Friday, August 12, 2022

Book Review: Love's Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik

About the Book:

When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. Among his effects is a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek the help of museum curator Brad Osgood to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it just another forgery?

Brad Osgood’s four-year-old niece, Brynn, needs a safe home, and Brad longs to provide it. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman.

Broken Bow is among seventy-three Plains Indians transported to Florida in 1875 for incarceration at ancient Fort Marion. Sally Jo Harris and Luke Worthing dream of serving God on a foreign mission field, but when the Indians arrive in St. Augustine, God changes their plans. Then when friendship develops between Sally Jo and Broken Bow and false accusations fly, it could cost them their lives.

Can Dani discover how Broken Bow and Sally Jo’s story ends and how it impacted her father’s life?


My Thoughts:

Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik holds two timelines with vastly different content. I enjoyed both storylines and stayed interested throughout the novel. The questions from the timelines unraveled with perfect pacing that showed the author’s ability to precisely craft a story. The ending wrapped up things with a bit of “telling not showing”, but I still liked the book.

Love’s Fortress tackled the historical actions of removing Native Americans from their tribes, detaining them in Fort Marion (now Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida), and teaching them the white man’s culture. The novel handled the situation carefully and gave it a hopeful spin while still showing the understandable distaste for the white man’s ways through Broken Bow’s perspective. Reading about these happenings made me wish that United States history hadn’t happened the way it did.

Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik is part of the Doors to the Past series from Barbour Publishers, but reads as a standalone novel. Recommended for fans of Christian fiction who enjoy a tightly crafted story with interesting historical detail. I adored the beautiful Gospel presentation to Broken Bow. I read Love’s Fortress with my local book club and there was plenty to discuss.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Shoal Waters by Normandie Fischer

Shoal Waters JustRead Blog + Review Blitz 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Blitz for Shoal Waters by Normandie Fischer, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Shoal Waters Title: Shoal Waters 
Series: Carolina Coast Stories #6 
Author: Normandie Fischer 
Publisher: Sleepy Creek Press 
Release Date: June 14, 2022 
Genre: Inspirational/Clean Women's Fiction 

Dementia, mad gunmen, and a yearning for something more make life difficult for the Beaufort folk in this series finale. 

Georgie's mind threatens to go walkabout, and she'd better get help soon if she's to stop her daughter from taking over. Enter granddaughter, Jeminy, a songwriter from L.A., and Eric, her lawyer. 

Jeminy hates herself and is pretty sure God does, too. There’s that huge unforgiveable sin, plus the boyfriend/manager who dumped her and lost her a music deal. Her mistakes. Her fault. 

When Mother plots to tuck Nana Georgie neatly into a nursing home to gain access to Nana’s money, Jeminy hightails it out of L.A. and back to Beaufort. God may still hate her in North Carolina, but at least she’ll be on hand to protect her beloved grandmother. 

Enter Eric, the lawyer hired to help Georgie protect herself--and possibly Jeminy, too. But Eric just rescued his orphaned stepson from Social Services, and while he’s adept at legal briefs and courtroom dramas, classrooms and angry second graders are brand new territory. 

Guitar in hand, Jeminy tries to write songs to jumpstart her flagging career, but when someone threatens her life, she has to ask why. Could it have to do with the money missing from her bank accounts (and maybe her unstable ex)? If she prays for help, will God even listen to someone with her baggage? 

With the help of the Beaufort crew, a new father and a terrified musician struggle to safeguard everyone they love, but it’s going to take more than good neighbors to show each of them the true meaning of grace. 

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBoundBookBub

MORE BOOKS IN THE SERIES

Becalmed Heavy Weather Twilight Christmas Sailing out of Darkness The Sea Prayers


EXCERPT


Jeminy Chapter 5


Jeminy didn’t—wouldn’t—care that her life had been reduced to a moderate savings account and the plans she now had to make. Nana’s call precipitated her decision to move out of Los Angeles, and that was no bad thing. It was past time.

This place of promise and glitter had captivated her until she’d looked more closely at its underbellies, from enclaves peopled with the untouchable elite to Skid Row’s un-helped homeless. Many of those living in between stumbled around on the verge of bankruptcy as they clawed toward access to the gated communities. Once upon a time, she’d been on the fringes of money and fame.

She didn’t—wouldn’t—care about the trappings of her big-city life she’d be leaving, not the BMW she’d thought hers, not this apartment.

…Tomorrow, it would be off with the old and on with the new, whatever that was and wherever it would take her and her guitar. A few more hours and this place would be on the way to being forgotten.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Normandie Fischer 

Normandie Fischer had the best of several worlds: a Southern heritage, access to schooling in the DC area (which meant lots of cultural adventures), and several years of sculpture studies in Italy. It might have been better for her if she'd used all these opportunities more wisely, but it's possible that the imperfect and the unwise also add fodder for the artist and the writer.

Her life changed radically when she married the love of her life at an age when some would have said she was over the hill and way past her prime. (Clichés often speak the truth, don't they?) A lifelong sailor, she was delighted to find that Michael also longed to cruise lovely waters, which is what they did from Northern CA to Mexico, spending too-few years in the incomparable Sea of Cortez. Sea Venture, their 50' ketch, is back home in North Carolina now because Normandie's mama needed care. Still, it's gorgeous there, too, and she can write from home as easily as she could on the boat. 


Her two grown children and two step-sons are handsome (or gorgeous, as the case may be), talented, and a delight. And now there's a granddaughter and grandson in the mix--woohoo! She just wishes they lived a lot closer to home.

Connect with Normandie by visiting normandiefischer.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and one signed book written by Normandie Fischer (winner's choice)!

Shoal Waters JustRead Giveaway 

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight August 10, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on August 17, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours 

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Book Review: A Tenuous Betrothal by Jen Geigle Johnson

About the Book:

Rhianna Davies is well-acquainted with heartache after the painful loss of her parents. At the arrival of her ghastly uncle, she is brought even lower: Rhi has been banished from her family’s estate home and must rely on the kindness of her tightly knit Welsh miners for help. Without the protective love of her parents, Rhi has no illusions that hers will be a happy ending—until an addendum to her father’s will arrives in the hands of a prince.

Marc Wilhelm, Prince of Oldenburg, is in Wales with one purpose: to claim his betrothed. A long-ago promise between their fathers forges an indelible link between Rhi and Marc, but there remains just one problem: neither wants to marry a stranger. With no remaining ties to Wales, Rhi agrees to accompany Marc to Oldenburg, where he will forfeit their betrothal so she may have her pick of husbands. But their journey takes them down unexpected paths, from the depths of a Welsh mine to the marriage mart of London to a warm reception in Oldenburg. Rhi and Marc discover that their connection and their challenges run deeper than either anticipated, but whether from their own hesitations or from danger that threatens without, the couple might be thwarted before they can even begin the happily ever after they so richly deserve.


My Thoughts:

Reading A Tenuous Betrothal by Jen Geigle Johnson gave me a calm respite from life. It’s the type of sweet romance novel that makes me root for the characters without feeling desperate to gobble up their story. It’s relaxed and fun and pleasant. In other words, it’s a classic Jen Geigle Johnson novel.

I liked that A Tenuous Betrothal held story tension without the main characters acting as adversaries. Rhianna’s natural leadership skills give her the necessary stubbornness and strength she needs to do good for her hometown. Marc is a born leader with a bent for protecting others, but these two characters partner together throughout the novel. Whether it’s finding a spouse or bettering the lives of others, Marc and Rhianna respect each other and willingly support the other’s goals. Although their romance felt a tad angsty as they rehashed their reasons to not be together, Rhianna’s uniqueness, plus the strong partnership between her and Marc, kept me turning pages until I finished this agreeable story.

A Tenuous Betrothal lands as book three in Jen Geigle Johnson’s Royal Regency Romance series. I read book one, but not book two, and A Tenuous Betrothal worked fine as a standalone story. Though the events involving Napoleon and France take a backseat to the characters’ relationships, that background setting does carry over from book to book. I suggest reading the novels in sequence to see how these six royal brothers navigate political happenings and personal romances.

 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Friday, August 5, 2022

July 2022 Reading Recap & August 2022 TBR


My July 2022 Reads: 
  1. Love and the Dream Come True by Tammy L. Gray - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  2. The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  3. Vying for the Viscount by Kristi Ann Hunter - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  4. The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

  5. Love's Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  6. A Tenuous Betrothal by Jen Geigle Johnson - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  7. The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my mini-review on Goodreads (with spoilers).

  8. Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall - ⭐⭐⭐

  9. Florida: A Pictoral History by Hampton Dunn - ⭐⭐⭐ - Mixed feelings on this one. Lots of history, but could have been organized better. Also, a product of it's times - POC are almost completely ignored and women are frequently objectified. But yes, lots of fascinating history.

  10. Best. State. Ever: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland by Dave Barry - ⭐⭐ - Had some legitimately funny parts, but would have been better without the raunchy content.



Expected August 2022 Reads:


Since I almost completely disregarded last month's TBR list, my current TBR is largely the same! 🤣
  1. Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy - My local book club's selection for August. I read this novel when it released and I'm looking forward to experiencing it again! Read my review.

  2. Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter - Currently reading.

  3. The Hidden Prince by Tessa Afshar - I'm super excited about this one. Tessa's novels are always excellent!

  4. Prayer Without Pretending by Angela Ashwin - I'm currently reading and loving this book. Wish I had read it years ago!

  5. Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota by Frank A. Cassell - I've been interested in Bertha Honore Palmer since I read about her as a side character in Jocelyn Green's Veiled in Smoke. I love visiting her estate, Historic Spanish Point, which is about 45 minutes away. Looking forward to learning more about her  and her family.

  6.  Nightshade by Ronie Kendig - This book has been on my want-to-read list for a long time. Looks like I'm finally going to get to enjoy it! 🎉



What will you read this month?

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Book Review: Love and the Dream Come True by Tammy L. Gray

About the Book:


The Anticipated Series Finale to the 2021 Carol Award-Winning Novel, Love and a Little White Lie.

Their faith will face its toughest test yet.

Four years after getting the biggest break of his life, Cameron Lee's music career has taken a nosedive, leaving him two options: become a sellout or give up on his lifelong dream. He reluctantly returns home for his sister's wedding, hoping to avoid his past and find his love for music again.

Single mom Lexie Walters has suffered her fair share of tragedies and setbacks, but she has finally scraped together the money to achieve her dream of going into business with her cousin as an interior designer. When Lexie's life is at an all-time high, she runs into her teenage crush, Cameron Lee.

Lost in the emotional turmoil of failure, Cameron is immediately drawn to Lexie and her infectious smile and optimistic spirit. Moreover, he adores her mouthy, no-holds-barred daughter. But fantasies only last so long, and soon Lexie and Cameron must face the real world, the one fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, and questions that sometimes can only be answered by a leap of faith.

Read an excerpt from Love and the Dream Come True on the publisher's website.


My Thoughts:

Love and the Dream Come True by Tammy L.  Gray delivers up Cameron Lee’s long-awaited love story (since book one in this series). I adored the romance between Cam and Lexie. Their relationship sizzles, but the tension does not obscure the story. In one another, they each find a partner that challenges and encourages personal growth. A satisfying love story that I could easily reread right now.

Cam’s exploration of the how’s and why’s of his life made him the shining character in Love and the Silver Lining. His deep emotions gave authenticity and depth to the plot without it feeling heavy or slow. Opposite to him, I cringed at some of Lexie’s mindsets and ideas. Though her character development takes longer to arrive, I like how things wrapped up.

Love and the Dream Come True lands as book three Tammy L. Gray’s State of Grace series. The narrative provides background information, but this novel has major carry over from book two, Love and the Silver Lining. While reading Love and the Dream Come True, I felt like I needed to reread book two in order to really grasp everything. As such, I recommend reading the entire series in order. All the books earned either four or five stars for me and I recommend them to fans of inspirational contemporary romance.

 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Author Interview & Giveaway: Overtaken by Grace by Debbie Milam



About the Book


Book: Overtaken By Grace

Author: Debbie Milam

Genre: Christian Living, Inspirational

Release date: May 15, 2017

Are you weary, wounded, or worried? Does grief weigh heavy? Do burdens feel too great to bear? Then you are perfectly positioned for a miraculous move of God. Overtaken by Grace is a transparent read, grounded in scripture and alive with hope. It depicts how God epically shows up and shows off and gives you the tools to experience His hope, healing, and miracles. Join Author Debbie Milam as she guides you on an adventure, diving deep into the bible to see what it says about:

  • God’s Presence in Our Lives
  • God’s Love in Our Relationships
  • God’s Peace in Our Emotions
  • God’s Power in His Word
  • God’s Joy in Our Gratitude
  • God’s Hand in the Miraculous

Haven’t you struggled long enough. God is waiting with open arms for you to let go and be overtaken by His grace. He is inviting you on the undertaking of a lifetime.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author


Debbie Milam is an award-winning occupational therapist, author and past syndicated columnist for United Press International’s Religion and Spirituality Division.

She is the author of Miracles in the Middle, Overtaken by Grace, And God Said and Lord Show Me You Are Here.

Debbie’s ground-breaking work has been featured in First for Women, the Miami Herald, Elle, and Ladies Home Journal, and on the Hallmark Channel, PBS, and WebMD.

Through her 501(c)3 Grace Love Well Foundation, her mission is to inspire people to the beauty, love, power, and presence of God. As an organization we have donated thousands of books to churches, missions work, prisons, pastoral counselors and prayer teams.

For more resources to deepen your intimacy with God and find peace in His presence, visit us online at gracelovewell.org or YouTube/Debbie Milam.


More from Debbie

Through the profound joy and sorrow life brings and by His grace I have seen signs and wonders, experienced miraculous healings and came to know how alive the Lord is. Our gracious God supernaturally healed me from a 10 year life altering brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder, comforted me from the deep grief after the loss of more loved ones than I can count, and blessed me in more ways than I can imagine.  The same God who did this for me is right there for you too.  The full story of these miracles is detailed in my book Overtaken by Grace. I would love to share the hope of Christ with your readers.


Author Interview with Debbie


Q:
Do you have a favorite quote from this book?

Debbie: Breathe, dear one. Rest in His love and His Word, and know this too shall pass. Just as day turns to night and night back to day, circumstances also change. In the middle of uncertainty we crave certainty, yet the only thing to be completely certain of is God’s infinite love and His promises over your life. He knows you are hurting and He is your comfort.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Debbie: That God loves them so deeply and profoundly. I want to encourage them to see their life and their circumstances through a lens of grace. To help them to experience God’s power by showing them expanded possibilities with reflective questions like:

What if that challenge—the one we cannot make go away, the one that overwhelms us—is a precious treasure, a gateway to God, to know His mercy, love, and grace? What if we begin to believe that His strength is made perfect in what we cannot do alone, and that we can, as Philippians 4:13 says, do all things through Christ who gives us strength?

What if in the valley we truly believe in our victory? What if all is well—not because circumstances change but because of His love and goodness? Then will we fall into His grace, knowing that if we are experiencing a challenge, God invites us on the undertaking of a lifetime.

God’s invitation is for a deeper, more love-infused walk than we can imagine. In whatever trials we find ourselves, God is right beside us, His Holy Spirit alive within us. He knows how much we hurt and how confusing our circumstances often are. He sees our tears and knows our fears. Then His Word whispers, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).

Life is an adventure filled with various seasons and multiple peaks and valleys. Our family has rejoiced in the harvest of profound joy, love, healing, and blessing; weathered the uncertainty of trauma and physical and emotional illness; deeply grieved the losses of more loved ones than I can count; and stood in awe at the continuous resurrection power of Christ in our lives. Life is a beautiful, messy, blessed, and sometimes broken glory road paved with love, tears, and faith.

Besides the book that is laden with hope and grounded in scripture I’ve also included a Bible study that can either be done as personal reflection or in small groups.


Q: Are you working on another book now?

Debbie: Yes, it is called God’s Way to Stress Less. It is based on an online course that I released in 2019. In these ever-changing times of uncertainty now more than ever we need to apply God’s word to our lives. Being an occupational therapist and resiliency coach, I share evidence-based stress reduction principles that align with God’s word. After living through a season of PTSD and complex grieving, I have so much compassion and empathy for those who feel overwhelmed, anxious, and grieved. Through practical strategies, personal stories, experiential activities and personal reflection my prayer is that others will have what they need to experience God’s great peace.


Q: Would you share something about yourself that most readers wouldn’t know?

Debbie: I write my books not as an expert. I write as a fellow traveler who is wildly in love with the Lord, radically blessed and ridiculously challenged. The physical struggles of living with severe immune deficiency/autoimmune issues and grieving the loss of over 40 loved ones showed me the relentless love of God. The challenges became a gateway to experience so many blessings. I share openly, honestly and compassionately about the joys and sorrows of loving God and loving people. Here are two other fun facts. I have 83 adorable immediate family members and I am a Christian with Jewish roots.


Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your book?

Debbie: Readers can learn more at my website Gracelovewell.org. The website is filled with free resources, online courses, audio and video.


Blog Stops


Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 23

Texas Book-aholic, July 24

Inklings and notions, July 25

For Him and My Family, July 26

deb’s Book Review, July 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 29

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, July 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 31

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 1

Beauty in the Binding, August 2 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, August 2

Cats in the Cradle Blog, August 3

Splashes of Joy, August 4 (Author Interview)

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, August 4


Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Debbie is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Link for giveaway: https://promosimple.com/ps/1f7f9/overtaken-by-grace-celebration-tour-giveaway