The best and worst collide in The Seamstress

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The Seamstress

“In one night the best and worst of fate collide” in the life of a penniless seamstress. Just as the sewing skills of the main character Renee bring beauty to the most mundane of colours and fabrics so does the writing of Allison Pittman bring richness and power to the pages of her novel.

Take an old classic and weave a new tale

I have not read a Tale of Two Cities, but having read The Seamstress, I am eager to delve into the original story that inspired Allison Pittman to scoop out a minor character and bring flesh to the bones of this talented young lady. “I do not know the idleness of a moment. (Who) when not engulfed in silk, is running through the endless passages of Versailles on one errand or another.”

A must read

I just loved this book. From the moment I started reading the first line, I became hooked. The descriptions hurled me into another century where I hungered alongside the destitute and swished my flowing gown in the Royal Court where opulence ruled.

Wisdom abounds through the pages, and bad choices fuel a rebel heart.

“You must never, Laurette, find your esteem in the eyes of anyone other than our heavenly Father who loves you. The way men determine the value of others means nothing.” But does Laurette heed her mentor’s words?

Desperate times

And the book is about the desperate, “Desperate men take desperate action.” I could feel that desperation. “The women carry weapons in their hands, but they carry hunger in their bellies, dead children in their hearts, broken men in their arms.”

And contradictions

The Seamstress is a powerful book with many contradictions. And Allison Pittman seamlessly sews each chapter together to create a story that had me crying. I do not usually shed tears when reading books, but this tale got to me. Not just The Seamstress but the whole tragic situation of a country divided, by poverty and wealth. Not unlike our world today. But the author does her best to show both sides of the story, and I felt torn like a shirt ripped in half from the back of an innocent child.

Would I recommend The Seamstress?

This story is just brilliant. There are no surplus characters as all carry the tale along, all are important and engaging. Even the scoundrel has a place in my heart. And I didn’t want it to end, but it had to because I needed to dry my eyes.

Therefore if you get a chance grab yourself a copy and emerge yourself in this classic.

It definitely deserves 5* if not more.

Thank you Allison Pittman for writing such a clever extension to the orginal Tale of Two Cities.

Don’t forget the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.

*I was given this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*

Click here to purchase your copy!


This book review was brought to you by Margaret Kazmierczak author of “How to Make Victoria Sponge” And a contributor to Heart”wings” devotional.

About the Book

The seamstress cover

Title: The Seamstress

Author: Allison Pittman

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.

France, 1788
It is the best of times . . .

On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon’s sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.

It is the worst of times . . .

Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.

It is the story that has never been told.

In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.

About the Author

allison Pittman

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

Guest Post from Allison

Putting flesh on neglected characters

My dream of being an author began by “finishing” other author’s works, fleshing out the stories of neglected characters. When I read the final books in the Little House series, I was far more interested in Cap Garland than I was in Almonzo Wilder, and I imagined all kinds of stories in which he was the hero.

One of those characters – The Seamstress

This, The Seamstress, is one of those stories that came to me in a single burst of thought. I was teaching my sophomore English class, discussing through the final scenes in A Tale of Two Cities, when the little seamstress in those final pages reached out to me. She is a nameless character, seemingly more symbolic than anything. Dickens, however, gives her an entire backstory in a single phrase: I have a cousin who lives in the country. How will she ever know what became of me? I remember pausing right then and there in front of my students and saying, “Now, there’s the story I want to write.”

Now, years later, I have.

While every word of every Charles Dickens novel is a master class in writing, what he gave to me for The Seamstress is the kind of stuff that brings life and breath to fiction. I have to convey the fact that any character on my pages—no matter how much story space he or she is allotted—has a life between them. Every man was once a child; every woman a vulnerable young girl.

So, Dickens gave me the bones of the story. A seamstress. A cousin in the country. A country ripped apart; family torn from family. I did my very best to put flesh on those bones, but no writer can ever bring the life and breath. Only a reader can do that.

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, February 9

The Lit Addict, February 9

The Power of Words, February 9

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis & Christ Collide, February 10

Lis Loves Reading, February 10

Maureen’s Musings, February 10

Carpe Diem, February 11

A Baker’s Perspective, February 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 12

Emily Yager, February 12

Mary Hake, February 12

Stories By Gina, February 13

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 13

Inspired by fiction, February 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

Remembrancy, February 14

Through the Fire Blogs, February 15

Seasonsofopportunities, February 15

Inspiration Clothesline, February 15

Books, Books, and More Books, February 16

Inklings and Notions, February 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

Texas Book-aholic, February 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, February 18

A Reader’s Brain, February 18

By The Book, February 18

Multifarious, February 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 19

Pause for Tales, February 19

Bigreadersite, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 20

Janices book reviews, February 20

For the Love of Books, February 21

Book by Book, February 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 22

To Everything A Season, February 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 22

Giveaway

Finished

Spotlight “On The Rails” by Linda Shenton Matchett

On the Rails FB banner

Welcome to my Spotlight

The reviews for On The Rails by Linda Shenton Matchett range from 5* to 3* which is a good mix. There are reviewers who enjoyed the info dumps and others who would have preferred less – so all that says is that you can’t please everyone.

The book is only 130 pages long which would make it readable for a lot of people in one go, and as one reader commented, might it lead to more stories about the Harvey Girls? This could well be a searching question for the author.

“I loved the history that came through in this book. I hadn’t heard of the Harvey House, and I was fascinated to learn about it as the story unfolded. Reading this made me want to be a customer of this great establishment along the railroad system in its glory days.”

As this is a Christian book does it overpower the reader?

This is what one reviewer commented, “I’ve read many books about the Harvey Houses, but never one that includes people coming to knowledge of Christ. That was awesome! And yet the characters are very real, with very real feelings including anger and jealousy. It’s not “churchy” at all.”

What is the main character like?

Most of the readers seem to have enjoyed the historical aspect of On the Rails and even though the story is a little short it is a sweet read, with some people liking the main character  Catherine, and others not warming to her in the same way. Again it is all a matter of opinion.

These are just my summations from reading the reviews on Amazon. I hope you will journey through the blog spots on the CelebrateLit tour, which are listed below, for further recommendations.

Also, don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a fabulous prize.

This spotlight was brought to you by Margaret Kazmierczak author of “How to Make Victoria Sponge” And a contributor to Heart”wings” devotional.

Click here to grab your copy!

About the Book

Margaret Kazmierczak spotlights On The Rails by Linda Shenton MatchettTitle: On the Rails

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: February 6, 2017

Warren, Ohio, 1910: Katherine Newman loves being a teacher, but she loves Henry Jorgensen more, which is why she’s willing to give up her job to marry him. But instead of proposing, Henry breaks up with her. Devastated, Katherine seeks to escape the probing eyes and wagging tongues of her small town. A former Harvey Girl, Katherine’s mother arranges for Katherine to be hired at the Williams, Arizona Harvey House. Can she carve out a new life in the stark desert land, unlike anything she’s ever known?

Henry Jorgensen loves Katherine with all his heart, but as the eldest son of a poor farmer can he provide for her as she deserves? The family’s lien holder calls in the mortgage, and Henry must set aside his own desires in order to help his parents meet their financial obligation. But when Katherine leaves town after their break up, he realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. Can he find her and convince her to give their love a second chance?

About the Author

Margaret Kazmierczak spotlights On The Rails by Linda Shenton MatchettLinda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her live. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

Guest Post from Linda

My husband and I were fortunate to be able to take a trip to Arizona several years ago. Having been born and raised on the east coast, I was enamored with the distinctive beauty of the state, from the saguaro cacti of Phoenix and red rocks of Sedona to the volcanic landscape of Flagstaff and multi-colored bands of the Grand Canyon.

Harvey Houses

But what intrigued me just as much as the area’s beauty were the stories about the women who migrated to the state to work for the Fred Harvey Company. Upon our arrival at the Grand Canyon, we came upon the El Tovar Hotel, one of the few remaining Harvey Houses. We were given a bit of literature explaining the history of Mr. Harvey and his restaurants, and the more I read, the more I wanted to know.

As it turns in the late 1800s, food was not available to travelers riding the railroad lines, so when the trains made extended stops, passengers would get off and eat at the restaurants located near the stations. From all reports, the dining experience was sketchy at best, with frequent stories of indigestion and food poisoning.

The Harvey Girls

Enter English immigrant and restauranteur, Fred Harvey. Securing a contract with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, he began with two facilities. However, finding reliable employees proved to be difficult. A high percentage of the employees (all men) would use their paycheck to purchase liquor and then did not return to work for several days. At his wit’s end, Fred decided to hire women to act as his waitresses, but the concept was a tough sell. The only women in the hospitality industry worked in saloons and had scandalous reputations.

Fred set up dormitories overseen by a House Mother and implemented a set of rules that included curfews, restrictions on dating, and dress codes. He ran advertisements in the large east coast newspapers. It was not long before candidates came knocking. The reasons they gave for wanting to be a Harvey Girl were as diverse as the girls. Some were looking for adventure, others needed to help fill the family coffers, while a number of them needed to get out of difficult situations ranging from domestic abuse to failed engagements.

Thanks to Fred and his restaurants, most of the 100,000 Harvey Girls found financial stability, confidence, happiness, and/or love. It is my hope that On The Rails commemorates these gals and their intrepid spirits.

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, January 31

Blossoms and Blessings, February 1

Mary Hake, February 1

Bibliophile ReviewsFebruary 2

Texas Book-aholic, February 3

Connie’s History Classroom, February 4

Janices book reviewsFebruary 5

The Mimosa Blossom, February 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 7

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 7

A Baker’s Perspective, February 8

Moments, February 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 9

Vicky Sluiter, February 10

Through the Fire Blogs, February 11

Carpe Diem, February 11

Godly Book Reviews, February 12

margaret kazmierczak, February 12 (Spotlight)

Maureen’s Musings, February 13

BigreadersiteFebruary 13

Giveaway

Finished

Finding love in the mess of life

Finding love in the mess of life can be a breakthrough moment. It can change your life literally. I knew a man who had had tragedy in his life that had broken him. He had lost his young wife to cancer, and he hadn’t been able to stop the cruel disease taking her away from him. From that moment, he could see no future and only his occupation as a doctor kept him going. He snapped at his co-workers and refused to let anyone help him. No one wanted to work with him. Until finally after many years he allowed love into his life again. Love transformed this man and the real beauty of who he was shone out of him once again.

Love can change everything. Finding Amor by Allison K. Garcia tells the story of how an exceptional boy called Emanuel brought love into the lives of two people. Read my review below to see what I thought of this book.

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Finding Amor

My Penny’s worth

Finding Love

There are two very different characters in Finding Love which help move the story along through the pages. And it is the effect that Emanuel has on them both that kept me reading. I was not aware that this book is the first in the series as I received an e-book of it. Therefore I wondered why the author was taking time to develop the characters through mundane domestic scenes that didn’t seem necessary to the storyline.  Until I reached the end with the cliff hanger. Then I got it. Those ordinary everyday scenes had drawn me in to care for the characters because the book had a sequel. As I read the last words I thought, hang on, you can’t leave the ending like this, what happens. So no doubt I shall be looking for the next one to be published.

What I loved

I loved the opposites. Lauren from a middle-class background learning about the plight of Emanual. Mixing with other people whom she would never usually have anything to do with. Eyes opened to the other side of life. Her Christian love being challenged and taken out of its comfort zone.

God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called.

I also loved Emanuel, his young heart searching for more than just human love, especially as family had hurt it. I could feel his pain at being separated from his adored Mamita.

A heart split in two between thousands of miles. Was there anything that could heal that kind of brokenness?

The different loves

There is a beautiful paragraph about the love of each member of Emanuel’s family. This turbulent tribe who have a place in the young boy’s heart as spoken by Ana his mother.

Her family. It was far from perfect, but great love flowed beneath the surface. Carlos’ love spurted like a geyser: nothing, then everything, and back to nothing again. Emanuel’s love was timid, like a shy brook in a narrow path, fighting through leaves and rocks. Her own love was constant, but it flowed in many directions and often lost its path. Mamita’s love gushed strongest of all, like the river outside of their house in Santa Rita after a big rain. It rushed over everything, flooding the world. It formed new rivers with its unstoppable force.

There is heartbreak too

As I said above the book is about opposites, and that is true with finding love. There is a conflict with love. Ana may have got the love of her life back, but it has consequences. And her dilemma is tangible through the pages. Allison Garcia does a beautiful job of portraying emotions and situations.

Could I put the book down without wondering about others in such a situation?

No, Allison K. Garcia makes it clear that we need to love and step out of our comfort zone in the form of Lauren. Let’s face it Jesus was an immigrant along with his parents; they had to flee to another place for fear of their lives.

Would I recommend Finding Amor?

Yes, I would, and I think in today’s world it is essential to gain an understanding of the issues that such a book is raising. We all need to find love. Thank you, Allison, for writing your story.

I would like to give it 5*

Don’t forget the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.

*I was given this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*

This book review was brought to you by Margaret Kazmierczak author of “How to Make Victoria Sponge” And a contributor to Heart”wings” devotional.

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Finding Amor by Allison K GarciaTitle: Finding Amor

Author: Allison K. Garcia

Genre: Latino Christian Fiction

Release date: September 8, 2018

In a world filled with hate, how can you know what love is?

Escaping a violent and abusive environment, eight-year-old Emanuel Martinez attempts to cross through three countries to be with his mother, Ana, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. When la migra catches him at the border and he’s thrown into an immigration center, his dreams for being a real family start to disappear.

Vowing never to be like her own mother who abandoned her and never looked back, Ana has worked for six years to get her son to the United States, Now Ana has to rely on her distant mother and her alcoholic boyfriend, Carlos, to finally get her son to her side so they can build a life together.

 When Lauren Barrett agrees to help with the afterschool program, she soon realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Growing up in an unsupportive home has made her insecure and vulnerable, plus suffering through years of infertility hasn’t helped matters. Yet she longs to do something meaningful with her life and wonders when that opportunity will come along. When a special young boy named Emanuel enters her life, he turns her worldview on its head.

As their lives intersect, will they help each other understand what family and love and home really mean?

About the Author

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Finding Amor by Allison GarciaAllison K. Garcia is a Licensed Professional Counselor, but she has wanted to be a writer ever since she could hold a pencil. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Shenandoah Valley Writers, Virginia Writers Club, and is Municipal Liaison for Shenandoah Valley NaNoWriMo.

Allison’s short story, “At Heart,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of From the Depths literary magazine, along with her flash fiction. Her work, “You Shall Receive,” was published in GrayHaven Comics’s 2014 All Women’s anthology. Winning an honorary mention in the ACFW Virginia 2015 short story contest, “Just Another Navidad” was published in A bit of Christmas. Allison’s book, Vivir el Dream, published May 2017, has won several prestigious awards: 2016 ACFW Genesis Contest Finalist, 2018 Eric J. Hoffer Montaigne Medal Finalist, Honorary Mention in the 2018 Eric. J. Hoffer Awards E-book category, and 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards Finalist in the Christian/Relgious Fiction category. Her highly-anticipated novel, Finding Amor, was released in September 2018.

Latina at heart, Allison has been featured in local newspapers for her connections in the Latino community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A member of cultural competency committees for work and a participant in several pro-immigrant rallies and other events in her region, she also sings on the worship team and enjoys get-togethers with the hermanos in her church. With the help of her husband, Julio, and their son, Miguel, she has been able to nurture her love for the Latino people.

Blog Stops

Real World Bible Study, February 2

Through the Fire Blogs, February 3

Mary Hake, February 3

100 Pages per Hour, February 4

Carla Loves To Read, February 5

Inklings and notions, February 5

A Diva’s Heart, February 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 6

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 7

Bigreadersite, February 7

Multifarious, February 8

Margaret Kazmierczak, February 9

Bibliophile Reviews, February 10

Carpe Diem, February 11

Creating Romance, February 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 12

A Baker’s Perspective, February 13

Texas Book-aholic, February 14

Janices book reviews, February 15

Giveaway

Finished

Did your Dad cry when you disappointed him?

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Forever Loved Eves Story by Joanna May Chee

Have you ever disappointed your Dad? If you haven’t then you are probably unique. You may not have made him cry, but I suspect like the rest of us, you have done something to disappoint him. So when Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden did she make God cry?

My Penny’s Worth

Forever Loved, Eve’s Story by Joanna May Chee is a beautiful story about the Father’s love for His daughter. It opens the door to the Dad of all dads. If you don’t know the love of a dad then reading this book will show you just how much you are loved by the greatest of all dads.

What I loved

I loved the beautiful writing that drew me into the Garden of Eden. The words sang of God’s delight in Eve, His first daughter and the closeness of Creator and creation. I saw the beauty of Eden and its rest. Then the crushing reality that one act could destroy their bond. However, did it? Did Eve’s Dad cry; did this disappointment ruin their relationship? You will have to read the story to find out.

We were not created to enter his work. We were created to enter his rest. His eternal rest.

Would I recommend this book?

I received this as an ebook, but as it has so many beautiful statements, I want to buy the paperback. For me, it is like balm to my soul. I have highlighted so many sentences. Moreover, for those that feel they have disappointed their Dad to the point of no return, I would recommend this book.

He loves to come, even in your darkest moments.

Eve’s Story is only 140 pages long. However, it is packed with love.

I would like to give it 5*

Thank you, Joanna, for writing this book.

Don’t forget the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.

*I was given this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*

This book review was brought to you by Margaret Kazmierczak author of “How to Make Victoria Sponge” And a contributor to Heart”wings” devotional.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Book

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Forever Loved Eves Story by Joanna May Chee

Title: Forever Loved, Eve’s Story

Author: Joanna May Chee

Genre: Christian Inspiration for Women

Release date: February 20, 2018

Publisher: Heartfelt Publications

Eve. First woman, First to be tempted and First to sin.

But what if there were more to her story than that?

Forever Loved: Eve’s Story is the story of Father and daughter, as told by Eve. It is a story of preciousness and beauty, of tender love and grace. Through Eve, God reveals his Father heart of love for you, his treasured daughter. He whispers to you now, and calls you closer.

Includes:
  • My Story: The author’s personal story of encountering God as Father.
  • Eve’s Story: A beautifully creative retelling of the Bible story of Eve.
  • Your Story: Encouragement and prayers to take you deeper into God’s presence.

Experience Eve’s story anew. Discover just how loved you are!

About the Author

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews Forever Loved Eve's Story by Joanna May Chee

Joanna May Chee gets excited about God! She loves to write and is often awake in the night with a million ideas for her next book or project. Joanna blogs at JoannaMayChee.com and MumsKidsJesus.com, where it is her heart to encourage and equip women to love their families and meet with God. She is author of Forever Loved: Eve’s Story, a creative retelling of the Bible story of Eve, and a #1 Amazon UK bestseller. Joanna lives near London with her husband, 4 teens, dog and 2 cats! Facebook.com/JoannaMayChee Facebook.com/MumsKidsJesus | Pinterest.co.uk/MumsKidsJesus

Guest Post from Joanna

True or False? Eve spent time with God before meeting Adam.

True or False? Eve wasn’t called Eve until after the Fall.

Does the Bible even say?

Until recently, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, even though I’ve been a Christian many years, and thought I knew the Bible story of Eve really well!

It was during hot, sticky, jet-lagged nights, about four years ago, on holiday overseas, that God started giving me new and wonderful insight into Eve’s life. Words literally started pouring through my head: the story of Eve, but not as I’d heard it before!

I’d always had negative connotations of Eve – the first woman to be tempted, the first to sin. But the story God revealed to me during my sleepless nights was one of preciousness and beauty. It was the story of Father and daughter, of God’s incredible love for Eve, and His equally wondrous love for me.

As Eve’s story unfolded over several nights, I wrote it down; and God gave me a book I did not ask for (but am forever grateful for): Forever Loved: Eve’s Story.

A book that changed my life

These new insights into Eve’s story have been life-changing. God has brought me deeper into His love than I could ever have imagined. (In the introduction of ‘Forever Loved: Eve’s Story’ I share something of the deep hurt and insecurity I experienced growing up – including the time I got into BIG trouble with my teacher – my cry to know God as Father, and how God’s love has brought healing and freedom.)

It’s my prayer that ‘Forever Loved: Eve’s Story’ touches the lives of women around the world, that women may come into deeper experience of God as Father, and know just how beautiful and precious they are to Him.

So, back to the True/False questions at the beginning of this post! What do you think?

A free copy of a devotional

I’d love to share with you what I’ve discovered by giving you a free copy of a devotional I’ve written called ‘Treasures Hidden in the Story of Eve’.

This devotional explores some of the amazing truths God’s shown me about Eve, and the wonderful implications for us as women today (and includes extracts from ‘Forever Loved: Eve’s Story’). Download the devotional for free here.

I pray God touches you as deeply as He has me, as you explore the Bible story of Eve afresh. May you encounter the love of Father God as never before.

Joanna xx

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, January 26

Real World Bible Study, January 27

Aryn the Libraryan, January 28

Robin is Bookish, January 28

My Devotional Thoughts, January 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 29

Margaret Kazmierczak, January 30

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 31

Mary Hake, January 31

Godly Book Reviews, February 1

Lights in a Dark World, February 1

Midnight Bookaholic, February 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 2

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

One Emergent Life, February 4

Pause for Tales, February 4

Texas Book-aholic, February 5

Abba’s Prayer Warrior PrincessFebruary 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 6

Janices book reviews, February 7

Carpe Diem, February 8

Giveaway

Finished

Dan Chrystal – chat on the couch

The Lost Art of Relationship FB banner

Today’s guest on my island couch is Dan Chrystal author of The Lost Art of Relationship. It is such a pleasure to have you here Dan. I am looking forward to learning more about you while on my desert island.

Dan – Thank you for having me, Margaret.

Please give a warm welcome to Dan Chrystal everyone.

As you bask in the sun…

Who would you like to be marooned on the island with and why?

DAN CHRYSTAL- This one is easy. My wife! I chose to be married to her and be in relationship until “death do us part” and I am grateful for every moment I get with her! Plus, she is one of the most resourceful people I know – so survival would be a little easier. Since we already know each other and have committed to one another, we wouldn’t need to start from scratch in relationship. We have already progressed through what I call the eight levels of relationship and made it to the highest level – Someone you can call family.

Margaret – I love the way you talk about relationship, especially as it is challenged so much by today’s world. And how lovely that you would choose your wife. I can really feel your connection.

In relation to your most recent published book..

What is your favourite sentence?

DAN  CHRYSTAL “You could argue that failure is not punishment and… success is not reward. They’re just failure and success. You can choose how you respond.”

~ Sarah Lewis, The Rise: Creativity, The Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery.

Margaret – That is so true Dan, our response to many situations is our choice. The way we choose our response will determine our outlook. That can be applied to so many things, in all we have a choice. Success and failure do not have to be an end result but the beginning of choice. I hope I have interpreted that correctly?

You love writing..

But do you have another passion?

DAN CHRYSTAL – By far, my greatest passion is speaking and teaching. It is invigorating to share with people and see that “light” turn on inside their minds. I used to wonder if speaking and teaching was just a way to feel good from the accolades. However, several Sundays in a row I decided to walk off the platform and out the door to see how I felt and each time I was just as invigorated as before. One of my favorite reality TV shows is America’s Got Talent. When someone shares their talent with the world for the first time in this setting and are appreciated by the crowd – that moment when they realize their dream has come true is what I live for. Teaching others and helping them to realize their dreams is a moment I love to be a part of.

Margaret – Yes, it is definitely a joy to see the dreams become a reality despite the struggles many have to realize it.  Even if it is for a moment, the applause, the recognition of talent can change someone’s life. That relationship between the dreamer and the dream coming true, a God-given moment, the spark, I have witnessed that too. It is awesome. To give someone that power to be.

Here on my island..

You are given one wish, but there is a clause which means you can only ask to be an animal. What creature would you like to be?

DAN CHRYSTAL– Oooooooh, I like this question. I would choose to be an eagle. An eagle perches high so they can see all around them. They can soar on the wind without much effort, can scan prey from the heights and are what is known as APEX predator – meaning they are at the top of the food chain. Also, eagles mate for life – so I’d like my wife to turn into one as well!

Margaret – I love eagles too, and especially the reference from Isaiah that talks about eagles. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. Great choice Dan.

My final question and it has to do with food!

What food would you miss the most being on a desert island?

DAN CHRYSTAL – I would most certainly miss fried chicken, baked chicken, bbq’d chicken, and pretty much any type of chicken. There is just something amazing about chicken – it is so versatile, goes with any side dish and don’t even get me started on rotisserie!

Margaret – So I take it you like chicken!!

On that note, I would like to thank Dan Chrystal for taking the time to share with us his thoughts while being on my couch.

Dan’s book is on sale here and if you would like to enter his GIVEAWAY then please find the entry details at the bottom of my blog.

This interview was brought to you by Margaret Kazmierczak author of “How to Make Victoria Sponge” And a contributor to Heart”wings” devotional.

About the Book

Margaret Kazmierczak talks to Dan Chrystal author of The Lost Art of Relationship

Title: The Lost Art of Relationship

Author: Dan Chrystal

Genre: Christian non-fiction, Christian living

Release date: October 15, 2018

Relationship is a journey of discovery—a lost art. In this generation, it has become challenging to deepen and grow personal relationships with each other. Our technology-flooded environment has left many with limited relational experience and a fear of face-to-face connection and meeting new people.

The church has done a decent job of helping people understand the need and importance of a relationship with God, but what about with each other? At the heart of every man, woman, and child is the need for connection—for relationships with people who love them for who they are.

In The Lost Art of Relationship, Dan Chrystal tackles the heart of relationship based on the time-honored instruction to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” But what does that mean? How do we live out this odd instruction? Who is my neighbor, anyway? What makes relationships healthy, and what makes them fail? Through Dan’s personal stories and difficult life lessons, readers will come away encouraged, inspired, and motivated to love the people in their life more fully. If you desire deep and meaningful connections, now is the time to discover the lost art of relationship.

About the Author

Margaret Kazmierczak talks to Dan Chrystal author of The Lost Art of RelationshipDan Chrystal has over twenty-three years of ministry and relationship experience. He serves as a pastor for Bayside Church Granite Bay, under the dynamic leadership of founding pastor, Ray Johnston. Dan is a vibrant speaker and a dedicated life, career, and couple’s coach. He holds an MBA in executive leadership from Kaplan University (now Purdue Global University) and is currently studying law at Concord Law School. His extensive ministry background has taken him all over the country, from the east coast to the west, where he has served in varying capacities, including Lead Pastor, Administrative Pastor, Associate Pastor, Worship Leader, and Youth Pastor. An avid student of relationship, Dan is passionate about helping others to love their neighbors as themselves.

“Choose a good reputation over great riches.” (Proverbs 22:1)

Guest post from Dan Chrystal

The wilderness

For two years, I experienced what many would call a “wilderness experience.” I truly felt forgotten. Having spent twenty years in various aspects of church work, meeting and coaching hundreds of people, I still felt like I didn’t truly understand why I was put on this earth. I have moved nine times in my adult life. Everywhere I’ve lived, I had to start over—at work, home, schools for kids, and especially in relationship with others.

The last move was different. This time I was no longer looking to connect simply for the sake of connecting. There was a purpose for connection that was brewing inside me. That purpose became the driving force of my life and remains that way today. In fact, it consumes my thought life, relationships, ministry, and every aspect of what I do, think, and say.

Connecting

Connecting with others has been a part of my life wherever I have gone. This came from watching my mom over many years meet, talk to, and befriend hundreds of people. At her funeral, I had just about that many tell me “thank you” for allowing my mom to be a part of their lives—how she encouraged them and truly got to know them for who they are.

During my two-year “wilderness” period, there was a realization that over all the moves, restarts, connections, coffee appointments, coaching, lunches, and dinners with people, I was learning the essence of what I believe we are called, or actually commanded, to do by Jesus. Such a simple sentence, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” However, it is one of the most difficult things to live out every day. Let’s face it; relationships are messy. They can be downright frustrating at times, but they are a necessary part of life, and the second most important thing to God.

Continually learning the art

I am by no means an “expert” in relationship and I am and always will be a student of it. Consequently, I have watched relationships thrive, survive, and some fall away. There are so many divisions that come between us, and during those two years of struggling with my purpose, it became clear—God has designed, purposed, and prepared me to help others discover what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. I am not perfect at this. As a matter of fact, I struggle—sometimes daily. That is what sparked the writing of this book. I have found there is an art to relationship. For most, it is a lost art, one that can be rediscovered. I would love it if you would join me in discovering The Lost Art of Relationship.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 19

Carpe Diem, January 19

Robin is Bookish, January 20

The Becca Files, January 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 21

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 22

Creating Romance, January 22

Real World Bible Study, January 23

One Emergent Life, January 24

Mary Hake, January 24

Captive Dreams Window, January 25

Bigreadersite, January 25

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 26

margaret kazmierczak, January 26

Bibliophile Reviews, January 27

Texas Book-aholic, January 28

Just the Write Escape, January 29

A Baker’s Perspective, January 30

Janices book reviews, January 31

Book World ReviewsFebruary 1

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 1

Giveaway

Finished

Blind to the love in front of you

How blind would you say you are? As blind as the expression “can’t see the wood for the trees?” Well, I’d say that is me. So often in all the chaos, I can’t see the good things in my life, even though they are right in front of me. Instead, all I see are barriers, barbwire, and negativity. All this leads to is frustration, powerlessness, and depression.

Texas my Texas by Caryl McAdoo is a story that incorporates this blindness. But there is a solution, one which is revealed in her book.

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews texas my texas by Caryl McAdoo

My Penny’s Worth

Gabrielle is full of mixed feelings, allowing them to pull her off the path to love. The more bullish she gets, the more she is loved, showing that love is stronger. However, can Gabrielle embrace such love or will she remain blind to it? Her jealousy tinged each day and made me want to say, “Be thankful for what you have.” A lesson I need to learn myself!

I thought all I had to do was break the bands of sadness that held you prisoner.

Is it a page-turner?

Caryl McAdoo carefully constructed her novel keeping me dangling on the fishing line. She teased me making me want to read more. And it wasn’t only Gabrielle; there were many characters who pushed the story on around the campfire. Because I had read the first book in this series, everyone has a place in my heart. I wanted to know what happened to them and their families. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Their smiles all helped her to put more truth into hers.

I enjoyed the lessons this book teaches

There are lessons of forgiveness, trust, overcoming, and love. It gives a flavour of how life on the frontier would have been like for those Americans brave enough to venture forth. And they needed to be brave, and perhaps that is something we lack today. That pioneering spirit that in a way is blind to the full extent of what a ground-breaking move towards total trust is all about. We rely on the world instead of the great power of God.

Isn’t God good?

Was He? Was there really a giant spirit up there in the sky looking out for a fool like him?

I love this book and would like to give it 5 stars.

Thank you, Caryl, for writing Texas my Texas and putting such a strong message into story form. May it open readers eyes and banish their blind sight.

Caryl has a great GIVEAWAY at the bottom of my post, don’t forget to enter.

Click here to purchase your copy.

*I was given this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*

This book review was brought to you by Margaret Kazmierczak author of “How to Make Victoria Sponge” And a contributor to Heart”wings” devotional.

About the Book

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews texas my texas by Caryl McAdoo

Title: Texas my Texas

Author: Caryl McAdoo

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: February 11, 2019

He who puts his trust in God will possess the land and inherit the blessings.

Scripture tells a husband to love his wife, but what if she loves the memory of a dead man? Lured to the Texas frontier by more free land than they could ever buy, four families struggle to carve a home and a living out of the wilderness. And though love isn’t always easy coming, like bees to sweet flowers, a neighbor and his partner swoop in hoping to steal the hearts of the clan’s two young beauties. Will their infants spoil the ointment? Wild animals, Indians on the warpath, and living hand-to-mouth never make it easy, but my oh my—Texas my Texas! What a land!

About the Author

Margaret Kazmierczak reviews texas my texas by Caryl McAdooCaryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory which is what she lives to do. Her award-winning, best-selling novels enjoy a lion’s share of 5-Star ratings from Christian readers around the world. With thirty-eight titles, it’s obvious she loves writing almost as much as singing the new songs the Lord gives her—listen to a few at YouTube. She and high school sweetheart Ron celebrated fifty years of marriage in June 2018; they share four children and eighteen grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Guest Post from Caryl

It’s always good to give thanks. And I’m thankful for you! I appreciate you stopping by my awesome Celebrate Lit Blog Tour! I’m thankful for each of the bloggers who signed up to participate in the tour for my January release Texas My Texas, book two in my new Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga series! And I’m so thankful the Lord is blessing Celebrate Lit as Sandy Barela blesses so many Christian authors! She is deserving of all God’s best!

Quick preview of Book One – Gone to Texas

In Book One, Gone to Texas, I got seventeen souls to their new home in the Republic. Texas My Texas has all the same pioneers with a few new added as they establish hearth and home in the wooly, untamed Trinity River Bottoms of North Central Texas—which later in history, becomes the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. They’re settling in what now is Irving—my home for fifty-plus years.

Hot on the heals

Only a few months has passed for my characters, Book One ends in November, Book Two picks up in March, 1841. In real life, it’s been just that long since Book One launched, too! It debuted in September and Book Two launching now is also four months! Isn’t that fun? Originally, I’d planned a different January title but pushed it back a couple of months to release Texas My Texas on the heels of Gone to Texas.

Gone to Texas

In this new story, the two young women—Gabrielle and Isabel Harrell—elicit the attention of suiters who come calling even in the wild west territory. Thomas Baldwin (a neighbor introduced in Gone To Texas) has an eye for Gabrielle and uses many excuses to visit, including taking his friend Monroe Humble to the clan’s little settlement to meet the lovey, hardworking Isabel.

But Gabrielle is pining hard for her love back home and deals with pretty severe melancholy—what they called depression back in those days. In Texas My Texas, readers will spend time with the characters they came to love in Gone To Texas. As always, I pray my story gives God glory! And that readers will enjoy the new even better than the old! BLESSINGS!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book ImpressionsJanuary 12

The Mimosa Blossom, January 12

Inklings and notionsJanuary 13

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis & Christ Collide, January 14

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 15

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 15

Moments, January 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 16

Captive Dreams Window, January 17

Robin is Bookish, January 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 19

BigreadersiteJanuary 19

My Devotional ThoughtsJanuary 20

Bibliophile Reviews, January 20

Texas Book-aholic, January 21

Janices book reviewsJanuary 22

Margaret Kazmierczak, January 23

Carpe Diem, January 24

A Baker’s Perspective, January 25

Giveaway

Finished