care of a baby. It's not that I'm afraid of my baby... well, not a lot. It's not like God has said, "Here's a kid. Good luck, fool." It's that it's new. It's scary. It's different. It's an opportunity for me to stumble and fall. It's that I look at the people who have hurt me and broken my spirit, and I worry that I'm just like them.

But despite all that...

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

God hasn't given me a spirit of fear. He's given me power over fear! He's given me all His love! He's given me a sound mind - something all parents need! He hasn't called me to any task, past, present, and future, that He hasn't enabled me to do. God hasn't made me in anyone else's image. He made me in His image.

And He's made my baby in His image.

Bottom line, even if I do mess up, God is holding my baby in His capable hands. He won't let her go. He will help her through anything that comes her way. He won't ever stop loving her.

Where I mess up, God cleans up. Thankfully, that will always be the case.

Thanks for letting me share my heart with you guys today! See you on October 20th!! God bless!!

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Benefits of Wrting Conflict

I might have mentioned this before, but I hate conflict in real life.


Hate it. I just want people to get along, work together, hold hands, and skip through life all merry while the sun shines above them. I utterly despise yelling, I avoid confrontation, and I hate that icky feeling when I succeed in delivering a scathing remark.

So, reading conflict can make me a bit crazy. As in the butterfly net definition of crazy. I will be the person screaming, "What is wrong with you? Tell the truth, and end up together already!"

Unfortunately, what I want is not realistic. People are people, and we attack each other's throats sometimes. You also can't have a realistic story without conflict.

The good news is that writing imaginary conflict is way easier, satisfying, and lets just say it, way more fun. I actually like writing conflict! It may seem a little strange, but it's really quite logical when you think about it.

1. You always get to use your zinger.

I'd like to point you to Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. Meg's character in this popular rom-com stated that she hated conflict because she would become tongue-tied. In the heat of the moment she would say something lame and unimpressive. Later, when she was rehashing the fight, she would think of the perfect, scathing zinger, but by then it was too late. When you're writing a scene with conflict, you can always go back and add that perfect zinger to the conversation.

2. Redo's.

Have you ever noticed that when you are fighting with someone, the argument starts to mutate and segway off into other fights. Afterwards, you think, "How did we end up here?" If you start to segway in the writing world, you can just select, delete, and force your characters to stay on topic. Instant redo.

3. It's cheaper then therapy.

If you're like me, and you tend to hold onto stuff, you reach the point where you just blow up about anything and everything. Using your characters to vent some of life's everyday frustrations is much easier on the purse strings then court ordered therapy from demolishing the bathroom because your husband left the toilet set up again. Working out your feelings and aggression can make a big difference.

4. Quicker, more efficient fights in real life.

All the fighting we do on the pages teaches you how to fight in real life, and no, I don't mean that it helps you develop snarkier comebacks. I mean that it teaches you to keep your fights quick and to the point. What if we look at it like this? If the most frustrating thing for me in reading conflict is how the characters drag out the drama, how much more frustrating is it if I do that in my own life? I certainly don't want to become the thing that I mock, because then what would I mock?

"The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out." Proverbs 17:14

This is such a great verse! It teaches us to let go before the fight mutates and segways, before we say something we regret, before we smash the tub butter into the floor out of frustration, before we loose our minds and end up broken hearted. We are human, and we will always have some friction, but that doesn't mean we have to drag it out. We can learn to let stuff go, forgive, move on, make up, and end up together. Amazingly enough, writing conflict teaches you how to do this in real life.

See. I told you I had some logical points. ;) What about you guys? Have you noticed any real life benefit to writing conflict?

Awesome hanging out with you guys today! God bless, and I will see you guys on October 10th!! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reveiw of Bathsheba

 
From the back cover...
 

One of Ancient Israel's Most Famous Women--As You've Never Looked at Her Before

One of the Bible's most misunderstood and misjudged women, Bathsheba comes to life in this new biblical reimagining from Angela Hunt. Combining historical facts with detailed fiction, this is an eye-opening portrait that will have you reconsidering everything you thought you knew about her.

After receiving God's promise of a lifelong reign and an eternal dynasty, King David forces himself on Bathsheba, a loyal soldier's wife. When her resulting pregnancy forces the king to murder her husband and add her to his harem, Bathsheba struggles to protect her son while dealing with the effects of a dark prophecy and deadly curse on the king's household.

My thoughts…

I absolutely LOVED this book! Out of all the books I’ve reviewed lately, this is my favorite so far!

As the story of Bathsheba and David can be somewhat controversial and hotly debated in the Christian world, I would recommend reading the author’s note at the end of the book, before diving into the story. Here Angela Hunt explains why she wrote certain aspects of the story the way that she did (I'm trying not to give away any spoilers, but if you've read the Bible, then you've already got a pretty good idea. ;) ). Bottom line to keep in mind with Biblical fiction is that we have no way of knowing the real thoughts, emotions, and driving forces behind their decisions. This is one person's take on the story, as well as the lessons God revealed. It's always best to keep an open mind with Biblical fiction unless the author is not following the Biblical account. That being said, anything that was told a specific way in the Bible was absolutely, 100% written that way in this story.

The story is told through Bathsheba's and Nathan the prophets perspectives, and it is written in first person, which I absolutely love! I think a part of me was expecting this story to be much sadder then it was, but despite the heavy subject matter, I found it to be quite uplifting. The pages overflowed with Biblical insights that just blew me away!

Personally, I think I've always romanticized the story of David and Bathsheba. In a, "the king falls in love with a peasant girl" kind of way, in an attempt to ignore the harsh reality of the story. I love what Angela Hunt said in the author's note at the end of the book: "Are we so enthralled with the man 'after God's own heart' that we cannot see that he was as fallible as any other human?" Angela did an amazing job of capturing David's imperfections, lusts, and failings, as well as his love for God, repentant spirit, and passion. I walked away from this book with a new look at David.

Nathan's story was very intertwined with not only David, but with Bathsheba as well. It was an interesting twist that added so much depth to the story. It was the perfect way to write some of the scenes instead of everything being from Bathsheba's perspective.

Bathsheba was an amazing character. I could relate with her, cry with her, and learn with her. As a baby, Bathsheba had a powerful prophecy spoken over her in the story. It made Bathsheba the perfect heroine who struggled with God's call, fought God's call, and worked towards God's call - something I think all of us can relate to ourselves!

I was desperate to read Bathsheba after reading Esther, book one in the Dangerous Beauty Series. This novel did not disappoint, and I can't wait to read the last book in the series, which is about Delilah. What else can I say? I loved this book! Before I even finished reading it, I was recommending it to friends and family. Buy this book!!!

I received a copy of Bathsheba by Angela Hunt from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

See you guys on October 1st! God bless! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review of Last Chance Hero




From the back cover...

What happens when your heart is intercepted before you even know it's in play?

The folks in Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased. Dr. Jessica MacLeod has opened an office right on Main Street and Andy Ryan, the best athlete the little town ever produced, has come home from the NFL to coach the high school football team. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot with this football-obsessed town when she admits that she's never seen a football game, isn't really interested in doing so, and in fact doesn't know a first down from a goalpost.

Despite having little in common, Jess and Andy find themselves drawn to each other. But when a disagreement over the future of an injured player puts them both on the defensive, it begins to look like this game is over . . .

My thoughts...

I really liked Last Chance Hero! It was easy reading and the pages flew by. I had a Mexican food craving for days after reading this book (But that could be the power of suggestion coupled with strong pregnancy hormones!). Regardless, the green chili sauce described in this book made me want to hit every Mexican restaurant within the state. The small town was charming, but the secondary characters did not overwhelm the main storyline.

I could relate to the heroine, Dr. Jessica "Jess" MacLeod, in that I've very little interest in football. (For those of you who have the urge to throw something at me because of that statement, please don't aim for the face. :) ) However, there is a Friday Night Lights/Facing the Giants/Remember the Titans quality to the story that will satisfy football fans, but isn't overdone for those of us who are "weird."

Andy Ryan was a sweet hero. He's the football hero from Last Chance's Glory Days. Due to injury, he retired early and is now coaching the high school football team. Between the town putting tons of pressure on him to reignite the Glory Days and demons he hasn't dealt with from his past, Ryan has quite a bit on his plate.

I was slightly surprised at how easy Jess and Andy's relationship seemed to go until they disagreed over the treatment of one of the football team's stronger players. Even that though seemed to be resolved relatively easy. In my opinion, it was mostly wounded pride that pulled them apart. Which isn't a bad spin because really, if we can get over our wounded pride, more rifts could be resolved.

My only real critique to the story is the spiritual journey for the characters. Most of the reviews that I've read where the reviewer complains about this, they says there was too much. I felt like it was the opposite. Andy's spiritual journey was good, but I just felt Jess' journey wasn't a complete look at the questions and struggles that Christians and non-Christians alike face. She's not a Christian when she comes to Last Chance, and despite the fact that Andy and the majority of her friends are, there are not a lot of conversations about God, and there's not a lot of soul searching on Jess' part regarding this. So it fell like all of a sudden at the end of the book, she understood without having the reflections or the questions that we all go through. A point in the pros column is that the story isn't preachy, which is great because who likes that? That is a helpful quality for new Christians or non-Christians.

Last Chance Hero is the fourth book in the A Place to Call Home Series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand. The story works well on it's own. The bonus of reading the first three books is that you see the previous character's turn up, and that's always fun!

I received a copy of Last Chance Hero by Cathleen Armstrong from Revell Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

God bless you guys! See you on September 20th!! :) (Oh, my goodness! Where did September go???)

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Power of Fiction

You guys might have gathered that I read.

A lot.


I haven't counted in a few years, but back then I had well over 500 books. I have a personal goal to have a home library that rivals the Library of Congress. I know that's not really possible (did you know the Library of Congress has a copy of every book printed in the United States?). It's just my way of saying I want a big, huge, multi-level library.

And I love to read fiction.

A lot.

A high percentage of my book collection is fiction.

Here's the truth, I've felt some judgment from people about my love of fiction over nonfiction. I've been made to feel like the books I read are of lesser value because everything is fake. Like the importance of what I'm learning means nothing because it's "dumbed down" because of romance, sword fights, or imaginary places. Like it's just not as good.

I have nothing against nonfiction. Those of you who follow me know that I also write on Snack Time Devotions, a daily devotional blog. As a Christian, I spend a lot of time reading a nonfiction book called the Bible. ;)

The truth is, there is power in fiction. I have a collection of authors who write compelling/funny/realistic stories in such a way that I stop and am in awe of how profoundly they've hit exactly the issue I'm struggling with without having laid eyes on me. I love how God can use a fictional story to change someone's life!

I like this quote about books that I happened across...


If you can read a book that breathes God's love and life into you, then it's a good book. If you've found a story that speaks to the heartache in your soul, then keep reading. If you've got an author who understands the enormity of their ministry in linking words together in a way that makes you tear up in wonder, then who has the right to judge? If you can walk away from a story with hope, love, renewed purpose, vision, healing, joy, or a better understanding of our awesome God, then that book is phenomenal!

Different stories do it for different people. Don't ever let someone look down on you if you, like me, are a fiction fanatic. God created you to find purpose in the story.

God bless you guys! See you on September 10th!

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review of Not by Sight


 
 
From the back cover:

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.

My thoughts:

My expectations for a historical romance are different from that of a contemporary, young adult, or even a dystopian novel.

That being said, Not by Sight lived up to my expectations!

I had forgotten how much I enjoy historical romances. There's a certain amount of charm that comes from being swept to an enchanting era, while knowing full well that when you close the cover you still have access to modern plumbing.

It's the simple things in life. ;)

I really liked Jack's character, and I thought he was well developed. He was egotistical and wounded, with a touch of brooding. I love that combination for a hero! I liked Grace, too. She was obviously meant to be the strong, shining example, but there were times I wished she had been a little more reckless. That seems strange to say, but we are all human, and sometimes act rash. I think that would have made her a teensy bit more relatable, but I honestly thought the author did an excellent job with Grace's character.

While Grace needed to remain strong in her faith towards the end of the story when her world fell apart, it was really Jack who needed to learn to live by faith and not by sight. A few chapters into the novel, you learn that Jack has lost his sight while in service to his country. He truly has to live his life relying on everything but his sight. However, he has trouble living by a faith that's failed him. The title, Not by Sight, was quite fitting for this story!

Grace is an aspiring writer, and when Jack finds out during their time together, he uses Grace as his "eyes." Jack has an uncanny ability to navigate his surroundings despite his blindness. He hires Grace to be his driver, has her drive to the middle of nowhere, and then describe the scene to him. Long descriptions of their surroundings were instead used as dialogue. As a writer myself, I enjoyed this little trick that the author used. :)

Not by Sight was a very enjoyable story. While I still had some questions at the end, I quite loved the resolution between Jack and Grace. I highly recommend this book!

I received Not by Sight by Kate Breslin from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

See you guys on September 1st! God bless you guys!

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review of Hope Harbor



From the back cover:

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

My thoughts:

Not every book written by every author is for every person. This wasn't my favorite book. I didn't realize that both Tracy and Michael had suddenly lost their respective spouses. That's not a favorite storyline for me - generally because it's too awful for me to even think about - so I generally avoid stories like this. Hope Harbor dealt a lot with grief, pain, regret, and trying to forgive themselves for the mistakes they had each made in their previous marriages.

However, just because this wasn't a story for me doesn't mean that it wasn't well-written, with a message that a lot of hurting people need to hear.

Or read in this case. ;)

The book was a little slow for me, and I was surprised that Tracy and Michael were not the only points of view in the story. Michael strolls into town with the mission to disappear during his two month leave, but God has other ideas. When his lodging plans go array, the town shut-in, Anna Williams, spontaneously offers him lodging because Michael has an uncanny resemblance to her estranged son, John. Anna becomes entwined in Tracy and Michael's lives, and is a key element in the plan God has for them.

When Michael sends Tracy crashing to the curb, he tries to make up for his part in her bicycle accident. This soon leads to a lot of extra volunteering on his part, mostly to be around Tracy.

I thought it was cute how the book was set on a cranberry farm, and I liked how the answer to saving the floundering cranberry farm was right under their noses. I found the ending to be pleasant, with a happy resolution for all the characters.

I received a copy of Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon from Revell in exchange for my honest opinion.

See you guys on August 20th! God bless!

V. Joy Palmer

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Little Writer That Could (I sold a book!)

Hey everyone! I got to tell you, rejection is the hardest thing in the world to handle.

I also have to tell you, that you can't escape it.

*Insert sad, little sliding flute sound that I couldn't find a clip of anywhere. The internet has failed me.  :\  *

I can tell that was just the news you all want to hear today. I know, not very uplifting. And in the life of a writer, it's one of the hardest things to accept. I have met writer friends who have spent years trying to get published. Manuscript after manuscript.

Heart wrenching rejection after heart wrenching rejection.

Then we get told that it will all happen in God's time.

"Well, I'm looking at my watch God, and I think it's time. If you don't, get a new watch."

That line doesn't go over so well.

There are about a billion things in life that don't come easily. It requires a lot of hard work. Followed by a few rejections, ice cream, a treadmill, and then trying again.

"But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

You can't stop believing. You can't stop going. Lying in bed eating chocolate only helps for a little while. Then you start to break out, and you are still in the same place you were before.

Keep going!

I have a very motivational book for you to read. I think it's one you are all familiar with. (And if not, then I feel old.) Get it. Read it. Even now, many years later, I still remember the message. The main character had to fight insurmountable elements to make it to the top.

The Little Engine That Could!


There's a lot to learn from this. Mostly, never give up. Never surrender. You can do it! God has given you wind and wings and a dream! Keep going until you are soring!

For a writer, it doesn't stop the moment you sign the dotted line. but you keep pressing forward. Eventually you come to trust God with the details.

I pitched my first novel, and I got a good response to it. I sent it out to editors and agents. I checked my e-mail more times then I'd care to admit.

And I waited.

I kept writing. Rewriting. Plotting. Re-plotting.

Then some rejections started to come.

It crushed me. Like I said, rejection isn't easy. For awhile I felt like God had let me down. (Thankfully, He's got big shoulders!) I moved past that.

I kept going.

Then I got an e-mail.

One that filled me with a hope and stopped my heart all at once.

My book was going to committee the next day! And thus began the longest day of my life. A day spent in prayer. Seeking God's will. And truly knowing it would be okay, no matter the outcome.


It was a yes! I signed a contract with WhiteFire Publishing! I am beyond excited!

I'm the little writer that could, you guys.


See you guys on August 10th! :) God bless you!

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review of The Choosing

 
Okay, guys. We have to talk about this book because it's awesome. Here's the description for The Choosing:
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

Nice, right? The Choosing is dystopian, with some romance, and a little bit of crazy serial killer all mixed into a swirl of words, paper, and ink.

The book starts right in the thick of everything! As I read, I thought, "Wait, back up! Explain!" But there was no backing up, so I was immediately pulled into the story as Carrington's worst nightmare literally took place. After all her hard work, after following all the rules, after living her life perfectly for the Authority, her entire future and worth as a person is determined by some guy basically not picking her to dance at a grand ball. Okay, so it's a little more complicated then that. Then Carrington is sent to the lowest level of society to serve for the rest of her life. She can never marry. She can never see or speak to her family again. When Carrington is given a way out of the life she never wanted, she takes it not realizing this may be a worse fate.

Remko is devoted to the Authority. However, despite his best intentions, he falls in love with Carrington. After witnessing treachery and manipulation among the Authority, Remko begins to question everything he's held in such high esteem. Even though he comes a long way, Remko's story is far from done. I can't wait to see the challenges he overcomes in Book Two.

I loved how Rachelle Dekker also had these "Histories" included in the book. They explained how society got to this point, and I was disappointed when they ended.

What I loved most about this book was the message.

Your worth.

I want to make all the girls in the youth group read this book because this message is so important. Carrington had been taught her entire life that her worth was determined by a guy thinking she was marriage material at that exact moment. She comes to realize that none of that is true. Her worth comes from God. He loves her for her. She is beautiful in His eyes. Despite everything she has been taught, she is priceless. I know of no message girls and women need to understand more. Their worth is not determined by a man or by society. It comes from God alone, and because of that, you have all the worth in the world.

On top of everything else, you see people fighting to share "the truth." It felt so reminiscent of early church/apostles sharing the Gospel. I loved that. There were poignant conversations and deep spiritual questions that Carrington and Remko had to face. There was even a moving scene where one young lady died for God's truth.

I loved the ending. I love how Remko and Carrington choose the one thing society has denied them. Their choice.

And they choose each other.

This really was such a great book you guys. A lot of dystopian books are sold as Young Adult novels, and while they are all still AMAZING, The Choosing read differently. Maybe it's because of the spiritual meaning. Maybe it's because of the serial killer theme. Regardless, The Choosing was deeper then the average dystopian novel.

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker is A Seer Novel, and is thankfully the first book in what is sure to be a promising series.

Great talking to you guys today! Check out this book, and then come tell me how much you love it, too! See you again on August 1st!!! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Journey

Last time I talked a little about how even though writers love their characters, we still have to give them an identity crisis. We are going to continue that thought today.

So what comes after the identity crisis?

Authors build this up until the character reaches the breaking point, or the dark moment as Susan May Warren dubbed it in her popular coaching class for writers, My Book Therapy. The dark moment is the point when all feels lost, and the character's worst nightmare has come true.

Next comes the epiphany. It's that moment when the character realizes they've been putting all their faith in a lie. The character comes to a realization of the truth that sets them free!

Afterwards the character is a new man/woman! The best way to prove this to the readers is by some type of victory, test, reminder, battle, etcetera.

I was thinking about the stages we authors put our character through. It seems so mean, but really, it's life. We've taken our characters through the steps of salvation, through realizing who they are, and through overcoming the enemy.

Isn't that what God does with us?

Yes. Yes, it is.

We go through seasons of doubt, grief, trial, victory, joy, and peace. God, The Author and Finisher of my faith, takes me through all of that.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2

Even Jesus went through the same stuff we do. There was joy and an awesome throne waiting for Him, but he had to endure the cross and our shame to get there. It wasn't an easy road for Him, but He walked it with God.

I know that in the thick of life's junk, it doesn't seem like there is some Divine Author with a master plan out there. If anything, if feels like there is some sadistic, angry person writing the story.

Do you guys know the "Footprints in the Sand" poem by Mary Stevenson? It talks about an individual who is having a dream. This person knows that the two sets of footprints belong to him and God, however, in the lowest points of his life, he only saw one set of footprints. The person asks God, and God says that of course He would never leave or forsake him. Really, the times when he sees only one set of footprints it was because God was carrying him. I have always loved this poem.

I saw this floating around on Facebook, and thought, "Yeah, that about sums it up."


"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Despite everything going on around you, hopefully you realize that God is with you, sometimes carrying you, and dragging you when necessary. ;)  Really though, He's got your back, and no matter how difficult the plot twist seems, God has all the strength you need.

Writers take their characters through the same journey that you - a real person - would go through in life. Not because it's easier. Goodness, stories were so much easier when I could get away with saying, "They met, fell in love, and lived happily ever after." When I write a character's dark moment and epiphany, I am riding that emotional roller coaster, too. I do this because despite the fact that life is messy, when you've got God in the equation, there is hope. There is a point. There is a way to make it through life. With God that journey to the Happily Ever After moment in the last chapter is possible. It's how I push through the breaking point in real life and in my character's story.

And in each one of us, He's writing the perfect story. Sometimes the best reminder of that is someone else's fake story. :)

You guys are awesome! Thanks for hanging with me today. See you again on July 20th!! :)

(*Side note: I had to dig out one of my writing books for this post, you guys. You can find this information in Susan May Warren's coaching community for writers, My Book Therapy. Specifically The Book Buddy. This is such a great tool! Have fun!)

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Identity Crisis

I'm going to let you guys in on a secret. Writers love their characters. Seriously. We love them. (Well, except for the bad guys, or the ones we add for written revenge when people tick us off.) They're our friends. They're like family to us. They ARE people to us. We know their names, hopes, and deep, dark secrets. There isn't anything we wouldn't do for our characters.

We are also a little mean to our characters. We have to give them trouble and drama. And more often then not, we give them some type of identity crisis.

Identity Crisis
noun - a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.


What am I? Who am I? AHHH!
 

We write out a lie, and the character believes it.

Why? Why does the character have to believe a lie that handicaps and traumatizes them?

Well, have you ever believed a lie that has handicapped and traumatized you???

Has someone ever told you have big ears so you try to hid them? Has someone ever told you that you are average, and for the rest of your life, you've strived to be more then average? Have the overlooking actions of others made you feel like you are always second pick? Have you ever believed anything contrary to being the amazing person God says you are?

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
1 Peter 2:9

Those verses say all the lies we believe are indeed lies. You don't have funny ears because God created you in His image, and He doesn't have funny ears. You are so much more then the average chocolate chip cookie because God has called and created you. He has awesome plans for you! God picked you; you were never His second pick. You are all these amazing things.

But we all have our moments of identity crisis. We all have to work through them so we can come out of them remembering the promises God has spoken over us. We do this to our characters BECAUSE we love them, because they need to go through the same process of rediscovering how God views them.

And we do this for you, too. Because if you read a book about some annoyingly perfect girl, you'd probably burn it. ;)

I hope you all have an awesome Fourth of July!! I will see y'all again on July 10th! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Meet the Meet Cute Socks

So in the writing world, there is a term called the "meet cute." It's that moment when the hero and heroine first meet. The more abnormal this first encounter - at least in my opinion - the better. The future couple just can't meet at a Bible study. There needs to be drama, humor, some kind of physical collision, or clash of personalities. My favorite way to write a meet cute is with a clash of personalities. Usually ending with the heroine embarrassing herself.

For instance, Erynn Mangum has a meet cute in Miss Match (Book 1 of the Lauren Holbrook Series). The heroine meets her future husband at a Bible study, BUT she meets him while hiding a bag of Oreos from the rest of the Bible study. He totally catches her. ;)

Cute?

Yes. :)

In Robin Jones Gunn's popular Christy Miller Series, the heroine meets her husband-to-be when a dip in the ocean goes horribly wrong. She ends up crashing to the shore, tangled up in seaweed.

In Janice Thompson's hysterical Weddings by Bella Series, the heroine meets her dream man when she mistakes his name, DJ, for his profession. She tires to hire this cowboy to do the music for her first wedding as a "professional" wedding coordinator.

See? All cute, funny, horribly embarrassing meet cutes. :)

Lately I've been toying over the idea of a meet cute over warm socks...

Yes, I said socks. Warm socks to be exact. There's a story behind this crazy thought. You see, when my husband and I were dating, I had a tendency of having cold feet. In the physical sense. When it was a beautiful day outside, I had (and still do) a habit of wearing shoes that are not very warm. Flip-flops, flats, sandals. And every time my feet would start to FREEZE!

And every time my now-husband would give me a pair of his socks to stop my feet from turning blue and falling off.

Sam's socks were never this cool. ;)
 
He takes care of me.

This always makes me think of how God takes care of us. How He says if he can take care of the little birds, and make sure they eat, then how much more will He take care of us? Is there a spiritual meet cute where God gives us warm socks? I think there is.

Every day of our lives.

After the story's meet cute, there is always angst, drama, and confusion. It's the page-turning conflict that keeps us reading the book. The characters are never certain what's going to happen next, or how their lives will turn out. Will Sally get her happy ending? The reader can find out by flipping to the end of the book, and seeing that Sally does indeed marry the Tony Stark look alike. The average writer usually sometimes sort of knows what will happen to the character.

But us? Well, we haven't got a clue what's going to happen next in the story of our lives.

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:26

But I know that the Great Author is good. I know that from first page to meet cute from confusion to last chapter that He is going to take care of me. He's always going to give me a pair of cozy, fuzzy socks.

And God is way nicer to us then any author out there. ;)

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Spitfire Heroine

I've had to literally tear myself away from an absorbing book series to write blogs this weekend. If you've ever read a book that causes you to loose track of time, hygiene, and food, then you understand my plight.  :)

I read A LOT. Some of you have probably seen my book reviews or random posts about books that I couldn't help but gush about to you. I read a wide variety of books, too. Historical romance. Contemporary romance. YA. Dystopian. Fantasy. Biblical fiction. The set of books I working on right now is a dystopian series that is awesome. I notice that whenever I read dystopian books, I always get very reflective. On our nation. On people. On myself.

I've come to a conclusion.

In dystopian books it's always a futuristic society that arises out the ashes of devastated nation. Usually, the nation that comes about is unfair, corrupt, and held together with manipulation. There's always unrest among the people, and almost always there is a spitfire heroine. Often she is a somewhat unwilling hero thrust right into the middle of the situation.

She is always so relatable. Fearless. Headstrong. She doesn't turn a blind eye and just take stuff. A born leader. She fights for what she believes.

Like Katniss.  :)

So many times I run and hide. Keep my mouth shut. Give up. This girl isn't relatable because she's just like me. So why does a part of my spirit just get her? She's relatable because there is part of my spirit that longs to be the special spit-fire heroine. I think it's that way for a lot of people.

I especially want to be like that for God. Brave. Unwilling to let evil win. Bold. But there's always that voice in my head that says, "God didn't make you for that. You are just you. Nothing special. Nobody important. You are the perfect mouse, so just be content with your ordinary roll in life.

I am so tired of listening to that voice.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:13-16
 
 
Five years ago, when I first started teaching in the youth group, I was preparing a lesson. I had an idea in mind, but it was just an idea. I was spending some alone time with God, praising and worshiping. Then WHAM! He gave me an awesome idea, tying the whole lesson up with a nice little bow.

I brought a ton of hair brushes and a cd with me. After dragging a couple volunteers up with me, I told the kids to pretend they were at a concert. My volunteers and I used our hairbrush microphones, and we rocked out to Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me."

They thought I was a little crazy, but I always have a point.  :)

God's crazy, undying, you belong with Him, love. The song is about a girl who is just hopelessly in love with the boy next door. His girlfriend is terrible and doesn't love him. She knows that she's perfect for him. God looks at us, and He's thinking the same exact thing. He loves us so much. He knows that we belong with Him. He's waiting for us, always trying to woo us, always trying to tell us just how amazingly special we are. Sometimes, we are just too attached to that voice that tears us down and breaks our hearts. But why? The voice doesn't love us.

The little voice in my head tells me I'm not hero material. I'm not worth it. That I'm just ordinary. But God tells me the exact opposite. That I'm special. That I'm loved. That I am hero material. God's voice is what gives me the strength and courage to be the spitfire heroine for Him.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

Whether it's just a few people, or whether it's an entire nation, I know that I make a difference. God says I make a difference.

I'm the star of my own dystopian story.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review of A Love Like Ours


Lyndie James and Jake Porter were the best of friends when they were children. Lyndie was an imaginative girl with a deep love for animals - especially horses. She was always rescuing wounded animals. Jake was a sullen boy who saw himself as Lyndie's sidekick and her protector. They loved each other even then, not in a romantic way, but in a best friends for life way. Unfortunately, Lyndie's family moved from Texas to California while they were still children, tearing the two friends apart for twenty years.

I love the last two lines of the prologue, because if any two lines sum up the spirit of the book, it's those. "Lyndie would return one day. And when she did, Jake would be the wounded one in need of rescue."

When they finally meet again, Lyndie is the same stubborn, free spirit she's always been, but Jake is a new man. Tall, Dark, and Brooding. A tragic accident during his time as a Marine left Jake withdraw from life with PTSD and a hefty case of survivor's guilt. Lyndie - always the one to spot the wounded - goes to Jake for a job exercising his Thoroughbreds, and leaves with a mission to help Jake heal.

Lyndie unlocks the mystery of why Jake's Thoroughbred, Silver Leaf, won't run. With it comes the opportunity to serve as Silver Leaf's jockey in his upcoming races. A dream come true for Lyndie, but something that scares Jake to the very core of his soul. Due to his past in the Marines and the love he has always had for Lyndie, he can't stand the idea of putting her in harm's way.

The story really picked up once Silver Leaf ran his first race, and Jake stopped pushing Lyndie away all the time. Lyndie's love had a healing effect on Jake, but Jake tried to put all his faith in Lyndie instead of God for a time. In a classically stupid move typical to men, Jake breaks Lyndie's heart in order to keep her out of physical harm on the track and safe from the likes of his wounded soul.

My favorite scene in this novel was when Jake's two older brothers and younger sister came to check on him/talk some sense into him/confront him. I thought it was hysterical! Jake learned the hard way that God's love is the only one that can truly heal all wounds, but once he let God in, it was grand.

This novel had a serious tone to it due to Jake's struggle with his PTSD. It really helps you understand how someone with PTSD functions with the pain and day to day guilt. It is my understanding that Becky Wade put in a lot of research on this topic, and I don't believe it to be lacking. Her portrayal was exceptional.

Also, if you are a horse lover, stop wasting time and buy the book! You will love it. Seriously. I really enjoyed Lyndie's race scenes with Silver Leaf. I felt like I was the one racing from the safety of my couch!

The theme for this novel was "finding hope," which I agree with, but I'd also tack on two others. "Healing" and "sacrificial love." This is a novel filled with healing, and watching Jake heal was like watching a green leaf pop out of barren and burnt land. Also, Lyndie's sacrificial love for Jake was breathtaking. She gave up her dream of being a professional jockey for him, and that moved me in a very special way. More couples need to understand this sacrificial love for their spouse. It's not about what you can get, or getting even. It's about the love you have for that person, and how you've chosen that person. It's the kind of sacrificial love God has for us.

I also enjoyed the secondary storyline with Lyndie's downstairs neighbor, Amber Richardson. She is a young, single mom who longs for someone to love her, but struggles with waiting for God's timing. This leads to an agreement between the two friends that they will each go on three dates within three months. I found this to be quite funny, and was happy with how her story ended - with Will McGrath!

I also want to praise the cover design. This cover was absolutely ADORABLE! The woman used to portray Lyndie was perfect. She really portrayed Lyndie's essence from the book.

A Love Like Ours is the third book in the Porter Family Series, and while readers of Becky Wade are sure to enjoy seeing previous characters pop up in this novel, it is not necessary to read the previous two books to understand the story. Each book functions well on its own.

Thanks to Bethany House for providing a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Less Distraction in a Distracted World

Hello everyone! I hope you have been good. :)

I've been...what's the word for being in the middle of a seven things and feeling lost?

Distracted.

 
Oh yes. There's so much going on these days! I mean, spring has sprung and summer is approaching! My younger sister recently got engaged. Changes with work. Changes with family. Changes with life! I can't even log onto the internet without opening up Facebook, Amazon, and at least two of my e-mail accounts.

I'm going to be totally honest with you guys. Reading my Bible lately has been hard. My mind has been all over the place. Poor God and my Bible time have been getting pushed back, pushed back again, and sometimes forgotten in the wake of a crazy day.

I just hate that. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only Christian who has this problem, but I know that's not true. When life is this crazy, it's hard to focus on the message God's trying to get into my multi-divided brain.

But I have good news! I have the key to being less distracted in a distracted world. Yes. Really. The Key. Captial T. Captial K. And I'm going to tell you what it is.

First, I want to share a Bible story with you guys. This story is about King Joash and Elisha, and whenever I read this now, all I can see are distractions. Not my thousand plus distractions. The distractions distracting King Josah.

But you'll see what I mean.


"Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, 'My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!'
 
And Elisha said to him, 'Take a bow and arrows.' So he took a bow and arrows.
 
Then he said to the king of Israel, 'Draw the bow,' and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, 'Open the window eastward,' and he opened it. Then Elisha said, 'Shoot,' and he shot. And he said, 'The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.'
 
And he said, 'Take the arrows,' and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, 'Strike the ground with them.' And he struck three times and stopped.
 
Then the man of God was angry with him and said, 'You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.'

2 Kings 13:14-19  (ESV)


Recently at youth group, I had the opportunity to share this story about Joash and Elisha. Before you guys think that I'm a crazy youth leader, I learned every trick I know from my youth pastor/aunt. ;) Something that I am quite proud and honored to say.

So, I ask for four volunteers, and a bunch of hands fly up. I call four girls to the front who I know will work nicely for this particular torture activity. I tell one girl to walk around the room, and not to stop until I say. Another girl was told to jump up and down continuously in the middle in the aisle in between the chairs. Right in the middle of where the remaining kids are sitting. I instructed another girl to stand in one corner and hit the floor over and over again with some rubber arrows I have leftover from the Palmer Nerf Christmas War of 2014. The last girl was sent to the opposite corner and had to say, "La! La! La! La," over and over again. This girl is perfectly loud, by the way.

Hehehe. The kids may act like I'm crazy, but they're the ones who volunteer. :)

I told the rest of the kids that their job was to listen to me read this story about King Joash and Elisha. Afterwards, I asked the group what they heard. Of course they heard nothing (That was kind of the point.). One young lady said she heard something about arrows. Most of the group heard absolutely nothing. When I questioned them why, one kid simply said, "Well, we were all distracted."

She didn't realize the truth nugget she had just unearthed.

Just like King Joash, we are all distracted. So, so, so distracted. It's crazy just how distracted we are. Joash was clearly very upset about Elisha passing away. His heart and his mind were focused on that, rather then on the last message from God that Elisha was trying to deliver. Then you have Elisha - the one who's dying - who is solely focused on trying to deliver this awesome message to Joash before he dies. Elisha is trying, but Joash wasn't getting it. I mean, you can't really blame the guy. Death is hard, but Joash couldn't see past that long enough to get the message from God. He went along with the shooting the arrow out the window, and he did hit the ground with the arrows three times, but his heart was not in it. He was distracted.

I can relate to Joash. If I was in his situation, I probably would have done the same thing. I told you I learned all my crazy tricks from my youth pastor aunt. Back when I was in youth group, and she told to do something crazy, I was never the kid who did it without ceasing. I didn't raise my hand like the kids I teach do. I would try my best to avoid eye contact, but not so much that it was obvious because avoiding eye contact was a sure way to get picked! When it came to group craziness, I was the one who stood awkwardly to the side, doing just enough. If I had been Joash, I probably would have done the same thing. One, two, maybe three strikes before I would have felt completely ridiculous. I would have said, "Can I stop now?" Yup, three would have been the max before my pride screamed uncle. I was a geek and a nerd in school, but I was vain enough to care that I looked ridiculous.

I was distracted. I was focused on how I might look. On how the people around me might perceive my actions. On the people who were doing this wholeheartedly, and the people who completely refused. But just like Joash, I was too distracted to pay attention to the message God was trying to get to me. Joash was focused on the physical. Elisha. Death. The ridiculous thing he had to do. He was not focused on God. There are a lot of distractions in our world. We can be distracted about how silly we look jumping and dancing when we worship. We can be distracted by hard situations in our lives. We can be distracted by trying to put food on the table. We can even be distracted by good things. Boyfriends/girlfriends. Husbands/wives. Kids. Movies. Books. TV. Music. Those are not bad things, but sometimes they take more precedent over God. I know I can plead guilty to reading my Bible while watching TV on more then one occasion. Now, whenever I read this section of Scripture, all I see are the distractions from God. The natural, everyday distractions that the enemy took and used to lure Joash's mind away from the message at hand.

If Joash had been more focused on God's message, then maybe he would have kept striking the ground. Think about it, if he had been into it, he would have hit the ground seven, eight, nine times easy. Without even thinking about it. Elisha said if only Joash had kept striking the ground, then they would have rid themselves of Syria forever, but instead they would only kind of flick the Syrians. His focus was set on earthly things.

God's words may come to us at inconvenient times   it certainly did for Joash   but we need to be so set on God, that we are able to hear Him speak at any time. Look past everything, and look forward to God.

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:31-34

"For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5

"Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you." Proverbs 4:25

My friends, that crazy message God's given you, that insane desire He's placed in your heart, the impossible task He's given you has a purpose. If we will keep our minds set on Him, then when His word comes to us, it won't seem inconvenient or too difficult. Look forward and straight to God so that the other stuff flies by you. Keep your mind set on Him! That's when the awesome God stuff starts to happen. That's when lives are changed, people are saved, and victory is won!

And that, my friends, is how you are less distracted in a distracted world.

I hope you all have an awesome end of May. I will see you again on June 1st!

V. Joy Palmer