Friday, May 24, 2019

First Line Fridays: Finding Beautiful by Rebecca Friedlander

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today I'm sharing the first line from Finding Beautiful by Rebecca Friedlander:

“What would it look like to pack your bags and travel the world in search of true beauty?”

Have you read this book? If not, read more the book blurb below and check out my review here.

What are you reading this weekend?

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:

Let's redefine beauty for our world!

What is beautiful? We spend our money on beauty products, weight-loss programs, and age-defying medical interventions to attain beauty. We set impossible standards and feel bad about ourselves when we don't reach them. Is beauty truly that elusive? Or could it be that our idea of what's beautiful is simply too narrow?

Through engaging personal stories and dramatic before-and-after photography, filmmaker Rebecca Friedlander uncovers the true beauty of twelve women from around the world, empowering us to shatter the lies of rejection, doubt, and low self-esteem. Utilizing compelling biblical truth and questions for personal reflection, Friedlander helps us identify our own personal battlegrounds, celebrate our uniqueness, and embrace God's definition of beautiful.



First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Book Review: The Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep

About the Book:

A Cross-Country Trip through Regency England Brings Intrigue, Rogues, and High Adventure.

The must-read conclusion to Michelle Griep’s Bow Street Runners Trilogy: Life couldn’t be better for Abigail Gilbert—but it’s been a long time coming. Having lived with a family who hated her, love is finally within reach. Abby sets off on a journey across England to marry one of the most prestigious gentleman bachelors in the land—until highwaymen upset her plans and threaten her life.Horse patrol captain Samuel Thatcher arrives just in time to save Abby. But to him she’s simply another victim in a job he’s come to despise. Tired of the dark side of humanity, he intends to buy land and retire.

Abby pleads with him to escort her on the rest of her journey. He refuses until she offers him the thing he desperately needs to achieve his goal: money. Delivering her safely will earn him more than enough to settle into a quiet life.

So begins an impossible trek for the cynical lawman and the proper lady. Each will be indelibly changed by the time they reach her betrothed, if they don’t kill one another first—or fall in love.

My Thoughts:

The Noble Guardian is my new favorite of Michelle Griep's novels. This beautifully crafted story was well-written and perfectly paced. The adventure, suspense, and romantic tension combined to create a story that drew me back night after night until I finished it.

The romance was one of my favorite elements of this novel. Samuel and Abby are a case of opposites who attract. Their outlook on life differs greatly and both have firm ideas and expectations about the future. This juxtaposition undergirded their attraction and gave ample opportunity for character growth. The sustained romantic tension was perfectly balanced with adventure and suspense. Their first kiss might be one of the best kissing scenes I've read this year. Yes, I think it's that good!

The Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep is the final novel of The Bow Street Runners Trilogy, but can be read as a stand-alone story. I recommend The Noble Guardian to readers who enjoy clean historical romances. It's a keeper for my bookshelf and I give it five stars!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Friday, May 17, 2019

First Line Fridays: The Crossing at Cypress Creek

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today I'm sharing the first lines from The Crossing at Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman:

"Caleb O'Shea jerked awake to utter stillness."

The Crossing at Cypress Creek releases June 4, 2019, and I recently reviewed it! Check out my review here.

What are you reading this weekend?

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:

Sailing and soldiering around the world has taken Caleb O’Shea far from his native Ireland, so he never imagined that a promise to see a fellow crewman safely home would practically land him on his brother’s doorstep. After spending years away from his family, Caleb isn’t certain what kind of reception he will receive when he steps foot in Natchez, Mississippi. The one thing he knows for sure is that he won’t stay long.

Since her sister was kidnapped by river pirates six months ago, Alanah Adams has taken special care to avoid drawing attention to herself. Those living in the rough-and-tumble settlement of Cypress Creek might even think she’s addled. But when she stumbles into Caleb and his friends in Natchez, she appears to be the picture-perfect lady.


Caleb only catches glimpses of the mysterious and beautiful Alanah before she disappears. But a chance encounter with her at his brother’s logging camp near Cypress Creek leaves him uncomfortable at the thought of the young woman traversing the dangerous area alone. At a crossroads in his life, Caleb must decide whether he wants to give up the worldly adventures he’s been seeking for one closer to home.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Book Review: Knox by Susan May Warren

About the Book:

He's not looking for trouble...
Montana rancher Knox Marshall's danger years are behind him. A former bull-rider, he now runs the Marshall family ranch, raising champion bucking bulls for the National Professional Bullrider's Expo (NBR-X). Wealth and success are his, but life is stable, expected, and…ordinary.  But he wants more from life...

But trouble is looking for her...
Kelsey Jones just wants a safe life, a family, a home. Onstage, the beautiful rising star of the Yankee Belles becomes the person she longs to be - vivacious and confident - burying the brokenness she carries from a violent assault. Becoming NBR-X’s next country act is key to outrunning her past and achieving the success and security she craves.

When trouble finds them both...
Knox and Kelsey's paths collide when an explosion at an NBR-X event traps them in the rubble and leaves them reeling. Kelsey’s crippling nightmares return, but for Knox, an obsession to find the bomber is ignited.

What will it cost him to protect her? 
When Kelsey’s past threatens Knox’s family, he'll have to choose between saving the Marshall legacy or becoming the protector he's always longed to be.

The explosive first book in the Montana Marshalls series!


My Thoughts:


Knox is the first installment in Susan May Warren's Montana Marshalls series. Having read other novels by Susan May Warren, I had some expectations – romance, danger, suspense, and a good story. I'm happy to say that Knox did not disappoint. The plot pace was perfect. Thanks to the action, mystery, romance, and suspense, the story held my attention and never dragged.

I really liked how Knox was part of Kelsey finding healing from her past. He wasn't the full solution to Kelsey's issues, but he provided a safe space for healing to begin and pointed her to God, the ultimate Healer. The Marshall family responded to Kelsey and her pain in a healthy, supportive way that I admired. There was plenty of good character development. As Kelsey and Knox grew individually and as a couple, they drew each other out of where they were and into better, though perhaps less predictable, places.

I recommend Knox by Susan May Warren to readers looking for story with romance and suspense. If you read and liked the author's Montana Rescue series, I think you'll find Knox to be a very enjoyable read. 4.5 Stars!

Lastly, I have to give a warning that Kelsey is the victim of a physical and sexual assault. I thought the author handled it with sensitivity. However, I recognize that this book has enough content (because a lot of it is about Kelsey's journey to healing) that it might be a trigger for some victims.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

New Book Acquisitions!

Do you ever use a holiday or birthday to acquire more books? I do. 

I make it super-easy for my husband. I order the books I want and once they arrive, I give them to him to put in a bag... to present to me on my birthday... or Valentine's day.... or our anniversary. You get the idea.

So, tonight I am sharing the books that I received for Mother's Day:

This is quite a diverse gathering. A contemporary fiction (To Get to You), a historical romance (Never Forget), and two that I'm not quite sure how to classify, historical fantasy, perhaps? (The Reckless and Fawkes)

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes is completely out of my normal genre. But the Bookstagram community has convinced me that this is an amazing book, so I'm giving it a try!

I was a bit surprised when I realized three of the four were independently published. I usually don't gravitate toward self-published books.

So, lots of reading in my future. And that makes me happy. :)

What about you? Did you receive any books for Mother's Day?



Friday, May 10, 2019

First Line Fridays: The Brave Art of Motherhood

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today I'm sharing the first lines from The Brave Art of Motherhood by Rachel Marie Martin:

"Over the past five years, I've lived what I've jokingly called a public private life."

Have you read this book?

What are you reading this weekend?

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:


Full-time FindingJoy.net blogger, speaker, marketer, podcaster, and single mom of seven, Rachel Marie Martin presents a wake-up call to those of us who have found ourselves stuck in the 'I'm just a mom' phase of life. 

Yes, this book is about motherhood . . . but really, this book is about finding yourself again and following your passion WHILE being a mom. Inspired by her incredible story, Rachel's words always come straight from the gut; they are visceral, real and soul searching. She challenges you to find the courage to break cycles, to take off masks and not let fear take control. This book is a balance of tough, "no excuses" ways of approaching life, while allowing breathing room and grace for yourself, for as we all know, life and mothering are not perfect.


After inspiring and conversing with thousands of women, Rachel has surmised there is always a reason to hope, to move forward and a reason to dare doing what you thought was impossible. (Yes, including what you are skeptical of accomplishing right now). She encourages you to say yes to your dreams and stop waiting for "someday" or "one day" or "when something happens".


Prepare to change the way you think about yourself and your life. This will be a book you read over and over armed with a highlighter in one hand and a journal for introspection in another.


First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Book Review: The Crossing At Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman

About the Book:

Sailing and soldiering around the world has taken Caleb O’Shea far from his native Ireland, so he never imagined that a promise to see a fellow crewman safely home would practically land him on his brother’s doorstep. After spending years away from his family, Caleb isn’t certain what kind of reception he will receive when he steps foot in Natchez, Mississippi. The one thing he knows for sure is that he won’t stay long.


Since her sister was kidnapped by river pirates six months ago, Alanah Adams has taken special care to avoid drawing attention to herself. Those living in the rough-and-tumble settlement of Cypress Creek might even think she’s addled. But when she stumbles into Caleb and his friends in Natchez, she appears to be the picture-perfect lady.

Caleb only catches glimpses of the mysterious and beautiful Alanah before she disappears. But a chance encounter with her at his brother’s logging camp near Cypress Creek leaves him uncomfortable at the thought of the young woman traversing the dangerous area alone. At a crossroads in his life, Caleb must decide whether he wants to give up the worldly adventures he’s been seeking for one closer to home.


My thoughts:

The Crossing At Cypress Creek is the third novel in Pam Hillman's Natchez Trace series. Although it can be read as a stand-alone novel, I recommend reading the other installments first to fully appreciate the supporting characters and their backstories. As always, Pam Hillman offers a well-written story that immediately captured my attention and never dragged.

I loved Alanah. She was my favorite character in The Crossing At Cypress Creek and may be my favorite character in the entire series. As an herbalist, she forages for medicinal plants and has vast knowledge of their locations and properties. The combination of her intriguing profession, her unique personality, the enchanting setting, and the lurking danger created a captivating tale.

The love story between Alanah and Caleb was romantic and satisfying. The tender friendship coupled with Caleb's protectiveness grew into a beautiful, romantic love. Beyond being Alanah's romantic interest, Caleb is instrumental in God's healing work in Alanah's life. There are themes about allowing God to work out His will in one's life, men cherishing women and loving them well, and the potent impact of forgiveness.

I recommend The Crossing At Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman to readers of historical romance who enjoy a story with bits of humor, spiritual themes, and unique characters. Those who have enjoyed the other books in the series will want to complete it with this novel.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary advanced reader copy from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Recommended Podcast: Charles Martin and Annie F. Downs on That Sounds Fun

Not too long ago, I reviewed What If It's True? by Charles Martin. You can read my review here.

Shortly after that, I listened to Charles Martin on Annie F. Downs' That Sounds Fun Podcast. Of course, they discussed What If It's True?, but also lots of other topics. Some fun, some serious.

I always enjoy getting to know more about the authors whose books I read and I thought I would share this podcast with you.  I couldn't find a way to embed it, but here's the link to Annie's site.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Book Giveaway: Cajun Hearts by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Time for my monthly Book Giveaway!

Have you read any books by Kathleen Y'Barbo? The Cajun Hearts novella collection offers three romance stories in a single volume. One entrant will win a gently used paperback copy of Cajun Hearts by Kathleen Y'Barbo.


About the Book:

Three women seek a place to come home to in the bayous of Latagnier, Lousiana.

Sophia finds a home with an elderly woman who inspires her faith and encourages her in adopting twin girls. But then Major Ezra Landry arrives and accuses her of scheming his grandmother. Can they ever learn to trust each other?

Bliss Denison's successful career is derailed by an accident. Can Bobby Tratelli, an old friend with his own share of regrets, help her find new promise in life?

New to the area, Texas architect Lise Gentry has vision for renovating the old downtown. Will the history minded mayor, Ted Breaux, allow her to do her job or help her realize new dreams?

Can each woman find the love and acceptance they desperately seek in Cajun country?

About the Giveaway:

Enter using the Rafflecopter. Must be a resident of the US, 18 years of age, and legally able to enter. Book is in gently used condition and will be shipped via Media Mail. No purchase necessary.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Book Review: Finding Beautiful by Rebecca Friedlander

About the Book:

What is beautiful? We spend our money on beauty products, weight-loss programs, and age-defying medical interventions to attain beauty. We set impossible standards and feel bad about ourselves when we don't reach them. Is beauty truly that elusive? Or could it be that our idea of what's beautiful is simply too narrow?

Through engaging personal stories and dramatic before-and-after photography, filmmaker Rebecca Friedlander uncovers the true beauty of twelve women from around the world, empowering us to shatter the lies of rejection, doubt, and low self-esteem. Utilizing compelling biblical truth and questions for personal reflection, Friedlander helps us identify our own personal battlegrounds, celebrate our uniqueness, and embrace God's definition of beautiful.


My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed Finding Beautiful by Rebecca Friedlander. Although I was not familiar with Radical Makeovers, the television show related to this book, I was intrigued and inspired by the stories of the women in this book. In the introduction it says that the book “shares far more details than included in the show.” So, for those who have seen the show, this book should still be interesting.

At times, the women's stories moved me to tears. I liked how the Rebecca Friedlander shared each woman's personal story, information about the photo shoot, her (Rebecca's) own story, a story/topic from the Bible, and questions for reflection. The narrative was creative and well-written. The full color photos complemented the featured stories and accented the theme of each chapter.

I recommend Finding Beautiful by Rebecca Friedlander to any woman. The diversity of topics, engaging narrative, and inspiring stories will appeal to many women. With it's hard cover, glossy pages, and full-color photos, it would also make a great gift.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, May 3, 2019

First Line Fridays: When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today I'm sharing the first lines from When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin:

"Shane Riley yanked his wet Levi's out of a grimy washing machine, one of twenty or so in a Laundromat straight out of 1992."

Have you read this book?

What are you reading this weekend?

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:

Love Discovered . . . Hope Renewed

Once a strong Christian, third baseman Shane Riley lost his faith the night he injured his knee in a freak car accident. Determined to return to professional baseball and to find the sister he treated badly, Shane retreats to Refuge, Wyoming. There he meets Melissa June “MJ” Townsend, a single mom battling the virus that causes cervical cancer. 


MJ wants nothing to do with the handsome athlete—no doubt a womanizer considering the stories in the news. But when a mistake results in Shane renting her garage apartment, they become friends. That friendship blossoms into something deep and pure, leaving MJ with a painful secret to tell. Even more complicated, she discovers an unexpected tie to Shane’s missing sister—a wounded woman who wants nothing to do with the perfect brother who scorned her.


First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Thursday, May 2, 2019

April Recap and Expected May Reading!

April Reads:

Today I'm sharing a bit about what I've been reading and what I hope to read. In April I finished:
  1. Knox by Susan May Warren.
  2. Finding Beautiful by Rebecca Friedlander.
  3. True to You by Becky Wade.
  4. A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton
  5. Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard.
  6. What If It's True? by Charles Martin.
  7. The Memory House by Rachel Hauck.
Four to six books a month is what I can usually manage, but I squeezed in seven and that makes my book-loving heart happy. I can't pick a favorite of these. It's a tie between True to You, A Flight of Arrows, and The Memory House.




May Reads:

In May, I expect to read:

1. No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. Degler - Rereading this book as my current season of life necessitates it.

2. Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli. - My local book club chose this as our May selection.

3. The Crossing at Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman - The third installment in her Natchez Trace series.

4. Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner - I heard so much about Bethany's debut novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, that I'm excited to read this one.

5. Inheritance by Dani Shapiro - Uncertain if this one will actually happen, but we'll see.




What will you read this month?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Book Review: Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard

About the Book:

The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up

Forensic genealogist Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather's footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from a hospital more than twenty years ago. When someone makes an attempt on Willow's life to keep her from discovering the truth, help will come from an unexpected source.


Ex-FBI agent--and Willow's ex-flame--Austin McKade readily offers to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they'll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he's spent much of his life trying to forget--and put Willow's tender heart at risk.




My Thoughts:

Never Let Go is the first novel in Elizabeth Goddard's Uncommon Justice series. As expected, this book is built around a mystery that kept me guessing until the end. I love it when I don't know who the villain is until the moment he or she is revealed! The mystery aspect carried the weight of the story from beginning to end.

The romance between Austin and Willow started out brilliantly. The tension and questions about their past relationship were intriguing at first. Unfortunately, the romantic tension started to fizzle out less than halfway through. Sure, there were still unresolved feelings and things to be communicated, but it lost some of its zap. I think if there had been deeper character development, maybe that would have made their relationship more enticing, but as it was, their thoughts and desires felt a bit repetitive.

The strength of Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard lies in its mystery narrative and ability to keep the reader guessing. If you have enjoyed previous books by this author, you might enjoy Never Let Go.

Read an excerpt from Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard on the publisher's website.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary arc copy of this book which I received from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, April 29, 2019

Blog Blitz: The Brave Art of Motherhood by Rachel Marie Martin

The Brave Art of Motherhood blog blitz final

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and we're joining up with JustRead Publicity Tours to tell you about a great gift for Mom this year! Keep reading for more info on a special ebook price to make your gift giving even easier AND a book club kit giveaway!

ABOUT THE BOOK

the brave art of motherhood Title: The Brave Art of Motherhood: Fight Fear, Gain Confidence, and Find Yourself Again
Author: Rachel Marie Martin  
Publisher: WaterBrook  
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Genre: Christian Living/Women's Interest  

Full-time FindingJoy.net blogger, speaker, marketer, podcaster, and single mom of seven, Rachel Marie Martin presents a wake-up call to those of us who have found ourselves stuck in the 'I'm just a mom' phase of life.

Yes, this book is about motherhood . . . but really, this book is about finding yourself again and following your passion WHILE being a mom. Inspired by her incredible story, Rachel's words always come straight from the gut; they are visceral, real and soul searching. She challenges you to find the courage to break cycles, to take off masks and not let fear take control. This book is a balance of tough, "no excuses" ways of approaching life, while allowing breathing room and grace for yourself, for as we all know, life and mothering are not perfect.

After inspiring and conversing with thousands of women, Rachel has surmised there is always a reason to hope, to move forward and a reason to dare doing what you thought was impossible. (Yes, including what you are skeptical of accomplishing right now). She encourages you to say yes to your dreams and stop waiting for "someday" or "one day" or "when something happens".

Prepare to change the way you think about yourself and your life. This will be a book you read over and over armed with a highlighter in one hand and a journal for introspection in another.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christian Book | Book Depository
 
brave art of motherhood sale


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rachel-marie-martin

RACHEL MARIE MARTIN, having pulled herself up from poverty to being named one of Inc. magazine's top 40 entrepreneurs, has been writing Finding Joy full time for several years and writing online for over a decade. Rachel is a single mom of 7, whose experiences range from homeschooling her two oldest daughters from kindergarten through graduation, now being a public school mom of 5. She's the daughter of church planters, a long time housewife and now a professional business woman.

She has always had a passion for a daring, adventure-filled life and is often requested to speak and motivate others with her vivacious energy and deep belief that life is a gift. Rachel is also a partner in Blogging Concentrated, the world's largest training and development company for bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters. She travels worldwide teaching marketing, voice, messaging, social media strategy and more.

In this video, Rachel discusses some the positive life choices on her journey to brave:



CONNECT WITH RACHEL: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Watch Rachel discuss finding good while in a hard place:




The Brave Art of Motherhood blitz giveaway.png

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will win a Book Club Kit (valued at $99)
  • 9 autographed copies of The Brave Art of Motherhood
  • audiobook of The Brave Art of Motherhood for those who would rather listen in the car
  • The Brave Art of Motherhood Book Club Conversation Guide
  • ebook of Rachel's first book, Dear Mom Letters
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 29, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm May 6, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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*this post contains affiliate links

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Book Review: What If It's True by Charles Martin

About the Book:

Years ago, novelist Charles Martin cracked open his Bible and began wrestling with a few fundamental questions. He asked, “What if every single word of Scripture is absolutely true and I can trust it? How do I respond? Something in me should change, but what? How?” This book is the result of that exploration.
With the depth, sensitivity, and emotion that has made his novels beloved to millions, Charles ignites our imaginations as to what the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ mean to us today. Charles asks, “What if dead and crucified Jesus came back to life by the power of the Holy Spirit and is alive today? Right now. What if that same Jesus, the One who walked out of the tomb shining like the sun, holding the keys of death and hades, is alive in me? I write fiction for a living, and that’s either the craziest thing I’ve ever heard or it’s the most important word ever spoken. You and I have a King who did the unthinkable.”
The answers that his writer’s imagination illuminates for us will change the way we think about the gospel and the way we live because of it.

My Thoughts:

If I described What If It's True? by Charles Martin in one word, it would be... piercing. He doesn't sugar-coat things. He fully believes in the Bible as inerrant and divinely inspired. He calls out false prosperity gospel movements. He tackles heavy topics such as rejection, resignation, sexual sin, generational curses, and forgiveness. He also devotes time to the love of God as being the basis of everything Christians believe and extending to anyone, no matter how far gone that person may seem.

In What If It's True?, Charles Martin stirs interest with a well-written narrative and then starts probing deeply into his topic. He uses a lot of Scripture and draws Old Testament and New Testament connections that I never noticed even though I've been a Christian for many years. While the focus is on spiritual matters, he shares some of his own struggles and situations. He does use plenty of imagination in his retellings of Biblical events. Some parts seemed more realistic than others. This didn't bother me, but others may balk at it.

I felt that the chapter on forgiveness missed the mark. As someone who has had to forgive some hard things, I know the beauty and necessity of forgiveness. Unfortunately, forgiveness was presented with a “forgive others or else God won't forgive you and you'll be separated from Him” mentality. Yes, I know there are verses that support that view. But as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can say that is not what I needed to hear years ago when I was dealing with the muck and mire. What I needed to hear was.... God will guide and help you every step of the way. No, you haven't forgiven yet. Yes, you need to forgive. But God is with you and for you, even when you just aren't there yet. The author did give a few statements about abusive situations, but given how many abused, deeply broken people there are, I think it merits more than a few paragraphs about how forgiveness and justice can co-exist.

What If It's True? wasn't easy to read. I cried... a lot. I could only handle a chapter a day, at most. Sometime in the future, I'd like to go back and read it even more slowly. I loved the prayers he put at the end of almost every chapter. I cried as I prayed them. They helped me to explore and pray more thoroughly than I would have been able to on my own.

I recommend What If It's True? by Charles Martin to Christians seeking to deepen their relationship with God and find greater spiritual freedom. If you've read his fiction novel, Long Way Gone, you may remember he ends with an essay about how no one is too far gone. That particular essay is included in What If It's True?, but is actually one of the shorter chapters. So, if you aren't sure if you want to try What If It's True?, go back and read that ending essay in Long Way Gone to get a taste.

What If It's True? earned a five star rating from me.




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, April 26, 2019

First Line Fridays: Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today I'm sharing the first lines from Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard:

"Nursing scrubs? Check. White snearkers? Check. Keycard? Check."

Have you read this book?

What are you reading this weekend?

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:


As a forensic genealogist, Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather's footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from the hospital more than twenty years ago. The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up when someone makes an attempt on her life to keep her from discovering the truth.

Ex-FBI agent--and Willow's ex-flame--Austin McKade readily offers his help to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they'll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he's spent much of his life trying to forget. And even if it puts Willow's tender heart at risk.


In this fast-paced and emotional page-turner, bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard keeps the stakes high, the romantic tension sparking, and the outcome uncertain until the very end.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: RES-Q Tyler Stop by June McCrary Jacobs

 

Welcome to the Blog Tour and Giveaway for RES-Q Tyler Stop by June McCrary Jacobs with JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: RES-Q Tyler Stop  
Series: Tyler Stop, Book 1  
Author: June McCrary Jacobs  
Publisher: JMJ Story Stitcher Books  
Release Date: April 22, 2019  
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

It's the summer of 1968 in Sonoma County, California, and eleven-year-old Weston Gregg and his nine-year-old sister, Wendy, are looking for fun things to do during their summer break from school. When they discover some abandoned rabbits, they hatch an idea to make a positive difference for animals and people in their small town of Tyler Stop.

They decide to form 'Rescue Each Species-Quickly', or RES-Q Tyler Stop.

There are challenges to face as they move forward into their new venture, including standing up to someone who is targeting Weston's friends for being different and a painfully bad decision.

Will Weston have to handle these issues on his own or will he learn to accept the advice and wisdom shared by some important people in his life? Join Weston and his family and friends as they share some adventures and learn and grow together in RES-Q Tyler Stop.

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:

"Adventure has no end in this tale, where a heart for animals inspires and surprises await around every bend. . . . The characters and the situations they face come across realistic, and the scenes develop naturally. Not only does the author keep a nice paced plot rolling along but adds interesting and practical information about animals and ways to handle certain situations along the way. It makes for a fun mix of fiction and fact.

This appears to be the first book in the series, and I’m eager to see where the RES-Q Tyler Stop adventures will head to next." ~ Tonja Drecker, Author of Music Boxes

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository



EXCERPT

CHAPTER ONE
The Discovery

July, 1968
Sonoma County, California

"DAAA-AAD! Come quick!" Weston's voice, loud even for an eleven-year-old, boomed across the empty hall. He and his little sister, Wendy, were sweeping up the section where the rabbits were kept at the Fur and Feathers Hall at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. The family was volunteering for after-hours clean-up duties.

Their father, Glen Gregg, dropped the broom handle and rushed toward Weston's voice. He found them in the far corner of the hall peering into several wire cages.

"Look what we found," Wendy said, voiced rimmed with worry. She turned toward her father with wide eyes. "Dad, these rabbits look really scared. They're shaking. Are they going to be okay?"

"I think they look sick, don't you? They're not healthy and happy-looking like our Ruby," Weston said.

"Let's have a look," Dad replied.

Dad had loved animals since he was young boy which was one reason why he was a high school biology teacher. After looking in each cage, he decided the six rabbits were overheated. The animals were heading toward heatstroke. His family had learned the hard way about heatstroke in rabbits one summer when he was a young teen in 4-H. His hometown experienced a 'once-in-a-century' heat wave that took its toll on many of his family's pets and livestock. 

Weston knew Dad was being quiet because it was bad news. Once his dad put his hands on his hips, Weston knew for sure Dad was angry. His father didn't want to upset Wendy and Weston about these rabbits, so he didn't answer right away. Dad was trying to be calm in front of them.
"Dad?" Wendy tugged on her dad's hand.

"What's wrong with them?" Weston asked.

 Glen Gregg observed the rabbits closely. All were panting and salivating heavily. The bunnies looked tired and confused. Worst of all, their ears had reddened. All were symptoms of overheating.

"I'm a little bit angry someone left their rabbits at the fair too long. The deadline for animal pick-up was four o'clock yesterday."

"I know," said Weston.  "That means they probably haven't had food or water for almost twenty-four hours."

"It's got to be over a hundred degrees in here right now. Tyler Stop has been hotter than normal for fair week, and yesterday afternoon it was ninety degrees in the shade."

"Yeah, plus the fans in here were unplugged when they closed the fair yesterday."

"When they close the doors at night, no air moves in here at all," Wendy said.

"You're both right. I need you to go find Mrs. Fletcher. She'll know how to reach the owners."



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


 'RES-Q Tyler Stop' is June McCrary Jacobs's first middle-grade book. June is a retired elementary school teacher and literacy mentor who is fond of California history and children's literature. She especially loves to write, read, and blog about middle-grade fiction and non-fiction on her 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic' blog.

In addition to writing inspirational romance books and stories for adults {A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom, 2013; Robin's Reward, 2015; Handmade Hearts, 2019}, June's original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred books, magazines, and on sewing industry blogs in the past decade.

When she's not writing, reading, blogging, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, visiting art and history museums, and touring historic homes and gardens.

One of her most memorable and thrilling childhood adventures was her ride in the Goodyear blimp as it floated over Long Beach, California. She can still remember the people on the beach waving to her as she zoomed past them.

LOOK FOR MORE TYLER STOP BOOKS COMING SOON!

CONNECT WITH JUNE: Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Goodreads Blog | Amazon


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will win
  • $20 Amazon gift card (US/International)
  • Signed Paperback Copy of RES-Q Tyler Stop (US only) or Digital Copy (International)
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 22, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm April 29, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


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


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Book Blast & Giveaway: Refuge at Pine Lake

Refuge at Pine Lake Book Blast


About the Book


Refuge at Pine Lake
Title: Refuge at Pine Lake
Series: Pine Haven
Genre: Christian, Contemporary
Publisher: Chanson Books
Publication Date: March 7, 2019

Robin Lancaster, a twenty-six-year-old former kindergarten teacher, has her summer and her life all figured out. She’s ready to be on her own, writing and illustrating her children’s stories at her family’s beloved lake house. Once there, she intends to rekindle a romance with Caleb Jackson, the area’s top hunting and fishing guide, and bag him for herself.

 Complications arise from the start when Robin finds out her mother has rented the lake house to a man they know nothing about.

Matthew McLaughlin, forty-year-old widowed university professor and author from California, shows up at Pine Lake in crisis. A sabbatical might be his only hope to save much more than his career. He needs a place of refuge. Sharing the lake house with a lighthearted young woman and her dog is the last thing on his mind.

 Caleb Jackson has his own plans. He’s used to things going his way, but a man staying in Robin’s house presents unforeseen challenges. When paths unavoidably entangle for these three, hearts are on the line.


About the Author


rose-chandler-johnson

Rose Chandler Johnson is known for her heartwarming, inspirational writing. In addition to works of sweet contemporary, Christian fiction, Rose has written an award-winning devotional, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments.


Giveaway


RaPL Blast Giveaway

Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is subject to policies HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Stops


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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Book Review: Sweet on You by Becky Wade

About the Book:

Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who's spent the past 18 months traveling the world. He's achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him--Britt's heart.

When Zander's uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But while Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle's tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also, finally, come to light?


My Thoughts:

In Sweet on You, Becky Wade delivers a beautifully written friends-to-lovers novel filled with a unique mystery, laugh-out-loud humor, stirring character development, and sizzling romance!

The friends-to-lovers trope worked especially well in Sweet on You because Britt is such a well-developed character. Her personality is complex as are her reasons for avoiding romance with Zander. Beyond fear of ruining their friendship, much of Britt's reluctance to be more than friends derives from her life experiences and personality. She undergoes a character transformation as the novel progresses, but especially near the end of the book. It is only through these changes that the she finds faith to trust God and open her heart more fully to Zander.

Sweet on You caught my attention at the beginning and I read it in two nights. In some ways, it felt like an ode to chocolate and love. However, not everything was light and sweet. Embedded in the plot and character development are themes about trusting God, God's faithfulness, and letting go of one's pride and abilities. The novel also addresses the short-term and long-term effects of trauma. I loved the combination of sweet romance with deeper themes and issues.

Lastly, Sweet on You is the third and final novel in Becky Wade's Bradford Sisters Romance series. I enjoyed reading Britt's love story and the follow-up glimpses into Nora and Willow's lives. Though Sweet On You by Becky Wade could be read as a stand-alone, I recommend reading the series in order. They're all good and Falling For You is my personal favorite of the three.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, April 19, 2019

First Line Fridays: The Edge of Mercy by Heidi Chiavaroli

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today I'm sharing the first lines from The Edge of Mercy by Heidi Chiavaroli:

"I slipped the two rings off my finger to cradle them in my palm."

Have you read this book? It's Heidi Chiavaroli's newest novel and just released earlier this month.

Read my review of The Edge of Mercy.

What are you reading this weekend?

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:

Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear...

Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.


Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society. While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.


Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Book Review: What Am I Feeling?

About the Book:

Can show-and-tell day be saved?
It’s show-and-tell day at school, and Sam and his friends are feeling lots of emotions. He wonders why he feels flippy in his tummy. And why is Alex stomping his feet? And does Hudson usually have such a big grin?
After several unchecked feelings threaten to ruin the big day, Sam and his friends start to learn how to give each emotion a name and ask God to help them remember that “a feeling is just a feeling—it’s not in charge of you.” In a world where kids are dealing with everything from sibling rivalry to bullying, divorce to tragedy, What Am I Feeling? offers a biblically grounded way for children to verbalize their feelings, develop empathy and self-control, and understand their wonderful God-given emotions.
BONUS! Also includes a pull-out feelings chart for your wall! 


My Thoughts:

What Am I Feeling? held my children's attention as I read it and they liked the cute pictures. We talked a little about emotions and the book's message. It's not a book they want to read daily, but they pick it up sometimes.

The concepts of (1) naming a feeling, (2) asking God for help with it, and (3) not letting the emotion control your actions are good lessons. Really good lessons, that both children and adults (myself included) need to remember.

In the story, several children experience emotions that are generally perceived as negative. One girl feels sadness, one girl feels jealousy, one boy feels afraid, and one boy feels angry. While the first three got reminded in various ways to acknowledge the feeling and not let it control his/her actions, the boy who got angry never got the same reminder or any consequence. He did apologize for his anger later in the story, but it stood out to me that he did not receive a reminder like the others did. Perhaps that bothers me more than it will others, but as the book is perpetuating self-awareness of emotions, I think that one should have been called out as well.

In conclusion, my kids liked the story and illustrations in What Am I Feeling? by Dr. Josh and Christi Straub. I thought it missed the mark, but I still appreciate the premise of naming an emotion, praying for help, and not letting it dictate one's actions.




Disclosure of Material Connection: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."