Monday, February 17, 2020

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin {book review}

Last week, I finished reading Sarah Sundin's The Sea Before Us, which leapfrogged In Perfect Time as my favorite Sundin book. Here's my review, as posted on Goodreads.


Just… wow.

The whole story was brilliant. From a love triangle done right to deep faith journeys to familial estrangements and deaths to the fight for healing and reunion… all in the package of a WWII-era story... This novel really had it all.

And that finale! Goodness, I could gush… if I were willing to spoil the story.

But I’m not.

Just trust me: You will not regret reading this book when you experience the final few chapters, and particularly the final few paragraphs.

*happy sigh*

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Card {a short story}

Scalding tea wasn’t fun to wear on one’s shirt, but it was better than frying another keyboard. Marla grabbed her “It’s definitely a Monday!” mug from her lap and settled it back atop the round coaster not too far from her shiny, new keyboard on her cubicle’s desk. With her other hand, she pulled the cotton material away from her stomach, which immediately felt the relief of cool, fresh air that whooshed at her from the fan she had blowing from a corner of the desk.
Earlier, she’d been freezing and had to pull on two sweaters. Why did her hormones have to choose today to go wacky? It wasn’t like she had a meeting in—she checked her wristwatch—Goodness!—only eight minutes or anything.
She grabbed one of her sweaters and blotted at the spot on her shirt and the few clusters of damp dots on her calf-length skirt. With that task done as best she could in a pinch, she tossed the sweater under her desk to reclaim later and focused on sending the right document to the communal printer across the large room. She pulled on her other sweater—thankfully, she’d not used the one with buttons to mop up her mess—and it did a decent job of hiding the majority of the stain that might or might not come out in the wash. After sticking her swollen feet back into her two-inch pumps, she spun her chair halfway around and rose.
Two steps forward and her ankle gave out, rolling to the right. She caught her balance with flailing arms, but the pain radiating through her leg with each new step indicated she’d be grabbing ice on her way back to her desk after the meeting.
This meeting was crucial, life or death for her year's to-do list really. Yet, she was having a horrible day from top to bottom. Honestly, what else could go—

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Flower {a short story}

Would the young boy never decide? Mortimer checked his wristwatch one more time and looked to the door. He should flip the sign to Closed and lock the child in until he made his choice, but it would be unprofessional and inappropriate. Still, he needed to close down the shop for the day. His Margaretta would have dinner on the table by now. He could almost taste the rich aroma of his favorite homemade tomato and mascarpone sauce wafting down the back staircase.

Coins clinked together as the towheaded boy in the ratty shirt and hole-spattered jeans counted the money in his palm again. He eyed the medium-sized bouquet of red roses displayed atop the glass counter in front of him. Valentine’s Day was only around the corner, but surely this scrap of a boy couldn’t afford such a bundle of deep-ruby petals.
“What’ll it be?” Mortimer didn’t mean to sound so gruff about it. The day had worn him out. Four orders had been cancelled, due to breakups mere days before the most romantic holiday of the year. Poor chums. Hadn’t found a true pearl like his Margaretta. He decided to soften his tone a bit and try to encourage the lad to make a quick decision. “Have you considered the daisies? There’s a full rainbow of colors to choose from, just in the bins behind you there.”
The boy turned his torso to look for a long moment at the various shades of daisies not far beyond where he stood rooted to the linoleum tiles that had seen better days. When he turned back around, his shoulders curled forward, and his chin nearly disappeared into his t-shirt. “Didn’t sell my bike to Tommy for no stupid daisies.” He swiped a wrist beneath his nose as he sniffed.
Mortimer couldn’t miss the glimmer in the kid’s eyes.

Monday, January 27, 2020

ReMo Challenge {#ReMo2020}

Hey, friends. As we close out January this week, I'm getting even more excited about a neat reading challenge over on Goodreads that takes place in February this year. A few friends and I founded the Read More "ReMo" Challenge in 2019, so this is the second annual ReMo Challenge. All the rules and the giveaway details are over in this Goodreads group, which is also where the challenge takes place.

If you're anything like me, you've got more books in your TBR stacks than you really know what to do with, but you're still trying to read ALL of them anyway. If that sounds familiar, this reading challenge is probably right up your alley. Hop on over there and sign up in the "Set Goals" thread, and I'll get you linked up in the list of participants.

Since this is a leap year, that will give us an extra day to fit in even more books toward the challenge. Maybe one day doesn't make a huge difference, but we won't know until we try.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason {book review}

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Reads. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

What a twisty, complicated story! This was an atypical Lynette Eason read for me in that I was not able to figure out very many details prior to a couple of pages before the twists or reveals came. Sometimes her books are more predictable to me (yet still quite enjoyable), but this one kept me guessing throughout. Something that aided that was the high tension present in every chapter and the stakes that kept ramping up with each turn of events.

The style was good overall. I did struggle at times to keep a few characters straight. I think this was because many names were given in a few patches early on. That made it more difficult for me to settle in to which characters were POV holders and which were supporting. It settled out in my mind eventually, but this was a bit of a struggle for me. There were a handful of word or phrase choices that bugged me, and they seemed out of character for the author compared to her earlier books. Other aspects of the style were great. The author voice was clear, the military details seemed spot-on, and the human trafficking aspect appeared well researched and applied. My reading experience was enhanced by the details of the way of life in Afghanistan, particularly as it pertained to American female military personnel, as this helped me immediately feel immersed in the tale.

The plot twists were fabulous, and I never really got a foothold on figuring things out ahead of time. Usually, with an Eason book, I can figure out one or two of the main bad guys way before the big reveal. This time, though, I was unable to do so. The pacing and surprises and high tension lent themselves well to creating an edge-of-my-seat reading experience that kept me mentally off kilter in the best way.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Rainy Day Blues {a short story}

Clouds painted the upper part of the window in front of Carly, who stood staring out at the driveway that had been empty all week. When would Daddy come home? He’d been gone a long time, but he’d promised he’d be home before church day. That was coming soon, she was sure, but she couldn’t remember which day was today.
Rain streaked down the other side of the glass and pattered against the roof. Did that mean God was as sad as she was right now? It sure looked like He was crying with her, but maybe He was just watering the ground so the flowers would come up real pretty when it was springtime again. How long would that be? Probably a lot longer than Daddy would be gone, but Carly couldn’t be sure since she couldn’t tell time yet.
“Do you want a snack, Carly?”
She shook her head but didn’t look back at Mommy. Instead, she pressed her palms and nose up against the glass, leaning up on her tiptoes to see even more of the outside world.
All of it was wet.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Labels and Names

Who are you?
How do you label yourself?

For me, I usually introduce myself as Andrea. If I'm filling out an online bio section of a social media website, I typically add something like, "child/daughter of God, family gal, writer, reader, sports fan." Sometimes I get wordier, lengthier, and type up an entire monologue about being Texan born and bred and wishing for snow in the winter or how I'm a dog lover without a dog (maybe I should write country music songs...).

You get the idea.

I wonder, though, if I'm hitting the right mark. I wonder if any of us nail it right the first time or if we figure it out with trial and error.

Take a look at how apostle Paul defined himself in Romans 1:1...

"Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God's good news." (HCSB)