Wednesday, September 14, 2016

{Book Review:} Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

My Review:
27840705Oh my stars.

I wish I could have had this book a couple years ago. It would have saved me so much hurt. But I didn't, and that's okay. God brought me through and helped me work through it. In her book, Mrs. TerKeurst walks through how to overcome the pain of past or present rejection, and how to in turn live loved. If you've ever tasted that bitter sting of being rejected, I strongly recommend you pick this book up. As she points out, not tending to these wounds just allow a seed of bitterness to grow in your heart. You need to quit ignoring the problem and address it, and Mrs. TerKeurst helps you do just that.

Now, this book will not replace going to a counselor if that is what you need. But it has helped me in so many ways. Mrs. TerKeurst writes in such a relatable fashion, she shares her heart and her struggles. She reminded me that I wasn't alone. And that I wasn't the only one who had ever felt this way. She was encouraging and uplifting. I thought I would have gotten this review up sooner, except I had to keep going back and re-read chapters. This isn't some casual afternoon read, this book provokes thought and requires time to soak it all in. I could barely make it through a couple chapters at a time. Normally, that would be a bad thing but not this time!

I have faced a lot of rejection this year. Maybe now that the wounds have started to heal I'll write about it. But until then, I can't recommend this book enough. If you're hurting, at least use this book as a starting place. Spend time in the scriptures she lists, and definitely pray. God will work wonders on your heart through Mrs. TerKeurst, if you'll let Him. He did just that for me!

Thank you, Lysa, for being bold enough to write this book. I can't thank you enough!

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

Back Cover:
The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:
  • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.
  • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.
  • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
  • Stop feeling left out and start believing that "set apart" does not mean "set aside."
  • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Starting a New Chapter

Sorry for the long blog silence! In case you hadn't heard, my darling husband and I are getting ready to add a third member to our little family later this month! <3 :) Be on the lookout for a book review of Lysa TerKeurst's latest release! 

20. 2-0. Twenty.

It's a new decade, a new year, a new chapter for me. Where has the time gone? I'm no longer a teenager, I'm definitely an adult. This seems bizarre. When did I grow up?

I suppose I've accomplished quite a bit in the last two decades, but I'm really excited to see what I get my hands into for the next two. I want to live with as few regrets as possible. I want to walk alongside God everyday. I want to live out the dreams He has placed in my heart. I want to live a life full of love.

He told me this past week that this coming year would be a year of preparation. For what exactly, I don't know yet. But He's promised it's good! He didn't promise it would be easy, or that I wouldn't be discouraged along the way. He has promised to be there. Picking me up when I stumble, holding me tight when times are rough, wiping away every tear, and nudging me onward. He's a good, good Father. 

I am so excited to see what He has for me. In the meantime, I'm following the marching orders I've been given. "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much." (Luke 16:10 ESV) I encourage you to ask yourself, if you haven't already, what is God calling you to do right now? Are you doing it?

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.

like a river - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
like a river - prize collage (1) 

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
beautiful pretender - prize collage 

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.

beautiful pretender - enter banner

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

My Review:
27066853A wonderful addition to the Waves of Freedom series!

After getting to know Arch in Through Waters Deep, I was looking forward to reading his story. The guy has been through a lot, as it was implied in the prior novel. Such things are revealed in Anchor in the Storm, and we get to watch Arch slowly grow into the man he was called to be. Growing in her own way alongside him, is Lillian Avery, Jim's little sister. Lillian has her gone through her own problems and obstacles, yet she remains resilient. Falling in love puts a crack in her armor, but in the end, it only makes her stronger.

On the side of this romance, we have another thrilling mystery to decipher! Instead of the docks, this mystery is found in Mr. Dixon's drugstore. It was interesting to watch Lillian work on this case. Interesting how? Well, she isn't Mary and so watching the way Lillian worked on the case was fun. I really appreciate that Ms. Sundin's characters are each their own person.

I can't tell you which book I loved more, Through Waters Deep or Anchor in the Storm. Both had delicious mysteries to unravel, characters overcome their insecurities, and a love story to make you swoon! The last book might have to be the deciding factor, so we shall see. ;) If only we didn't have to wait until next spring for When Tides Turn! I can easily recommend this novel to anyone who appreciates historical fiction at it's finest! Ms. Sundin provides the perfect amount of detail. This book is sure to be a favorite.

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

In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love? Pharmacist Lillian Avery and Ensign Archer Vandenberg are about to find out in Sarah Sundin's new book, Anchor in the Storm. During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling? As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

Celebrate the release of Sarah's Anchor in the Storm by entering to win her All Hands on Deck Prize Pack!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A signed copy of Anchor in the Storm
  • Nautical tote bag lined with anchor fabric
  • Anchor necklace made from copper reclaimed from the USS Constitution in Boston during restoration
  • 365 Devotions for Hope by Karen Whiting
  • Shine: Nautical Inspirational Adult Coloring Book
  • "Hope Anchors the Soul" journal
  • Set of two nautical tea towels
LF AIS full group 2 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 8th. The winner will be announced June 9th on Sarah's blog.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

{Book Review:} Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

My Review:
Another wonderful historical novel by Ms. Sundin!!

23411607I have loved and dearly enjoyed each novel I pick up by Ms. Sundin. Through Waters Deep is no exception! Ms. Sundin skillfully transports us back in time to Boston in 1941. If there was one thing I appreciated the most about this novel it would be the superb attention to historic detail. Whenever I began reading I lost all track of time and what was going on around me, I was totally immersed into the time period. The details Ms. Sundin includes about the navy are a testament to the thorough research she accomplished. She made everything easy to understand.

Additionally, I loved the saboteur plot! I felt like I was right alongside Mary, trying to work out the mystery myself. Those of you who know me, know how much I enjoy a good mystery and this one met my approval. Without this, the story would have lacked something. I thought it was well done and the conclusion satisfactory.

I admired the way both Jim and Mary grew over time. From beginning to end, they had changed in a positive way for the better. This book has not been a disappointment! Rather, it's another shining gem among Ms. Sundin's other novels. I'm eager to start Anchor in the Storm! If you have a propensity for World War II novels, or if you simply love a good historical read, this book is for you. :-)

I checked this book out at my local library. No review required!

Back Cover:
It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

{Book Review:} The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

My Review:
A masterpiece debut from Cambron!!

18850688I missed out on reading this one when it initially released, but I did have the pleasure of reading the next title, The Sparrow in Terezin. I was giddy when I stumbled across The Butterfly and the Violin at my local library. And I was equally giddy when I finally had time to crack open the pages and dive right in. This novel takes us into Auschwitz, probably well known as the camp that killed the most people.

Friends, I will warn you, this isn't an easy book to read. Along with its sequel, this book takes on the all-too-real horrors of World War II. Ms. Cambron spares us the more gruesome, violent details, of course, but she does not shy away from the truth. I admire her for taking on such a hard story. Because with all that said, this story is truly beautiful. It possesses heart and something else I pinpointed in the sequel, hope. Hope in the face of one's world tearing apart. Hope in the face of potential death.

But this is not just a World War II story about Adele, also sharing space in this book is modern-day Sera James' story. She's on a journey of her own seeking, perhaps not hope, but healing. And without giving too much away, I loved the way Ms. Cambron wove their stories together. Whenever we transitioned from story to story, I found myself eager to return to the prior story. Ms. Cambron's writing is engaging and powerful, so very powerful.

This Hidden Masterpiece series will forever be dear to me and shall be read over and over again. I highly recommend this one to anyone who values well written historical novels with a deeper message.

I checked this book out at my local library, no review required. :)

Back Cover:
A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz--and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

{Book Review:} The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

My Review:
An interesting twist on the story of Swan Lake!

22574726I can't say this has been my favorite of Ms. Dickerson's novels, but I can say I really liked the main characters, Odette and Jorgen. I loved Odette's heart and her compassion for the poor children. Jorgen had compassion too, but also integrity, which I admired. The side characters were okay, in my opinion. They didn't always feel real. Though, once the story began wrapping up, their actions and behavior made more sense.

As far as the plot and story, I enjoyed the tension following Odette's secret. It kept the pages turning, for sure! I was personally very interested to see the "Swan Lake" twist, and I wasn't disappointed. However I would have liked to have seen more of that story incorporated.

To wrap this up, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was a nice afternoon read, despite its disappointments. I look forward to reading what Ms. Dickerson has in store for the next in this series, The Beautiful Pretender. If you like historical fairy tales retold, you just might like this one. :-)

I checked this book out at my local library, no review required.  

Back Cover:
A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor.

A handsome forester on a mission to catch her.

Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.

The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around—and who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.

For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him . . . a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.

When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries.

The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . . What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Be Better Than Them.

We've all been hurt at some point in our lives. Sometimes by different people. Sometimes by the same person. Or perhaps sometimes in the same way repeatedly. Life goes on though. How do we move forward?

What are you saying, Rosie? That I should "forgive," right? What if it isn't that easy? I know it's not that easy. I've been betrayed and proverbially stabbed in the back by the very people I trusted dearly, sometimes over and over again. The other day I caught myself wanting to do the same thing they did to me (or something similar) and return the favor. But how does that help me heal? How does that help me move on and "forgive" like I'm supposed to?

Let me give you the answer: it doesn't.

Showing the ones who have hurt you anything but love and forgiveness only destroys you from the inside out. It plants a seed of bitterness in your heart, a weed. When going unchecked, weeds will choke the Word of God growing in our heart. (Matt. 13) You may think treating them to the cold shoulder or ignoring them is letting them know that they've hurt you. But the language of unforgiveness isn't so easily understood. Chances are, depending on the circumstances, that they don't even realize what they've done to you or to the extent that you've been hurt. Jesus tells us to "treat others the same way you want them to treat you." (Luke 6:31, AMP) He also instructs us to love and pray for those who hurt us.

“But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]." (Matt. 5:43-45, AMP)

Friends, I'm preaching to myself here too. This is something I struggle with personally, just as I'm sure some of you do. What I really want you to get from this is that if we really love Jesus, we need to recklessly pursue Him and strive to be a Godly example of Him to all we meet. We need to love the socks off every single person we encounter. Because if we're truly loving like He loves us, it'll be easy. If we're truly sharing His love, it will be easy to forgive. It will become easy to treat those who have hurt us with love and forgiveness.

When we're hurt, we need to be better than them in our response. We need to take the higher road and remember that He sees everything. We need to extend love to those who didn't hesitate to drive a knife into our back. Jesus did, you know. Literally. The Bible says He was like a sheep to the slaughter. (Isa. 53:7) This won't be something that you'll want to do. This won't be something you'll like doing. But if you stick to God and keep your focus in the right place, you will reach a place where it won't bother you anymore. Be better than them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

{Book Review:} The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

My Review:
A marvelous, historic tale set in the early 1900s!

I loved Ms. White's previous historical series, The Culper Ring, so I have been yearning to lay my hands on this recent series of hers, Ladies of the Manor. As I am a bit behind on my reading I have not had the pleasure of reading the first book, The Lost Heiress, however this did not detract from my reading experience in the slightest! The Reluctant Duchess is a great stand alone, though to my understanding it does incorporate characters from the prior book.

24105713Rowena is our leading lady in this title. I grew very attached to her--right off the first page! I'm pretty sure I fell in love with her accent too. Wow! She's been so hurt in the past that she's weary of new acquaintances--especially the ones thrust upon her--but her relationship with her younger step-sister was precious. Her character arc was really well done. Ms. White, I felt, progressed Rowena's growth at a realistic and reasonable pace. I adored how everything came together.

The way this story was crafted made me feel transported back in time. The details of the era are enough to bring your imagination to life, without overwhelming you. This time period holds such a magnificent elegance and The Reluctant Duchess does not disappoint.

Overall I was pleased with this novelits story-line, and its characters, I have already placed a hold on The Lost Heiress at my local library, and I cannot wait to pick it up. Nor can I wait for A Lady Unrivaled's release later this year. Ms. White's writing is incredible and I highly encourage you to check this one out at the earliest opportunity-- especially if you love historical novels. ;-)

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

Back Cover:
Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough—not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar and the men who have jeopardized her life.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has suddenly found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of his neighbor, Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when the moody Earl of Lochabar tries to trap Brice into marrying Rowena, Brice finds he’s not as opposed to the idea as he expected to be.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to resort to marrying a notorious flirt just to gain his English home. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in some kind of questionable business with a stolen treasure, she ’fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

Friday, April 15, 2016

{Book Review:} The Sound of Emeralds by Rachelle Rea

My Review:
A lovely, emotional conclusion to a beautiful series!

Ever since I finished The Sound of Silver I have eagerly anticipated The Sound of Emeralds. And I was not disappointed! The end of Silver left us with glad tidings, yet a shadow to be resolved. Namely, proving Dirk's innocence. I just LOVED how this book touched on real life feelings and struggles.

Emeralds rounds out the stories of the characters we've come to love so dearly. This book deals with a lot of emotion, both the good and what could be classified as "bad." I loved how Ms. Rea handled the "bad" emotions, such as the sadness and the depression, the grief and the anxiety. It made the characters raw, vulnerable, and realistic. But I also particularly appreciated how she handled the healing that came after; both the joy and the peace.

Over the course of these three novels, Ms. Rea tells a beautiful story. I loved watching Gwyn, Dirk, and even the minor characters grow through these novels. This book had me gripping my e-reader, desperately needing to know how things would be resolved. So while Diamonds (I think. It's hard to choose!) remains my favorite of the series, Emeralds definitely gave it a run for its money! If you like historical novels, you must not miss this one!!

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

Back Cover:
What once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache?

With the help of an old friend with uncertain loyalties, Dirk inches ever closer to clearing his name. Gwyneth throws her faith into good tidings and the promise of a future as a family. But an old evil comes to call, just as tragedy rips apart a fledgling truce. Enemies from the past and grief for the future threaten to tear asunder what God had brought together…

As the date of Dirk’s trial approaches, his fate and his family hang in the balance. Will he be proven innocent of Gwyneth’s parents’ murders—or separated from her forever? How much pain does it take to erode a love steadfast?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

{Book Review:} Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

My Review:
Oh my goodness!!

25695527Ladies and gentlemen, this is a public service announcement: please run--not walk--to your nearest bookstore and pick up this gem!! (But in all seriousness, do exercise caution.)

Ms. Pettrey's debut series, Alaskan Courage, was a favorite so I was eager to see what this new series held in store. And, trust me, I was by no means disappointed. I first sat down with the novel thinking I'd only read for an hour before getting on with making supper and other household chores... Hah! One hour turned into two and then into three. Cold Shot is that good, people! Sure enough I finished this book in one setting as I couldn't put it down.

Along with this new release arrives a new crew to absolutely love. Griffin, Finley, Declan, Parker, and the others form a great team. Once they worked past some initial awkwardness, they proved to be very effective working together. I can't wait to see what case they tackle next!!

I could gush so much more, but I shall not. Don't want to give anything away. ;-) But if mystery and suspense is your thing, this book will be a perfect fit. I highly recommend it!

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

Back Cover:
In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world--and friendships--crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet--until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern--a young social justice lawyer missing since spring--and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he'll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he--and those he cares about--are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

{Book Review:} Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

My Review:
This book was a dream!

22504481Ms. Camden does so well with her historical novels. I've been impressed with each novel I've had the pleasure of reading. In this particular story I thought she did a superb job handling the historical information so that you weren't bored, but rather fascinated. She touches on a place in history that I am unfamiliar with, so I found the story enchanting overall.

In Beyond All Dreams we meet Anna O'Brien (whose last name had me thinking of Downton Abbey!) and Luke Callahan. Both characters felt extremely well-rounded and each seemed real. Anna had a rough childhood, losing both her parents as well as experiencing great trauma. Luke, on the other hand, suffered a different kind of childhood, which was equally unpleasant. In my humble opinion I feel it is critical for a character to act according to his/her background and personality, and I felt like Ms. Camden accomplished that with both lead characters.

In conclusion, I loved getting this up close look at the United States of America in the late nineteenth century. Each historical aspect was handled with care and presented well. I loved that, even though the mystery was fictional, Ms. Camden seamlessly wove it into this time period. I look forward to reading her future books!

I checked this book out at my local library; no review required. 

Back Cover:
Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.

Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for themselves?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

{Book Review:} The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

My Review:
An intricately woven mystery set in the beautiful Regency era.

I'm a bit behind on Ms. Klassen's books, as this title was released in 2014, however I shall enjoy every second of catching up! When I saw this beauty on the shelf at my local library I unashamedly snatched it off the shelf, determined that this book would be coming home with me.
I don't know about you but I just love this time period. It's reminiscent of the early seasons of Downton Abbey, with butlers and housemaids and footmen. This era also possesses a charm like that found in Pride and Prejudice. It is for this reason that I eat up Ms. Klassen's works (though, not literally). The stories and characters are so masterfully crafted and put together, The Secret of Pembrooke Park being no exception to this.

In this novel we meet the Foster family, who have come upon hard times. Out of the blue, they are offered a tenancy at an abandoned house. They accept. Abigail and her father move there directly to tidy up the place while her mother and sister remain in London for the season. As they clean, Abigail detects something strange about the place and seeks to uncover the mystery.

While this isn't my favorite novel, I will say I do love a good mystery. This story offers a relaxing mystery--it is by no means a thriller--to enjoy while you lounge on your couch or bed. Once you've started reading, it quickly becomes harder and harder to put down. Ms. Klassen pens her stories in such a way that you find yourself glued to the book, easily able to imagine everything happening in your mind's eye. This is a trait I really value in books. I want to be able to see it. Anyway, I generally pride myself in solving mysteries fairly quickly, so I applaud Ms. Klassen because she gave me a run for my money!

If Regency style is your thing, or you like Austen's novels, I can easily recommend this novel to you. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Back Cover:
Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

I checked out this book at my local library, no review required.