Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

It’s pronounced Mee gihn Dee muh ree uh. Or that’s what it sounds like when she says it. A lovely name to suit a lovely woman. This post has been a long time coming and I am so excited to share my friend with you. Megan is one of my Starbucks girlfriends, though there was the day we enjoyed a lunch together after the book signing of another author friend. As I recall, the conversation was much better than the food. 🙂

On April 1st, one of Megan’s dreams came true. Her debut novel, Searching For Spice, became available to the public, and she’s been busy doing book signings and celebrating ever since. I was lucky enough to be invited to her book launch party at the D & F Tower in downtown Denver. I happily met many of her friends and family including her husband, her agent, and several of her friends from the writing world. She looked so beautiful and poised as she made her way around the room greeting every guest and thanking them for coming to support her. It was a wonderful celebration.
I was immediately drawn to the cover of her book since pink is one of my favorite colors. But it was the storyline that kept my attention. The back of the book says, “Linda Revere longs to have a sizzling affair . . .

with her husband, a practical, no-nonsense community college science teacher. Unfortunately, life isn’t scripted, and nothing goes according to plan. From having a demanding boss and at times a frustrating job to helping her family and friends with their troubles, life seems to be preventing Linda from achieving her goal of an exciting and passionate marriage. Linda hopes God will answer her prayers to jazz up her marriage, but is she ready for what happens next?”

I loved that Megan’s characters were real and engaging. Though I’ve not yet reached the stage of life the main character Linda is in, I could relate to many of her frustrations. I too have had to learn to navigate the changing seasons of the marriage relationship, work in a job where I was poorly treated and overloaded, and watch a close friend suffer through deep pain in her own marriage. I’ve also shared some of the same joys Linda has; watching my children grow up and noticing the little changes in their personalities as they begin to make choices of their own, celebrating wacky occasions with girlfriends, and rediscovering the strengths of the man I married and love so dearly – even when he doesn’t “get me”. It’s hard to fight your way back from dissatisfaction in marriage, but Linda tackles the challenge with gusto. When life gets tough, she prays for help and falls back on her habit of spending time meditating on the word of God while sitting in her favorite chair. It reminds me of my own comfort rituals and how safe and restorative they are when life seems to spin out of control.

I always look for a common thread to hold onto when I read a novel. You know, something I can grasp as a reminder that we’re all a little bit alike and usually more than we think we are. This book’s thread was Linda and her daughter sharing tea, and their family enjoying Chinese take-out. These are a few of the pleasures in my life. I also loved that the family has some hard times, but they stick together and are stronger for it in the end.

There is so much more I could tell you about this book, but if I reveal it all then you wouldn’t have a reason to read it now would you? Here are a few things others have had to say about it:

“DiMaria’s debut novel shines with warmth and wisdom. Linda and Jerry’s marriage is realistic, and readers will be able to identify with and learn from their struggles. A sprinkling of humor and detailed secondary characters raise this novel a notch above the rest.”
Romantic Times Magazine ~ 4 1/2 stars!

“Be careful what you pray for . . . Megan DiMaria’s Searching for Spice is an entertaining tale of an Everywoman who yearns for the Extraordinary–as we all do on occasion. Filled with humor, zest, and real life, this charming romantic tale will charm and delight.”
~Angela Hunt, author of Doesn’t She Look Natural?

“Searching for Spice is a fantastic read that I couldn’t put down. With a grabbing main character, a cast of friends and family that makes things interesting, a storyline to keep the pages turning, and writing that brought both laughter to my lips and tears to my eyes, Searching for Spice is a novel not to be missed. I’m looking forward to reading more from this new author.”

“What a breath of fresh air. Megan DiMaria has a pulse on the Boomer generation. I love that a woman my own age is the main character – not just somebody’s mom. Linda’s thoughts and feelings so closely mirrored my own; I had to take a break to reflect on some of them. What insight!”
~ Jan Parrish, fellow writer and friend
Want a chance to win a signed copy of Megan’s book? Leave me a comment or email me to let me know you’d like to be entered in my drawing to be held this Friday morning. As an added bonus, I’ll put your name in the hat twice if you include a funny or romantic way you’ve tried to add a little spice to your own marriage or dating relationship.
The Revere family story continues in Megan’s next book, Out of Her Hands, due out in October 2008. Look for it in bookstores near you! Here’s Megan posing next to her book in a local Barnes & Noble. Can you imagine the thrill of seeing a book with YOUR name on it on the shelf of a major national bookstore? I am so happy for her success! For more information about Megan and her writing projects, visit her places on the web. To purchase her book online, click on the picture of the book above and it will take you to amazon.com or stop by your local bookstore and pick up a copy. Don’t forget about the drawing on Friday!

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Zoe, my official “pull a name out of a hat” girl, drew your name to win Tricia Goyer’s Generation NeXt Marriage! I’ll get the book to you asap.

I liked all the songs mentioned in the comments. Thank you to everyone who participated. All three of your comments were appreciated. 🙂 lol

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Don’t forget to enter to win Tricia Goyers book!  To enter for my drawing which will be held on Monday morning, April 7th, All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with either a title or a line from your favorite 80’s love song.  The contest will only run for 5 days. Tricia is also holding a contest on her blog:

Share your story and WIN a dinner for TWO to the restaurant of your choice! ($50 maximum) Tell us the story of how you and your spouse met. If you have photos, send those along, too! All the stories will be published on this blog. The winning story will be the one with the most comments…so tell your friends. A winning story will be chosen at the end of the blog tour and will be published in Tricia’s monthly newsletter!

Contest entry form for Generation NeXt Marriage blog tour!

Here is some bonus information for you from Tricia Goyer:

Five unique marriage challenges faced by Gen Xers and how to tackle them!

1. Gen Xers saw more divorces than successful marriages. The divorce rate doubled between 1965-1977 and Gen Xers were the victims. 40% of us spent time in a single-family home before age 16. We grew up in families with step-moms and half-siblings and living every other weekend with a different parent and faced the loneliness and alienation of our splintered families. As married adults, Gen Xers can meet their spouse’s need by speaking encouraging words, which are like gold stars to a Gen Xer’s heart — and by never using the D-word. As author Madeleine L’Engle once said, “There are a lot of marriages today that break up just at the point where they could mature and deepen.”

2. Without role models, many GenXers turned to music, movies and television for examples of healthy relationships. Now, we often model our relationships after television sitcoms. We are good at quick comebacks and sassy remarks, without taking time to consider the other person’s heart. We also want our problems wrapped up in thirty minutes or less! Instead, Gen Xers need to understand that unrealistic expectations can hurt our relationships. We also need to treat out spouses with honor and respect, even when we don’t feel like they deserve it.

3. Our teen relationships were intense and often included sexuality, leading to intense breakups and the resulting baggage. By the time many GenXers walked down the aisle, they’d experienced several “pretend-marriages.” Spouses can break free from these bonds when we realize the truth about love, the truth about emotions, and the truth about intimacy. It’s knowing that what we had in the past wasn’t love — and emotions don’t rule. True intimacy is choosing to share our hearts and our struggles with the one we’re committed to for life.

4. Gen Xers were starved for quality time, so they appreciate balance. Doing too much stresses us out. The first thing Gen Xers need to do is realize the impact of our faced-pace lives, and then make plans for peace. It’s cutting out things that won’t matter ten years from now and focusing on the things that will.

5. Gen Xers were labeled the “slackers” and the “grunge” generation. The generations before didn’t think we’d amount to much. Because of this, Gen Xers strive hard to prove themselves. We aren’t content just “living life,” we want to reach our full potential. Spouses can encourage each other to follow their heart dreams. This starts with asking your spouse out his/her dreams, then offering encouragement and support!

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Do you still find yourself humming the love songs of the 80s and 90s? Do you still believe that every marriage should be between soul mates? But — do you wonder how you can succeed at love and marriage when the generation you grew up in didn’t? Marriage isn’t what it used to be-it can be better than ever. If you are a Gen Xer, your marriage has challenges and potentials that no other generation has known. A Gen Xer herself, Tricia Goyer offers realistic help to achieve the God-honoring marriage you long for. She includes:

~Ways to protect your marriage despite the broken relationships modeled in your youth
~Stories, suggestions, and confessions from fellow Gen Xers facing the “What now?” question of real-life marriage
~Advice from the ultimate marriage survival guide: the Bible
~Stats, quizzes, sidebars, and study questions related to this “relationally challenged” time in history
~Practical helps for negotiating kids, work, sex, money, and dirty laundry-sometimes all in the same evening

If you are part of a generation of adults who don’t want to bow to their culture or live and love like their parents did — this book is for you.

The assignment for this blog tour was to choose one chapter and talk about what a difference it, or the principle in it, has made (or will make) in my own marriage. I had a hard time choosing which chapter to focus on because they are all great topics! It finally came down to the one I’m currently struggling with the most. So let me tell you a little about the book, then I’ll dig in to the principle that has and is changing me.

Each chapter begins with the title or lyrics of a song from the 80’s. I love that creative touch, and brings back memories. Music was a big influence. As Tricia said, “It defined our times. I quote them not because they have the answers, but because they reveal our questions. Within their lyrics lie the thoughts, longings, hopes, and confusion of an entire generation. And within God’s holy word are the answers we sought then and still seek now.” A lot of marriage books cover the topics found in Tricia’s book, but not many of them do so with a focus on the struggles specific to Gen Xers. BTW, in case you’re wondering if you fit this category, here’s a quick generation breakdown.

GI: Born 1900’s to 1920’s

Silent: Born 1920’s to 1940’s

Boomer: Born 1940’s to 1960’s

Xer: Born 1960’s to 1980’s

Millenial: Born 1980’s to 2000’s

To say that we’re the only ones to face these struggles in the ways Tricia portrays, would be a gross miscommunication. She simply delves into some of the unique or new challenges the Gen Xers faced that effect our marriages now. If you fit in the other categories, I would still encourage you to read this book and apply some of the principles that transcend the generation gaps.

I chose Chapter 6: Intimacy, which begins with Peter Gabriel’s song, “In Your Eyes” (…I am complete.)

I LOVE that song. While your first thought might be that this chapter is sexual in nature, it’s more about making heart connections that count. Tricia and I have something in common in that we were both sexually active at a young age. That has had a lasting effect on our relationships and ultimately our marriages. Tricia stated, “As a generation, we learned to exist on the surface but not go too deep.” For some that meant keeping a safe distance from others, guarding our hearts. For some that has meant giving of our bodies, but not our hearts or our souls. Sexual but not intimate. There is a difference. You can be sexual with someone without connecting on a deeper level and sharing who you really are in the inner most parts of yourself. Even non-sexual relationships, people you’re friends with, can know only a “surface you” and not your fears and hopes and dreams for your life. That’s been my struggle for years. This chapter helped me think through the causes of that struggle.

When I was growing up, I didn’t see intimacy exemplified in the married relationships around me. I saw sex, fighting, abuse, and manipulation, and even tolerance, but not intimacy. Whether it was taught to me or I just picked it up by proxy, I learned that intimacy was sex. And since I knew I wasn’t supposed to have sex (remember I did everything but that) there wasn’t much of a chance of me learning intimacy. It didn’t bode well for my future.

In my friendships, I hid who I was so people wouldn’t know how crazy things were in my family, and because I didn’t trust them to care for my heart. Since I’m a people person, I’ve never struggled with making friends. But having lots of friends is not the same as having intimate friends. I didn’t just have one best friend. The “I can tell you my deepest darkest secrets and know you’ll never tell a soul” kind of friend. I had been hurt so many times and dumped by friends for various reasons, so I slowly began building walls of protection around my heart. Yet there was a war going on within me. I knew a voice that kept telling me to trust anyway, love anyway, risk anyway. My deepest desire was for intimacy even though I didn’t understand what that was. I fought for transparency and being real – a fight that continues to this day. Without that fight in me, I would never have experienced intimacy with my husband or some of the friends I have that are so dear to my heart.

In Mike Mason’s book The Mystery of Marriage, he writes, “The wedding is merely the beginning of a lifelong process of handing over absolutely everything, and not simply everything that one owns but everything that one is. There is no one who is not broken by this process. It is excruciating and inexorable, and no one can stand up to it. Everyone gets broken on the wheel of love, and the breaking that takes place is like nothing else under the sun… That is the vulnerable place in all human relationships. What is on the line, always, with every person we meet, is our capacity to love and to be loved. But whereas in most other relationships our vulnerability in this respect can be hidden, more or less (and how expert we are at hiding it!), in the relationship of marriage it is this very quality of vulnerability that is exposed, exalted, exploited. And this is the thing that can prove to be too much for people, too much to handle. Many give up and run away, their entire lives collapsing in ruins. But even those who hang on face inevitable ruin, for they must be broken too.”

As someone about to celebrate a 15th anniversary, I can tell you that statement is bursting with an uncomfortable truth. People like their privacy and the safety net that it creates. But I long to be known and to know others, truly know them. That desire has made me want to forfeit privacy and reach for the realness of deep relationships and to “wear my heart on my sleeve.” Some of the phrases chosen to give us a word picture of what transparency in relationships is sound so sexual but are still so appropriate. Nakedly open and honest…bearing all…revealing myself…engaging…sharing myself. I aim to do and be all of those things. Sure, there is fear and sometimes it results in painful exchanges with those who don’t understand or respect my choosing to live that way. But I continue to risk and fight for authenticity.

How does this translate to my marriage? I asked Benny this morning if he thought we were open in our marriage. His answer didn’t completely surprise me. He said it depends on what we’re talking about. We can talk about the easy stuff in life, but we tend to avoid some of the harder stuff. He said sometimes he’s afraid to bring up the hard stuff because I fight with him instead of simply having a discussion about it. ouch. He’s knows me so well. So now I know what I need to work on. I want true intimacy in my marriage, and if there is something standing in the way of that, I want to destroy it. I appreciate Tricia addressing this topic with candor and wit, and encouraging me to remove the layers, whatever they may be, to reveal my true self to my husband. I take that as an invitation to do the same with my friendships.

I am holding a contest on this blog as well as my Sex, Love, and Marriage blog, to win a copy of Tricia’s book. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with either a title or a line from your favorite 80’s love song. Sounds fun and easy, right? The contest will only run for 5 days beginning today, April 3rd and ending Monday, April 7th.Tricia is also holding a contest on her blog:

Win a date with your spouse (whoohoo) Love Gen X Style!

Share your story and WIN a dinner for TWO to the restaurant of your choice! ($50 maximum) Tell us the story of how you and your spouse met. If you have photos, send those along, too! All the stories will be published on this blog. The winning story will be the one with the most comments…so tell your friends. A winning story will be chosen at the end of the blog tour and will be published in Tricia’s monthly newsletter! (Just think, you’ll be famous!)

Contest entry form for Generation NeXt Marriage blog tour!


For more information about Tricia Goyer and her other projects, check out her spaces on the web.




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Evidently I think this is who I am. I have really over committed myself this week and I’ve done a poor job of managing my time. Where does that leave me? I’m going to bed before 10 p.m. (You’re gasping, aren’t you Jan?) I’m turning into my dad…or my husband. yikes. I’m so tired I can barely type. So why am I still typing you ask? Good question. I wish I could remember. Oh yeah. To tell you that I’ve once again signed on to be part of a blog tour. Join me tomorrow so I can tell you about the book, Generation NeXt Marriage: The Couple’s Guide To Keeping It Together by Tricia Goyer. I’m a Gen Xer and thought this book sounded interesting, especially since it was written for my generation.

I am holding a contest on this blog as well as my Sex, Love, and Marriage blog, to win a copy of the book. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with either a title or a line from your favorite 80’s or 90’s love song. Sounds fun and easy, right? The contest will only run for 5 days beginning tomorrow, April 3rd and ending Monday, April 7th. If you think that’s fun, this is straight from the blog tour host site:

Oh…and you can win a date with your spouse (whoohoo) Love Gen X Style!

Share your story and WIN a dinner for TWO to the restaurant of your choice! ($50 maximum)

Tell us the story of how you and your spouse met. If you have photos, send those along, too! All the stories will be published on this blog.

The winning story will be the one with the most comments…so tell your friends. A winning story will be chosen at the end of the blog tour and will be published in Tricia’s monthly newsletter! (Just think, you’ll be famous!

Contest entry form for Generation NeXt Marriage blog tour!

See you tomorrow! 🙂

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Confession time. I signed up for this blog tour to promote one of my favorite chick lit authors and then life got all crazy on me. I’ve been beating myself up for not finishing the book before my assigned date on the tour and…I didn’t quite make it. But, I WILL finish it and I can still promote Susan May Warren’s books because I LOVE them. I haven’t read one yet that didn’t have me laughing loudly in public, still and silent-quickly turning the suspenseful pages, nodding my head in sympathy, or pondering the deeper truths learned by her characters and eloquently passed on to me through the pages in my hands. Susan is an amazing author and one funny woman.


Chill Out, Josey! is the sequel to Everything’s Coming Up Josey. You have to read both – they are hilarious and lighthearted, yet are filled with characters and life situations you can relate to. That’s what I love about good chick-lit and mom-lit, and Susan is a master at both. It took me less than 2 pages to laugh when reading each of these books.


It’s just a year. One year in Russia. Russia? But this Minnesota girl knows all about cold and she’s ready for her big adventure serving God in Moscow. But is Moscow ready for her? And what about the man she left behind? It’s not just about shoes and looking good in a shopka. Really.

Read the first chapter: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/c1_everythingsComingUpJosey.html



Russia? Not again. Josey’s finally living the good life – she’s got the man, the (almost-perfect) wedding, the two-story Cape-Cod house of her dreams. That is until her man drags her back to Moscow! Josey knows she has the guts to follow her own dreams across the world, but she’s not so sure she can play the perfect wife while her husband chases after his. Josey’s set on having the perfect life…even in a world without hot water, decent take-out and size-two leather fashion. But can she find the courage to tell her man the secret that will change their lives forever?

Read the first chapter: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/c1_chillOutJosey.html

Here’s what the author had to say about these two books:

“Why don’t you write your life story?” During my eight years as a missionary in Russia, friends from all over the world, in response to my letters, would pose that question. I’d shrug, saying….I’m not sure how to do it.

Fast forward three years. Chick lit is beginning to hit the shelves. An insightful editor at Steeple Hill challenged me to try my hand at this new genre. I thought –what would I have to write about– missionary stories?

Thankfully, she had vision, and when I proposed an idea about a single missionary headed to Moscow for a year, she embraced it. Finally I’d found a venue for my story…although fictionalized…mostly.

I laugh that finally, I got to write about all the fallacies, all the frustrations, and all the foolishness of being a freshman missionary. Mostly, I got to write about the one thing that God taught me – that He’d been at work in my life to bring me to this place, and the places beyond, all my life. And that I didn’t have to be perfect. I just had to surrender and trust.

Just like Josey.

And in Chill Out, Josey!, I let the adventure continue with more of my hilarious (at least I think so!) adventures as a pregnant woman navigating the bus, the subway and most of all LIFE in Russia. I hope you’ll laugh (and cry!) with me/Josey as she tries to figure out just how to stop worrying about life…and just learning how to CHILL OUT, JOSEY!

Here’s the really fun part. Susan is holding a contest for all readers who join her on this tour. (If you just read this post, you’re eligible.  If you’re a guy and still reading this, kudos…and win this for your wife by sharing one of her stories.  You may want to get permission first. lol) To enter, fill out the contest entry form with your funniest/craziest/most embarrassing PREGNANCY STORY and hit submit. You will be entered to win a Super Fabulous, Ultra Deluxe Chill Out, Mom SPA BASKET! and subscribed to Susan’s private newsletter mailing list! This is also where you’ll find several links to other writer/reader friends who are blogging about Josey this month.


More links to Susan’s world:

Susan’s website: www.susanmaywarren.com

Susan’s blog: http://susanmaywarren.typepad.com/scribbles/

Susan’s other books: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/novels.html

Did I mention that I’ve met her and she encouraged my socks off? I’m happy to point you in her direction!


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I’m still receiving “helpful” articles about The Golden Compass from friends far and wide. It appears some of my friends are concerned with my apparent lax on Christian virtues and beliefs and their being attacked by this “atheist heathen”. ~sigh~ I have had more scripture quoted at me in the past two weeks than I have in the last year. I’m talking directly at me – not while I sit in church. It’s hard not to want to throw my hands in the air and scream “give me a freaking break!” I’m trying to hold my tongue and reign in my emotions and come at this topic with probing eyes and not just spout off a bunch of pious platitudes.

I have questions…lots of questions. Deep faith questions that require exploration and examination of what I’ve read, been taught, always believed, and do not fully understand. The only thing this has to do with Pullman is that the controversy surrounding his books and the movie have catapulted me into a place of defining more clearly who I am and what I am about as a follower of Christ. I have begun to dislike using the word Christian to describe myself because it so often shuts down conversations with those who have been hurt by Christians. Part of who I am is being a woman that God has invited in to love on people who have been spit on by the world – including being spit on by Christians, and wounded Christians themselves. It makes me more careful with my choice of words. But it seems my choice of words is also getting me into trouble.

So the conversation continues…not because I want to get everyone on my side and think as I do, but because I still want to get you thinking. So these are some of my questions that I’ve been thinking about. I encourage you to ask yourself the same things. Don’t just give a flippant answer of what you’ve always thought and believed. Ask yourself why you would answer the way you would. Put some thought into it, then feel free to share a few of them here. Ready?

  1. What does it mean to be a follower of Christ?
  2. Does it mean that everyone who is has to have the same core beliefs? If so, what are they?
  3. What does it mean when we can’t agree on what the core beliefs are?
  4. Can two believers be convicted by different things?
  5. Can two believers be convicted by different things when the focus is on the same subject?
  6. How should I handle conflict when I disagree with another believer about a conviction?
  7. Can we still be friends, or have I just made an enemy or lost my witness with them?
  8. Is it my responsibility to make someone choose Christ?
  9. If someone hasn’t made that choice yet, what is my responsibility then?
  10. What does it mean that it takes some longer than others to make that choice – if they ever do?
  11. How should I treat someone that hasn’t or doesn’t want to choose Christ?
  12. How do I show compassion towards others?
  13. Can I choose to look for God and his message in all things?
  14. What do I do if I find Him in something not meant to be about Him?
  15. What do I do if I can’t find Him in something not meant to be about Him?
  16. What do I do if I can’t find Him in something meant to be about Him?
  17. What is the difference between dialog and debate?
  18. Is it my job to change people’s minds if they don’t agree with me?
  19. What is the proper way to handle being told I’m not really a Christian?
  20. Who is my enemy?
  21. What is judgment and how often am I guilty of doing it to others?
  22. What is the phrase, “causing your brother to stumble” really about?
  23. What is the meaning behind the scripture about whether or not it’s o.k. to eat meat sacrificed to idols?
  24. What is fantasy/fiction and is it o.k.? (Fantasy as in characters and situations that don’t exist in our world)
  25. Is it o.k. to think about things through the lens of fantasy fiction that wouldn’t be o.k. in real life? (magic, ghosts, witches, etc)
  26. What does it mean to explore life, human nature, spirituality, and how they are intertwined?
  27. If I’m displeasing to another believer does that mean I’m displeasing to God?
  28. Is it o.k. to have questions about and struggle with faith?
  29. What kind of spirit did God give me and why?
  30. Are my sins covered by Jesus’ blood or not?
  31. Can they be uncovered once they’ve been covered ?
  32. What does it mean to work out my salvation with fear and trembling?
  33. What do I look like to other believers?
  34. What do I look like to unbelievers?
  35. Am I loving as Jesus loved?
  36. Do I have the right or responsibility to rebuke the pharisees around me?
  37. Is that a form of judgment?
  38. Why is it important to me to dialog with other believers?
  39. Am I surface or am I deep?
  40. What am I doing to bring the kingdom of God to those around me?

~deep breath~

That’s a lot, I know. I had a good cry on Saturday while mulling these things over and talking to Benny. Both always make me feel better. Talk about releasing emotion! O.K. play along…it’s your turn.

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