Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Being Married for One Year...

To my sweetheart,

Wow. One year. Has it really been three-hundred and sixty-five days since I married you, my love?

One short blog post cannot hold all the joy, adventure, and tears we've shared together. I can't believe how much we've grown, how much we've changed.

I remember coming down the steps of my parent's basement to come see you for the first time that morning. I remember how nervous I felt as I crept toward the french doors leading to the backyard, leading to you. You looked so classy and handsome in your wedding clothes. My heart beat so fast when I started walking toward you. I'm fairly certain it was impossible to do anything but grin. Our wedding day was so perfect. :)

We've seen each other at our worst and at our lowest yet by God's grace and love, our relationship is stronger than it has ever been. People always say the first year is the hardest, and while I can't say that's been true for us, we have had hard moments. This year with you has taught me how to love you deeper, how to encourage you best, and how to understand you even better than before.

I appreciate your gentle strength and I respect the man of God that you are. You're going to be a fantastic father! I count myself very blessed that I get to be your wife for the rest of our lives. You're my best friend, my greatest supporter, and my true love. I love doing life with you. I love our adventures. I love being your wife. And I just know that the best is still yet to come.

Thank you for loving me, for choosing me to spend the rest of your life with, and for being the all around most awesome husband ever. I agape you!

Your wife,

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Like a River From its Course by Kelli Stuart {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

My Review:
Like a River from Its CourseA heart-wrenching, emotional title!

Told through the perspective of four people, Ms. Stuart takes us to Ukraine during World War II. The stories that unravel are enticing. Before I knew it, I had a significant portion of the book finished and it seemed like time had stood still for me while I visited Kiev. Of course, it hadn't, but it felt like it. 

World War II novels are very dear to my heart, as you may have seen, and that's why I simply couldn't pass this gem up. Like a River From its Course is challenging to read at times, due to the realistic horrors Ms. Stuart writes about. She does however keep everything to kind of a PG-13 level and doesn't go further. I appreciated the new perspective on the war from the Ukrainians, it was a different look. They faced horrible things like many other countries. 

Ms. Stuart's characters are resilient, but beautifully human too. Each character has their own problem or heartache to overcome. Sadly, some make it and some do not. But the ones that do make it, find themselves happier and more at peace. The story as a whole was very inspirational and I would recommend it to any one who enjoys WWII stories like myself. Through the gloom and despair of the times, there was hope. There was light. I think Ms. Stuart did a fantastic job. I look forward to reading more by her!

I received this book from Litfuse in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!! 

Back Cover: 
An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope.

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little--known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Fuhrer's plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Travel back in time in Kelli Stuart's new novel, Like a River from Its Course, as the city of Kiev is bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union. This sweeping historical saga takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River From Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Celebrate the release of Like a River from Its Course with Kelli by entering to win a Kindle Fire Prize Pack.

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One grand prize winner will receive:
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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 18th. The winner will be announced July 19th on Kelli's blog.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

My Review:
A simply marvelous, fantastic tale!

Like Cambron's other novels (Butterfly and the Violin, Sparrow in Terezin), I was absolutely swept away into the setting and time period! Cambron has a such a way with words that I could see everything painted into my imagination as I read. The book was incredibly hard to put down! Seeing Sarasota through Rosamund's and then Mable's eyes, was wonderful. I particularly liked Rosamund's perspective because she'd never been anywhere but England before.

Cambron's storytelling style is fluid and easy to disappear into. However, I admit that the time jumping in the first few chapters had my head spinning a little. Whenever I sat down to read, I was completely taken in and I despised coming to the last few pages. After all, who wants a good book to end? But alas, it did. As for the characters in this novel, I grew quite attached to Rosamund and maybe a little more so to Mable. I liked Rosamund's strength to just step out on her own and I deeply appreciated Mable's generous, dear heart to those she encountered. These women are great role models.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable read. Those curious about circus life in the 1920s will, hopefully find their intrigue satisfied. Mine was! :-) If you're seeking a unique historical novel to get your hands on, I think you may have found it in The Ringmaster's Wife. I can't wait to set my hands on Cambron's next work, The Illusionist's Apprentice!

Many thanks to Litfuse for sending me a copy! I received this book in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks! 

Kristy CambronAbout the Author:
Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal Reviews' "Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)" for February 2015.

Cambron is an art/design manager at storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

Back Cover:
What is revealed when you draw back the curtain of the Greatest Show on Earth?

Rosamund Easling is no stranger to opulence. As the daughter of an earl, she’s grown up with every comfort money can buy. But when hard times befall the family’s Yorkshire estate in the aftermath of the Great War, Rosamund’s father sells her beloved horse, setting the stage for a series of events that would extend beyond even her wildest dreams.

Though expected to marry for a title instead of love, Rosamund feels called to a different life – one of adventure outside the confines of a ladies’ parlor. She abandons all she’s known and follows in pursuit as her horse is shipped to the new owner – an American entertainer by the name of John Ringling. Once introduced to the Ringling Brothers’ circus and knowing she has much to learn, Rosamund agrees to a bareback riding apprenticeship in the shadow of the Ringlings’ winter home—Ca’D’Zan. It is at that mansion, in what would become the last days of the enigmatic Mable Ringling’s life, that Rosamund finds a deeper sense of purpose in the life she’s been given, and the awakening of faith in her heart.

With a supporting cast of characters as mysterious and dazzling as the Ringlings’ big-top world, Rosamund’s journey takes her from the tradition of the English countryside to the last days of America’s Roaring ‘20s—a journey that forever changes what one life might have been.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

{Book Review:} Wild and Free by Jess Connelly and Hayley Morgan

My Review:
Have you ever wanted to feel free?

Ms. Connolly and Ms. Morgan have written a powerful book about learning to live wild and free. They remind us of our identity in Christ while delivering a bold message. Their book is a lot like a call to arms. A call for us to wake up and start living the "wild" life we were called to. I really enjoyed the overall message of this title.

The fact is, we need more women boldly preaching the truth. Now I can't say I agreed with everything said in this book, but I did for the most part. This book encouraged me and nudged me forward to live wild and free. Who doesn't want to live free? Who doesn't want to passionately follow God's call on your life? This book emboldened me to charge forward, to strive to grow in my walk with Christ. A verse they shared in the book puts it so very well, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14 (AMP)

I encourage you to get this book. I encourage you to get this book and read it. Ponder and meditate on what you read. Search the scriptures for yourself. Seek truth and you will find it. Ms. Connelly and Ms. Morgan pour out their hearts desire and are with you every page. If you desire to feel free, to take off the shackles of religion and step into His freedom for you, then what are you waiting on? Take that first step!

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

About the Book:
For all the fullness of God available to His daughters, we often feel limited by two defining insecurities: “I am too much,” and “I am not enough.”

Co-authors and best friends Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan have felt the same, until one essential question turned the tables on it all: If God is wild and free and he created women, what does this mean for us today?

Wild and Free is an anthem and an invitation in equal parts to find freedom from the cultural captivity that holds us back, and freedom to step into the wild and holy call of God in our lives. With fresh biblical insight tracing all the way back to Eve and a treasury of practical application, Jess and Hayley reveal how women today can walk in the true liberty we already have in Jesus.

Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. You don’t have to try so hard to button it up and hold it together. And you certainly don’t have to quiet the voice that God gave you when he created you to sing. Wild and Free will help you shake off the lies of insecurity in your life, and step forward to maximize your God-given influence for his glory and the world’s good.

Monday, June 6, 2016

{FishFlix Movie Review:} Courageous

We're doing things a little different today! FishFlix was so gracious and offered to send me a Christian DVD to review. 

About the Movie (from FishFlix):
Courageous is an inspiring and action packed film that presents an important lesson for fathers. The storyline revolves around four police offers, each trying to juggle their demanding job and their family life. Things in the police force are intensifying, as gang activity keeps cropping up in their town. Each of the fathers handles parenthood differently, and each has their own battles to fight at home. Courageous is a wonderful fast-paced movie that teaches the important lessons of fatherhood and leadership.

My Review:
First off, my sincerest apologies to FishFlix for taking so long to get this up! Thank you for your patience.

Secondly, let's talk about Courageous. The film was created to encourage fathers to take an active role in their families' lives, something that is desperately needed in today's culture. In the movie we have five fathers; each are working through their own problems and circumstances with their families. This offered a nice broad look at some of the different kinds of families there are, as well as a different perspective from each. Unfortunately, a tragedy rocks the boat for one of these fathers and it prompts him to start taking fatherhood seriously. It's a call to action.

This movie is powerful, y'all. It's emotional, spiritual, and meaningful. But it's qualities are not limited to that, the movie packs a humorous punch as well. For all of the movie's serious moments, there are several scenes that will make your sides hurt when you laugh! The moviemakers do a fantastic job of handling real life without giving the viewer too much to swallow. While I'm sure critics would be more harsh, I think they managed the story very well.

Overall, my husband and I really enjoyed this movie together. Courageous is a great film for older teens and their parents, or couples looking for a clean action packed flick. The movie does host some rather intense moments, which may be too much for younger children. It's rated PG-13 for a reason. This is a Christian film with Christian themes and messages. :-) Another big THANK YOU to FishFlix for sending this flick our way! If you're interested in getting this movie for yourself, you can find it here -> Courageous DVD.

I received a DVD of Courageous from FishFlix in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!!

Hey, by the way- if you join FishFlix's email list, you'll receive a $5 off coupon for their website! Great deal, right? You can join their email list by clicking here -> FishFlix or by texting 5-GIFT to 44222. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

My Review:
A sweet medieval romance with a fairy-tale twist!

The Beautiful Pretender (Thornbeck #2)I must say I enjoyed this novel much more than it's predecessor, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. But nevertheless, Huntress set the stage for The Beautiful Pretender, though both can be read without having read the other. This novel focuses on the Margrave of Thornbeck, Reinhart. He must wed in short order, or else the king might intervene. So with the help of his chancellor, they invite several young ladies to Thornbeck. I wasn't sure about this plot at first, but I came to really like how Ms. Dickerson handled things.

I enjoyed Reinhart and Avelina's character development for the most part. While trying to not give too much away, I felt the romance was a bit rushed at the end but others may disagree with me. Just a personal opinion. I really liked the threads of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale Ms. Dickerson weaved into storyline. It's one of my favorite fairytales and I loved her inclusion of it.

Overall, I was satisfied with The Beautiful Pretender. The story (and its characters) really grew on me over the course of its pages. I found myself becoming deeply involved and the book nearly impossible to put down! There were a interesting twists, an adorable romance, and a pleasant fairytale-like ending. If you like fairytales or the medieval era, you'll want to check this one out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I received a ebook copy of this book from Litfuse in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Inheriting the new title of margrave means Reinhart has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise? Find out in the new medieval fairy tale, The Beautiful Pretender, by Melanie Dickerson. Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
  • A Kindle Fire tablet
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll
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Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie's blog.

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