Friday, February 20, 2015

Jami's Words Has Moved!

It's time to say goodbye to Blogger. I've been working on moving my blog to Wordpress, and today is the official launch. I hope that you'll join me at the new website and that you'll continue reading my blog.

I hope to have new thematic posts and have a giveaway planned for the future. Thank you for reading Jami's Words, and I hope you'll move on over to Wordpress and continue reading my thoughts over there! Click the image below to see the newly launched Jami's Words!

http://www.jamiswords.com

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Stitch in Crime - a Litfuse review

A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott
Series: Quilts of Love
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (January 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 142677365X

Book Description

Thea’s first quilt show is coming apart at the seams!

Thea James has accepted an assignment as co‑chairperson for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she’s already feeling frayed when things start to unravel.

Mary‑Alice Wentworth, a much‑loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea’s dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick‑off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds?

When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears, Larkindale’s reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town’s investment in the quilt show before Mary‑Alice is attacked again . . . with far worse results.

My Thoughts
A Stitch in Crime is a cozy mystery. I'm fairly new in my appreciation of cozy mysteries, so when I found out this one was one, I was looking forward to it. The book definitely had its share of mystery, as well as some humor and only a little romance. However, the character development felt a little weak to me, and the secondary characters didn't have as much description about them to compensate all of the involvement that they had. I just felt like they could've been more developed for a more real feel, in my opinion.

I enjoyed the humor. I'm a bit on the corny side, so the humor fit right in for me. But the mystery side just felt a little too relaxed--not enough spunk to it to keep me tuned in on the action. However, for readers who prefer a more relaxed side would enjoy this book, I believe. I'm not big on heavy duty blood and gore, don't get me wrong. It just felt a little too light for me.

About the Author
Author and speaker Cathy Elliot nourishes her night‑owl habit by creating cozy mysteries and more on her trusty laptop in Anderson, California. Like the protagonist in her new mystery, Cathy is an avid quilter. Besides collecting (too much) cool fabric, she also enjoys hunting for antique treasures.
Find out more about Cathy at https://cathyelliottbooks.wordpress.com/.

I've been given a copy of A Stitch in Crime by Litfuse Publicity Group, in exchange for my honest review. 
My opinions are my own.

 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It Comes Out Even

Spring cleaning, pain. Pain, spring cleaning. They come hand-in-hand with people who experience chronic pain. And ok, while it's certainly not spring, I have to clean when the mood hits. And when the mood hits, I usually get knee-deep in stuff before it's all said and done. This last month has been no different.

It all began with just being so frustrated with clutter. The five of us live in a 1,200 sq. ft. home. It's not easy sometimes. We feel like we're walking on top of one another, especially when it's time for dinner and my husband decides to unload the dishwasher while I'm preparing dinner. *grin*

I began my massive declutter-fest last fall when we began replacing flooring, painting, and buying new furniture. I regularly purge clutter, but I'd been resistant with some items. Decorative items that collected dust, kitchen items shoved in my already-filled cabinets, and books on shelves, under beds, in closets, and in the building. My grandmother was a hoarder of books, and I am too. Ridding my house of excess books felt like losing a best friend. Getting rid of the books was painful.

When I clean, it's painful, too. Physically. And now here I am again, until things calm down and I come out of the fog.

As someone who deals with chronic pain (namely, costochondritis, in my case), there are certain things that I cannot do that really cause it to flare in a big way.

The Red Zone
I've provided pictures for which I've highlighted my targeted bad zones. (Please excuse the poor shading--I'm on a new laptop and haven't installed Photoshop yet. Yay, Microsoft Paint!) My pain is mainly in the area of the sternum, though I have muscle pain and aching that presents itself all over my ribs. In the front, my lower three ribs are very sensitive and have been for most of my life. I remember having pain as a teenager and feeling the dig of the wire from my bra rubbing against my ribs during PE in high school. It was utter agony. I just thought that it was something everyone experienced.

Like I mentioned, I also have a lot of muscular pain that is involved as well. That was verified by a massage therapist a couple of years ago when I was in agony and decided to try a month of massage therapy. I brace my body a lot when I am tense, so I believe that my pain is magnified because of that. I often will wake up with my hands in fists, my shoulders raised, my chest clenched tight. Bracing.... due to a constant state of fight or flight. Not good. I need to get back into daily relaxation to lower my cortisol levels.

I also have pain in my back, mostly located in the area of my spine, specifically in the center of my back. Massage greatly helps the pain here, unlike massage on my chest wall. Heat also works well on my back and neck. I have a massage/heat pad that I often rest against that provides a lot of relief when I've had a bad flare-up.


What causes a flare?
Lifting heavy things causes a big flare-up for me, as does pushing anything heavy. Exercises requiring bearing weight on my arms, such as push-ups or arching my back puts pressure on my sternum and can cause a massive flare-up that lasts for weeks.

So, what now?
So, cleaning is a no-no if I don't want to experience a flare of costochondritis. But life doesn't stop, and I refuse to stop. There are days when I wish I could just hang out in my recliner with my massage/heating pad on my back and rest, but I've got three children. Not to mention, inactivity makes things worse. If I do nothing, I cause the problem to accelerate, so resting for too long is actually counter-intuitive.

While I wait for the newest flare to calm down and recede to normal levels of pain, I'll just bear it, and try not to brace against it! After all, I've got three great reasons to push forward and keep going, right? It always evens out in the end.

Now, I'd like to ask you: do you suffer from chronic pain? What flares your problem? What helps you? Let me know in the comments section! 

If you want to know more about costochondritis and my history with it, click on "Costochondritis" at the top of the page underneath my blog title.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Masterpiece Marriage - a Litfuse Review

Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn
Series: Quilts of Love
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (December 16, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426773633

Read Chapter 1 here! Click on "Excerpt" to download and read.

Book Description
He wants to save his business. She wants to be a professor. But are they asking for more than they can really have?

After a flood damages the looms at Zenus Dane’s Philadelphia textile mill and the bank demands loan payment, Zenus turns to his aunt for help repurposing his textiles. Trouble is . . . his aunt has already been hired by the lovely yet secretive Englishwoman Mary Varrs.

Eager to acquire his aunt’s quilt patterns, Zenus attends the summer Quilting Bee, a social event his aunt has uniquely designed with the secret purpose of finding Zenus a wife. However Zenus only has eyes for Mary, but Mary has no such desire for him.

Though his aunt is determined to design a masterpiece marriage, both Zenus and Mary will have to overcome their stubborn ways. Can he realize that love requires stepping out of his routine? And will she recognize that following her heart doesn’t mean sacrificing her ambition?

My Thoughts
Set in the late 1800s when America was going through big changes in industry, women's rights, and breakthroughs in science and knowledge in general, this was a book that I truly enjoyed! I haven't read very many books set in this time period, and it has been a pleasure to plunge into that time!

Zenus Dane's textile factory was horrifically damaged by flooding. His business future loomed very grim, until he decided to reconnect with his Aunt Priscilla in the hope that she can help him come up with a quilt pattern that he can market to try to salvage his loss.

Mary Varrs is Aunt Priscilla's neighbor. Mary, who is working diligently to become a professor, becomes part of Aunt Priscilla's plot to find her nephew a wife. Mary wants none of that. And really, neither does Zenus.

The story matter in this story was really very fresh and out-of-the box. Women's suffrage, botany, textile mill--all of those combined into a novel centered around a quilting theme. Love it!

The characters were enjoyable. I found myself laughing quite a bit and definitely felt drawn in continually. 

Loved this read, and I would highly recommend it!



 
About the Author
Gina Welborn is the author of several novels and novellas, including The Heiress’s Courtship. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers; the president of Faith, Hope and Love; and one of the founding members of InkwellInspirations.com. She lives in Cache, Oklahoma, with her pastor husband and their five children. Visit her online at GinaWelborn.com.



I've been given a copy of Masterpiece Marriage by Litfuse Publicity Group, in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Swept Away - a Litfuse review

Swept Away by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven
Series: Quilts of Love
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (November 18, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1426773625

Read Chapter 1 here! Click on "Excerpt" to download and read.

Book Description
Sara doesn’t think she wants love. But her grandmother has other plans.

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but his heart is as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between Drew and his new employer’s granddaughter.

Still, it doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts researching him online. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever.

My Thoughts
I have read some truly enjoyable books in the Quilts of Love series. This book is one of those. Reading is a passion, and while my life has been a bit more chaotic than I'd like lately, I try to get in as much reading as I can. Books like this one make my free time (which is already extremely limited) pleasurable.

The books in this series are quick reads (a couple of hours if I my children allow me uninterrupted time ;) ), and are centered around a quilting theme. The characters in this novel are Sara Jane Morgan, a school teacher on summer break, and Andrew Stevenson, a handyman and artsy broom maker. Sara Jane's grandmother Sari has decided, upon meeting Andrew at a craft fair, to set her granddaughter up with him. She hires Andrew to do some home repairs at her house, while Sara Jane spends her days helping Sari go through quilt squares to assemble a quilt. Andrew and Sara Jane are not attracted to each other and buck against Sari's feeble attempts to bring them together. But when Sari starts having some problems, Andrew and Sara Jane are united in helping the elderly woman and find themselves more accepting of each other.

The authors do a wonderful job of sketching the characters, and the scenes were well constructed. However, I found a little annoyance at the characters' treatment of one another. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't read it, but there's a bit of back and forth annoyance between Andrew, Sari the grandmother, and Sara Jane. Also, there's a bit of story that I'd have liked to have seen fleshed out a bit more--I feel like this story could have continued or been drawn out more, because of the weighty background stories of the characters.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to others who enjoy some light reading!

About the Authors
Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning author and a professional book reviewer. A stay-at-home mom and home school teacher, Laura lives with her family in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

Cindy Loven is active in the church and writes from her home in Conway, Arkansas, where she lives with her husband and their son.
 
 
 
 
 
I've been given a copy of Swept Away by Litfuse Publicity Group, in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Most Inconvenient Marriage - a Regina Jennings Launch Team review

A Most Inconvenient Marriage
Paperback:
336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 2, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764211404


Book Description
Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.
Most Inconvenient Indeed.

With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?


My Thoughts
Historical romance is one of my favorite genres. When it's coupled with an inspirational theme, I'm on it! When I had an opportunity to review Regina Jennings' newest novel, I jumped on board. There's nothing that I appreciate more than a well-written novel and characters who seem life-like. Jennings accomplishes both of those. She's an author who, although she's relatively new, manages to tell a story in such vivid detail that I can see the action in my mind as if it were a movie. I like that!

While reading this novel, I found myself having to tear myself away from it. I went through several frustrating real-life situations that demanded my attention during the time that I was attempting to read, and I found myself longing to get my hands on it so that I could continue reading! It isn't often that I carry a book to the bathroom with me to prop up on the counter while I'm fixing my hair or putting on makeup. It's not often that I take a novel along with me in the diaper bag in the hope that I could even sneak in two minutes of reading time somewhere. THIS is one of those books. And because of my desperate attempts to get at it during the chaos that held me captive, the book is a little worn. It now wears the marks of a well-loved novel. lol

The novel's setting takes place just after the Civil War has ended, and its location is in the Ozarks. Prison hospital nurse Abigail Stuart managed to get herself hitched to a dying Civil War prisoner named Jeremiah Calhoun. When he asks her to go back to his home and take care of his sister and his ma, Abigail has no qualms about heading that way. Her own family had basically disowned her because of a misunderstanding, so a trip to the Calhoun property was accepted as her new home. However, when she got "home" and realized that Jeremiah wasn't dead after all, but was instead someone totally different than the man whom she had married, Abigail felt the foundation underneath her begin to crumble.

When Jeremiah got home, injured and war-beaten, and found that some woman claimed to be his bride, he did his best to try to convince everyone that Abigail was definitely not his wife. Jeremiah had someone waiting on him, after all! But when he found out that Laurel had given up on him after hearing that he'd died and instead had set her affections on another, Jeremiah found himself one frustrated man.

I loved this story. There was some interesting and gripping conflict at the end of the novel (that I won't spoil for you) that surprised me. I love when an author can accomplish that element of surprise!

If you've never read any of Regina's novels, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you give her a try! If you're a local, just ask me and I'll loan you my copy of A Most Inconvenient Marriage! ;)


Regina Jennings is one of my favorite authors. She's a relatively new author who has published four novels, all of which I've had the pleasure of reviewing. It has also been my pleasure to be a part of Regina's read and review launch team, which has enabled me to provide feedback directly to Regina, given me the opportunity to have a copy of her novel(s) in exchange for an honest review. My comments are my own and not a paid review.

If you'd like to read more from Regina, check her out on Facebook!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Bachelor - a Kregel review

The Bachelor: A Novel; Plain City Peace #2

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications (October 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825442168

Book Description
In this sequel to The Bargain, Betsie Troyer is back home in her Amish community where she knows she belongs, free from the confusing Englisher way of life. She and Charley Yoder have made promises to each other, and her life is back on track--until Gerald Sullivan shows up with his young daughter, asking for Betsie's help. He's on his way to find his estranged wife, and begs Betsie to take young Sheila in.
 
When she agrees, Betsie's carefully planned life is shaken up again. Sheila's newfound faith is troubling to Charley--and his attraction to another girl is beginning to be a problem. But how can Betsie confront him when she is still trying to confront her own feelings about Sheila's brother, Michael? Keeping the peace between the Amish man she's always loved, a twelve-year-old Englisher girl, and a draft-dodging hippie is more than she ever thought she'd have to deal with in her simple, orderly life. Still, Betsie is convinced she can keep things from falling apart completely.
 
Then during her best friend's wedding, tragedy strikes and her world is upended. She has to make a decision: does she love Charley or Michael . . . or is she craving a deeper love that only God can give?
 
The compelling second novel of the Plain City Peace series,The Bachelor deftly weaves together the strands of a solid, simpler time with the turmoil of an era of change, revealing the strengths of both in its powerful narrative.

My Thoughts
A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to read Stephanie's Reed's novel Across the Wide River. I had never read anything written by her before, and I was moved by her writing. I've been a reader of Amish fiction since my teen years when my grandmother introduced me to Beverly Lewis' books, and for many years it was a genre that was my favorite. I don't read a lot of it at this point, due to burn-out, but when I saw that Stephanie's newest novel was available for review, I snagged the opportunity to read some well-written story!

What I love about Stephanie's writing of Amish fiction is that she writes about the Amish people's beliefs accurately, at least in my opinion. That is one of my pet peeves with Amish fiction, and a big reason why I no longer read it like I used to. But that's another story for another day.

Stephanie has a knack for capturing your attention with detail and characters that feel real. She made me feel some real feelings regarding the characters Charley (frustration, anger, appreciation--his character traits ... and flaws ... were evident) and Betsie (frustration, frustration, admiration ... did I mention frustration? lol She just seemed a good bit naive, but I can see how that would be realistic for an Amish young lady.)

Taking place during the 1970s, the story revolves around Betsie Troyer and how she struggles with her mother and father (as well as family members) leaving the Amish faith for mainstream Christianity and moving away. Left as a young adult with her seventeen year old sister Sadie, Betsie is left to fend for herself. Along the way, she struggles with her own standing in the Amish faith and finding a happy medium with an English family in her life. Between Amish fiance Charley and English friend Michael, Betsie has a hard time knowing what's right. Life challenges present themselves and Betsie finds herself at a crossroad, and she has to make a decision.

I highly recommend The Bachelor to anyone who enjoys reading Amish fiction. Stephanie Reed is definitely a name to remember in the Amish fiction world! Check her out!



I received The Bachelor as a complimentary gift in exchange for review froKregel Blog Tours.
My comments and opinions are my own.