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Friday, October 14, 2016

Forgiveness by Marriane Evans

This week, I want to give my review of a couple of really good books that you should check out.

The first is Forgiveness, by Mariane Evans. Here's a blurb about her book:


Country music bad boy, Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up-and-comer, Pyper Brock and instantly sparks ignite. Despite her rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation and soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. No way will Pyper make the mistake of falling for a man whose done battle with the bottle. What happens when Chase’s quest to win Pyper’s love breaks down chains of resentment and eases the long-buried wounds of her childhood? And what happens when Pyper’s father shows up in Nashville, clean, sober and seeking a chance to apologize? Can Pyper follow a pathway to peace when it comes to her father? Can she fully trust Chase? Above all, can a sin-damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness?

First, a little lesson on forgiveness and why it's so hard.

Forgiveness is a tough action for most humans. It doesn't come naturally, as we have a tendency to hold on to grudges. If we've been mistreated in any way, our natural psychological response is to protect ourselves from further mistreatment. Even from people who haven't hurt us yet. 

How do we do this?

It actually has a lot to do with type-casting/stereotyping. An example is the best way to get this point across. We're in a grocery store and we see a mom talking harshly to her child as they are checking out. We don't know what the situation is, whether the woman is a single mom at her wits end or just mean.

But what our brains tell us is that this mom is talking to her child just like this other mom we know...maybe our own. We might remember what it felt like to be in tears, only to have your mother, who is supposed to comfort you, tell you that she'll "give you something to cry about."

We immediately associate this mom in front of us in the checkout line with the mom of our past.

And BAM. We put up walls against this mother. We hold a grudge to protect ourselves. We might even crusade on behalf of the little girl, to save her from a fate as bad as our own. Anything not to face the music of our own traumatic past.

Marianne's book delves into this exact type thing. I loved the premise...forgiveness is something everyone struggles with. All walks of life, all classes of people. First impressions are sometimes so damaging that you don't get a chance for a second one. Traumatic experiences can color everything following them. This book is about overcoming all of that...which is hard!

Famous people have an even rougher road. When your life is in the public eye, and everything you do is under scrutiny, the pressure is immense. The very public nature of Chase's downfall and subsequent belief in Christ leaves him open and vulnerable to attack, from Christians and non-Christians alike. He has to wrestle with forgiving himself for his own sins. Pyper has to wrestle with forgiving the sins against her, as well as her own sins against others in the form of being unwilling to forgive. It's a tricky balance to achieve, but with Christ, all things are possible. 

This is the hope of Marianne's book, and my hope is that you'll give it a shot. The romance between Chase and Pyper won't make you regret it. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Love Everlasting...Julie Lessman at Her Finest!

Whenever a new Julie Lessman book comes out, I'm stoked. She's one of those authors who I will always pick up. I've read everyone of her books, and each time I finish, I set it down with a satisfied sigh. 

I want to give my review of her latest, in hopes that it'll do the same for you.

He sets hearts on fire.
She’s been burned by love.
Can hope survive the flames of the past?

School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Now focused more on her faith and her fiction, she vows the next time she falls in love, it will be safely—through the pages of a book.

Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. Abandoned as a baby, Sam was an orphan shuffled through the foster-care system, bitterly driven to prove he is worthy of love—the kind that lasts forever. Once he learns Shannon is a romance writer, he enlists her help in winning back his ex-girlfriend. She teaches him about faith and the true definition of love, and he soon discovers he’s been seeking it in the wrong place all along—and with the wrong girl. But can he convince a woman who's been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?

Julie's book is a fresh take on a tale as old as time...the bad boy and the good girl. There are always obstacles for this type of love, and Julie's got those in groves. But you gotta love it when you're surprised as those obstacles unfold. A Lessman book is never a foregone conclusion. 

As always, Julie's heroes are just as swoon-worthy as they are flawed. The hope that is thematic in her latest series is so impactful, because through her stories, you see how God still has a purpose for flawed people....a beautiful plan for each and everyone of us. No one is beyond redemption and reconciliation.

And as is signature for Julie, there are two things she doesn't shy away from:

1) Passion: Um...hello....let's be honest. We love this. The love between a married couple is sacred, not staid. Thank you Lord! And the struggle to remain pure between unmarried people is real. (Is it ever!)

2) Big Issues: Often these are only grazed upon, if not completely absent, from a lot Christian fiction. But not to Julie. To me, this makes her books more real--and more valuable, not only for Christian readers, but also to non-believers. 

You won't be sorry to read one of Julie's books. Just be warned...once you pick one up, you'll be immersed in the world she spins. You can find excerpts of her Daughters of Boston series, Winds of Change series, or Heart of San Francisco series here.

Thanks, Julie, for another great read. You never disappoint. :) 

Monday, November 9, 2015

No Interest in Love by Cassie Mae

I've had the pleasure of reviewing Cassie Mae's not-yet-released young adult book. I love a book where I have several laugh-out-loud moments, and this book was chock full of them.

Here's the Amazon description of No Interest In Love: An All About Love Novel (link contains my affiliate code):

When Jace Carver snags a minor part in his buddy’s zombie flick, he suddenly starts getting noticed all over the place. Even Hollywood megastar Carletta Ocean—known for her extensive “research” with her male co-stars—wants Jace for her new rom-com. The role could be a game-changer . . . if Jace nails the audition.

As Jace’s agent, Shaylene Kwak is all business, and isn’t about to let her favorite client blow this opportunity. Since their college years, Shay has been immune to Jace’s charm and rock-hard body. But long hours in close company have a way of wearing down even the best defenses, and when their platonic teasing turns into serious flirting, Jace and Shay are no longer able to resist what’s been right in front of them the entire time.

Shay knows Jace’s love-’em-and-leave-’em history with women. She’s not about to be just another notch in his belt. And it’s true, Jace has never wanted more than a one-night stand—until now. But at the end of the line, he’s got a choice: sleep with Carletta and seal the deal, or risk his career for a shot at true love with Shay.

This was a nice twist on the famous actor/Mary Jane storyline in that Jace isn't famous quite yet. Interspersed through the story, told entirely from Jace's viewpoint (until the epilogue), are little snippets of how he came to know Shay.

The premise sparkles with promise, as Shay, agent to the up-and-coming Jace, is determined to get him across country to an interview with a leading actress. Peril after peril befalls the two of them to the point where I really did laugh out loud and wondered..."What else could possibly happen to these two?"

I couldn't stop turning the pages to see how much more intimate they got. They already have a little of the comfy old shoe feel, but being in such close quarters definitely changes the dynamics. I love that Shay gets the parts of Jace he's most vulnerable about and doesn't want others to know. And I love how Jace avoids the word "adorable" to describe Shay, as that word comes loaded with emotions he doesn't want to deal with.

Cassie Mae is just one of those authors whose next book I'm going to read. Period.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Julie Lessman's Contemporary Isle of Hope Series Kicks off with Unfailing Love

I haven't been around in a looooong while, and I'll address that at a later date. But I am coming back, and I thought it fitting that the one author who could bring me out of obscurity is none other than the fabulous Julie Lessman.


In a departure from her signature historicals, Julie branched out with this contemporary novel set in Georgia, on the Isle of Hope, a land mass southeast of Savannah that becomes an island at high tide.

This book will speak to all demographics, because the issues dealt with are so prevalent in society. Anyone who's ever been estranged from their family, run away from problems, lost their faith or integrity, hurt a romantic partner or friend, went too far with their passion, had difficulty forgiving, aggressively retreated from regrets or perceived failures, suffered through the sickness of a child or marriage, lost themselves in workaholism or alcoholism to try to forget...these are just a sampling of the themes from Julie's new book Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love (Isle of Hope Series Book 1) (link contains my Amazon affiliate code).

This book had Julie Lessman's stamp all over it. Her brand of "Passion with a Purpose" is so unique to her, and so recognizable. She's self-publishing this book, but her fans (or those who haven't had the pleasure of reading one of her books yet) won't be disappointed. In fact, there was more overt spirituality in this book than any of her others, and I loved the way she seamlessly worked in healing for her characters through the unfailing love and grace of a Savior, who gives Hope a second chance.

Julie is a master at drawing readers into her books. She's got a storyline for older readers and for younger, features viewpoints of both men and women. Like the finishing bow on a gift, she wraps up every thread at the end save one. Even with this segue, her book doesn't have one of those unsatisfying endings that makes you wish you'd waited until all the books come out. Quite the contrary...I thought it one of her finest.

All for now...I'll be back soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

151 Must-Visit Writing Sites

 

Now Novel just released 151 sites that are a must-visit for writers, and I'm pleased that The Character Therapist made the cut! You can check out the entire list by clicking on the link below:

http://www.nownovel.com/blog/151-important-novel-writing-resources/

I found a lot of sites I hadn't visited before, so perhaps you will too!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Shock Value and Abandoned Teens

Dear Jeannie,

Oliver (aged 17) is – how should I put this – odd. He does things to intentionally make people feel uncomfortable. For instance, on the day that he met his only friend (a quiet, distant, and eccentric girl), Oliver ran a plastic knife across his throat, then coughed fake blood. His father killed his mother, so he obviously has a troubled past. His school therapist calls him mentally disturbed and unstable. I honestly have no idea if his behavior is realistic at all, and if it is, what could he be diagnosed with, and how would he interact with people?


Sincerely,
Unable to Diagnose 


Dear Unable to Diagnose,

There are people out there who love to go for shock value, and the more uncomfortable the reaction from others, the more it feeds into this behavior. He's more into the macabre, slitting his throat and coughing blood. If it's remotely realistic looking, then he's going to get an intense reaction. This would appear to be mentally unstable, but I don't know a lot about Oliver at this time. He might have a very good reason for doing what he's doing. Did he have a lot of attention growing up? Was he always told to blend into the background, that children are better seen, not heard? Would this be a reaction against this? As for diagnosis, he could have a simple adjustment disorder, depending on when his mother died or if something else traumatic had just happened. Does he have flashbacks to his father's murder of his mother? You haven't really given me enough to diagnose from. But while I haven't met or treated any personally, there are class clowns, if you will, who lean toward the darker side of comedy...so it's feasible. But we'd need to talk more.


Dear Jeannie -

Alice and her four companions are all around the age of 13-15 years old. They have been abandoned in a science facility, left there by the scientists who decided to look out for themselves rather than take care of kids. They are the only ones left who aren't dead already. They experience bouts of going hungry because there is nothing to eat, and fighting for survival in hopes of exiting the facility. They finally are rescued after about a month of living there. What would be the emotional repercussions for the abandonment, isolation, responsibility, and fear placed on these kids?  


SciFi Junkie


Dear SciFi Junkie,

What wouldn't be the emotional repercussions? The sky would be your only limitation. I'd believe that lack of trust would rank high on the list. Adults used and abused them as test experiments and then left them. Assuming that it's adults who find them, I'd believe that they would be mistrustful to a high degree. They'd also want to stick together, likely, even if they had arguments between themselves. This type of trauma could form an impenetrable bond between these teens. It's something they went through together, and understand together. They might be hoarders, constantly sneaking and stuffing food into pockets, not quite sure when they will see food again. This is survival mode. Some of the group would likely be more parental than the others. They'd show a large amount of caretaking, keeping law and order, etc. Others are going to be the rebellious acting out type. Think The Breakfast Club.  People assume roles that they think they are to assume. Leaders need followers and rule-breakers, etc. It's a broad question, for sure, and you have lots of room to run with it.


Got Questions? 

I might have answers. Anonymously leave your question in the comment section below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle. I'll post my answers in future Dear Jeannie columns.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Hallucinations and Angels

Dear Jeannie, 

Susan is a good girl, who survived the 60's without falling into drugs or too much social revolution. Mostly because the Dark Woman in the corner didn't like her leaving the house. Susan has enough crazy going on already in her family's home of locked doors and midnight fights, she doesn't need any new hallucinations. But she's come to a point where reality is pretty mixed up, which has led to her being institutionalized for an undiagnosed disorder (not schizophrenia, but close) in the spring of '71. What are some of the treatment options available for her? I'd like for her to get better, but a part of that healing will also involve an attraction to one of her doctors. I'd like for this to be mutual, but right now she's doing a lot of pacing, insomnia, and writing down the Dark Woman's orders so she can tear up the pages. Not mainstream appealing. What boundaries should I be careful of, to make sure that the healing and the relationship both remain stable and healthy? 

Caged in Connecticut



Dear Caged,

Some clarification would be needed to address this question. Is the Dark Woman indeed a hallucination? Does Susan actually see an apparition in the corner of her home? Hear this person talk to her and give orders? Or is this Dark Woman a part of Susan's own self? I'm trying to determine if she actually as dissociative identity disorder (which would have been called multiple personality disorder back then) rather than schizophrenia. However, assuming that she's just hearing and seeing the Dark Woman, as a hallucination, then she'd be institutionalized at the early 70s with schizophrenia, not an undiagnosed disorder. After some cursory research online, as schizophrenia in the 70s is not my specialty (lol!), I found a research paper in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry that discussed on page 160 [second full paragraph] an innovative method started in the 70s to treat schizophrenia that your doctor might just be a proponent of. Let me know what you think! He could be slipping her fish oil tablets to get better....


Dear Jeannie: 

In my book that I started years ago, and have worked on in an on-again, off-again fashion, I have dealt with an angel coming to check on the emotional health of angels who now live on earth. We discussed the main characters way back in the summer of 2009 (June/July time frame). One of the things my angel therapist has to do is counsel a human woman who is a school teacher who becomes involved both emotionally and physically with one of her students. This has been in the news several times, and I decided to make it part of the plot of my book. Can you help guide me with how you would provide therapy to this kind of woman, or at least point me to one of your blog posts that have dealt with this issue? I would be most appreciative. 

"Fictional Counselor"



Dear "Fictional Counselor,"

I remember the plot well. Thought it a most interested twist on angels. You didn't mention the age difference between the teacher and the student, but perhaps that is only secondary to the nature of your question. A few topics come to mind that I'd want to tackle with this woman, namely self-esteem, co-dependency, and healthy boundaries. I'm never surprised when poor decisions are trace back to low self-esteem and confidence. Likely, you'd have to have the angel therapist dig into the teacher's background. How did her dad treat her? Was her mom complicit in this treatment? I'd
probably do some transactional analysis stuff with her (look on my sidebar for all my posts dealing with that subject). The teacher received her view of men initially from her dad. Perhaps, if she had an abusive father, a younger male student was seen as less threatening, someone she could control and not be afraid of. These are just a few of the areas that I'd start with and I'd want to use talk therapy with her, perhaps some artistic pursuits to bring out the creative side of communication. I always let clients decide where we go, so it's a bit unusual of a question, but that's where my initial thoughts went. Hope that helps! Good luck.

GOT QUESTIONS?

I might have answers. Fill out the form below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle, and I'll answer them in future Dear Jeannie columns.