Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Soul Care When You're Weary by Edie Melson

Soul Care by Edie Melson

This is a life-changing book! I know that's a big claim, but I've been so blessed by this book and Edie's online class. (See below for details.)

Let's begin with the summary:

Our lives are busier each day, and the margin we have available for recovery and peace is shrinking.

Edie Melson helps you find Soul Care solutions using devotions and prayers and opportunities for creative expression. She has learned that sensory involvement deepens our relationship with the Father and gives rest to our weary souls. She will teach you to tap into your creativity.

Reconnect with God using your tactile creativity.

Warning! This book may become dog-eared and stained. Draw in it. Experiment with your creative passions. Learn the healing power of play. Allow God’s power to flow through creativity. Soul Care When You’re Weary will become your heart treasure. 

And now, my review:

This book came along at the perfect time for me. Have you ever gotten burned out doing what you otherwise love to do? Following our callings can be wearying, which is a level beyond exhausting. Weariness can make us question our callings.

Edie’s approach to “soul care” is a biblical approach, so it reaffirms your faith. She’s a nature lover, like many creatives, myself included, and some of her creative prompts send us out into nature to commune with God.

Her book includes her own personal stories, many devotionals, prayers, and creative activity prompts. She encourages us to give ourselves permission to create, without guilt.

Her approach to soul care is that of God as Creator, gifting us with creativity, and how much He enjoys when we enjoy making crafts or art. Through her lens, the act of creating is a type of communion with Him. And since creating fuels us and gives us joy, we can give ourselves permission to take time to be creative. We often feel guilty, as if we should be spending our time doing more worthy things. But that’s a lie. Feeding our souls in wholesome ways is beneficial to everyone in our lives, including ourselves. And the process grows our intimacy with God, which is the ultimate benefit and joy. Then, when our souls are fed, we have strength and enjoyment in the journey of our callings.

I highly recommend this book. If you connect with Edie on Facebook, you may find her online community/class for Soul Care. It’s called “SoulfulInk.” She does FB lives with us as if we’re a Bible study group, which she leads in her gentle, wise, godly way. She’s like a wiser sister, full of encouragement and kindness and relatable stories.

If I could give this more than five stars, I would. If you’re feeling weary pursuing your calling, pick up this book. If you know a creative who is weary, consider this book as a gift idea. It’s life-changing.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sugarplums and Second Chances by Jill Kemerer

Sugarplums and Second Chances

This novella was also published in the “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” novella collection.

I love reading Christmas novellas in November and December.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Are some mistakes beyond redemption?
When former NFL star, Chase McGill, invites Courtney Trudesta, the widow of his former teammate, to spend Christmas with him and his son in Lake Endwell, he simply wants to repay her for the weekly letters she sent while he was in prison. He didn't expect to fall for her.

Chase regrets his past and knows it will take more than sugarplums and wishful thinking to heal Courtney's lonely heart. But with a dose of small-town charm and plenty of Christmas cheer, they might have a second chance at happiness...with each other.

And now, my review:

These characters are part of Jill's series set in Lake Endwell, which I’ve yet to read. This meant I was missing a little bit of the connection and history. At the same time, I really enjoyed this novella! (I recommend reading the series, but if you haven’t you’ll still catch on.)

I liked the letter-writing aspect. The hero and heroine have exchanged letters before this story begins, so they have a history of conversation, which builds intimacy. That letter-writing element was one of the things that drew me to this story.

The hero believes he’s not good enough for the heroine. This is a noble reason to keep them apart. It’s also his lie, and he’ll have to think of himself differently by story’s end for this one to end HEA. (happily ever after)

The heroine has been so lonely. She’s a caretaker who needs someone to care for her for a change, and that’s exactly what the hero does. I liked that the hero had resources and a warm home where she could relax and “restore her soul.” 

This author knows how to write an enjoyable, wholesome romance. Such a pleasure to read. 

Highly recommended!

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Timeless Christmas by Alexis Stanton

This is my first book review for Hallmark Publishing and for this author. I’ve been looking forward to checking out their fiction.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Megan Turner is in love with the past. As a tour guide at a beautiful historic mansion, she tells visitors about its original owner, Charles Whitley. An inventor and businessman in the early 1900s, he rose from poverty to wealth…only to disappear without a trace.
Charles was always intrigued by the future. He just never expected to go there. But when he repairs a mysterious clock he bought on his travels, he’s transported to the twenty-first century, with his home decorated for Christmas and overrun by strangers.
Charles is determined to find a way back to his own era, especially when he learns about what happened after he left. But as Megan introduces him to the wonders of smartphones, pizza, and modern holiday traditions, they both feel a once-in-a-lifetime connection. Could it be that, somewhere in time, they belong together?

And now, my review:

I liked the premise for this story and the mansion location. I loved that it was set at Christmastime, when we can more readily accept a magical element. And I appreciated that this was published by a company that produces wholesome entertainment.

I was willing to suspend disbelief as I began this time-travel romance. But then there were some issues with the writing quality, especially the plot and the characterization. The hero too easily resigns himself to remaining in the future, which felt contrived for the sake of story. He doesn’t immediately try to get back, which would have been a logical longing (and goal) for him to have. Also, he’s selfish and unlikable. He doesn’t do anything noble, doesn’t take any steps in the first few chapters to help someone else or even consider someone else. I didn’t find him layered enough to see him as real or sympathetic. He came across as whiny and smug. Those elements would have been excusable if he’d been noble for even one moment in those opening chapters. Readers get that a character can be a mess in the beginning, and we hope for a satisfying character arc, showing how s/he changes. But we need one redeemable quality to help us care what happens to him/her so we keep reading.

So, I focused on the heroine’s journey. But her story line felt contrived as well. She too readily accepts his presence. She comes across as juvenile. I found her introspection telling, which meant I didn’t feel the emotions she felt. She wasn’t layered, so I couldn’t bond with her or relate with her. It felt contrived that she explained some elements of this future world to him, but not others. This read as author oversight. It’s logical that the hero would wonder about everything, rather than accepting most of it. The heroine believes he’s an actor, and she’s playing along. That premise wasn’t always adhered to, which felt contrived as well.

The premise here was promising, but the story didn’t hold my interest. I wanted to lose myself in it, but between the characters and the inexperienced writing, I couldn’t. 

All that said, I wish this author and publisher well. I’ll definitely try other books in the future as I enjoy Hallmark Christmas movies.