Five Days in Skye Blog Tour

Five Days in Skye

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

Reviewed by Sally Ferguson

Radiant Lit Blog Tours

Genre: Romance

Publisher: David C. Cook

Date: July 9, 2015

“Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she’ll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she’s sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she’d rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father’s dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

“Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.”

Carla Laureano is really good at building multi-layered characters. Her story-telling is subtle and gives the reader a realistic grasp of who people are underneath the surface. Andrea and James have both been exposed to faith in their lives, but walked away. Who can’t relate to that? We’ve all had a crisis of faith, and that has either made us bitter toward God, or helped us to embrace Him. The story arc takes you into their struggles, Andrea with her climb on the corporate ladder and James with his efforts to build his image. They ask genuine questions about life and in turn learn to surrender their own brokenness to the only One who can make them whole.

Five Days in Skye is a good read and, for a visual learner like me, provides picturesque backdrop in the beautiful countryside of Scotland. It’s not area I ever thought I would be drawn to, but now, after seeing it through James and Andrea’s eyes, would love to visit. Well done, Carla Laureano!

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.”

Sally

Five Days in Skye is available for purchase through Amazon.com.

Note: I received this book as part of the Five Days in Skye blog tour from Radiant Lit. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

The Art of Work

The mystical world of “calling” is tackled expertly by Jeff Goins in his book, The Art of Work. He unpacks what it means to find a fulfilling vocation, and the steps needed to get there. This book is actually less about a “job,” and more about a life well lived. Goins says there are seven common characteristics to a calling: awareness, apprenticeship, practice, discovery, profession, mastery and legacy. These characteristics overlap to form a lifetime process, and when followed, will bring clarity to one’s work.

I love the perspective this process provides. In an “instant society” where we expect graduates to move directly to their dream job, the author brings reassurance for those of us who feel we’ve never arrived. He says a vocation is “not something you try; it’s someone you become.”

The book’s resource list is extensive. Citing stories of ordinary people who took leaps into their calling, Goins paints a portrait of the commitment it takes to go against the mainstream workforce. You find friendship in failure, that proven learning ground for change. And you’re reminded that pursuing your calling is supposed to be difficult.

One of the biggest takeaways for me, is connection to the idea of a portfolio. When life is seen as a collection of experiences that contribute to a whole, they become a collaboration, or portfolio, moving toward an extraordinary life. Doesn’t that take the pressure off of finding one “perfect” job, and instead, steer one toward learning tools from each place we’ve been?

No matter what stage of life you’re in, you need this book. It will empower you to leave the legacy you’ve always wanted!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sally

I review for BookLook Bloggers

London Tides Blog Tour

London Tides pic

London Tides by Carla Laureano

Reviewed by Sally Ferguson

Radiant Lit Blog Tours

Genre: Romance

Publisher: David C. Cook

Date: June 8, 2015

“Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

“She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace … only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together … or tear them apart for good this time?

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.”

The Dedication Page immediately grabbed my attention: “To all my sisters who feel unseen and insignificant – You are loved. Your stories matter.”

Who hasn’t felt insignificant at some point? Laureano writes a sensitive story about the choices that change the scope of a person’s life, and how those decisions affect those around her. She tackles difficult topics of grief, career and PTSD.

The publisher, David C. Cook’s Mission Statement is: “To equip the Church with Christ-centered resources for making and teaching disciples who obediently transform today’s generations.”

Their website calls “London Tides a fresh, socially aware novel.”

Actually, London Tides is edgy, with alcohol and steamy relationships. Grace Brennan, the main character, works in a man’s world. She doesn’t seem aware of God’s preservation of her life, until a few references are made at the end of the book about receiving second chances. It’s not the type of book I expected from a Christian publisher, but in the end, find Laureano to be a compelling author. She carries the story with ease, bringing in surprises to keep the reader engaged. She displays a thorough knowledge of the change needed in charitable organizations, in order to make a difference in the world. She certainly brings awareness to the plight of many, woven in the artful form of story.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It is a raw look at life, with pain, confusion and beauty.

Sally

London Tides is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Note: I received this book as part of the London Tides blog tour from Radiant Lit. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Book Review: The Day Is Waiting, Illustrations by Don Freeman, Words by Linda Zuckerman

The Day is Waiting

The Day Is Waiting is a book for children but tickles the fancy of adults:

A bear rides a unicycle,

Crickets host a concert,

And clothed mice scurry through the market.

But it’s all part of the fun…

In the game of pretend.

Preschoolers would have a grand time with this book. The pictures and text, together, create a sense of expectancy – an anticipation that there are wonderful things to experience in the world, and then there’s safety, in the return back home. The underlying theme is one of awe, as the explorer sees treasures in God’s world.

I was intrigued by the creation of the book. Don Freeman was the creator of Corduroy, “one of the most beloved and popular author/illustrators of picture books for children.” The notes say the illustrations were provided after his death. The author then compiled them into a storyline that provided adventure.

With splashes of humor, Zuckerman ties Freeman’s artwork into a whimsical narrative. There are surprises around every page turn, as penguins and skyscrapers intermingle to pull the escapade onward. I chuckled as I imagined the author sifting through piles of artwork, in search of a tale. The whimsy that surfaced seems perfectly in sync with the illustrator’s style… colorful and imaginative!

Get a copy for the child in you!

Sally

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 < http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review: Possible by Stephan Bauman

Does poverty, injustice and world suffering bother you? Get ready to be bothered more. Stephan Bauman has written, Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World, with a look at the worst our generation has been offered. But Bauman also offers hope, by presenting a blueprint that will ignite a new approach to problem solving.

Bauman is the president and CEO of World Relief, who has lived with feet on the ground in developing countries struggling to fight AIDS, trafficking and factions. He says, “We owe it to subsequent generations to honestly ask ourselves if we are responsibly stewarding our moment in history.”

But what does it mean, to steward our moment? Bauman says we need to step up to use our skills and abilities to find solutions to the problems that plague our world today. He provides tools for groups to access what their unique contribution can be and invites all to lives of radical obedience marked by sacrificial love. He says the invitation of Jesus to be vulnerable is one way of accepting glorious grace into our lives.

Bauman says reformation begins with a complaint. When we care enough to get upset, then it can turn into prayer. Prayer galvanizes courage. Courage fosters commitment. And commitment becomes the foundation for action.

Bauman sends the clarion call to abandon narcissism, self-absorption and insecurity in order to take up a higher calling to pursue a relationship with God instead of addiction to ministry. Indeed, Bauman says our world’s problems are all relational. People will change when they experience a love that collides with their belief systems.

Possible is a compelling book. It awakens the call to more, by asking hard questions about character and motive. I believe this generation is ready for change, and this book helps us to see that change is Possible!

Sally

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
 

 

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Book Review: The Leadership Handbook by John C. Maxwell

The Lea

Could an author of 46 titles have anything more to say? John Maxwell is known for good content, but can he deliver again? Scanning the Table of Contents, my curiosity is piqued. Titles like “The Toughest Person to Lead Is Always Yourself,” “Influence Should Be Loaned but Never Given” and “Experience Is Not the Best Teacher” draw me in.

Maxwell tackles topics like integrity, priorities and the burden of leadership with his characteristic honesty, and doesn’t hold anything back as he challenges leaders to take ownership in a new level of change needed for a new generation. His stance is to build leaders, who will in turn build leaders. The power of influence creates impact when a leader invests in the modeling of the next generation. And that is where this book goes to a different level than other books on leadership. Maxwell creates a game plan for mentoring by giving tips, formulas and questions to pursue with a mentee. By investing in a life, the mentor is creating a legacy that will outlive the natural course of work.

Maxwell says, “If you want to make an impact, then work on your influence. If you want to add value to others, help them work on theirs.” (p. 194)

He does deliver again, by adding value to those who pick up his book. Not only does The Leadership Handbook provide practical application, but it calls the leader to rise to a new level of accountability and personal investment in the lives of people. Maxwell says, “You must come to realize how unimportant you are in comparison to the task with which you have been entrusted as a leader. That requires a level of objectivity, maturity, and humility that many leaders never attain. Your goal as a leader isn’t to be indispensable to the people you lead; it is to leave your people something that is indispensable to them.” (p. 248)

And therein lies the mark of a true leader, when that leader learns how to serve.

Sally

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Book Review: Your Family in Pictures

Your Family in Pictures

Me Ra Koh has successfully documented a way to equip moms to capture timeless moments. Photography was a catalyst for healing in her own life, and she advocates it as a way to empower women as they carry camera in hand. Me Ra says, “To impact a mom’s life is to impact the whole family.” (p. ix)

Not only does Me Ra Koh bring in tips for setting up photo ops with active kids, she cultivates family connections. She says to avoid a photo pose, (“Refuse to say cheese.”) and instead, look for a moment to capture. Her examples are so personal and practical, the reader takeaway is immediate. The author answers the question of “What’s in it for me?” with tips for individual shots, lighting recipes and aperture settings. Me Ra Koh gives hands-on advice for setting up a photo and locking in the emotion of the moment.

As a writing mom, I appreciate the journaling prompts provided. They jumpstart memories that later translate into scrapbooking slogans, adding to the legacy of that family moment captured in time. Koh also spins a tale, as in capturing the magic of bedtime: “…day’s adventures finally come to an end and dreaming begins.” (p. 46)

Wonderful book. Visually appealing. And great life applications found within!

Sally

 Disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

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Book Review: Hope Crossing

Hope Crossing

Lovers of Amish novels are in for a treat from Cindy Woodsmall; Hope Crossing includes three books in one. This Ada’s House Trilogy weaves a story that includes turmoil and triumph. It’s nice to have the trilogy bound into one volume, in order to continue the relationship built with characters. Indeed, it feels like they’ve become fast friends and I found myself almost blurting out at the supper table, “You won’t believe what Cara said now…” Realizing, of course, I was about to speak of them as real people. But, when we read good fiction, fiction that really works, we learn something of ourselves and our response to the world around us.

Here’s one: “It pained her to watch him struggle. If he could just let go of trying to make life fit inside his understanding, his hands would be free to grasp the richness around him.” (p. 105)

Don’t we all struggle to put life in a box, into our comfort zone, so that we can figure things out? And in the process, miss what is right under our noses?

Here’s another good one: “What had made her be someone who never trusted her own thoughts or desires or dreams? Why had she feared being wrong so much that she let others be wrong for her?” (p. 254)

Yep, that sounds like perfectionist tendencies to me.

How about this one? “No one… can decide what’s right for everyone else… But if everyone’s willing to listen, they can talk things out and find a compromise.” (p. 997)

I like to orchestrate things around me. Others might see it as manipulate. The last story in the trilogy points out how damaging it can be, no matter what you call it!

And fiction is a tool to teach us about faith:

”Feeling gratitude is much like a prayer all on its own. If you thank Him for those things, it becomes a prayer.” (p. 729)

“How can you talk to me as if we’re doomed because we may have serious problems to face? Life dishes out what only God can get us through.” (p. 850)

I love this phrase about Deborah’s grieving: “They’d taken the grandfather clock with them, so she didn’t know what time it was. But it didn’t matter. It was somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow.” (p. 297)

Anyone who has dealt with heartbreak can relate to the way all time comes to a stop.

Fiction is like that, though. It draws you into another world and then reveals something you hadn’t realized before. Woodsmall skillfully develops believable characters with a storyline that caries momentum, then packs it with truth that nudges you in real life.

Come on, isn’t it time to escape into a good book?

Sally

 Disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

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Fifty shades of grace

Guest post from James N. Watkins

Someone asked me, why am I so bent out of shape by the best-selling book and now major movie, Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s certainly not because I hate sex. I’ve written three books celebrating sexuality and lifting up the sex act as the highest form of intimacy and pleasure on earth. It’s because I am so pro-sex that I am so anti-Grey!

The apostle Paul writes: “As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Throughout the Bible, sexual intercourse has been used as a symbol for the unity and intimacy that God wants to have with himself and his people. (He used circumcision as a symbol of faithfulness to him! And called unfaithfulness to him “adultery.”) God is so pro-sex that the Bible devotes an entire book, The Song of Solomon, to the celebration of sexual pleasure—with some pretty graphic images!

I believe that’s why God gave us strict and detailed commandments on how sexuality is to be expressed. And that’s why I believe the enemy tries so hard to degrade, demean and devalue sex. We see it in porn, in child sex trade, sadomasochism, and many, many other perversions of God’s original design.

So, that’s why I’ve spoken out so strongly against Fifty Shades of Grey. (I suspect the sadistic main character’s name, Christian, is a not-so-subtle attempt to further sully the name of Christ—and sex.)

But here’s the good news! God’s grace has made a way for everyone—no matter his or her sexual past—to experience a relationship with him that far exceeds any earthly symbol. (Sex is just an pale preview of what pleasure awaits Christ’s followers in heaven.)

Click to learn how you can experience God’s love and fifty shades of grace!

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins from www.jameswatkins.com

Book Review: The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman

The Daniel Plan

The Daniel Plan “is a lifestyle program based on biblical principles and five essential components: Food, Fitness, Focus, Faith, and Friends.” (p. 16)

The book’s namesake is Daniel of the Bible. Daniel and the boys of Judah were away from home when their mettle got tested. But they resolved to follow the dietary guidelines given to every Jewish boy, according to the Law of Moses. An example of perseverance, Daniel provides the basis of the diet, and the authors add exercise, meal plans and lifestyle to the mix. They especially highlight the importance of doing any kind of health changes within the context of a loving, supportive community.

This book makes me MAD! The Daniel Plan reports ways our food industry has hijacked our eating habits, and our health is only one of the ways we suffer. I appreciated the forthrightness of the authors, in exposing food changes in today’s society. The book tackles poor food choices by suggesting the means to a healthier lifestyle and character strengthening models. It provides charts, recipes and exercises to augment the regimen suggested. But, is it just another fad diet? The authors would say, “No, the motivation is different than a diet when you see the unconditional love of God (instead of guilt) as the foundation.” (See p. 17)

One of the frustrating things about the menu included, is the use of ingredients that aren’t readily available. The authors claim “real food” is anything our great-grandmothers would recognize, but I’ve never heard of some of the ingredients in the recipes listed (wheat-free tamari?).

I choose to read this book, because I fall into the same category of seven in ten Americans who are overweight. (p. 15) The book takes a different angle than I expected, as it spends a great deal of time talking about types of foods to skip and to eat. But I would still recommend the book, as the authors suggest the biggest reason for following the plan will lead to “strength of character, confidence, and courage forged by God.” (p. 150)

No matter where you land on a “diet,” make sure it is balanced with good common sense. The authors bring plenty of both to this work, and the reminder to start with one thing, one change that can make a life-long difference.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Sally

I review for BookLook Bloggers