Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O'Dell


Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield dreams of a land far, far away. . .
          A land far away from her stepfather’s abuse and torment.
          A land far away from her mother’s blind eye.
          A land far away from the haunting memories of her past.
          But then reality sets in, and Olivia knows she must make the best of her dire situation—at least until her high-school graduation. But when poor choices lead Olivia to the brink of a complete breakdown and she finds herself dealing with the unexpected death of her best friend, she comes to a crossroads. Will Olivia find the path to ultimate hope and healing that her heart longs for? Or will the demons from her past prove too much to bear?

My Review:

I had a lot of things to do (as usual) when The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O'Dell arrived at my doorstep. I figured it couldn't hurt to crack it open and read a page or two. I was sucked right into the story. What initially looked like a thick book that I didn't have time for yet ended up being a fast, enjoyable read. It was hard to put down!

I really felt bad for Olivia Mansfield. From the outside, she looks like a spoiled rich teen girl who is great at playing the oboe and can't get over the loss of her dad. But she has secretly been suffering because of her evil stepfather while her mom goes about shopping...oblivious to her daughter's real needs. Olivia is trapped. To relieve the pressure of her situation, she begins making bad choices which lead to awful consequences. Eventually, Olivia ends up at Diamond Estates which is a loving Christian place for girls who want to turn their lives around.

Olivia's older brother and counselor at Diamond Estates are both deaf and I love how sign language is integrated into the book. I also like the three girls who are Olivia's roommates. They each have their own unique personality and background.

Will Olivia find God? Or will she go on feeling unloved?

Read The Wishing Pearl to find out! You can view the trailer here.

~I received this book free of charge from Barbour Publishing via Team Novel Teen in exchange for my honest review.

My Life with a Mission • ADD LibrarianAudacious ReaderThe Book Fae • Book Nook 4 You • Bookworm Reading • ColorimetryGillian Adams • Jill WilliamsonKatie McCurdy • The Librarian’s Bookshelf • The Pen and ParchmentRachelle ReaTerri HarrVirtuous Girlhood

Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O’Dell by clicking on the links above, and check out http://www.novelteen.com/ for more information about Team Novel Teen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Deadly Delirium Giveaway


Update: *Evangeline Han was the winner!*

To celebrate the release of my e-book, Deadly Delirium, I am giving away a copy!

To enter:
Leave a comment. I would love it if you comment on what you think of Deadly Delirium's cover art, blurb, or excerpt (all of which can be viewed here). But any comment with your email address will do :).

For extra entries:
~Follow this blog via GFC
~Follow me on Twitter @Alyssawriter
~"Like" Deadly Delirium on Facebook
~Share about this giveaway on Facebook
~Share about this giveaway on Twitter

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

This giveaway will end on March 15th.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A New Picture of Natalia!



Natalia is such an amazing girl...still smiling after all she's been through!

Would you like to donate something to a giveaway for her? (Tentatively to appear on this blog in April)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thinking and Working

It's funny (and sad) how much time we can spend thinking about working rather than doing the actual work. Dreaming about our dreams rather than taking steps toward accomplishing them. I'll admit it. I love daydreaming. It's fun to imagine what could be (and even stuff that can't!). I can excuse some of my mind's wanderings since I am a writer and it has helped me come up with ideas. But it's easy to go overboard. I thought thinking up pretend scenarios would stop when I grew up...apparently not. And I'm glad. I'd hate to lose it.

Still, it's important to not be so caught up in dreaming that we neglect the real world. We've only got one shot at this life. Let's make it count! At the same time, if there were no dreams/hopes for the future, there would be nothing to shoot for. It's a balancing act.

I would like to point out that these are not romantic/Prince Charming dreams that I'm talking about. It's not healthy to dwell on gushy stuff. I'm talking about...say, you dream of becoming a nurse...you could dream about the country, hospital, team, etc. you hope to work with someday. But if you don't put in the hard work necessary to get a nursing degree, your dream won't take you anywhere. The same goes for dreaming about becoming a wonderful homemaker someday. If you don't learn the skills of running a home, your dream probably won't become a reality.

I bet you already know this. It's just common sense, really. Yet sometimes we all need a reminder to do. the. work. It's so much more fun to dream of being (fill in the blank), then to go through the preparation to get to that point. Not to burst your bubble or anything but...those dreams will be shattered if we don't.

Personally, I can't wait until the day I have a middle grade novel published in print. To get to that point, I need to write the book. Edit it a lot. Query agencies/publishing companies. Wait. Submit again. And so on. When (and if) my novel is accepted for publication, the work is not over! Then there is lots more editing. And if I want people to be able to read my book (which I definitely do!), I'm going to have to market it like crazy! Without these steps, the dream of being a published novelist is not going to happen.

(And yes, I am so excited about my e-book, Deadly Delirium, that is releasing in 6 days!!!)

What are your dreams? What steps are you taking toward them? What have you done well? What do you think could use improvement?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Writing 121

No, I'm not going to be giving a writing lesson on my blog :). This is my very first college class. I'm taking it online through my local community college. I'm hoping to gather a few credits before I attend university full-time starting Fall 2013 (I'll still be an entering freshman...not a transfer student).

It's only one class but it does take up quite a bit of my time. I happen to think that online classes are just as time consuming as classes you attend in person...perhaps more so even...because of the online participation that is required in the discussion boards. Then again, my opinion may change once I attend "live" classes :).

Even though I'm a writer, I'll admit that writing essays that will be worth a huge chunk of my grade has me worried. I'm a perfectionist. You know, the one who always feels like she has to get an "A"? Not because her parents or peers say so. Just because...well, she has to.

My first essay topic was to write about my idea of a eutopia...a good yet imperfect world. Yeah, I didn't know "utopia" could be spelled with an "e", either. They both sound the same (at least that's how I pronounce them) so I had to keep saying "eutopia" with an "e" whenever I talked with someone about it. I'm tempted to think that the word is *cough* made up. It's not in our dictionary at home. Anyway, it's a topic I'd never think about naturally so it was a challenge.

We're deep into our second assignment. Analyzing a visual argument. It's actually quite interesting and I like it better than the last one.

Are you taking college classes? Part-time or full-time? Which classes? Are you studying a subject on your own at home?

In other words, in what ways are you furthering your education? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review: Four Letter Words by Dr. Bill Giovannetti

About Four Letter Words:

Thou shalt tolerate every opinion... except the Christian's. Today's postmodern "prime directive" leaves many followers of Jesus tongue-tied. In the global village, isn't it unreasonable, and even dangerous, to suggest that the Bible has a monopoly on truth?

The church needs a new breed of Christ-follower. We need Christ-followers who are alert to today's touchy ideas, the truths that fire up more heat than light. We need Christ-followers who can make a clear case for the Bible's worldview; who are ready to help our friends think through their beliefs; who can recognize inconsistencies and challenge them; and who can do all of this with humility, confidence, humor, and love. For more information visit http://fourletterwords.org.
Link to buy the bookhttp://ow.ly/8FbUq   
About Bill Giovannetti:
Dr. Bill Giovannetti is a professor at A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary and the senior pastor of Neighborhood Church of Redding. An experienced speaker and author, Bill informs the mind in ways that touch the heart. He enjoys life with his wife and two kids in northern California. For more information about Bill and his other books, visit  http://maxgrace.wordpress.com  and http://fourletterwords.org.

Four Letter Words is his second book. Bill hates legalism, loves grace, and teaches that God is infinitely more committed to us than we will ever be to him. He is a graduate of Trinity Seminary and earned his doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary.

From the back cover:
When The Questions Are Hard…And The Answers Unpopular…Will You Stay Devoted To Christ?
       
My Thoughts and Review:
Four Letter Words by Dr. Bill Giovannetti is a book that examines common questions about faith, truth, evil, the Bible, hell, etc. It covers 9 four letter words: “True”, “Know”, “Pain”, “Ouch”, “Evil”, “Word”, “Damn”, “Wait”, and “Hope”. The author goes over different religious worldviews and asks which one truly satisfies our questions and longings. The only one that I am willing to put my faith in is Christianity. He feels the same way and does a good job of showing why. He also makes the case for absolute truth. I think that this book will be great for seekers, new believers, and skeptics. Those who have already studied opposing worldviews and apologetics will not find much new material. It is still nice to hear basic truths again. Four Letter Words contains QR codes that allow you to dig deeper and take advantage of further resources. The chapters end with “Talking Points" (advice and stuff you can discuss with your friends/seekers/etc. that is related to the chapter’s topic).

Here is a quote I’d like to share from the Talking Points in Chapter 8. “Finally, if the idea of hell bothers you, then tell people about Jesus. Invite people into His kingdom. Love people. Care for people. Serve people. Share your life with people. Above all, let the gospel/good news of Jesus ooze out of your life through words and deeds.

There is a Giveaway!

Bill is celebrating the new Kindle edition of Four Letter Words (for only $4.99)! He’ll be traveling coast to coast over the next few weeks on this virtual book tour and he's celebrating by hosting a great giveaway!

Click here to find out how you can win two gift certificates to Amazon (in the amount of $50 and $25) and free downloads of his yet-to-be-released title, Recession-Proof: Living a God-Blessed Life in a Messed Up World.
The whole scoop here: http://fourletterwords.org/2012/01/contest-giveaway/

Here are a few questions about the book and Bill Giovannetti's answers:
 
What's Four Letter Words about, and where did you get the title?
Four Letter Words is about defending your faith in Christ. If you've ever felt tongue-tied standing up for Jesus, this book can help.
Even though our culture claims tolerance as a virtue, that tolerance stops at Christianity's front door: witness the hostility directed toward a sincere Christ-follower like Tim Tebow. Judging by reactions to him, you'd think he just cussed out his grandma when all he did was say a word for Christ. Speaking God's truth and living your faith is quickly becoming today's profanity. Tougher days are coming; we need to get ready.
There has never been a truth-system more satisfying, consistent, logical and beautiful than Christianity. I wanted to help God's people rise up and say so. 

Did you ever struggle with your faith? How did you work through that?
Even though I've been a pastor for a long time, I struggle with my faith a lot. My earliest struggles – back in high school days – centered on scientific stuff, like evolution. In the book I tell the story of how I made peace with faith in a Creator God and how I fit together science, logic, and the gospel in my own heart.
Now that I'm a bit older, my struggles come more out of pain and suffering. Why does God let people hurt? I cover those topics too.
Struggles are normal – we just can't let them overwhelm our faith or uproot our joy. It's super-important for us to know every question raised against Christianity has an answer. I try to provide some of those answers along with simple talking points for everyday conversations.
 
If I read this book, what will I get out of it?
I wrote Four Letter Words with three simple goals in mind:
1. Clarity: Know what you believe.
2. Confidence: Know why you believe.
3. Courage: Know what to say when you don't know what to say.

~I received this book free of charge via Litfuse in exchange for my honest review. To read other reviews of this book, visit here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Deadly Delirium


This is the "something super-duper exciting" that I mentioned earlier. My YA short story, Deadly Delirium, is being published as an e-book by the Euterpe Imprint of Musa Publishing! I should probably point out now that this is not a Christian publisher and though they have been wonderful to work with, I do not necessarily endorse any of the other books that they publish. Deadly Delirium releases on February 24, 2012.

Working on this particular project has taken up quite a lot of time in the past month or so. The work is not over, either! Now I am in the midst of marketing :). If you maintain an active blog and would like to interview me, please leave a comment with your email address. Thanks!

To learn more, please visit Deadly Delirium's Facebook page and consider "liking" it: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deadly-Delirium/350986171592039.