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review 2018-01-07 05:33
Piecing Together a Love Story
The Patchwork Bride - Sandra Dallas
The Persian Pickle Club - Sandra Dallas

Ellen is getting older and wondering how long she and her husband, Ben, can stay on their beloved ranch, when her granddaughter, June, gets cold feet and runs from her wedding. Ellen is working on June’s wedding quilt, which contains pieces of the wedding dresses from the women of the family. As the two women sit together, Ellen tells June the stories of one woman, named Nell, and how it took her 3 tries to find the man she would marry. The story of Nell’s first beau, Buddy, is full of cowboy swagger, the second story, about James, is a bit of a shocker, and the story of predictable, solid Wade has a not-so-predictable twist in the end.

The strengths of this book are the depictions of the relationships between the women characters, and the easygoing voice the story is told in. Readers who liked The Persian Pickle Club (which is referred to in this story) are sure to enjoy this latest novel.

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review 2017-08-22 04:58
Hearts of Purpose: Real Life Stories from Ordinary Women
Hearts of Purpose: Real life stories from ordinary women doing extraordinary things for the glory of God. (The Call) - Gail G Nordskog

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Title: Hearts of Purpose: Real Life Stories from Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things for the Glory of God.
Author: Gail G. Nordskog
Publisher: Nordskog Publishing
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five

"Hearts of Purpose: Real Life Stories from Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things for the Glory of God" by Gail G. Nordskog

My Thoughts......from this wonderful read...where each author brings their story alive.

These were beautifully written stories about ten women on their remarkable journeys that made a 'great impression' on Gail Grace Nordfskog as well as to its readers.

I will introduce each other and offer up a discussion question. Now, you will have to pick up this good read to see for yourself and be able to answer the questions that are offered up at the end of each ones section of their story.

First we have Chapter one with Mary Ann Ambroselli whose main focus was on 'Counseling on Keeping PreBorn Babies Alive.
Discussion Question: This one caught my eye...Mary Ann suffered many losses in her family. Have you ever wondered where God is when tragedy strikes?

Second Chapter we visit with Cindy Reynolds whose main forcus was 'Ministry to Orphans in Linjiang.
Discussion Question:What does this mean "If you depend upon Jesus, your enemy will become your Friend? I found this quite interesting!

Chapter Three...Audrey Forster whose focus was 'Worldwide Adoptions and Aid to Orphans.
Discussion Question: When you reflect on your talents and gifts, what do they include?

Chapter Four: Patricia Blanco Steele focus on: Transforming the Lives of Abused Women and Children
Discussion Question: In reading Trisha's thoughts on "Love," which items impact you the most?

Chapter Five: Julie Dawson Focus: To Bring Healing to the Nations through the Multiplication of Medical Ships and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To Disciple Nations through Evangelism and the Multiplication of Leadership Schools for the South Pacific ad Asia
Discussion Question: Do you believe that "all things work together for good: Romans 8:28

Chapter Six: Lisa Shidler focus: Helping and Training Special Needs Orphans
Discussion Question: In reading about special needs children, what stands out in your mind about them?

Chapter Seven: Marilyn Pulis Minister, Ordained by the Assemblies of God Pulis Ministries
Focus on: Spreading the Gospel
Discussion Question: When was the first time you felt the presence of the Lord?

Chapter Eight: Lili Vaehr: CFO, MovieGuide & Good News Communications Inc.
Focus on: Biblical Guide to Movies and Entertainment
Discussion Question: Instead of a question here I would like to just add Lil's Five Don'ts to Help You Succeed in Parenting, Marriage and Life..

Don't Create Your Walls
Don't Wait
Don't Compartmentalize
Don't Be Afraid
Don't Quit

Chapter Nine: Nita Hanson Director, God's Hidden Treasures
Focus on: Bringing Hope to the Forgotten
Discussion Question: Have you ever felt that you are a "mistake?"

Chapter Ten: Sharon Daly President, The Mossy Foot Project, Ethiopia
Focus on: Providing Mossy Foot Patients with Support through Education, Prevention, Medical Treatment, Vocational Training and a Message of Hope
Discussion Question: I loved this one coming from the read....

"I have been in every moment of your past,
My hand formed you
I am with your now.
I will be with you in the future.
All tomorrows are in My hands.
Trust Me daily.
Trust Me moment by moment.
I am your life and your portion.
Trust me for everything.
I will never leave you or let you down?"

All that is left to say after reading and absorbing it all from these wonderful well written stories is to thank this author for presenting such a good reads to the readers. I didn't know when I picked this read that I was about to receive so much from each one of the stories that will truly stay with me forever. I even tried to pick a favorite one but couldn't because each one of the reads touched me in different ways.

I loved the 'Two Pertinent Devotions in Closing from New Every Morning from the author of this book: Gail Grace Nordskog.... A Daily Devotional Glorify the Lord....Oh, magnify the Lord, with me, and let us exalt His name together. [Psalms 34:3] and If God Be For Us...When then shall we say to these things? If god is for us, who can be against us? [Romans 8:31]

Thank you to the author and WNL for sending me your novel for me to give my honest opinion of its read. These were truly "Real-life stories about ten ordinary women doing extraordinary things for the Glory of God."


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review 2015-01-26 22:20
Girls, Food, Body Image and The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses





When I first picked up The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses, I was expecting something along the lines of chick lit. Basically I thought I would be mindlessly entertained for a few hours of reading and that would be it. (just so we’re clear I love chick lit, especially in between reading a two “heavier” books) Instead this book made me think of the complicated body image issues most girls have, the prevalence of eating disorders, as well as the fact that we women tend to be the harshest judges of other women.


The Appetites of Girls is a story of four very different women from very different backgrounds thrown together as freshmen flatmates at Brown University. Despite their significant differences, the girls form an unexpected bond sharing their college experience. Thought this friendship plays an important part in each of the girls’ lives, they still manage to keep certain secrets from each other, secrets and aspects of their past that shaped who they are to a large degree. The story starts with the women having a reunion as adults and then looks back at their individual stories both throughout their childhood and university years. These pieces of their individuals puzzles read almost as independent short stories. Taken together they offer a beautifully detailed, and complex portrait of each girl. Ruth, Opal, Setsu and Francesca offer glimpses into their stories, the ordinary and extraordinary moments of their lives that shaped their attitudes towards food, their bodies, their sexuality, relationships and the world in general.


A simultaneously loving yet controlling and meddling mother who offers comfort through food. A competitive, manipulative brother whose desire to take everything includes the food off of his sister’s plate. An adventurous, restless, exotic mother whose constant hunger for male attention “teaches” her daughter an unexpected lesson. An invisible daughter of wealthy parents who seeks “visibility” through food. Paloma Moses explores these topics throughout the book bringing to the surface the complexities of these issues and their relevance to the lives of these girls. These are not the stories of magical catharsis and transformations but rather thorny and gradual paths of self-discovery and self-acceptance.


While I was rooting for Ruth, Opal, Setsu and Francesca to find ways to learn to love and accept themselves, I couldn’t stop thinking of all the ways we make these paths harder for each other, for other women around us. Not to say that men don’t have body image issues or that they don’t deal with eating disorders but these still affect women/girls more frequently than men. And I find that we as a society but also as as women are a huge part of the problem. As a society not only do we keep imposing these impossible to attain, photoshoped images of ideal beauty but we also love to judge. We love “judging” celebrities for the clothes they choose to wear, their haircuts (but especially for) the weight they gain/lose. The OC’s Mischa Barton’s weight gain was a frequent topic in the tabloids for a while a few years back. Who cares? Just because she chose to be an actress and became a celebrity does not mean she signed over her soul to the Gods of Dieting for the rest of her life. On the other hand, Calista Flockhart’s slim figure gave way for constant speculation that she (must be) is anorexic. As you can see, there is no satisfying the masses.


We take this “judging” mentality to our daily lives and we feel comfortable to do this same thing to the women we cross paths we, often even making comments out loud – somewhere in the process forgetting or not caring that behind that outfit/weight we don’t approve of, their is an actual person….with feelings. We do the same thing to our friends, siblings, children, partners. In the process aiding and abetting the numerous industries just waiting to cash in on our ever growing list of insecurities. Diet programs, supplements, books…workout programs….miraculous cosmetics products….plastic surgeries and procedures…brand name clothes. Constantly chasing that permanently elusive ideal version of ourselves.


Working in the cosmetics industry I used to have the same conversion over and over again – with an endless number of women. Almost always about things they disliked about themselves. If only they could lose the weight. If only their lashes were longer. If only their breasts were bigger. If only they could look the way they did ten years ago. It broke my heart over and over again but I did not see the same thing they saw. Where they saw imperfection I kept seeing beauty. And for most women that’s the hardest road of all – the Mount Everest of self-esteem – reaching that point at which looking in the mirror reveals self-love and beauty, not yet another opportunity to self-criticize.

This expectation we place on ourselves and on other women plays a huge part in the complex relationship most women have with food as well. Food as a way to exert control over one’s life. Food as a source of comfort. Food as a way to fill an emotional void. And then the amount of time women spend talking about  calories, pounds to be gained and lost, the tortures of whatever latest diet they are on. At the end of the day variety is the spice of life. Imagine how boring our lives would be if we all looked like models, clones of each other. And yet there would always be those who are not attracted to that look. And even then there would be a person out there somewhere wanting to look different, better in order to satisfy some imagined (different) ideal. And yes, most of us know all of this….in theory….Yet in practice when that moment comes to say that hurtful, judgmental thing out loud regarding someone’s looks or weight, we usually do not pause and think about all of this.


Just for the record, I am not writing all of this from the “holier than thou” position – this is a learning process for me as well. Something I have to keep reminding myself of constantly. Though I may not be able to change the world of unreasonable body ideals and constant criticism, what I (or any other woman out there) can do is love myself in all of my imperfect glory. I can also speak up each time I see or hear something negative being spoken about a woman based on the way she looks. I can be positive and supportive towards women and girls I encounter, reminding them in whatever way I can that they are beautiful just the way they are. So that maybe one day they will be able to do the same thing for someone else.


Quotes I enjoyed:

“So each evening before supper, while my mother worked in the kitchen and my father flipped through newspapers in the living room armchair, I closed my bedroom door to avoid disturbing them and played the new pieces I had learned. The notes vibrated through my fingers as I held them to the strings, making my hand tingle. Some nights I imagined my whole body humming the melodies, a swaying and swelling in my chest and in my throat that moved out and out along my limbs until I reached the final measure of a piece. The concluding notes that seemed so sad, fading until no music remained. I almost hated to play them, and sometimes few the bow in slow, slow strokes to make them last. Other times, I rushed through as quickly as my fingers would fly, hoping I had time to start once more at the piece’s happy beginning before dinner.”


NOTE: I would like to thank Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


This post was originally published on my main blog




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review 2014-07-17 19:34
The Cure for Dreaming
The Cure for Dreaming - Cat Winters

This fast-paced novel tells the story of Olivia, a motherless young woman and burgeoning suffragist. Olivia's father, controlling and dominant, considers suffrage to be the bane of American society and wants his daughter to gladly accept her role as a voiceless, powerless shadow of a person. In order to get his rebellious daughter back under his control and render her properly suitable for marriage, Olivia's father resorts to forced hypnosis, and the results are anything but controllable.


On the downside, a number of the characters are either staunchly good or bad and lack the emotional complexity that would have added depth to the story. On the upside, however, the plot is fast paced, engaging, and contains no fluff or filler. I read this in one sitting because there simply was no good stopping place, a lull in the action where I lost interest or didn't need to know what was going to happen next, which is what will keep my students engaged with the text. The novel provides ample food for thought and would be a great text to use as the basis for a Socratic seminar. My high school students would want to read and talk about this book, and it would work nicely as part of our unit on the changing role of women in society.


I appreciate the publisher's allowing me to examine a digital review copy for educational purposes.

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review 2014-05-01 00:04
Will she bring the spy in from the cold?
Wicked Temptation - Zoe Archer

Ms. Archer has written another lushly sensual historical romance that entertained me, but also made me think. It was more suspense than action-oriented outside of the romance, but readers who like espionage fiction will probably enjoy that. I liked the depth she gives her characters with quirks like Marco cursing beautifully in Italian and teaching Bronwyn rude Italian hand gestures, as well as Bronwyn's incredible violin-playing skill. It's worth a read.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine in the June 2014 issue. http://affairedecoeur.com

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