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?