Friday, February 21, 2014

"It Had to Be You" Review

I want to share with you about a great book that Tyndale House Publishing has given me a free copy of. "It had to Be You" b Susan May Warren. Have you ever felt like everyone around you led a spectacular life, that God had great plans for them...but not you? That's how Eden Christiansen, the main character in the book feels. She has dreams and goals and ideas of what she thinks is best for her. She's always the cheerleader for her siblings and their dreams but feels like she has failed to reach her own dreams.

Then one day she meets a team mate from her brother's NHL hockey team. I'm not usually one to pick up a romance novel but this one has had me glued! Warren paints the scenes with her words beautifully. So well in fact that I literally can see the scenes playing out in my head as I'm reading it. It's not often that I find an author who can do that so well! I'm glued as I read and "see" the scenes unfolding. Eden trying in every way possible to push someone away whom she doesn't feel worthy of or that she's his type. Don't get me wrong there's a LOT more that goes on in this book than the budding romance of Eden and Jace. But to tell you would ruin the story for you! 

One of the things I love about this book is that while it mentions early on that Eden is a Christian it's not brought up a lot at first. After some events though, Eden's father brings some very good wisdom to his family about trusting in God's plan for our lives and the fact that He will allow tragedies and hardships in order to bring our faith to the point He wants us to be at in our walk with Him. One reason that I appreciate this gradual progression into their faith is that non-Christian readers would be willing to pick up the book and begin reading. Eventually in there they get to some important truths about God. 
This book has been a lot of fun to read. It's had me staying up late, not wanting to put it down. As I'm reading these interactions between Jace and Eden I just want to make them open their eyes and see what's really happening in the other person's brain and heart! If you want a great read grab a copy of "It Had to Be You" and a cup of coffee (or tea) and get settled in for a book that's hard to put down!

If all of that hasn't convinced you, here's a Q&A with the author, Susan May Warren.

Author Q & A 
Susan May Warren & It Had to Be You

1. This is the second installment in a new six-book series. Can you give us a bit of 
background on this series? 

The Christiansen Family series is a spin-off of the bestselling Deep Haven 
collection, stories about the townspeople of Deep Haven, Minnesota, a 
tiny resort town on the north shore of Lake Superior. The original series 
started with a book titled Happily Ever After and grew to include six titles. 
However, one family began to stand out, and we decided their story 
needed to be told. We wanted a series about a family with adult children 
learning what it meant to carry on the legacy of faith into their lives. And I 
wanted to write a series that would really let readers dig into the family, 
feel like they were a part of their journey. 

2. This Christiansen Family series is set in Deep Haven, Minnesota. Tell us about this 

It’s a gorgeous place to set a story—on the rocky shores of Lake Superior, 
in a tiny town where everyone knows your name. It’s a town with a rich 
heritage, strong ties, and a place where people want to escape—in 
fiction and in real life (as it is modeled after my town of Grand Marais, 
Minnesota). You’ll find people from all walks of life here—and most 
importantly, Evergreen Resort, run by the Christiansen family for four 

3. What is your hope for this series? 

Of course, I hope people fall as much in love with the Christiansens as I 
have. They’re a great bunch—all led by John and Ingrid Christiansen, who 
have tried to instill their values into their children. But each child has their 
own path to walk, and part of the series is just watching as they walk that 
path—through the good and the bad, trying to figure out where their faith 
and their parents’ legacy fit into their lives. It’s a contemporary epic family series set in the wilds of northern Minnesota with romance, suspense, and 
lots of great family drama! 

4. What was your inspiration for this particular book and the main character 
Eden Christiansen? 

Eden Christiansen came from a number of places. Watching the siblings of 
movie stars and athletes, watching my own daughter cheer her athlete 
brothers, even watching my friends, parents who feel on the sidelines of 
their children’s lives . . . maybe even a little left behind as they leave for 
college. I began to wonder—what if you had an amazing sibling, and your 
entire family focused on his or her successes, and you felt left behind, void 
of your own amazingness? This is Eden—who feels like she hasn’t 
accomplished anything and is sitting on the sidelines of her life. She feels 
like she needs to “get into the game” but doesn’t know how or where to 
start. And she feels like she really has nothing spectacular to offer . . . 

But God has different plans . . .  

5. Did you base the character of Jace Jacobsen on anyone in particular? 

Jace was loosely modeled after famed Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek 
Boogaard, who died, in part, due to the many concussions he suffered as a 
hockey player. The problem of concussions with today’s athletes, especially 
in hockey and football, can be life-threatening for athletes, and although 
hockey (and football!) is played much differently today, it’s still an issue. 

I wanted Jace to have the opposite problem from Eden—he is only good 
at one thing. In fact, he’s spectacular at it, but he believes if he walks away 
from it, he will be nothing. So same problem . . . different perspective. It 
gave me a good opportunity as an author to examine our “worth.” 

Of course, adding the John Doe element only rounded that theme out with 
yet another perspective. I loved how these three angles came together. 

6. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel? 

I think we all need to see our worth not in relationship to our external 
successes but in how we work out the task God has for us. How we love 
one another, how we use our gifts and talents. How we abide with God in 
our daily lives. Hopefully readers will begin seeing their worth in a new way. 

7. How do you expect this new series to resonate with your audience? How do 
you want your books to make them feel? 

I am hoping readers walk away from this book, and this series, with hope. 
The sense that they belong to something—to God, to family—and the 
feeling that our lives are not chaotic or out of control, but that God has a unique and amazing journey for each of us, and it’s lived out within our 
relationships. I want them to feel as if they’d found a new set of friends. 

8. Have you received any feedback from your fans on this series? What are they 

People fell immediately in love with Darek and his sweet son, Tiger, in Take 
a Chance on Me, and I think readers will really enjoy Jace and Eden’s 
romance in this story. I’m thankful that people enjoy the work I put into 
developing my characters and the romance, and I have loved diving into 
these multilayered stories about people with realistic, everyday struggles. 

9. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story? 

I loved writing about Minnesota in the winter. And I loved the story of John 
Doe and uncovering who he might be. (I plotted it like a mystery, so it was 
fun to revisit my mystery-plotting techniques). I especially loved the layers of 
Jace, the hero, and how, with every turn, he became more intriguing. 

10. What is the best advice or encouragement that you have received? 

Try to up your writing game with each book, and just keep writing. Not 
every story appeals to every reader, but I try to write a story I would 
enjoy—and then hopefully my readers will also. 

11. In your writing career, what are you most proud of? 

I think I’ve stayed true to who I am and the kind of story I’m 
supposed to be writing. I’m very blessed by my reader friends and 
their constant encouragement. I am very blessed to spend my days 
with the Christiansen family! 

Come back and tell me what you thought! I'd love to hear how you liked the book too.

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