Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

When Lydia Pallas, a translator for the US Navy, meets Alexander Banebridge, her neat, orderly life gets disrupted in ways she never expected. Before meeting “Bane,” Lydia is wrapped up in making money so she can purchase and stay in her home. After meeting him, she gets caught up in fighting for a cause and consequently, for her life.

When I started Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but before I knew it, I got sucked into the story. The characters are realistic, full of the little quirks that make you love them. Camden does a great job of revealing their personalities and helping you understand the whys behind their words and actions.

The plot of Against the Tide was surprisingly similar to Unending Devotion, the Jody Hedlund book I reviewed last week. Though I enjoyed them both, I felt this one had a more satisfying ending, perhaps because there was more at stake for Lydia and Bane. That said, I’d recommend either book if you’re looking for a page-turner.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.


Let It Snow

12.9.12 caesar snowstorm It finally snowed. For real. We got a light dusting in November, but it was nothing compared to this. We got about a foot of snow (and these pictures were taken hours before it finally stopped.)

12.9.12 caesar snowstormI’m not one of those sad snow-haters. I’ve been waiting for it since the leaves started falling back in September. I’ve been daydreaming of frosty trees and slushy walks to Starbucks. I’ve been smelling the air and watching the clouds.

12.9.12 caesar snowstormI’ve never quite been able to explain it, but nothing brings me joy the way snow does. That’s not to say other things don’t bring me joy. It’s just a different kind of contentment and anticipation. Trees come close—especially in the spring when their leaves first pop out and the whole world seems green. And Lake Michigan on a warm day—that comes close too. But this . . .

12.9.12 caesar snowstormIt’s the kind of beauty that makes you ache because it’s just so pretty.

There’s nothing like standing outside at night and watching the snow, looking up as it falls, listening as a gentle hush descends on your little corner of the earth. Snow makes everything beautiful. It covers imperfections. It makes everything clean.

12.9.12 caesar snowstormSometimes at night, I wrap myself in a blanket, turn off the lights, open the window, and just watch the snow fall. (And sometimes I make my very patient husband do it with me. He must love me a whole lot.)

12.9.12 caesar snowstormIf you’re one of those sad snow-haters, I’m sorry. Not because it snowed—oh no—I’ve been praying and praying for that. I’m sorry because you’re missing the magic. The magic that makes you giddy and hopeful and excited. The magic that makes you feel like a kid again.

I know it’s easy to miss the magic when you have to get up early to clean off your car or it takes you two (or three!) times as long to drive home from work, but next time you’re out in the snow, take a second to breathe it all in. And listen to the sound it makes. That’s my favorite part.

12.9.12 caesar snowstorm

Running? What’s That?

It’s been a long time since I posted about how my running is going. And I have a good reason: I haven’t been running. At all. Probably not since my last running post.

I have a good reason for that too. Remember when I mentioned I thought I had Runner’s Knee? I stopped running altogether because it hurt too much afterward. My knees (and hips, for that matter) would just ache. As it turns out, I was right about the Runner’s Knee (in case you’re wondering, the technical term is “patellofemoral pain syndrome”).

Three weeks of daily exercises and stretches and five physical therapy appointments later, I finally got to run yesterday. For four whole minutes (I didn’t even die!). And the therapist told me to go buy new shoes this week. Apparently I need a motion control shoe because I overpronate. Or something like that. Who knew?

Do you know how much goes into buying the right running shoes? I had no idea. And for the record, most of the “find the right shoe for you” tools out there are wrong when it comes to my feet. Apparently motion control shoes are typically for people with flat feet, but I have high arches. And apparently people with high arches often underpronate, but I overpronate. I just barely know what I’m talking about, so don’t take my word for it. Moral of the story? If you’re spending $100 on running shoes, have someone who knows what they’re talking about analyze your stride and tell you what to look for.

That’s exactly what I did tonight. At the recommendation of my PT, I went to Marathon Sports and bought these lovely new shoes.

Asics Running Shoes

(If you’re in the Minneapolis area looking for shoes, go to Marathon Sports. I was super impressed with the service, how much the employees knew, and the price.) I get to break my shoes in tomorrow when I try running again. For a whole five minutes. Think I can make it?

If nothing else, not being able to run has only made the prospect of starting again that much more exciting. Despite the fact that I theoretically hate running. Who knows? Maybe spending a lot of money on PT and fancy new shoes is the motivation I needed.

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund Young arrives in Harrison, Michigan, in 1883, determined to find her sister no matter the cost. But on her first night in town, she bumps into Connell McCormick, the son of a local lumber baron, and her life takes a turn she never expected.

Unending Devotion was my second Jody Hedlund book, and it was even better than the first. (You can read my review of The Doctor’s Lady here.) Now that I’ve read two of her books, I can easily say that the greatest part of her stories are the characters. They’re so complex. So relatable. So human. So often, Christian fiction is full of characters that don’t seem quite right. They’re not realistic and you can’t quite figure out what makes them tick. But Hedlund creates believable characters. She’s honest about their flaws. And they become better versions of themselves by the end of her stories.

That said, you’ll fall in love with Lily, Connell, and the other characters in Unending Devotion. As a Michigander (at heart, if not by location), it made me sad to read about the history of my state as it relates to the lumber industry, but it made a great backdrop for Lily’s story and stubborn perseverance and passion to do what’s right.

I highly recommend this book. It’s one of the best historical Christian novels I’ve read this year. Hedlund is now right up there next to Julie Klassen on my list of must-read authors. (It doesn’t hurt her case that she’s a fellow Michigander who graduated from my alma mater . . . kinda.)

If you’re into writing fiction, she has a great blog full of tips and ideas.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Proofreading Tips

This picture doesn’t have anything to do with proofreading. But it’s of a small “detail” lots of people wouldn’t notice. Plus I’m missing Yellowstone, and that’s where we found this pretty bird.

Because I finished a big proofreading project over the weekend, I thought I’d offer a few proofreading tips for this month’s Writing Tip Wednesday.

  1. Don’t put all your trust in the spell check. There are too many words that have multiple spellings. And sometimes autocorrect will insert the wrong word unnoticed.
  2. Don’t put any trust in the grammar check. It’s almost never right. If you get that squiggly green line, check out the suggestion for sure, but do your research before you accept it.
  3. Don’t just look for misspelled words and missing or misplaced punctuation. Pay attention to formatting, too—font, page numbers, orphans and widows . . . And if the document includes dates, times, names, or titles, double-check the spelling.
  4. Create a style sheet. Don’t know what that is? It’s a document that keeps track of the rules you’re using—word spellings, serial comma, how to format numbered lists, etc. In some cases, you’ll want to have a style sheet for every document. In other cases—like a business setting—you’ll want to create a style sheet to use for everything you print. It’ll keep everyone who does any writing or editing of your documents on the same page (no pun intended!). You certainly don’t want the editor taking out all the serial commas only to have the author put them all back in.
  5. Back up every time you find an error. This suggestion comes from The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. Apparently studies have shown that most missed errors are near other errors that were caught. CWMS recommends backing up a few lines whenever you find an error.
  6. If you’re editing your own copy, don’t edit right after you wrote it. Take some time away from your work and do something else. The more time you can let it sit, the better, I think. Then when you come back, you’re seeing it with fresh eyes. You’re more likely to catch things.
  7. If it’s your own copy, have someone else look at it, too. When you’re close to a project, it’s hard to catch things. I can prove that—at work, I send out a weekly newsletter, and two weeks in a row I was under a time crunch and edited my own copy without having someone else look at it. Guess what happened? Two glaring mistakes two weeks in a row. Oops.
  8. If you’re able, read through the document more than once. Bonus points if you look at it once, walk away for awhile, and then look at it again. When I can, I scan for formatting, do a thorough proofread, and then do another quick proofread.

If you have tips of your own, feel free to leave them in a comment.

What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You by David Murrow

David Murrow, who also wrote the bestselling book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, wrote What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You to help women understand what makes our men tick. He even spends some time explaining why they often won’t tell us themselves.

For the most part, I found the content of this book helpful. Murrow covers every aspect of men’s lives, at least briefly—the book is divided into sections about body, soul, and spirit. I gained new insight into my husband’s heart and now have a better understanding of why certain things are important to him—and why other things aren’t.

Some sections seemed a little over the top, so I asked my husband if he’d be willing to listen to what Murrow said and give me feedback. I could tell it made him a bit uncomfortable, but he complied, and we actually had some really good conversations.

One of the sections was about men holding the roles of “provider” and “protector.” Murrow spent several chapters explaining why men have taken on these roles and illustrating how they can play out in day-to-day life. My husband thought some of the information in this section was a little extreme, and we both agreed that some of it was probably over-simplified for the sake of making a point.

The other section I struggled with was on the topic of men being visual. No wife wants to hear that her man notices other women, so I was a little resistant at first. And some of his examples! In one story, he talked about following an attractive woman around the grocery store. Because I couldn’t imagine my own husband doing such a thing, I talked to him about it. We came to the conclusion that many of the ideas Murrow presented in the chapter were accurate, but the grocery store example was an extreme case. It may be true for some men, but not necessarily all.

If you want to have a better understanding of your husband, I recommend this book. Just keep in mind that Murrow over-simplifies and provides some extreme examples—most likely in order to help women recognize their own husbands within a broader spectrum.

And if your husband would be willing to talk about some of the things discussed, I recommend having those conversations, even if they’re uncomfortable. The conversations I had with my husband were, by far, my most valuable takeaway.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Introverted Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, readers!

Today wraps up my thankfulness posts (at least for awhile). I was planning to post yesterday, but, well, it was Thanksgiving. I was busy playing games, watching Veggie Tales, and eating turkey and assorted carbs with my in-laws. And then we didn’t get home until 12:30 a.m.

Today I’m thankful to be the shy, introverted type. (And that’s why this is a written post, not a vlog. I can’t see myself ever creating a vlog. Watching them, on the other
hand . . . Have you seen the Lizzie Bennet Diaries? I’m hooked.) I never thought I’d be thankful for these personality traits, but when I think about it, I’m super glad I’m not an extrovert. It just seems exhausting. But maybe that’s just because I’m an introvert. (Nothing against extroverts—I wouldn’t make it through life without you!)

In the last six or so years, I’ve gotten over being painfully shy. Enough so that some people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. I still get knots in my stomach when I have to go to unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. But meeting a few new people doesn’t cripple me anymore.

Growing up, my best friend, Anne-Marie, was the most extroverted person I’d ever met (she still is). In that respect, we couldn’t be more opposite. She used to strike up conversations with complete strangers all the time, and I was happy to have her do it so I didn’t have to. (I’m also thankful for all fifteen years of Anne-Marie’s friendship. We met in fourth grade!) What a blessing! But it also horrified me. Not because I thought it was a bad thing, but because I didn’t understand why she was able to do it and I wasn’t. I hated myself for being so afraid. So why am I thankful now? What changed? Well, there are a few things.

1) I’ve realized being shy has made me a good listener (most of the time) and observer. I’m often able to remember details others don’t. This really comes in handy when my husband and I meet new people. He does the talking and I remember their names.

2) I’ve come to terms with the way God created me. I’m this way for a reason, and He’s allowed me to use who I am to bring Him glory. Who am I to complain about that?

Read my other thankfulness posts here, here, and here.