Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year in Review: 2014 Edition {Oh, How Things Change...}

As I sit here reflecting on the past year, I'm awe-filled that it's almost 2015! 2014 has been a wonderful, wonderful, blessed year for me and mine. There has been a lot of growth and a lot of change, but our cup still overflows. Our God is an awesome God. Looking back to early this year, I am amazed at just how much I've changed, let alone the people and things around me.

My friends, change is in the air here as well. I'm hoping to "jump back into the saddle" really soon. Also, I have a few surprises in the works. I'm not quite certain about the timeline just yet but something great is coming! As a quick side note, if all goes well, I'll have almost four months of college left-- the end is finally in sight! I'm super excited to close out that chapter of my life. 2015 holds many promising things for me and I can't wait to share. Overall, this year has been stock-full of blessing after blessing. God's opened doors, He's closed a few, and He continues to show the way.

Probably the biggest lesson I've learned this year is how to wait. But more importantly how to wait and still work toward a goal

So often in media they tell you to wait, and wait, and.... wait. Wait until you find the elusive "one". Wait to pursue your calling until you're ready (whether financially, physically, etc.). Wait to study God's word until you have time. With all this waiting going on, what are you supposed to do in the meantime? Sit around and go through the motions? I can't speak for anyone else but to me that sounds boring... and a waste of the precious time God has given us on this earth. The Bible tells us about Jesus's return that, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." (Matthew 24:36) Each day could be our last on this earth, so why should we live life waiting around? Why not make the most of our time while we have it? If you're single, why not focus on preparing yourself to be the best spouse you can be? 

Who says we have to watch time slip by? Who says we can't do something in the here and now whether single or in a relationship? We have a God-given purpose to bring glory to God in everything we do. Sometimes bringing glory to God means showing Jesus to people, by giving the tired cashier at your grocery a smile and a kind word. Maybe it means standing up for what's right even when you stand alone. Maybe it means serving others to the best of your ability, or maybe it means using your words carefully. No matter what it means for you in this moment, it will change with every day. 

So I want to challenge both myself and you to show Jesus in the everyday and in the mundane in 2015. Because I'm not satisfied with waiting around for "the right moment". I want to take the first step in living as Christ and walking by the Spirit. Will there be moments I fail? Absolutely. But I serve a loving and gracious God who'll dust me off and help me back on my way. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Season of Thanksgiving {...That Goes Beyond November}

Hello, blogging friends!!

Long time no see. :-) As this is one of my favorite times of year I felt it was appropriate to keep my tradition of writing a thankful/reflection post.  Not only that but I have exceedingly more to be thankful for this year.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.." -Eph. 3:20

And He has, my friends. He's swooped in and answered prayers. He's blessed me with far more than I can ever truly thank Him for, but beyond that, it is all about this thing called perspective

Perspective in the sense that you look at things from a different viewpoint. For example, right now at this moment I am in some pretty rough college courses. There are days when I definitely don't feel thankful to be in college at all. But, did you know that there are people out there who can't afford to go to college when they want to? Did you know that some people don't win the scholarship? When looking at my courses from this angle, suddenly I become very grateful. In this new perspective, I see a blessing when I don't feel one. I don't say this because it makes the workload any easier-- spoiler alert: it doesn't-- but I say this because we have a lot to be thankful for, even when we can't see it. After all, some blessings come in disguise. I'm not saying that feeling the acute loss of a loved one or sickness are disguised blessings. Frankly, they aren't. The Bible says, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:16-17) and "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) 

So this Thanksgiving let's step back and reexamine our lives. Let's gain fresh perspective and marvel at all we do have to be thankful for. Let's also keep in mind that we should be thankful all the time not just in November or on Thanksgiving. Below I've listed a brief "list" of things I'm thankful for this year. I hope you'll do the same in the comments. :-) 

I'm thankful for the sunshine. I'm thankful for the stars. I'm thankful for my health and those around me. I'm thankful for music. I'm thankful for the friends I have around me. I'm dearly thankful for my husband-to-be. I'm thankful for my family and (future) family. I'm thankful for the encouragement and support from my parents. Lastly, I'm ever-increasingly thankful for the man who died for me, Jesus. Without Him there isn't a part of me that would be happy. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Action Kids' Club Blog Tour! {Guest Post!}

Hey everyone! About a month ago, Lydia Howe reached out to me about doing a guest post to promote her new book, Action Kids' Club, here on the blog. Of course, I said yes. Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom! Enjoy!! :-)

Action Kids’ Club Back Cover Blurb:
Twelve-year-old Olivia Hall’s dream of a friends' club ends when she finds out her family is moving. Her parents assure her it's a good thing, opening a new world of possibilities for the Halls. But going from ‘miss popular’ to ‘the new girl’ won’t be easy, and Olivia is not convinced.

Soon she begins to realize that although her life has suddenly changed, there's plenty of adventure to keep her on her toes. From making new friends at Forward Focus, to hanging out at the world-renowned Kids Zone, to meeting the curious head chef, she discovers that there's much more to life - and her new surroundings - than she ever imagined. How will she make the most of these new opportunities? Or will she let them slip away?




About the Author:
Lydia Howe (aka Aidyl Ewoh) is a twenty-something adventurous author who enjoys hiking in the mountains of Asia and South America, building life-size models of dinosaurs, taking road trips across Europe and cooking for large crowds.

Lydia grew up in a barn and has always dreamed of living in a tipi. She is trained as a John Maxwell coach and her passions include self-development and Christian apologetics. One of her life-long dreams was realized when her first book, “Cave Secrets of the Pterodactyl”, was published by Answers in Genesis in 2013. Her second book, “Action Kids’ Club” was published in November of 2014. Find her online at her Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Here's Lydia!

Wow! We are already on day 5 of the blog tour celebrating the release of the first book in my Action Kids series. Read the post from yesterday here and find out more about Action Kids by clicking here.

The answer to yesterday’s riddle is: Always give people more than they expect to get. -Nelson Boswell

For Today:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Winston S. Churchill

“We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work”
Thomas A. Edison

“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”
Abraham Lincoln

Opportunity: “A set of circumstances that make it possible to do something.”

Everyone gets opportunities in life. Some choose to grab onto them, some let them slide on by. I’m learning about grabbing onto them and boy does that make life more exciting! In Action Kids' Club Grandpa Don teaches the kids that they’re never too young to start looking for and working toward opportunities.

Grandpa Don led us into a building and then down a wide hallway, through an outer office to a door that had a sign nailed to it. 

Start Today—Don’t Delay! 

Tilting my head, I read the words.

“What does that mean?” Alex asked, pointing at it.

“That helps me remember to not procrastinate. When I have an opportunity, I need to seize it.” Grandpa Don opened the door, and we all filed in.

“An opportunity for what?” I asked, and then I remembered I was talking to the boss so I added, "Sir."

“For lots of things. An opportunity to start eating healthfully. An opportunity to work on a new project. An opportunity to spend time with my family. So many people waste time each day and eventually end up wasting a lot of their lives because they don’t grab onto opportunities when they have the chance. God created each of us with the ability to do great things, and I want to make sure I don’t waste the talent He’s given me.”

“It doesn’t matter when you’re young though, right?” I asked. Grandpa Don’s office was flooded with sunlight, making the whole room look spectacular. I tried to keep my attention on him though. After all, he was talking to me and he was the president.

“What makes you think that?” Grandpa Don asked.

Huh? I had no clue. It just seemed like since I was a kid, I should get grace or second chances or something like that. “I’m not sure.” I shrugged my shoulders, wishing I had come up with a better answer. (Action Kids’ Club p.12)


Today YOU get an opportunity to enter into a drawing to win your very own signed copy of Action Kids' Club, hot off the press, plus a personalized packet of Action Kids fun-stuff, including an Action Kids pad of paper, Action Kids bookmarks and more!

And here’s your quote puzzle for today. Figure it out and leave the answer in the comments section and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a great prize! And, find out about the $50 gift card giveaway that I’m hosting over at my blog.
(Answer Key)

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C

(Riddle)

Surfudvwlqdwlrq lv rssruwxqlwbv dvvdvvlq. -Victor Kiam

Make sure you check out this blog tomorrow for the answer to the riddle and the next stop on the blog tour. Thanks for stopping by!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 24, 2014

{Book Review:} Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

20665227My Review:
Marvelous release from Frantz!

Frantz takes you back in time and makes the past come alive. You feel present among the characters wherever they are, from booming Pittsburgh or the back country woods of Kentucky. My favorite location is probably Ellie and Jack's home, River Hill. Despite the close quarters they have, when you read those scenes you just feel a great sense of love and family. It's easy for me to imagine Wren happy there over the cold environment of her Aunt Andra's presence. I fell in love with each of the newly introduced characters like Izannah and Wren. This novel was beautiful from beginning to the very end. The danger and the romance combined make a wonderful pair. I wish I had enough time to make this review longer, but this shall have to suffice. If you've enjoyed the rest of the series then I know you'll love this one too. Love's Fortune, for me, is a definite favorite in the series though it doesn't quite top Love's Reckoning. ;-)

I am extremely thankful to the author for sending me a copy! I offer my sincerest apologies to both the author and publisher for the late review, I have had less time than I thought I would to read. Thank you again. :)

I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!!

Back Cover:
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Enough {A Personal Essay}

Hey, everyone! It's been so long! In one of my recent classes, they had us write a personal essay. After much thought and prayer, I decided to share mine with you today. I hope it blesses and encourages you. :-)
----

“You are enough.”

The movie character’s scripted words ripped into my heart and soul. Me? Enough? Part of me wanted to laugh and say, “You don’t know me. How do you know if I’m enough?” But the other part of me wept. Wept for that glimmer of hope that could mean I’m good enough for once in five years. Shaken, I close my eyes, trying not to let everyone else watching the movie know how impacted I am. They can’t know about the dark lies that are whispered into my ear every night. They can’t know how I struggle day in and day out. They can’t know how often I fall short. They can’t know how often I don’t live up to my own expectations.

I’m sure many people think that it’s strange to want to shut my family out. “They’re your family, wouldn’t you want their help?” But it’s a matter of my pride, too. Their lives are so perfect, why trouble them with my imperfection? No one in their right mind wants it to be public knowledge that they are, in fact, that one person in their family with a screwed up mentality. Thus every gathering, every shared meal, is all about putting on a show. Feigning nonchalance when people ask how you are. Smiling when you want to smack their face. Shoving down tears and hiding the hurt you feel burning inside. The popular song from Frozen comes to mind. “Conceal, don’t feel. One wrong move and everyone will know.”

I suppose all of this comes from my deep desire to not be the center of the attention. Even on my birthday, as everyone sings to me I stare silently at my cake, smiling and blushing. I don’t want to be known as the girl who whines and complains about school every time they are around her. I want to be known as someone who’s positive. Someone who always has a smile. So I conceal my distress and cry in my bed at night, desperate for relief but finding none. Hope is long gone and all that’s left is my sorrow.

“You are enough.”

The words echo in my head and follow me home that night. The idea that I’m enough still feels so ridiculous that I keep it at arm’s length. I can’t think about what it means for me if it’s true. I can’t be disappointed again. I don’t think my heart can stand another twisting, wrenching crush under life’s boot. I set the words aside and focus on my studies, focus on my life. I don’t have the time or the heart to examine these words closely or even think about believing them. My life becomes routine. I wake up, I eat, and I start my college work. Eventually I break for lunch and then it’s back to the books. I’m a robot. I don’t have time to live like my friends do. They aren’t in college because they chose another path. But I, of course, have. I don’t admit it often, but I’m jealous of their freedom. After all, have you ever lived without truly living? I go through the motions, suppressing my feelings at every turn. Maybe if I didn’t let myself feel anything, it would be easier?

I chose this path of college education because I thought it would make my life easier, my future brighter. That’s what everyone said. But in the moment, my life is the hardest it has been. Peace, rest, relaxation, is a far cry from anything I’ve experienced in months. Some people try to help, but they cannot comprehend or even relate to how I feel. I prefer to hide. Maybe it will be over sooner.

Time slips by. I keep up my fa├žade in front of the others. I’ve been doing this for so long that the mask is a part of me. It’s a mask I rarely take off. I can tell that people, particularly family members, tiptoe around my odd behavior and that’s okay. I don’t want to let them in. They’re incapable of ever understanding. So I stay in my bubble in a state of unfeeling loneliness.

“You are enough.”

I’m browsing Pinterest one day, taking a few moments break from my studies, when I find an image with the words “you are enough” written across it in bold font. I lean back in my chair, staring at the picture. The movie I watched all those weeks ago returns to mind.

I can’t hold in my emotions anymore, so I cry. And cry. And cry. It’s like these three words have broken the dam I’ve built around my heart. My tears flow as steadily as rain. I did what I couldn’t do before. I accepted the words as truth. I am enough. My best is enough. My tired efforts are enough. I am enough.

I take these words and treasure them. These words are my truth, my undoing. These words are my key to freedom.

I am enough.

To those out there who wonder if they’re enough, let me remind you of Someone. He left His Father, He left everything pure and righteous so that He could save you, a sinner in need of grace. He allowed the world to brutally torture and kill Him for you. So that you could be enough. So that we don’t have to be defeated. So that you could stand proud over the devil and declare, “I am enough!” It is not what we do here on earth that matters; it is what Jesus has done for us that truly matters. Nothing can remove us from His love. Nothing will ever make you fall short in His eyes. You are always enough for Him.

Quit struggling, quit fighting the truth and just accept it. Let the peace wash over you and set you free, as it did me. It’s going to be okay. It may not be easy right now but if you take this truth, you’ll begin to see God’s mercies anew each morning. You’ll experience His peace. And, perhaps the first time, you’ll believe that you are enough.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

{Book Review:} Revolutionary by Krista McGee

18806299My Review:
A fast-paced conclusion to a brilliant series!

I have been eagerly awaiting Revolutionary since Luminary released last winter. Ms. McGee left us with so many questions and hardly a sufficient amount of answers! What was going to happen to Thalli and friends? What could happen next? How on earth was it all going to be resolved in one book? Thankfully, Ms. McGee gives us the answers we want and more in Revolutionary.

Thalli has grown and changed all throughout this series. When I think back to Anomaly, she's a completely different character! She's stronger and more obstinate than ever in this installment. Her journey has been rough but it's only polished her and made her better. I enjoyed watching her development come full circle.

Oh, the plot twists! Brace yourselves, people, if you're like me you won't even know which way is up! This conclusion is very well written and keeps your hand fingering the next page, ready to turn at will. I didn't think the series could improve on itself, but Ms. McGee surprised me. That said, this isn't my favorite in the series. I think Anomaly holds that place securely, but it was close. :-)  Fans of this series should not miss out!! Possible spoiler: The ending felt super rushed to me and I didn't quite like it. End possible spoiler.

I recommend to fans of Christian dystopian and sci-fi ages thirteen and up.

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

Back Cover:
All her life Thalli thought she was an anomaly. Now she must use her gifts to fulfill the role she was called to play: Revolutionary.

Back in the underground State against her will, Thalli is no longer the anomaly she was before. She has proven herself to be a powerful leader aboveground and returns with information that Dr. Loudin needs to complete his plan of uniting the world under one leader: himself. But he, too, has information. A secret he has kept from Thalli her entire life. A secret that, once revealed, changes everything about the person Thalli thought she was.

Hoping to help Thalli rise up against the Scientists, both Berk and Alex join her underground, but their presence only brings more trouble for her. Now Dr. Loudin knows just the leverage to use on his captive, and she is forced to choose between the two of them. Is her first love her true love? Or does Alex ultimately claim her heart?

Unsure of everything around her, including her own identity, Thalli doesn’t know where to turn. She knows she needs the Designer, but he seems further away than ever. What she does know, though, is that if she doesn’t do something to stop Loudin, the fragile world above ground will be lost once and for all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{Book Review:} With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

18652812My Review:
What a touching story!

Once again Miss Camden brings us a wonderful story with heart and soul. In With Every Breath, our primary characters are seeking a cure for Tuberculosis. This journey and battle against the raging disease is heart-wrenching. We meet characters stricken with this disease only to watch them slowly succumb. These moments are poignant and written with care. The emotional aspect of this story is only made more powerful by...oh. Right. Spoilers! ;)

Both Trevor and Kate completely transform from the people they were at the start of the book. Their development as a romantic couple and as individuals are well-handled. It was easy to identify or at least relate to Kate early on, but it took longer for me to warm up to Trevor's cold facade. Other minor characters came to life off the page; fully giving this world a realistic touch.

Overall, With Every Breath comes just shy of my favorites list. The setting pops off the page, the mystery holds you to your seat, and the characters will warm your heart. If you have read and enjoyed Miss Camden's other novels then I would encourage you to read this one. For those new to Miss Camden, if historical romance is your slice of pie, then I encourage you to read this novel as well. I recommend to readers ages sixteen and older.

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

Back Cover:
In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston holds a respectable position as a government statistician when she encounters a rival from her past, the insufferable Trevor McDonough. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and she's bewildered at the way he suddenly seeks her out. Surprising even herself, Kate agrees to Trevor's entirely unexpected and risky proposal to work side-by-side with him in his quest to rid the world of tuberculosis, a contagious and deadly disease.

As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, she realizes there is much more to him than she could have imagined. His hidden depths may fascinate her, but his most closely guarded secrets and a shadowy enemy lurking in the background carry a serious threat to their future.

When the truth of the past comes out, threatening to destroy everything they hold dear, how will Trevor and Kate ever overcome all that stands in their way?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson {Revell Blog Tour!}

18637155My Review:
Fans new and old will LOVE this new release from Thompson!

In A Bouquet of Love, our main character's, "obsession" is Judy Garland. Cassia is constantly humming a Judy Garland song or remembering a scene from a Judy Garland movie. This, of course, brought up fond memories of her movie with Fred Astaire, Easter Parade. What I particularly loved about this novel by Thompson was the fresh, outside look at the Rossi clan.

Cassia and her, fun, crazy Greek family heavily remind me of a certain Italian family I have come to love. Their quirks and traditions of course, vary from the Rossis; nevertheless, their core values are the same. In many ways I hope this is not the last book in the Weddings by Design series. I would love the chance to get to know Cassia's family better as well as spend more time with the other beloved characters we've come to know (Scarlet, Hannah, Drew, Gabi, etc.).

All in all, if you're looking for a comedy to brighten your day and a underlying message to encourage you, then this book is for you. If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend you look into Ms. Thompson's other books and series. Thompson's books repeatedly bring a smile to my face. Now I begin the wait for her next book... I recommend to readers fifteen and older. This is a "romance" novel, though in my opinion, romance is not the focus. I would like to publicly offer my sincerest apologies to Revell and Ms. Thompson for the late review. I'm coming off a long trip and I got the tour dates mixed up.

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

Back Cover:
Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her huge Greek family–especially her father–has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant location on the Strand– directly across the street from the Rossis’ popular pizza place–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into Bella’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .
Fan favorite Janice Thompson gives readers one more romp with Bella, Galveston, and the bustling wedding biz in the final installment of her popular series. Anyone who loves quirky families, loads of laughter, and tender romance will find themselves hooked.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin {Revell Blog Tour!}

My Review:
18637152Venture to the 1940s with Sundin's masterpiece!

I love, love, love Ms. Sundin's WWII novels. She stays true to history, making you feel like you've traveled through time. Her characters are so well rounded. They each have aspirations, fears, and their own journey to go on. It's been fun and interesting to watch the nurses grow together and view things from their different perspectives in the different books. It's crazy to think some of the early events in In Perfect Time {3} coincide with events late in On Distant Shores {2}. For certain, if a new reader picked up this novel, they hopefully wouldn't be confused. Sundin does a great job of explaining what's going on with the other nurses. You can definitely read these as stand-alone or out-of-order.

Let's talk about Kay for just a minute. Wow. I did NOT like her back in With Every Letter {1}. She has come such a long way and transformed mightily. I never thought she'd become close friends with Mellie and Georgie. Yet Kay made proactive changes in her life and by the end of In Perfect Time, the threesome are inseparable. I also loved getting Kay's backstory. It really explained a lot about how she acted and so forth.

Overall, you can't miss this book! I loved the emphasis on God's timing and the overall happiness that can be found inside the pages. If you're a World War 2 history nut, you'll really enjoy this series but I'll bet you'll love the characters even more. I can highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy both romance and a historical setting. I recommend to ages sixteen and up. :-)

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

Back Cover:
Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don't want to go. Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

19320758My Review:
An endearing, sweet release from Warren!

I have loved every second spent with the Christiansen family, and let me say, When I Fall in Love is really close to topping Take a Chance on Me. Honestly, Grace and Max were amazing and their story reminded me how much I love Ms. Warren's books! Not to mention most of their story unfolds on the beaches of Hawaii? And who doesn't love that idea? I admit, though, I'd react to the long plane ride much like Grace does...

But moving on, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and personality inside Max, Grace, Casper, and even Raina. Out of the characters I've named, I think Max is my favorite. His struggles and his fears came across the page and struck me. I sympathized for him more than the other characters. In a similar way, I felt like I related to Grace more. While we do not share many of the same traits, there are a few that we have in common, and it's enough to endear me to her.

I love how as Ms. Warren tells one story, she begins another. It makes the story world feel almost 3-D. While something is happening with Raina and Casper, we know that Max and Grace are having fun doing something in Hawaii. It adds a realistic touch to the whole novel and it doesn't give only two characters the spotlight.

All this said, I easily recommend this novel to fans of Ms. Warren's other work and fans of the age fifteen or older. If you're looking for a relaxing, sweet book to read during the afternoon, When I Fall in Love is an excellent choice.

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

Back Cover:
Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.
Susan May Warren's newest book in the Christiansen Family Collection, When I Fall In Love,  has won over readers' and critics' hearts alike. With critical reviews like, ". . . an exquisite romance. Profoundly touching on the topic of facing fears, this book is a true gem," and more than 60 five-star reviews at Amazon, When I Fall in Love is sure to please.

Susan has teamed up with some amazing food bloggers for a fun food challenge and a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway!
whenifall-400-click

  One grand prize winner will receive:
Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you're not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Susan's blog on the 13th to see if you won!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar {CFBA Blog Tour!}

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
In The Field of Grace
River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2014)
by
Tessa Afshar


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi's love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.

But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi's chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.

Based on the biblical account of Ruth, In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel's destiny and the future of the whole world.

If you would like to read the first chapter of In The Field of Grace, go HERE.

My Review: 
Oh, my! Another amazing release from Tessa Afshar!!

I have loved every book I've read by Ms. Afshar, and this one is no exception! To make things even better, she writes about Ruth and Boaz in In the Field of Grace! The story of Ruth is a long time favorite of mine. I was so thrilled to discover that's who I'd be reading about. I love how Ms. Afshar tries to stay true to the Bible while also threading in fiction where there are gaps or "loose ends" in the story. She did this in a truly amazing way.

I loved how she characterized Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. She fleshed them out, gave them dreams, gave them fears... In essence, she breathed life into them. One day when I'm in Heaven I'm going to ask Ruth to tell me her story. (As well as ask many other people, but I digress...) It wouldn't surprise me if Ruth reveals many of the same emotions that Ms. Afshar portrays in the story. It's beautifully done. This is another book that will have a permanent place on my shelf to be re-read, and lent to people who I think need the story brought to life. I'm very picky with what Biblical fiction I read, but I'm proud to say Tessa Afshar's works have made the cut. ;-) I recommend this novel to fans of Biblical fiction anywhere from adults to the teenagers of fifteen.

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

{Book Review:} Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering

18652050My Review:
Another fantastic Drew Farthering mystery by Ms. Deering!

While I am far too busy to have a lazy afternoon to spend reading, during my available my spare time you had to fight me to get this book out of my hands. The depth of the mystery and the pacing of the overall story were about on par. Not to mention the many twists and curves to keep you guessing along the way! I went into the novel eager for a fresh mystery, and Ms. Deering came through.

Something I look for particularly in mystery novels is a shocking reveal. Let me say, I have never read a book where the culprit was... Oh, wait. I can't tell you. ;-) Read the book for yourself!! I was pleasantly shocked I had not figured it out. But, moving past the whodunit excitement, I loved a couple of the new characters we met, particularly Peter. I'm a sucker for adorable, fictional kids. Maybe it's because they represent their real-life counterparts well.

Well, to wrap up this review, I must say I've become so attached to Drew, Nick, and Madeline over the course of these books, that I dearly hope this is not the end of their adventures! It's safe to say that if you have read and enjoyed the previous books, Murder at the Mikado, will definitely suit your fancy. Whether you're a fan of the 1930s, or the mystery genre, or both, you should enjoy this new release. I recommend to readers at least fifteen or older for readability.

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

Back Cover:
Just as Drew Farthering thinks his life has found smooth waters, Fleur Landis, an old flame, reappears in his life. She's married now, no longer an actress, and he expects she'll soon disappear--until she comes to him in dire need. The lead actor in her old troupe's production of The Mikado has been murdered, and Fleur is the police's number one suspect.

Drew would love nothing more than to just focus on his fiance, Madeline, and their upcoming wedding, but he can't leave Fleur in the lurch--even if she did break his heart once. As Drew, Nick, and Madeline dive into the murder, they discover more going on behind the scenes of the theater troupe than could ever have been imagined. Nearly everyone had a motive, and alibis are few and far between. It's Drew's most complicated case yet.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Death Takes a Ride by Lorena McCourtney {Revell Blog Tour!}

18637156My Review:
Another great addition to the Cate Kinkaid Files!!

After loving the previous books spent with Cate, Mitch, and Octavia, I couldn't help myself when the opportunity arose to review Death Takes a Ride. Once again, Ms. McCourtney exceeds expectations as she rises above the common cliches associated with murder-mysteries. Nothing comes easily to Cate. Some might shrug at this, but this truly is what makes this series, particularly Cate, stand out over the ones where the main character always has that convenient friend.

Cate grows a little bit more in each book and I'm always excited to spend some time with the tomato-red head. Her quirks and her cat, Octavia really grow on you. Cate comes through so clearly that, though the book is written in third person, there were times I had to remind myself it wasn't first person! I really hope this isn't the last we see of Cate and Mitch (especially after that ending!!), because I would love to read another book.

When I sit down to read a mystery, my biggest concern is whether or not I'll be surprised with the ending. This time, I was not surprised but that didn't detract at all from the experience for me. Instead, I felt more of a "I knew it!" avalanche of excitement rather than a "Drat. I was right." disappointment. As I stated earlier in the review, I hope there's another book!!

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a more relaxed mystery novel over the common suspense/thriller. Things to know: a character is killed by being impaled in the head. I think readers should be at least fifteen or sixteen before diving into this novel.

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

Back Cover:
Cate Kinkaid arrives at H&B Classic Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there--this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense. Owner Matt Halliday wants to hire her, but not for this case. Instead, Cate is charged with finding a man who owns a particular motorcycle Matt would like to buy. As her search progresses, she begins to suspect that the shooting in Matt's office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy Saturday!! {Winner!}

Hey all! Summer is in full swing and I can't believe Fall is already on the horizon. Unfortunately, college has kept this girl pretty busy and that won't change until my Graduation next spring. Bear with me, friends. Starting in October, I simply will not have time anymore to read and review books. This saddens me a great deal as I will miss the blog, the books, and most importantly, the people, a whole lot. The positive side to this is that I know when I'll be back. If all goes well, I shall be back from my seven-month hiatus May 2015. Thankfully, October is still two an a half months away! ;-D

Now that we're past that little update let's uncover who won my INSPY giveaway!

*drumroll*

Jillian H.!

I have already been in contact with Jillian and will be mailing her book to her within a week or so. Thanks to all who entered and promoted the giveaway! Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2014

{Book Review:} Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

18652058My Review:
A cute, funny, new release from Witemeyer!

I can't say that Full Steam Ahead is a new favorite, BUT I extremely enjoyed Nicole and Darius. Their chemistry drew me deeper into the story, and I loved their banter. Together, they were great. I liked watching Darius come out of his shell, and Nicole learning to let others into her heart. The story and the plot itself is well developed, but I struggled with accepting it. For me, I wasn't convinced how realistic it was, but it is fiction so I will give the author that. In all other areas, the research was evident.

Darius struggles with something I believe many new Christians can relate to, such as forgiving yourself for whatever mistakes you've made in your past. I LOVED how Witemeyer handled this. I'd say more, but you need to read it for yourself. All in all, Darius felt very real, given his past and circumstances.

Nicole too, seemed to come alive off the page. She's determined, intelligent, and compassionate all in one. Her greatest fault is her determination to keep her loved ones safe. This normally wouldn't be a bad thing, but Nicole does make some mistakes, like anyone. Ultimately, she wasn't my favorite character but I really loved reading about her time spent with Darius.

This is the kind of book historical fiction lovers will appreciate and adore. I easily recommend it to fans of the genre and fans of Mrs. Witemeyer. I recommend readers be fifteen or older for readability and some scenes.

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

Back Cover:
Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mini-Reviews {INSPYs}

Hey, everyone!

As you probably noticed, this past weekend the winners of the INSPY awards were announced! I was very blessed to be a part of the General Fiction judging panel this year and I'm already looking forward to next year! ;-D Anyway, now that the winners have been announced I thought I would write up some quick mini-reviews of the five nominated books, including the winner. Stick around, there's a surprise at the bottom!

I'm going to start off with the other books and save the winner for last. Sound good? Great, here we go.

15770312
Iscariot by Tosca Lee
Personally, I LOVED Iscariot! It shows that Ms. Lee did her research on Jewish customs and traditions. She doesn't give us too much information and keeps the balance right. Having done some study on Jewish feasts, this book was fascinating for me. However, I recommend this book with caution. I suggest readers to be sixteen-seventeen or older due to some minor content in the novel.

16100916
Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green
Widow of Gettysburg was probably my favorite novel out of the five. I connected with Liberty off the bat. I also really enjoyed the historical setting/fresh look at the war and those impacted. I studied the Civil War in depth for school last year and it was nice to see such accuracy and care taken. I highly recommend this novel to historical fiction lovers out there. 

17657646
To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel
I struggled with To Know You. While the theme and underlying message were great, I didn't connect with the characters easily. This book is written for an age group above me, and this contributed to my struggle. It also took me time to adjust to the head-jumping/many points of view. Nonetheless, I believe that women anywhere from their early-to-mid-twenties and up will enjoy this book and get a lot out of it. 

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When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell
Unfortunately, I have not read the first in this series. If I had, reading this book might have been easier on me. Cantrell's characters are well formed and the story is well developed but overall, the book fell short due to some confusion at the start. That being said, I plan on going back and reading the first book to hopefully get a better grasp on Millie and her past. I recommend this novel to those who enjoy reading historical fiction, particularly the late 1930s and early 1940s. 

Last, but not least, the INSPY winner! 
16033233
Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes
Wings of Glass is written as the main character telling a story. Ms. Holmes truly made Penny and her friends come alive off the page. It probably wasn't easy penning a story about spousal abuse. For me, this book was hard to read at times, due to some of Penny's idiotic decisions. However, I'm sure that any woman under Penny's circumstances might have done the same thing. I do not recommend this book lightly, the topic is a hard one to swallow at times but if you're up for it then by all means read it! 

To celebrate Wings of Glass receiving the INSPY award, I'm giving away a copy of the book! Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received all the books for the INSPYs from their publishers, thanks!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

{Book Review:} Purple Moon by Tessa Hall

18877747My Review:
Wow!!

I intentionally went into Purple Moon blind. I mean, I'd read the synopsis a couple weeks ago, but when I actually sat down to read it I went in with no pre-conceived notions. Purple Moon is amazing, people! Ms. Hall's writing style is easy to follow and holds your attention. Selena comes right off the page with a strong voice and just like any teenage girl, she has her quirks. There were times I had to remind myself Selena is fictional, Ms. Hall does that great a job. :-)

The story and the characters overall really impressed me. Written in first person, I feel like we're given an accurate point of view of a non-believer. Selena's interactions with Austin really made me rethink how I interact with my non-believer friends. Far too often we as Christians come off judgmental or holier-than-thou and that is not how Jesus told us to treat others. I'm not saying Austin did sound this way, but he could have expressed himself better. After all, if Austin was perfect, would I like him half as much as I do now? Nope. Austin was the right friend for Selena at the right time. Jumping back on track, Selena's journey, her struggles, and her baggage were written so well. So realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and could hardly put it down.

There you have it, folks. If you're looking for a thoughtful, realistic look at Christianity through a non-Christian's eyes you ought to look into Purple Moon. Or maybe, you just like YA (Young Adult) Christian fiction. If so, this is also the book for you as well.

Many thanks to the author, Tessa Hall, for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of Purple Moon for free in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks again! My apologies for being a day late in getting this up. 

Back Cover:
Selena's life isn't turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid.

That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena ... but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn't how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her "bad habits" for this.

Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blind Trust by Sandra Orchard {Revell Blog Tour!}

18637162My Review:
A thrilling sequel to a mysterious series!

We met Kate Adams in the first book, Deadly Devotion, and now her story continues in Blind Trust. I was really impressed by this sequel! It's been awhile since I've read a series where you stay with the primary characters from the first book. That being said, Orchard's series feels fresh.

If one thing about Kate has been made crystal clear it's this: you don't mess with her friends. As we saw in the book prior to Blind Trust, Kate's dear friend's death was ruled as suicide. Refusing this verdict, Kate set out to discover the truth. In Blind Trust, her kind neighbor, Verna, is accused of counterfeiting. We can all probably guess how Kate reacts to that. This loyalty to people close to her is really admirable, yet is odd when you consider she has problems trusting others. I love how well Orchard has developed Kate this far, and I'm curious to get to know her even better in Book 3.

Detective Parker, or Tom, strives to balance his developing relationship with Kate and his job. Despite his flaws and his imperfections, Tom is a dependable guy for the most part. I loved getting to know his character better in Blind Trust.

Orchard has written a series that leaves you wanting more. There's suspense, mystery, uncertainty, and a slight amount of romance weaved in. I am ever so eager for Book 3's release! June 2015 seems so far away. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy the suspense/mystery genre ages fifteen and up for readability.

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

Back Cover:
Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can't believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker's investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor's innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation--and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world--and her budding romance with Tom--begin to crumble. To Kate, it's clear that she won't be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster's secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom? 

Award-winning author Sandra Orchard draws readers into a world of rogues, red herrings, and romance as she unfolds the continuing story of amateur sleuth Kate Adams.

Friday, June 13, 2014

{Book Review:} Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt

20648658My Review:
Words cannot effectively describe this beautiful story!

It didn't take me long to be reeled in hook, line, and sinker into Somebody Like You. I am thoroughly impressed by Mrs. Vogt's talent, voice, and skill. I'm surprised I haven't picked up one of her books before now! Every aspect of the story felt so real that I had to remind myself it was fictional. You better believe I'm going to track down Mrs. Vogt's other books. ;-)

Haley is a woman who longs to be cared for- even if she doesn't realize it herself. For years and years she has striven to be as good as her brothers. Referred to as "Hal" by all her friends, even her late husband, she was simply "one of the guys." I loved her inner struggles, because they made her human and I understood her fears.

Stephen is a hurting man seeking something. Seeking what exactly, he isn't sure. I admired his compassion and servant's heart, and I appreciated the guilt he has been carrying around for going on a dozen years. In some ways, he was his twin's exact opposite. But, I'll save the details. All around, Stephen is a sigh-worthy lead and not because of his good looks.

To conclude, then, I really, really, really, enjoyed Somebody Like You. Like couldn't-put-it-down good. The plot drew me in and kept me intrigued while Mrs. Vogt's characters pulled at my heart-strings. I also loved how delicately Mrs. Vogt dealt with some issues present in our society. My opinion? You're going to have to read this book for yourself. I highly recommend to readers who enjoy contemporary romance ages sixteen and older for both readability and content.

I received this book for free from the author in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks, Mrs. Vogt!! 

Back Cover:
Can a young widow find love again with her husband’s reflection?

Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relation­ship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Somebody Like You is a beautifully rendered, affecting novel, reminding us that while we can’t change the past, we have the choice to change the future and start anew.


Author Beth VogtAbout the Author:
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth on her website or check out her blog on quotes, In Others’ Words.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

{Book Review:} Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade

21356325My Review:
Oh my goodness!!

Meant to be Mine is definitely my new favorite by Becky!! I was hooked from the very first chapter. Putting the book down was torture! I wanted to dive right into the pages of the book and shake some sense into Celia, then I wanted to play princesses with cute, adorable, Addie, and lastly I wanted to smack Ty. Seriously, could two people really be so stubborn? Nonetheless, I loved them both and I admired Ty trying to make things right with Celia.

(minor spoilers ahead!) If there was one thing that frustrated me the most it was probably the "we can kiss, but we're just friends" deal Celia and Ty struck up. Making out when no one was looking? Really? They're both so intelligent it drove me nuts thinking that they could make stupid decisions. Other than that, they acted within common sense. (end spoiler alert)

Celia, as Ty put it, is beautifully imperfect. She strives to take care of Addie to the best of her ability. She protects the little girl like a Momma Grizzly. I was glad to see Celia become gradually more independent and trustworthy of others. Whether she realizes it or not, she really changed from the Celia we first meet toward the beginning. It's a good change, though.

I'm not going to say too much about Ty. He made a lot of mistakes in his past and it was sad for me to think he was inflicting penance upon himself (i.e. no church, no women, etc.). He ran away from the thing he needed most: God. He probably changed for the better as much as Celia did. I'm glad they both found what they really needed.

To quickly sum up then, Meant to be Mine is a treasure, forever to stay on my bookshelf. I fell in love with the simple way Becky writes and, of course, her characters. (I desperately wish I could hug Addie!!) She takes simple Christianity concepts and makes her characters struggle. The battle isn't easy, but watching them overcome is encouraging. I highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy contemporary romance with a deeper theme/message and I also recommend to girls sixteen or older for readability and content.

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

Back Cover:
Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty feels exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be anybody's husband. As a professional bull rider, he lives on the road and can't bring himself to settle down.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the face of the one woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to make Celia's dreams come true, to win her trust, and to prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

Monday, June 2, 2014

{Book Review:} Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin

18652808My Review:
An endearing contemporary!

This is the first book I've read from Bylin and I have to say I'm impressed. Her style is smooth and it draws you deeper into the story. I loved the condors! I'd heard about the incredible, near-extinction birds from somewhere else, but Bylin's novel took my knowledge to another level. The condors slipped into the story so seamlessly that they didn't take up too much space, nor did I feel they were lacking attention.

Kate is a seemingly typical control-freak with a bruised heart. All her life she has lost people she deeply cares about due to circumstances beyond her control. She's a character I could easily sympathize with, but I couldn't relate to her problems. There were so many times I wanted to shake her silly! Nick too for that matter. Kate's transformation from an unbeliever to a believer in God is slow and realistic. She asks many questions common coming from an unbeliever. They're good questions. They're hard questions too. Yet Nick responds with grace and patience every time, being honest with Kate when he doesn't know all the answers.

In sum, Bylin's newest release from Bethany House isn't a personal favorite; however it's a delightful story about giving up control of your life to your Creator. I recommend this novel to those who enjoy contemporary novels set in small towns, and those looking for a novel with a deeper message. I recommend to readers ages fifteen and older.

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

Back Cover:
Contemporary Romance to Make You Laugh, Cry, and Fall in Love

When Kate Darby swerves off a mountain road to avoid hitting a California condor, she ends up trapped in her car, teetering on the edge of a cliff. Terrified, she breathes a prayer that changes her life: "God, if you're real, I want to know you." 

It's Nick Sheridan who comes to Kate's rescue. Nick is handsome, confident, and seems to develop a habit of rescuing her, but Kate is in town only until her grandmother recuperates from a stroke. She's not planning to fall in love with one of the locals. 

Nick Sheridan is a reformed veteran of life in the fast lane, a new Christian, and a travel writer. When he sees a car dangling on the edge of a cliff, the daredevil in him jumps into action. He doesn't expect to be swept off his feet by the car's occupant. He's made a vow: no dating for a year. And it's a vow he intends to keep in spite of his attraction to Kate Darby...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

{Book Review:} A Bridge Unbroken by Cathy Bryant

22130167My Review:
Another faith-filled, dramatic romance from Bryant!
We return to Miller's Creek once again watching a new story unfold. I love fictional small towns, and Miller's Creek is no exception. The level of familiarity among residents sets off a warm, homey vibe. I particularly liked how much time we spent inside Miller's Creek Community Church. Instead of the story being one of a character coming to Christ, Bryant made it one of a Christian struggling with forgiveness.

Meet Dakota. Or is it Amy? No, wait, it's A.K. Aston...I think. Haha! Whoever this fiery red-head is, she's a wonderful character and she handles herself well, though sometimes she tends to run away when she's afraid. I loved the fact that she was a writer! I also loved watching her go under a subtle transformation as she spent more time with Chance. Chance is a decent lead/hero. I hated it when he let himself be blindsided by his judgement; however, I liked watching him move past his problems.

As a romance novel, I thought A Bridge Unbroken was great, but compared to other romantic suspense novels I have read, this one falls short. It lacked tension and I didn't feel "on edge" until towards the end. Overall, Bryant does a great job weaving romance and Christianity together without it feeling forced or sounding preachy. I recommend this novel to followers of the Miller's Creek series and those looking for a romance novel to read in an afternoon, fifteen years or older.

A big thank you to Mrs. Bryant for sending me a PDF review copy for free in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. 

Back Cover:
Letting go to build a bridge…
Dakota Kelly wants her painful past to disappear. A plan to start afresh is derailed when she co-inherits her late grandfather’s farm with Chance Johnson, the man responsible for the scars on her heart. But Chance isn’t the only ghost from the past. Someone else is out to get her and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Will Chance and Dakota lay aside their grudges to restore the old farmhouse and bridge, or will evil forces sabotage their attempt at forgiveness?

Monday, May 26, 2014

{Book Review:} Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

First off, I am getting this review up terribly late. My sincerest apologies to Tyndale and Ms. Dotta!! 

My Review:
18312044A lovely story reminiscent of the classics! 

Mark of Distinction is technically the second in a so-far marvelous series. I have not had the privilege of reading the first, but I will be remedying this. That being said, it did take extra effort to get into the story, but once I was sufficiently hooked there was little stopping me from turning the page. Dotta writes a marvelous story in a fresh, new perspective.

At times, my like for Julia, the main character, swung back and forth like a pendulum. I couldn't figure her out! There were times I wanted to comfort her and times I wanted to shake her. This is probably the trait that makes her a good character, no matter how frustrating. She definitely is indecisive and I didn't like some of the choices she made. 

Nonetheless, I have to gush about Isaac for a moment. Talk about the perfect gentleman! I think it's safe to say I much prefer Isaac as a suitor for Julia over Edward; although I haven't read the first book so maybe that will change my opinion. Isaac is pretty awesome though... Ahem, moving on. 

I am truly impressed and in awe with Ms. Dotta's fantastic piece of art. I cannot believe we must wait until next year for the conclusion!! It seems an eternity to wait after such a ending. Before I close out this review, I will say the story had a dark/depressing atmosphere for the whole novel, adding to the Gothic feel. I highly and easily recommend this novel to readers familiar with Bronte and Gothic fiction at least fifteen or older. 

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

Back Cover:
London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself—but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal—substantiated or not—can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.

When Julia discovers that Lord Roy Pierson, her guardian and one of most influential men in England, is the father she has never met, she begrudgingly accepts his protection. But Chance Macy’s power is far-reaching as well.

Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she’s trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate—but outwitting one’s foe rarely goes according to plan.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

And the Winner is...

Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope you're enjoying Spring as much as I am. :-) Well, today's the day! Are you ready to find out who won a copy of Silenced by Dani Pettrey? Thought so. Before I reveal the winner's name, I want to remind you all that there's still time to enter her Rugged Romance Giveaway!

Enter the RUGGED ROMANCE Sweepstakes from Author Dani Pettrey

All right, it's time for the big reveal. Drum roll, please! 

Lydia M.

Congrats, Lydia!! I've already sent an email to the email address you provided for Rafflecopter. You have until Monday evening to get back to me. If I haven't heard from you, I'll pick another winner Tuesday. 

Thank you all so much for participating!! Perhaps they'll be another giveaway soon. ;-D Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris {Revell Blog Tour!}

18637160My Review:
A thrilling, captivating mystery!

What a roller coaster ride! Once you start reading Fatal Exchange the pace picks up and never slows. I loved that. There's nothing quite like curling up on a rainy day with an awesome mystery book and Fatal Exchange fit the bill. I was completely enthralled into the story and was lost in its pages for a couple hours, hardly able to set the book down.

I did not read the previous book in this series, nonetheless, I didn't feel like I was missing anything. It can definitely be read as a stand-alone. I will say, after I tore through Fatal Exchange, I'll be going back to find Dangerous Passage for certain. Harris writes in a fluid style that leaves you turning pages.

I really, really, liked Emily and Mason. I felt I could relate to certain aspects of their character. They felt so real! I was so thankful for how accurately Emily's emotions were portrayed after everything she went through. I cringe when I read about characters who breeze through life having unrealistic reactions to traumatic events. I also felt Mason's internal struggles were justifiable. I found myself thankful again that his growing relationship with Christ wasn't stilted or forced, rather the opposite. I appreciate Godly characters so much.

The "mystery" and thrill in and of itself was fantastic and different for me, personally. I will definitely be looking up more of Harris's works and digging into Dangerous Passage when I have time. Why, oh, why must we wait until Spring '15 for the next book?? I highly recommend to fellow readers of mystery/thrillers. There really wasn't much romance in the story, but if there had been more than there was, it wouldn't have flowed. I recommend to readers fifteen or older due to the nature of the story. Things to know: There are at least ten murders either mentioned or presented in the story, though not given in grotesque detail. There is a drug cartel. 

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

Back Cover:
Emily Hunt might come from a family of cops, but she never goes looking for an adrenaline rush. She lives the quiet–well, relatively quiet–life of a teacher and thrives on making a difference in the lives of her students. But she’ll have to draw on a well of strength and savvy she didn’t know she had as student Rafael Cerda takes her class hostage for ransom money to save his brother’s life.

Undercover cop Mason Taylor has been working with Rafael to find his brother and bring the cartel thugs who hold him to justice. Can he talk Rafael down from his impulsive actions? And is there something more sinister at work here than he realizes?

Fatal Exchange draws readers into a complex matrix of intertwining lives and unraveling secrets, where every answer creates more questions. Romantic suspense fans will hardly want to come up for air.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

{Book Review:} Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl

My Review:
An emotional, intriguing, historical!

Stengl swept me away to 1792 and, in my opinion, accurately captured the unrest and turmoil surrounding the French Revolution. I have not had the privilege of reading any of her previous works, but I am doubly impressed with Until That Distant Day. Her characters, her setting, and her plot all weave together like a beautiful tapestry and I adore it.

Colette, whose lovely head we're in, is relatable in her many struggles and wondering. I can easily imagine myself feeling the same way had I lived back in 1792 Paris, France. This does not mean there were not times I wanted to shake her, or point out the obvious; however if she didn't have her problems, would I like her as much? Not really. In contrast, her brother Pascoe's problems made me dislike him. Now, I don't have a brother, but I did find their relationship interesting. They seemed almost too close, but in the end everything was sorted out.

Moving on, another element of the story I admired was the use of French in dialog sprinkled over the pages. There was never too much that I could not decipher and the glossary at the back was incredibly helpful. For me the language added authenticity and added depth to both the story and characters. I even picked up a few phrases to add to my small knowledge of French. ;-)

All in all, I was thoroughly enjoyed Stengl's return to the fiction scene, and I look forward to seeing what she releases next! The emotion, realism, and twists make it a favorite in my books. Things to know: the majority of the story is set somewhere in the middle of the Revolution, thus there is bloodshed, though nothing extreme. A woman is impregnated outside of wedlock though we do not specifically read about the event. I recommend this novel to historical readers ages fifteen and older for readability and content.

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

Back Cover:
Colette and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl {Blog Tour + Giveaway!}

Hey everyone! I have another fun post for you all! Not to mention another giveaway. ;-D

Book Blurb:
Colette and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?


About the Author:
Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.

She blogs at Books, Cats, and Whimsy. Do stop by and follow her to keep up with all her writing and reading-related activities!

I was offered the opportunity to ask Jill a question about her new story. So I asked her, "What do you want readers to take away from Until that Distant Day?" Below is her answer. :-) 

I've been thinking a bit about this question—thank you for asking, Rosie.

The main thing I hope readers will take away from Until That Distant Day is that indefinable blend of euphoria and sorrow I feel after reading my very favorite books. I hope my characters will remain in a reader’s thoughts as if they were real people, along with their desire for purpose, hope, and a future. I hope the scenes and setting will remain like memories of personal experience in a reader’s mind. I hope these characters and their relationships will not blend in with those of a dozen or a hundred other books.

In short, I hope readers will remember my story and wish to read it again. Isn't this every author’s desire?

A lovely answer. Thanks, Jill! 


As part of the launch tour, Jill is offering her new book, Until that Distant Day, on Kindle for only 99 cents through May 12th! Get your ebook copy here!! 

Now to the part you have all been waiting for, the special giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lastly, don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour!


Until That Distant Day
Launch Tour Schedule

May 5







May 6





May 7




May 8




May 9





May 10





May 11





May 12





May 13 – Giveaway Winner Announced