Two ‘fer Tuesday: Take A Chance On Me

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren is a gem. Her characters are so real, I expected to look up and see Darek swaggering into my living room, dusty and sooty and asking for Tiger. Instead I got a limping cat who begged for more food, took one sniff, and stalked away.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Take a Chance on Me. 

Darek Christiansen has his hands full taking care of his five-year old son and running the family resort on Lake Evergreen, outside of Deep Haven, Minnesota. He has no time for dating and especially no inclination for romance since his wife was killed in an accident three years ago.

Ivy Madison is new to Deep Haven and she’s already in love with the small community and planning to live there forever. She’s blessed to get a job as an assistant county attorney and is looking forward to making new friends. Her first night in town she stumbles into a bachelor auction / fundraiser. And ends up with a surly and uncommunicative date for the evening. Ivy’s new boss reminds her that Deep Haven is a small town and she might not love it quite so much when she has to bring charges against an acquaintance. Or even a friend. It’s a warning she comes to appreciate as she grows closer to Darek and his son, Tiger, when Tiger’s grandparents charge Darek with child endangerment. Ivy knows the truth but if she intercedes, she ‘ll lose Darek. But if she doesn’t, she could lose her job and her new community. 

There’s a richness of character and story that Susie layers into her novels and Take a Chance on Me is especially deep. She explores themes of forgiveness and mistakes and regrets.

I love that this book drew me in from the very first page. I love the Christiansen family and I can see why Ivy fell in love with Darek’s family before she even knew them all.

I’m honored to be a part of Susan May Warren’s 2013 Kick Off Team. That means I get her newest books early! I’m a big fan and was looking forward to her latest Deep Haven novel, Take a Chance on Me. Unlike the other stand alone Deep Haven books, this one is the first in a series about the Christiansen family. Characters from other Deep Haven novels make cameo appearances and it’s fun to feel like I’m keeping in touch with them all.

I posted a picture last week of the actors Susie had in mind while creating each character, so scroll back or click here for a look at Darek and his family.

A fellow reviewer is giving away a free copy here:  The Koala Bear Writer: Book Review: Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren

Book Talk Tuesday: Embrace Me by Lisa Samson

I believe Lisa Samson is one of the most relevant and provocative writers of Christian fiction today.

embrace me


Her books continually challenge and inspire me and Embrace Me  is no different.

I’d had it on my Kindle for quite a while and delayed reading it for several reasons.

  • I knew I’d be hooked from the beginning.
  • The cover didn’t entice me – it reminded me a bit of Water for Elephants (which I liked) and I was afraid it would be derivative of that novel.
  • The subject matter sounded too dark: a circus freak show.

I was right about one of those. I was hooked right away. And, by the way, Embrace Me is nothing like Water for Elephants. Some of the characters do make their living by exhibiting their differences in a freak show, but they are all so much more than the sum of their oddities and differences.

It’s hard to write a review of this one without giving away too many spoilers.

Drew Parrish is a pastor with big ambitions. His church is large and growing.

Daisy is one of Drew’s parishioners and he believes the two of them can rock the world. For Jesus. Mostly.

Valentine’s face was burned by acid and she’s retreated from the world to hide behind scarves when she’s not at work as the Lizard Woman.

Gus is a street preacher trying to get to know the Valentine behind the scarves.

Their paths cross with Charmaine Hopewell from Samson’s novel Songbird in a lovely and uncontrived way.

I highly recommend this book, but only if you’re willing to have your perception of what it means to be a “good” Christian challenged and maybe even upset.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

We’ve been home about two weeks now from our trip of a lifetime.

We loved it all. We got two weeks with our daughters and granddaughters, just missed our son-in-law. We spent a week with various other family and friends. We swam, snorkeled, sailed, ate, worshiped, hiked, watched cliff divers, saw waterfalls, ate poi and coconut milk ice-cream. I could go on and on.

Some highlights:

arrival copy  Our arrival with a lei greeting at the airport.

swimming copySwimming at the house.

beach copy A beautiful beach on Kauai

whale copy Whale watching

dessert copy Yummy food, including this gorgeous “pearl” dessert at Mama’s Fish House on Maui.

A true highlight for me was the Easter Sunday service we attended at Kihei Hope Chapel. We attended church there 4 of our 5 Sundays on the island. We also visited Waipuna Chapel upcountry and enjoyed it very much too. Hope Chapel was near our house so we became vacation regulars there. On Easter Sunday the offertory was a worship hula that was amazing. I’ve never been a fan of worship dance. It seemed more like a performance than a worship to me, but the hula was pure worship. I could listen/watch/worship with them every week.


I also had the opportunity to chat with Robin Jones Gunn. She’s my daughters’s favorite author from their teen years. I’ve met her at writer’s conferences and arranged to “bump into” her with my girls. Then she invited me to join her at a book club discussion about one of her books, Sister Chicks on the Loose. I had a great time and really enjoyed the discussion that touched on some of what I talked about last week. Fear. Adventures. Girl friends. It was a really fun time and I felt blessed to be included.

All in all, it was a good trip. I didn’t feel homesick for either my dog or my pillow. We were so busy that I didn’t have time to miss anyone.

It was everything we hoped and prayed for.

Thank you, God.

P.S.: Today is my birthday. I have a free book for the first person to comment below. And another free book for a random number that I’ll ask my husband for tomorrow. Please comment!


Author Spotlight: Susan May Warren

It’s no secret I’m a big Susan May Warren fan.

I got my hands on an early copy of her newest release, Take A Chance On Me.  

Susie’s Deep Haven series has been more of a bunch of loosely related books. Loosely related because they all took place in the fictional town of Deep Haven, Minnesota. Characters from one book would occasionally pop up in another story but she never gave away too much of the other book mentioned. 

Take A Chance on Me is the first of a series about a Deep Haven clan, the Christiansons. 

Warren put together these pictures of who she sees as her characters. Or who they look like. I’ve read Take A Chance On Me and I’m okay with these pictures. Stay tuned for a real review and a chance to win a Susan May Warren book!



Woe! It’s Wednesday

Adventure: In the eye of the beholder?


When we were on vacation in Maui last month, I had the opportunity to go zip-lining. Several friends had been and talked about how fun it was, so I agreed to go.

I was terrified the whole time.

But I did it. I didn’t cry, scream, or beg for my mommy although all of those crossed my mind while I was flying through the air attached to a singing cable.

I might do it again. zip But I’d like to do one a little less ambitious to get my confidence back.

A couple weeks later my husband and I and friends were discussing what adventure we wanted to book next. We all wanted to kayak down a Kauai river and were searching for the best excursion. Stud Muffin pointed at me and said, “You’re the adventurer so choose the one you want to go on.” kayak

EEEERRRRTTTT!!! Stop the zip line and back it up.

I’m the adventurous one??

I don’t think so.

On the other hand, I also don’t like to sit on the sidelines and hear about others’ adventures. That’s why I’ve done some scary things, like riding a bike down a volcano, taking BART into San Francisco when I didn’t know where I was going, and baking bread from scratch.

One of my daughters once told me that she likes that I’m up for anything, I’ll give it my best shot. That’s true. But it’s because I’m afraid of being left out! Not because I’m bold.

I’m not brave or daring or a thrill seeker. I have no desire to parachute from a plane or bungee jump. Knitting with four double tip needles is as daring as I’m comfortable being.

But isn’t that the point of an adventure? To get out of your comfort zone. To challenge yourself. To be able to point back and say, “Yeah, I did that.”

So if anyone wants to think of me as adventurous, that’s okay with me.

Look at the picture above of the person hanging by a thread over the trees. Yeah. I did that.

I guess I am a little bit adventurous after all.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Perspective

I was reminded today of one of my favorite legends.

I’ve heard it told as an anecdote about the prophet Elijah, King Arthur’s Merlin, and an unnamed wise man. I’ll use Elijah because I want to.

Elijah and his aide were journeying through a kingdom. They stopped at a rich man’s home and asked for shelter for the night. The rich man sent them to his barn and tossed them some pig slop for dinner.

The next morning, Elijah thanked the rich man and paid for a local tradesman to repair his crumbling wall. 

That night they lodged with a poor couple who shared their home and food freely, including plenty of milk from their only cow.

The next morning, the cow died.

As Elijah and his assistant continued on their journey, the younger man became angry with God and demanded Elijah tell him why the rich man was allowed to treat them so poorly and have his fence mended while the generous poor couple had to lose their cow.

Elijah sighed. “What you don’t know is that there was a vast treasure buried in the rich man’s wall. I had it repaired so he wouldn’t find it and become more greedy and selfish. It had been decreed that the poor woman would die that night, but in appreciation for the hospitality, God took the cow instead.”

I love that there’s more going on here that we don’t know. That it all comes down to trust. Trust and obey. Hey, I hear a song coming on…

Oh. Anyway, I remind myself of this story when things happen that I can’t make sense of.

Sometimes I forget that God is in charge and I’m not Him. He has his reasons. He is sovereign. He knows what’s needed and what’s best. I trust Him.

I do.


Thanks, I needed to be reminded that I do.

Book Talk Tuesday: Full Disclosure

Ann Silver is a “cop’s cop.” She’s the officer called in to consult on the hard to solve cases throughout the mid-West. Paul Falcon is a top FBI agent. They meet when Ann works a case and uncovers evidence on one of Paul’s longtime aggravations: a female assassin who’s eluded capture for a decade.

Full DisclosureAnn brings the evidence to Paul and they discover they have many friends in common. Paul is intrigued by Ann and pursues a relationship with her. She isn’t as sure as he is, but she allows them a friendship to see where it leads.

Meanwhile, two other cases consume their time and attention. Then their interests and their cases intersect.

I’ve been a rabid Dee Henderson fan since I picked up my first O’Malley book. I devour them all. I was so looking forward to this one. So perhaps it’s my own fault. I gave it an impossibly high bar to reach. It’s probably not the books nor the author’s fault that for me, this one didn’t quite measure up.

It’s well written. But it just felt flat to me. Part of it is the character of Ann Silver. She’s too perfect. The woman has no flaws. She’s a hotshot consultant. Everyone LOVES her and gushes about how fabulous she is. She’s an ace pilot with friends at every airport in the country. Sure, she’s a lousy cook and she has nightmares. Maybe it’s just me, but I had a hard time feeling anything for her.

Paul is nearly as perfect. Adopted into an already large family, he wears the inherited mantle of eldest son well. He’s intrigued when he meets Ann and questions his friends and family members to learn what makes her tick. He moves their relationship along as calculatingly as if he were spreading a noose for someone on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

As many friends and family member as Ann and Paul had in common, someone would have introduced them long before Ann flew into Chicago to tell Paul a story.

I’ll read more by Dee Henderson, but I’ll be sure to hold the bar a little lower. That way I won’t be disappointed again.