Sunday, April 5, 2020

Five Book Giveaway!

So... I totally missed doing my monthly book giveaway in February and March. To make up for it, I'm giving away FIVE books this month. They all go to one winner. All are previously used. Some I've read, some I haven't (but I happen to have more than one copy of those). 😉

Included books:
  • Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer - has some writing on the cover. 🙁
  • Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson.
  • One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn - An Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).
  • Showers of Blessings by Helen Steiner Rice - Poetry.
  • Amish Rescue by Debby Biusti and Courting Her Amish Heart by Mary Davis.



Enter using the rafflecopter below. Giveaway open to entrants 18+ who are legally able to enter and located in the continental US only. Books will be sent via Media Mail.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 3, 2020

Book Review: Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

About the Book:

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there's only one match she's committed to now--the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first-grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency's requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Though she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver. 

With an impossible decision looming, Lauren might very well find herself choosing between the two deepest desires of her heart . . . even if saying yes to one means letting go of the other.



My Thoughts:

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese sports an eye-catching cover that reflects the lovely story in its pages. The story held my attention from the beginning and I enjoyed Lauren’s journey, even in the hard moments. Though the story deals with tough issues – difficult life choices, family dysfunction, etc. – it maintained a light feel and pointed to the Christian’s true source of hope -- God.

Before I Called You Mine mixed women’s fiction with a contemporary romance. Both Lauren’s adoption journey and family relationships receive plenty of attention. The story explored various aspects of following God’s will for one’s life. However, on the romantic side, Joshua (Lauren’s romantic interest) stands as an amazing male lead. He’s supportive, respectful, and willing to do what’s best for others even if it hurts. In short, he reflects the character of the Jesus he follows.

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese is a heartwarming novel that will appeal to inspirational fiction readers. It earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf.




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

First Line Fridays: The Piper's Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

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 Piper's Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson:

"Did Katerina dare to stay out hunting past dark?"

Have you read this book? If not, check out my review.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love to swap first lines!

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!


About the Book:

A fairy-tale journey of intrigue and romance that reimagines the classic Pied Piper story.
A plague of rats. A giant beast outside the village walls. A host of missing children. And one young woman determined to save her people.
In 1424 Hamlin, Katerina faces threats from all sides. An outbreak of rats has overtaken the village, a mysterious beast is on a killing rampage of the village’s children, and Katerina’s evil stepfather is a dark presence inside the walls of her own home. Katerina is determined to hunt and kill the Beast of Hamlin herself before more lives are lost.
When Steffan, the handsome but brash duke’s son, comes to town seeking glory and reward, Katerina decides he might be the ally she’s been looking for—even though the only gentle thing about him seems to be the sweet music he plays on his pipe. But there’s more to Steffan than she suspects, and she finds herself drawn to him despite her misgivings.
Together Katerina and Steffan must stop the enemy from stealing the children of Hamlin. But their interference might create an even worse fate for the entire village.
First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Thursday, April 2, 2020

March Reading Recap & Expected April Reads

My March 2020 Reads: 

How life has changed since the last time I posted a reading recap! Unlike some other readers, my reading time has not seen a dramatic increase even though I am staying home during COVID-19. As it is, I only read after my daughters are tucked into bed for the night.

In March, I finished:
  1. The Socialite by J'nell Ciesielski. - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  2. Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  3. A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  4. Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Review coming soon.

  5. His Lady in Hiding by Jen Geigle Johnson. - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  6. The Basic Bible Atlas: A Fascinating Guide to the Land of the Bible by John A. Beck - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  7. Formula for a Perfect Life by Christy Hayes. - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  8. A Lady's Maid by Jen Geigle Johnson - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.


Expected April 2020 Reads:

In April, I hope to read:
  1. Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar - My local book club's selection for April. Though we won't meet in person, we'll still discuss it via multiple emails.  

  2. The Prophet and the Dove by Kirby Lee Davis. - Currently reading.

  3. The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep - I love Michelle's books and was thrilled when this one arrived in the mail!

  4. The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch. - A new to me author.

  5. Fierce, Free and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker. - I've followed Jen on social media for awhile now, but this will be my first book by her.

  6. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, annotated by Karen Swallow Prior. - I read Sense and Sensibility years ago, but I'm a fan of Karen Swallow Prior's works, so revisiting this classic seemed like a great idea!

  7. Emberhawk by Jamie Foley - A fantasy, way out of my normal reading, but it sounds very interesting. My husband has already read it and loved it!

  8. Stay with Me by Becky Wade. - With this large list, I'm not sure if I will get to the book in April or May. Either way, I'm looking forward to it!  😃




What will you read this month?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Book Review: Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel

About the Book:

We've all been there--stuck in a cycle of what-ifs, plagued by indecision, paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong. Nobody wants to live like this, but overthinking doesn't feel like something we can choose to stop doing. It feels like something we're wired to do, something we just can't escape. But is it?

Anne Bogel's answer is no. You can overcome negative thought patterns that are repetitive, unhealthy, and unhelpful and replace them with positive ones that will bring more peace, joy, and love into your life. In Don't Overthink It, you'll find actionable strategies that can make an immediate and lasting difference in how you deal with questions both small--Should I buy these flowers?--and large--What am I doing with my life? More than a book about good decision-making, Don't Overthink It offers you a framework for making choices you'll be comfortable with, allowing you to use an appropriate amount of energy and freeing you to focus on all the other stuff that matters in life.



My Thoughts:

Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel is the type of self-help book to read once (or more) every year. Though the book focuses on how to deal with overthinking, much of the advice applies to overall mental health. Chapter 5 (Take Time to Make Time) and chapter 11 (Rituals to Rely On) resonated strongly with me, but practical suggestions fill the pages of every chapter. There is an emphasis on preserving mental processing/decision-making power by streamlining or outsourcing activities as needed. Almost exclusively, the book focuses on smaller decisions, not big life changes. I found that the advice and practices by the author could be implemented right away.

I recommend Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel to anyone, though the book seems targeted to women. Whether overthinking rates as minor hinderance or a major issue, this book offers suggestions to empower one to make healthy choices.

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: Border Breach by Darlene L. Turner

Border Breach JustRead Blog Tour 
Welcome to the Blog Tour and Giveaway for Border Breach by Darlene L. Turner, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Border Breach Title: Border Breach
Author: Darlene L. Turner
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Release Date: April 1, 2020
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense

When drugs are smuggled across the border
it’s their duty to stop the culprits…at any cost.

Forming a joint task force, Canada border officer Kaylin Poirier and police constable Hudson Steeves have one objective: take down a drug-smuggling ring trying to sell a new lethal product. But when the smugglers come after Kaylin and Hudson, this mission becomes more than just a job. Can they live long enough to solve the case?



PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository  




EXCERPT


Officer Kaylin Poirier’s stomach lurched at the sight of the two people inside a white florist van that pulled up to her booth at the Windsor-Detroit border. The driver wouldn’t meet her gaze and his passenger couldn’t sit still. Their body language elevated her guard. Could it simply be her overactive imagination or perhaps the humid weather putting her in a foul mood? Experience said there was more to it. This was her job, to protect the border and catch criminals illegally importing goods into Canada—whether it be drugs, weapons or immigrants. Today was no different.

Actually, today was different. Security at the border had been tightened by her father, Chief of Police Marshall Poirier. “We will find every drug smuggler and stop them before they can enter Canada. My daughter will make sure of it,” he’d said at a joint television press conference earlier in the morning.

She winced at the memory of his firm grip on her arm and commanding voice as he spoke. He’d vowed to clear his city of drugs after numerous gangs had terrorized the community with deadly narcotics. Too many teens had died in the past two months.

And he expected her to get the job done.

No pressure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Darlene Turner

Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning author and lives with her husband, Jeff in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into her writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. You can connect with Darlene at www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders.

CONNECT WITH DARLENE: Website | FacebookTwitter | Instagram  


TOUR GIVEAWAY


(1) winner will receive a cross pendant, bookmarks, pens, and $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Border Breach JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight March 31, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on April 7, 2020. 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 mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



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

cropped-justread-logo.png

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Author Interview & Giveaway: Shenanigans by Heather Norman Smith

Shenanigans JustRead Blog Tour 
Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour and Giveaway for Shenanigans by Heather Norman Smith, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Shenanigans by Heather Norman Smith Title: Shenanigans
Author: Heather Norman Smith
Publisher: Every Season Books
Release Date: April 1, 2020
Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction

You're never too old for fun, faith, or love.

Lavinia Lewis is a wealthy southern widow who enjoys a good prank. But when a resident at her posh retirement community in Southport, North Carolina gets sick at a potluck, Lavinia's reputation as a jokester lands her in big trouble. How can she clear her name when her own daughter doesn't believe she's innocent?

Neville McGrath is a long-in-the-tooth lawyer, afraid of being put out to pasture. Torn between his nephew's offer to move to Maine to live with him and his desire to keep working, Neville discovers other options when he takes Lavinia's case.

The jokes keep her young, but Lavinia remembers the true source of joy as she faces criminal charges. Can she help Neville find his faith for the first time, and can they both find love at eighty-years-old?

A humorous and inspirational story with lovable characters, a beautiful setting, fun mystery, sweet romance, family drama, and an ending that will leave you sighing in satisfaction.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Heather Norman Smith

Heather Norman Smith is a Christian Fiction and devotions author. Her goal is to use the written word to entertain and encourage while illuminating the redemptive love of God. She is proud to be a life-long North Carolinian and also aims to present the beauty of the Tar Heel State in her fiction. Heather's home is just outside Winston-Salem, NC, where she lives with her husband, their four children (currently including a foster son,) and several very spoiled pets. In addition to writing and spending time with her family, Heather enjoys singing about Jesus. Her "day job" is in the Information Technology field, and she is also involved in youth ministry with her husband. Heather's other novels include Grace & Lavender and Where I Was Planted.

CONNECT WITH HEATHER: Website | FacebookTwitter | Instagram  

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER NORMAN SMITH


Would you share your inspiration for Shenanigans?

Heather: This book began with the title. My family was headed down the road in our minivan when my husband made some passing comment about my mother and her “shenanigans.” I don’t remember the context, but it was a light-hearted statement. We all laughed because the kids call her “Nana,” and it sounded like a play on her name. Tying the two together, I immediately started dreaming up a story about a prank-playing grandmother.

How long did it take you to write this novel?


Heather: The bulk of this story was written between May 2018 and November 2018, so around six months. A lot of editing and re-writing happened early this year, though, as I prepared to publish it.

Do you have a favorite character in Shenanigans?

Heather: Of course, I love the leads, but the supporting characters were a lot of fun to write. Lavinia’s neighbors at the retirement community make me happy—her best friends, Sylvia and Henry, and her next-door nemesis, Gordon Proctor. Also, Neville’s secretary, Shirley. The minor characters help drive the story quite a bit.

Do you have a favorite quote from this novel?

Heather: It may be a bit of a spoiler, but this quote drives at a theme of the book: “I don’t know how someone just forgets God, like He’s not the One in control of us livin’ and breathin’ and movin’ around on this earth. I don’t know how the most important thing became so unimportant to me. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it happened. And I wanna fix it. I wanna make things right again. I remember who God is now.”

What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

Heather: There are many take-aways, but the tag lines sums it up best: You’re never too old for fun, faith, or love. Portraying senior characters gave me the opportunity to show that God is waiting to welcome us into His family, even if we’ve spent a long time running from Him. The conversation about age also drives at the fact that ALL life is precious and valuable to God.

Can you share a book you are currently reading or have read recently?

Heather: I am currently reading a great romantic suspense called A Firm Place to Stand, by my friend Lori Altebaumer.

Who is an author that you would recommend to anyone and everyone?

Heather: Although not Christian Fiction, an author that I love and who inspires me with her humor and great characters is Fannie Flagg.

What hobbies do you enjoy when you aren't writing?

Heather: I have four kids (three biological and one foster who we are in the process of adopting), so my non-working, non-writing time is pretty much spent doing whatever they want or need to do. I love those rare days of nothing scheduled when we can just be together. We enjoy exploring outdoors on pretty days. We also have two dogs, two cats, and a tank of fish that I enjoy.


TOUR GIVEAWAY


(1) winner will receive a print copy of Shenanigans and a story inspired glass ornament! Plus (1) additional winner will receive a print copy of Shenanigans!

Shenanigans JustRead Blog Tour Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight March 30, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on April 6, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



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

cropped-justread-logo.png

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Book Review & Giveaway: A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman

A Wing and a Prayer tour banner

About the Book


A Wing and a Prayer


Title: A Wing and a Prayer
Series: The Cousins O'Connor
Genre: Adult, Historical, Regency, Romance
Publisher: Phase Publishing
Publication date: April 1, 2020

She’s dead-set on giving everything to the war overseas …
Even if it means losing everything in a war of the heart.

A street orphan abused and abandoned by an alcoholic father at age five, Gabriella (Gabe) O’Connor has never let a man stand in her way yet. So when a handsome flight officer thwarts her plans to become a WASP -- Women Air Force Service Pilot -- she’s determined to join the war effort anyway she can. Her chance comes when she “borrows” foreign correspondent credentials from the Boston Herald—where her father is the editor—to stow away on a medical ship to the front.

Lieutenant Alex Kincaid pegs Gabe O’Connor as trouble the moment she steps foot on Avenger Field as a WASP cadet. As the eldest brother of a boy whose jaw Gabe broke in grade school, Alex is familiar with her reputation as both a charismatic ringleader and a headstrong hooligan who’s challenged every male and nun from grade school to college. As her WASP flight instructor, Alex eventually expels Gabe when she pulls a dangerous stunt. But when he is an evacuation pilot in France eight months later, their lives intertwine once again, exposing them to a danger as perilous as the German tanks roaming the Reichswald Forest: a love that neither expects.


About the Author


JULIE_TURQUOISE IN CHAIR (1)

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, Isle of Hope, and Silver Lining Ranch series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner.

Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at http://www.julielessman.com.


Snippet


Here's a continuing clip from two chapters where Alex brings Gabe home from the annual Bar-J Ranch Barbecue and Square Dance for the town of Sweetwater. On crutches due to a severe sprained ankle, Gabe railroads Alex into assisting her all day at the BBQ until he finally takes her back to her barracks.

***

It was still early for a Friday night, so everything was silent and still except for the faint hoot of a faraway owl and the rasp of Gabe’s uneven breathing. “Alex, I … can’t thank you enough,” she whispered, pulse chaotic as he reached around her to open the screen door.

“My pleasure. It was fun,” he said as he gently tugged her out of the way to pull it wide. He propped the screen with his hip while he reached behind her to jiggle the temperamental knob of the old wooden door, stuttering Gabe’s heart at the close proximity of his dark-bristled jaw.

Mere inches from her lips.

And that’s when she realized it had been fun. More fun than she’d ever had in her life, and she didn’t want it to end. Ever. She wanted to thank him and she wanted to touch him all at the same time. Without a second thought, she leaned in and brushed her lips to his cheek, totally unprepared for the rush of heat hurtling through her veins. She immediately felt the jolt of his body as he gave a sharp jerk of his head, shock glazing his eyes when the motion instantly aligned his mouth with her own, a shallow breath away.

Gabe had always been one who knew what she wanted and just how to get it, and she certainly had never been a woman to dally. So in the split second that she felt the catch of his breath, she didn’t pause. She didn’t think.

She simply kissed him.

With everything in her, heart thundering over the single most earth-shattering moment of her young life.

She was in love!
_______

Alex gasped, but the sound was swallowed up by the press of Gabe’s lips, soft, pliant and hungry, fusing to his with a need that ignited his own. It was only a catch of his breath, but it seemed like eons that he wrestled with his conscience and lost, returning Gabe’s kiss with a fire that seared his very soul. Her crutches crashed to the ground when she rose on tiptoe to slip her arms around his neck, and her mouth united with his in a mating he never wanted to end. He lifted her off her feet, molding her body to his with an intensity that shocked him. Groaning, he butted her to the wall while his mouth explored hers, his passion apparently buried so deep, he’d never even known it was there.
Well, he knew it now, and it scared him silly.

“Gabe,” he whispered, voice hoarse as he carefully set her back down. He grasped one of her crutches to gently prod it beneath the arm of her bad leg with breathing as ragged as hers. His heart ached as he cradled her face in his hands. “Please forgive me. I never should have done that."

Her eyes widened. “No, Alex, there’s nothing to forgive—”

Yes, Gabe, there is.” Struggling to regain control, he removed his hands from her face to retrieve the second crutch, slowly tucking it beneath her other arm. Inhaling sharply, he took a step back, fortifying himself against the hurt in her eyes. “I am your superior and I stepped over the line, which never should have happened.”

“But I kissed you!” There was an urgency in her voice he’d never heard before, a neediness he had no will to exploit.

He steeled his jaw, heartsick over what he had to do. “And I took it a step further, Cadet, which I deeply regret.”

“Well, don’t!” she shouted, lurching forward so fast, those blasted crutches teetered along with his heart. His palm shot out in reflex, girding her waist to keep both of them from falling.

Too late.

Sleet slithered his veins when he saw the yearning in her eyes. “Don’t you get it, Alex?” she whispered, her face contorted in pain that inflicted some of his own. “I think I’m in love with you because I can’t get you out of mind.”

His body went to stone. An unholy mix of guilt and shock depleted his air, fingers flinching from her waist as if he’d been burned. And the look of abject longing in Gabe’s face told him he had.

Burned as a PT.

Burned as a friend.

Burned as a man who knew better.


Review


A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman is a wonderfully long book. Between the romantic tension and Gabe’s adventures, the story kept my attention engaged and I didn’t want to stop reading. I rooted for Gabe and Alex even when it seemed it wouldn’t work out. I appreciated the deeply woven theme about how trust is essential to love. Gabe, being the stubborn character that she is, takes a long time to mend her ways and work out a healthy relationship with Alex.  I loved this because it made her character growth authentic and satisfying.

I would have given this book five stars, but I think it needed another round of edits. The first third seemed a bit littered with poor word choice, choppy scenes, and repetitive thoughts/feelings. (I did receive an ebook arc, so perhaps some of those issues will be remedied before its release.) I also felt like there was a bit of patriarchy/authority overload. I suppose it was true to the social dynamics of the WWII time period, especially within a military atmosphere. However, Alex’s statements about his parents’ marriage and Patrick’s (the father-patriarch) treatment of Gabe, who is a grown woman, were just too much.

A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman starts the Cousins O’Connor series, but actually continues the O’Connor family saga that began with A Passion Most Pure. When the O’Connor family meets up, it was hard to keep all the characters straight in my mind. However, I think if I had read the prior novels about this family, it would have been easier. I look forward to reading the next book in this series!

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

Giveaway


A Wing and a Prayer Giveaway

Enter the giveaway HERE. Giveaway ends April 8 at 11:59pm MT. Giveaway is subject to policies HERE.

Tour Schedule


Follow along with the tour over on SLB Tours.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Book Review & Giveaway: Formula for a Perfect Life by Christy Hayes


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Formula for a Perfect Life
By Christy Hayes
Christian New Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback and ebook, 323 Pages
March 30th 2020

Two practical strangers. One fateful night. Two pink lines.

College senior and obsessive romantic Kayla Cummings' dreams of a storybook life are spun off course by an unplanned pregnancy after a one-night stand with her secret crush. Devastated, Kayla turns to her roommates and best friends for advice. No matter what she decides, no matter how deeply embarrassed, she has to tell the father.

Ben Strickland’s future is written in stone—as long as he gets a decent score on the Law School Admission Test. Feeling pressure from all sides, Ben struggles to juggle his upcoming finals, another shot at the LSAT, and his needy girlfriend Darcy. When the girl he spent a memorable night with weeks ago shows up at his doorstep pregnant, his already chaotic life spins out of control.

With the clock ticking, decisions to make, and a boatload of people to disappoint, Ben and Kayla embark on a journey neither anticipated—a journey where falling in love might be the biggest surprise of all. But when old hurts and buried secrets pose a greater threat to their future than impending parenthood, will Ben and Kayla go their separate ways or forge a new path to happy ever after?

(Affiliate link included.)


My Thoughts

With its eye-catching, flirty cover, Formula for a Perfect Life by Christy Hayes might look like a romcom, but it hosts a story that deals with deep, hard issues. Kayla’s unplanned pregnancy takes the lead in the novel, but guilt, shame, poor choices, and more are addressed as Kayla and Ben find themselves suddenly in crisis. As the crisis begets character development, both Ben and Kayla mature and are drawn to one another. One of my favorite moments in the novel occurs when Ben stands up to defend Kayla.  The romance thread between Ben and Kayla plays out in a believable manner that held my attention and had me rooting for them to fall in love.

I recommend Formula for a Perfect Life by Christy Hayes to readers searching for an inspirational contemporary romance. There’s a strong message about reserving sex for marriage and Christian faith is a part of the book. Overall, I enjoyed Formula for a Perfect Life and it’s a keeper for my bookshelf.

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.


About the Author

Christy Hayes lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and dogs. Christy writes Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance, Christian Romance, and Women's Fiction. When not writing, she’s reading, walking dogs, or stalking her college-aged kids on social media.



Tour Schedule





Tour Giveaway




Three winners will receive an ebook of Maybe It's You by Christy Hayes.
Open internationally.
Ends April 8, 2020.

Grab Our Button!

Friday, March 27, 2020

First Line Fridays: On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White

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 On Wings of Devotion by Roseanna M. White:

"A stranger stalking down the street shouldn't make her hands tremble in anticipation."

Have you read this book? Book blurb below and you can read my review here.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love for you to share your book's first line!

Happy reading!


About the Book:

Against Every Warning, She's Drawn Ever Closer to the Man Known as "Black Heart"

All of England thinks Major Phillip Camden a monster--a man who deliberately caused the deaths of his squadron. But he would have preferred to die that day with his men rather than be recruited to the Admiralty's codebreaking division. The threats he receives daily are no great surprise and, in his opinion, well deserved.


As nurse Arabelle Denler observes the so-dubbed "Black Heart," she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. And when their families and paths twist together unexpectedly, she realizes she has a role to play in his healing--and some of her own to do as well.


With Camden's court-martial looming, an old acquaintance shows up, intent on using him in a plot that sends the codebreakers of Room 40 into a frenzy. With their fragile hopes for the future in the cross hairs, Arabelle and Camden must hold on to hope--and to each other--if they want to survive.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Book Review: The Socialite by J'nell Ciesielski

About the Book:

As the eldest daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has always played by the rules. Her little sister, Ellie, lives to break them. After running away to Paris, Ellie has disgraced the Whitfords by taking up with a Nazi officer and living in luxury as the world around her burns. Ellie has no intention of returning to a life dictated by the British upper class, but Kat is determined to change her reckless sister's mind -- and save her family's reputation -- even if it means stealing into Nazi-occupied France.

On her first night in Paris, Kat meets Scotsman Barrett Anderson -- the owner of a local bar and an undercover agent training Resistance fighters. In addition to his political identity, Barrett has a secret he's keeping from the two sisters: their father has hired him to return them safely to London. If Barrett proves successful, the payout will afford him a chance at a new life and an escape from his dark past -- an opportunity he cannot afford to lose.

When Barrett discovers that Kat's social wiles could be useful to the cause, they join forces to infiltrate the Nazis' inner circle. Neither Kat nor Barrett expects to fall for the other, but when Kat discovers Barrett's secret, she questions his motives and the wisdom of her feelings. Can she trust Barrett with her heart, or is he using her and her family's name to climb the very social ladder that has betrayed her?


My Thoughts:

The Socialite, the first novel I’ve read by J’nell Ciesielski, captivated my attention immediately. Although the story takes place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII and the sad happenings of that time are depicted, I appreciated that the storyline isn’t overwhelmingly dark. The plot focuses not on the atrocities of that time, but on the characters and their relationships. I quickly found myself invested in the lives of Kat, Ellie, and Barrett. Kat and Ellie’s sisterly bond persisted even through times of disagreement and danger.  Kat and Barrett suited each other. I enjoyed their blossoming romance and how they prodded each other’s personal growth.

The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski is written for the general market as a clean historical fiction novel with underlying inspirational themes. This beautiful novel oozes historical research and earns a five-star rating from me. I had a hard time putting it down and would love to reread this novel in the future.





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: Happy Valley by Lin Stepp

Happy Valley Return to Edisto JustRead Blog Tour 
Welcome to the Blog Tour and Giveaway for Happy Valley and Return to Edisto by Lin Stepp, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOKS


Happy Valley by Lin Stepp Title: Happy Valley
Author: Lin Stepp
Publisher: Mountain Hill Press
Release Date: April 2, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Escape to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in this sweet tale of two young people who meet by chance, their paths soon overlapping and intertwining amid a cast of warm-hearted characters in the small rural community of Happy Valley.

With Grandpa suffering a heart attack, Juliette Hollander saw little choice but to head back to their Tennessee mountain farm in Happy Valley to help out.  She didn’t expect, or want, to leave behind her life and work in North Carolina to return to her grandparents’ home so soon. Nor did she imagine meeting, and working with, the mysterious man she met briefly last summer and never thought to see again.

Walker Logan spent the last two years traveling the United States, seeing the beauty of the country and running from his past. But an old rock house he sees while hiking near Abrams Creek Campground unexpectedly calls to his soul. With danger close behind, he never stayed in one place long enough to put down roots. Yet now, with a new vision, he decides to take the risk.

  PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Return to Edisto Title: Return to Edisto
Series: The Edisto Trilogy #2
Author: Lin Stepp
Publisher: Mountain Hill Press
Release Date: April 2, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Return to Edisto Island in the rich, Lowcountry story of a young woman’s difficult decision to run from threat and danger, changing the course of her well-ordered life and, in turn, the life of the young man who loved and lost her.

It was a long trip back to Edisto Island, South Carolina, and the beach house that shaped so much of Mary Helen Avery’s early life. Now her mind flashed between anger and hurt over the difficult situation she’d left behind at the job she loved.  Was she doing the right thing to leave? Should she have stayed to fight? She hoped at the quiet, beloved island she knew so well, she’d find the answers she needed and peace from all this turmoil.

J.T.’s heart took a familiar lurch when he saw the car with New Jersey plates parked at the Avery’s beach house. Even after ten years, the memory of Mary Helen Avery still tormented him.  Finding her on the porch weeping lit old fires he thought long dead. Was he a fool to hope for something more between them with all their problems of the past? Probably so, but if she stayed long enough, he’d find one more chance to try.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


EXCERPT FROM HAPPY VALLEY


Over coffee and banana bread, the women chatted and caught up on their lives and news, enjoying being together again. …After a pause in their conversation, though, Lenora leaned forward across the table, a hand under her chin, and asked, “And how is Juliette deep inside where no one sees?”

It was an old familiar line of Lenora’s and brought tears to Juliette’s eyes to hear it.

“Talk to me,” Lenora said. “You’re unhappy. I can feel it.”

“Well, I feel guilty to be unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with my life. … There’s no reason I should feel edgy, restless, and discontent.”

“But you do.”

“I do.” She shook her head. “I shouldn’t either. I don’t know what in the world is wrong with me.”

Lenora smiled. “Sometimes it takes a while to sort ourselves out in life, to know who we are within ourselves.” …

She sighed. “I always feel so torn. Like I can’t figure out who I am or what I should be.”

Lenora sat quietly for a time and then said, “Forging an identity takes hard work and involves some struggle and searching for most people. For women especially, raised eager to please, we hope for an affirmation from others that we’re on the right course, pursuing the right thing, becoming what we should become. But frankly, Juliette, the courage to be who you are and to pursue your own dreams must come from within. You have to decide personally that your goals are worth pursuing, your talents valuable, your contributions and service good—despite what others may say or think. You need to be willing to pay the price to follow your heart and your destiny.”


She smiled at Juliette. “You are an artist, and a gifted one…. There is a rich creativity inside you, a gift placed there—yes, put there by God—that yearns to find its place in the world. It would be wrong to suppress it. Why would you want to do that?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Lin Stepp

Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, businesswoman and educator. A New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon best-selling international author, Lin has eighteen published books, including her twelve beloved Smoky Mountain novels, all set in different Tennessee and North Carolina locations, her newest Mountain Home book, a novella in one of Kensington’s Christmas anthologies, and two novels in her new Edisto Trilogy, set on the South Carolina coast. Lin and her husband J.L. also write regional guidebooks, including a Smoky Mountain hiking guide and a Tennessee state parks book.

Stepp’s latest 2020 releases are Happy Valley, set in a quiet rural valley near the Smoky Mountains, and Return to Edisto, set at Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Lin’s previous title Claire At Edisto was the 2019 Best Books Award Winner in Fiction: Romance, sponsored by American Book Fest, her novel Welcome Back a finalist in the 2017 Selah Awards, and Lin and her husband’s guidebook Discovering Tennessee State Parks a 2019 American Book Fest Best Books Award Finalist in Nonfiction: Travel Guides and Essays.

Lin enjoys speaking for events, festivals, libraries, and book clubs, reading, hiking, exploring out of doors, and keeping up with her readers on Facebook, Twitter, and through her monthly blog and newsletter which you will find on her website at: www.linstepp.com

CONNECT WITH LIN: Website | Facebook | Twitter


TOUR GIVEAWAY


(1) winner will receive a print copy of Happy Valley & Return to Edisto, matching bookmarks, and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Happy Valley & Return to Edisto JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight March 23, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on March 30, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


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

cropped-justread-logo.png

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Book Review: His Lady in Hiding by Jen Geigle Johnson

About the Book:


Lady Elizabeth Davenport is desperate. Her hand in marriage has been offered to the highest bidder, a distressing proposition in and of itself but made all the more repulsive when she meets her father’s first choice for her hand: Lord Pinweather. When her parents refuse to hear her pleas, Liz is forced to take drastic measures—she will impersonate her maid and begin anew in America on her own terms.
Once on board the ship to America, another passenger, Lord Barton, almost immediately discovers her true status as a noble. After listening to Liz’s highly modified version of her life and her plans to begin again, Barton has compassion on her and teaches her how to abandon her noble mannerisms. Upon disembarking, however, Barton’s generous spirit quickly dampens when he discovers Liz has indeed found work—as his own head housekeeper. Suddenly, the tender feelings they hid from each other on the ship are inescapable, but their difference in station makes romance impossible. As misunderstandings abound and a shocking character from Liz’s past looms, she knows she can’t hide her true identity forever. But as her deception begins to unravel, will her charade cost her the man she loves?



My Thoughts:

His Lady in Hiding by Jen Geigle Johnson rates as a clean romance with a lovely strain of romantic tension that made me reluctant to put it down. I rooted for Liz and Lord Barton to get together as the obstacles to their relationship kept arising. Though there was limited character development, the story held my attention from beginning to end. I especially liked seeing the way the household (and later the community) rallied together to protect and care for Liz. The novel briefly touched on themes of advocating for others and loving one’s neighbor, but the spiritual content is pretty light.

His Lady in Hiding by Jen Geigle Johnson is a stand-alone novel that will appeal to readers looking for a clean romance with faith-based themes lightly woven in. 4.5 Stars!



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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Book Tour Finale & Giveaway: One Little Lie by Colleen Coble


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you'll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Author Interview

What was the inspiration for ONE LITTLE LIE and for this new Pelican Harbor series?

I was at a restaurant in Gulf Shores, AL with friends. Their 16-year-old son mentioned he’d been working on a shrimp boat. He said, “You wouldn’t believe the stuff we bring up in the nets. Washing machines, other appliances, you name it.” I immediately had the image of a shrimp net hauling up a body clad in a wedding dress, and that was the nugget that started One Little Lie.


"This was truly a suspenseful "page-turner" with drama, lots of action, and situations which keeps the reader guessing who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" really are! . . . The characters are portrayed so well, one will tend to forget this is fiction."

Heidi Reads... - Excerpt

She turned toward the coffee shop and bumped into a man who reached out to steady her. “Sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

His eyes crinkled at the corners as if smiling was his usual expression, though his lips were flat now. He towered over her five feet two inches, and she guessed him to be six foot. His shaved head made his large brown eyes even more expressive and compelling, and he exuded controlled energy and power under his very attractive surface. His muscular arms and face were tanned as if he’d spent a lot of time in the sun. Her immediate attraction to him made her take a step back. She steered clear of relationships. Losing someone you cared about hurt too much.

Those dark eyes smiled down at her. “You’re Jane Hardy.”


"One Little Lie is the first book in the Pelican Harbor series, and after reading this one I certainly cannot wait to read the next book. . . . I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book and I thought that they were interesting, relatable, and people I could see in real-life situations. Colleen Coble is one of my go-to authors . . . and she certainly came through again with this great book."


"I have read a few of the author's books and enjoyed them. . . . The plot was predictable but, had a few surprises. . . . I did enjoy the book . . ."


"This was one of those stories that compelled me to keep turning the pages. There were so many questions to be answered and lots of secrets to be uncovered. . . . The chemistry between Jane and Reid was there and I enjoyed the suspense . . ."


Kimber Li - Excerpt

Jane parked her SUV in the driveway behind the flashing lights of a patrol vehicle and got out, the rising sun glaring into her gritty eyes. The call to investigate another body had sent her straight to her vehicle without a shower. Two bodies in twenty-four hours . . .

Was she really equipped for this job?

She let Parker out of the back before she walked toward the shotgun house with its neat spring flower beds lining either side of the red front door. She spotted a woman standing off to one side with her arms clutched around her. It was probably the neighbor who’d made the 911 call, and Jane would talk to her next.

A figure moved in the brush at the side of the house, and she caught the shine of something metallic. A gun? She pointed at the bush. “Take down, Parker!”


"Wow, there was a lot going on in this book! I loved the first chapter of the book which really set the stage for the rest of the story. It gave me an instant connection to emotion and really peaked my interest. . . . The intensity ramps up slowly but I could feel it happening. It's exactly what you want to feel when reading this type of book."

I'm Into Books - Spotlight


“Did you need something from me?”

He spread out his hands. “Look, I could shout up to you from the street, but I’d like to come up and talk to you.”

The lights were on next door. What could it hurt to have a private conversation? She wasn’t afraid of him. She gestured to her left.

“There are exterior stairs off the alley. I’ll open the door for you.”

He nodded and moved that direction, and she went inside to open the door in the kitchen. The iron stairs clanged as he ascended them, and for some reason, the sound made her pulse jump. Maybe this was a bad idea.


"Over the years, I’ve read many of Colleen Coble’s books and have enjoyed them immensely. She never ceases to amaze me with her ability to come up with new stories. One Little Lie is another example of her superb writing. . . . One Little Lie is filled with well-written characters, and you’ll love reading their stories. . . . The book’s pacing is perfect for a suspense novel. You’ll be frantically reading to find out how all of the clues fit together."

Uplifting Reads - Review

"This one starts out with a bang, gripping you from the first page . . . I did enjoy the story. I kept my attention during a time of a lot of uncertainty in the world and was a welcome distraction."



"Right off, from the prologue, the novel grabbed me . . . While others could feel bogged down by all that is going on in it, Coble has found a way to make it all work and carefully weave it together. The cases, the people – every little bit. It’s a wild roller coaster of a [read]."


"This was my first ever read from Colleen Coble and just wow! I was blown away by the writing, the flow and the themes within the story. I loved the way everything unfolded as the story progressed and that ending was superb!"


"Overall, I thought the premise of the novel is fantastic and unlike [any] other book I have read. I found the characters fascinating and well developed and I started to care what happens to the them, basically I just want them to have the happiness they so richly deserve. A great book to read in one day or over a weekend."

Wishful Endings - Spotlight


"I have read nearly all of Ms. Coble’s books. She is a wonderful storyteller and infuses her tales with mystery, suspense, romance, and faith. . . . In the end, most things wrapped up nicely."

Hallie Reads - Excerpt

Will’s smile could light up a football stadium. The boy wore a Saints cap backward, and he slung two camera bags onto his shoulders as he exited Reid’s SUV outside the police station. A tripod stuck up out his backpack.

A pelican fluttered down the strut on the grass by the road, and Will pointed it out. “Look at that!”

“No fish here in town.” Reid locked his vehicle. “You don’t look eager or anything. This will be hard work.”

Will bounced a little on his flip-flops.

“It’s going to be great, Dad. I know I can do it. Thanks for giving me a chance.”


"Overall, this has everything that I have come to love from Colleen Coble--- great suspense, unexpected twists, themes of faith and yes, romance too. It was a great start to this new series and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Current fans of Colleen Coble will certainly want to add it to their collection, and new readers are sure to fall in love too!"


"This is such a strong book to begin a new series of hers. The characters were absolutely delightful and relatable. Moreover, she tackles a hot topic now that seems to make its way into popular culture on a regular basis–cults. I appreciate the fact that she, a solid Christian author, tackles such a timely subject, while still including twists, turns, and the gospel message. . . . Fair warning, however. Once you start the book, I promise you WILL NOT want to put it down!"

Splashes of Joy - Spotlight


"One Little Lie is so intriguing and has many twists and turns in this wonderful story that I just couldn't put the book down. . . . Colleen Coble sure knows how to grab your attention and keep it there. Her writng style is fantastic! . . . I wasn't at all disappointed with this novel. It had a little bit of everything in it and just right amount too. Nicely done."

All excerpts from One Little Lie by Colleen Coble. Used with the permission of the publisher, Thomas Nelson. Copyright © 2020 by Colleen Coble. Learn more at TNZ Fiction.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post...

One Little Lie
(Pelican Harbor #1)
By Colleen Coble
Christian Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 352 Pages
March 3rd 2020 by Thomas Nelson

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there's no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she's facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.

After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane's career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid's calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

Praise for the Book

“Colleen Coble always raises the notch on romantic suspense, and One Little Lie is my favorite yet! The story took me on a wild and wonderful ride.” —Diann Mills, bestselling author

"Colleen Coble once again proves she is at the pinnacle of Christian romantic suspense. Filled with characters you'll come to love, faith lost and found, and scenes that will have you holding your breath, Jane Hardy's story deftly follows the complex and tangled web that can be woven by one little lie.' —Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Author


Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.


Bookstagram Tour


Check out all the pictures from the Bookstagram Tour here!

March 9th:
@simplehomemama
@ChristenKrumm
March 10th:
@_coffeecatsandbooks_
@adventurous.bookworm
March 11th:
@irishgirliereads
@christy41970
March 12th:
@SimplyKelina
@ya.its.lit
March 13th:
@savingsinseconds
@fortheloveofchristianfiction

Tour Giveaway


One winner will receive a print copy of Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble (US only)
Ends March 25, 2020.