Thursday, April 30, 2020

Book Review: Emberhawk by Jamie Foley

About the Book:

The Elementals have decided they're gods, and humans are nothing but fuel for their fire.
A starving trapper.
Merciless drought withers Kira's ranch, leaving her family hungry and desperate enough to cross the border into the forbidden forest to trap wild game.
But the forest is infested with tree scorpions and giant cats that wield elemental invisibility, and they're hungry, too. When Kira mistakes one elemental creature for another, she ends up with the last thing she wants in her trap: an enemy soldier.
An invisible spy.
Ryon can't afford to be a prisoner of war. If the Malaano Empire extracts his secrets, the rumors of war will be confirmed, and the tribes stand little chance against the empire unless they can put aside generations of bad blood for the sake of a Tribal Alliance.
When Ryon's escape leaves Kira injured and her livelihood in flames, Ryon must choose between aiding her or returning to his chieftess with vital information. 
But can he survive the trek when an elemental pursues him for his rejected heritage?
A sacrificial princess.
Imperial Princess Vylia is given a powerful ancient stone as her wavesinger trials approach. But is the stone's whispering voice from the water goddess or a masquerading elemental the creator god imprisoned, millennia ago?
When Vylia's diplomatic mission to the tribal lands erupts in fiery revenge, she, Kira, and Ryon must work together to survive or become pawns in the battle of the gods.

My Thoughts:

Emberhawk by Jamie Foley took me by surprise. I’ve read only a handful of fantasy novels and I loved this one far more than I expected to. At first, I read slowly to keep things straight as the story introduced the characters, their powers, and their world. The maps and glossary helped me acclimate to the setting.

Initially, Emberhawk captured my attention with its interesting characters. As the story progressed, the blend of mystery, danger, and romantic possibilities pulled me deeper into the story. I loved the unfolding of Kira and Ryon’s relationship. With the budding attraction, the snarky remarks, the forged camaraderie, the sacrificial acts, and the obstacles, the romance proved to be a marvelous element of the story.

Emberhawk by Jamie Foley is the first installment in The Katrosi Revolution series and I’m eager to read the next one. This YA fantasy has some underlying Christian themes and soft echoes of stories from the Bible. However, it is not overtly Christian and could be read as a clean, general market fantasy. The characters do pray to gods, including the creator.

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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April Reading Re-Cap & Expected May Reads

My April 2020 Reads: 

I realize I'm posting this a bit early, but I know I won't finish any more books before the end of the month so I thought I'd go ahead and share.

April brought lots of challenges into our household and I found myself gravitating toward lighter reading. Usually I'm all about deep character development and moving stories. But this month, the lighter, less probing books met my reading tastes.

In April, I finished:
  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, annotated by Karen Swallow Prior. - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  2. Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  3. Stay with Me by Becky Wade - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  4. Emberhawk by Jamie Foley - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  5. The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  6. The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y'Barbo - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  7. Fierce, Free and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker. - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Review coming 5/12/20.

  8. The Prophet and the Dove by Kirby Lee Davis - ⭐⭐ - Review to come.
With so many five star reads, there's no way I can pick a favorite. 🤷 It was a great reading month! 🙂

Expected May 2020 Reads:

In May, I hope to read:
  1. An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz. - I've been looking forward to reading this book for months!!! It's my local book club's selection for May and we'll be chatting with the author! Can't wait! 🙂

  2. Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano. - This author is not new to the Christian fiction scene, but she is new-to-me.

  3. Ruby Moon by Jennifer Knipfer. - Both this book and it's sequel have been sitting on my shelf for months! Sometimes I get soooo behind! 🙈

  4. The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch. - A new to me author. I've already heard lots of good buzz about this novel.

  5. A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy. - Looking forward to this one!

  6. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. - A group read I'm doing with some friends.

What will you read this month?

Monday, April 27, 2020

Book Review: Stay With Me by Becky Wade

About the Book:

Loving her is a risk he can't afford . . . and can't resist.

When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents' past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains to chase down her family's secret. However, it's Genevieve's own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of a historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she's worked so hard to hide.

Sam has embraced his sorrow, his isolation, and his identity as an outsider. He's spent years carving out both career success and peace of mind. The last thing he wants is to rent the cottage on his property to a woman whose struggles stir his worst failure back to life. Yet can he bear to turn her away right when she needs him most?

My Thoughts:

Stay with Me stands as a prime example of why Becky Wade rates as one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. So many elements worked together to form this beautiful story. It had Pride and Prejudice quotes, laugh-out-loud humor, emotional drama, family secrets, and an unfolding romance. The story held my attention as the characters dealt with tough issues such as prescription drug addiction, trauma, and following God’s leading. To me, the story didn’t feel dark or heavy, but I recognize that it could be more difficult for those who know someone struggling with prescription drug addiction or have fought that battle themselves. Thankfully, there is so much hope and truth in Stay with Me.

As I reviewed my notes on Stay with Me, I found seventeen topics or issues that the novel touched on. There are probably some that I missed. Though the story taps so many issues, it focuses in on only a few and wraps up beautifully in the end. I recommend Stay with Me to readers who enjoy contemporary romances with plenty of character development and spiritual truths.

Stay with Me by Becky Wade debuts as the first full-length novel in the Misty River Romance series. There is a prequel, Take a Chance on Me, in which Sam appears as a minor character; however, it is not necessary to read the prequel.

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, April 25, 2020

Book Review: Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

About the Book:

A woman with a devastating secret. A man bent on proving his worth. A chance encounter that catapults them into the heart of history.

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Read an excerpt from Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar on the publisher's website.

My Thoughts:

My local book club chose to read Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar. As expected, the novel was well-written. I found the characters both likeable and relatable, especially Priscilla. Though the story was fully developed as it is, I think I would have been happy to read another 200 pages of these wonderfully interesting characters and their beautiful character growth.

I loved how Tessa Afshar used Daughter of Rome’s characters and their situations to breathe new life into spiritual truths. In a gentle and refreshing manner, she addressed topics such as forgiveness, trusting God, and more. One of my favorites quotes occurred on page 315: “The spiritual treasures that belong to you are vast, Son. The ability to speak to Yeshua. To hear from him. To help others through your prayers. To love rightly. … An endless trove of worthy treasures has been set aside for you.” I marked many passages and our book club had abundant topics to discuss.

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar is a stand alone novel though two characters from Thief of Corinth do appear in minor roles. I recommend Daughter of Rome to any one who enjoys Biblical fiction. My husband read this book and enjoyed it, so its appeal is not limited to women.

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

Book Tour Finale & Giveaway: Land of Twilight Trilogy by Charmayne Hafen

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 inspired you to write the Land of Twilight Trilogy?

I am a child of divorce and know how difficult it can be to navigate the issues that accompany divorce. I also know that my faith in Jesus is what brought me through severely difficult times in my childhood. It is for these two reasons that I wrote this trilogy. I want kids to know they are not alone and that they have an ever-present Help to rely on and rest in.

Locks, Hooks and Books - Excerpt from Journey to Twilight

Moving to Phoenix, Arizona felt like the worst thing that could happen to Lorna. Leaving her home and friends in California was the hardest thing she’d ever done in her life.

"This story has some fun mythical characters and Twilight is an interesting place. I like the friendship that built between Sam and Lorna. I really like the illustrations. They are awesome. . . . The characters are well-developed and it's easy to feel their emotions. . . . I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a great adventure."

Hearts & Scribbles - Excerpt from Journey to Twilight

Lorna looked down and saw that the ground was as blue as a sky on a clear day. She grabbed a clump of grass and dirt. It felt like grass and dirt, but the color was all wrong. And the sky? The sky was green like the color of summer grass. Looking at the sky was a lot like looking at the world through a green glass bottle.

Remembrancy - Excerpt from Return to Twilight

Jenny turned her attention to a pack of six chocolate doughnuts sitting on the shelf in front of them. Flicking her hair from her face, she stared back at Lorna. “I dare you to put those doughnuts in your bag and walk out.”

Lorna frowned. “What do you mean…without paying?”

Splashes of Joy - Excerpt from Return to Twilight

Lorna sighed. Warm tears slid down the sides of her face. She felt lonelier than she had ever felt in her entire life. Sam knew she’d mistreated him. He was no longer her friend, and now Jenny was ignoring her, too. Ally hadn’t written or called her in over a month. She was probably loving her new town and school. She’d probably long forgotten Lorna wasting away in Phoenix. She had no one.

Wishful Endings - Excerpt from Return to Twilight

Lorna wiped her eyes with her free hand and smiled at her grandmother. “You can’t always be with me, grandma. I haven’t seen you for so long!”

Grandma Nila smiled and shook her head. “I’m not talking about me, Lorna Loon, although I will be with you as much as I can. I’m talking about the Savior. He is always with you, not just in places like this.”

Christy's Cozy Corners - Excerpt from Trouble in Twilight

Stealing a quick, concerned glance at Sam, Lorna asked, “What are you talking about, Trix? What is the Whatever?” Lorna made quote marks with her fingers.

“The Land of Twilight is dying. The Whatever has taken over and Twilight is dying!”

"It was so good from the first moment Lorna is introduced to Sam being introduced. I loved every moment of it. Ms. Hafen did a great job of spinning this tale. I am giving this novel five stars and recommend it to any parents that think that their child would love this book."

Hallie Reads - Excerpt from Trouble in Twilight

“What did you mean when you said that the Whatever is invisible to those who have no faith? Faith for what?” Lorna hung on to this question as if it where the last one she would ever get to ask. She couldn’t get it out of her mind.

"Each book is filled with lively characters that boys and girls will be able to relate to, they also go through many of these situations that our youth today are going through . . . Truly inspirational books for young kids today! I would highly recommend this whole series!"

Reading Is My SuperPower from Trouble in Twilight

“That’s Socrates! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe this.” Lorna was more excited than she’d been in days. Things were getting good. Would a mystery be revealed in the darkness?

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

Journey to Twilight
(Land of Twilight Trilogy #1)
By Charmayne Hafen
Middle Grade Fantasy
Paperback and ebook, 113 Pages
November 1st 2019 by Capture Books

Sam and Lorna’s bike challenge becomes far more than a neighborhood race in this action-adventure fantasy for intermediate grades.

Riding over a cairn at sunset, Lorna surfaces in Twilight, where she is given three impossible tasks to complete before her heart's desire is granted.

Story Line: Avid sixth-grade mountain biker, Lorna Wilson, moves to Crestwood, Arizona, after her parents' divorce. Unpacking, Lorna seeks a way to fit into the new crowd when a girl named Ally knocks on her front door.

Splashing in the pool at Ally’s house, Lorna learns about the bike challenge created by a scar-faced neighborhood legend, Samuel Black. She hears herself boasting that she can take on Samuel Black in his own race and win. Lorna's words quickly come back to bite her.

Although none of the kids will root for the new girl, an ancient cairn opens to the Land of Twilight giving Lorna an opportunity to win anything her heart desires.

Illustrations are by award-winning artist, Brianna Osaseri.

Thematic: Time travel ages 9-12; action-adventure; Female protagonist survives parents' divorce; confidence and friendship; conflict opens to opportunity; Celtic; Jamaican; Multi-racial; coming of age fantasy for pre-teens with some paranormal, magical or mystical places and events. Intermediate grades. Book 1 in a series.

(Affiliate links included.)

Return to Twilight
(Land of Twilight Trilogy #2)
By Charmayne Hafen
Middle Grade Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 142 Pages
January 21st 2020 by Capture Books

In this second book of the Land of Twilight Trilogy, seventh-grade Lorna struggles with the meaning of friend like, how to be one, how to choose one, and how to keep one.

Lorna rejects her dad, deceives her mom, and turns her back on the ethereal Land of Twilight. She even turns on her best friend, Sam, in favor of gaining the attention of a new girl in the neighborhood, Jenny. Lorna sheds her own social norms, stealing and hiding as she pretends to enjoy her second year in challenging Crestwood, Arizona.

It has to be Sam's turn to do what true friends do.

An exciting read for readers ages 9-13 who enjoy Celtic mythology, magic, and busting the dust of the Arizona desert with your best friend.

(Affiliate links included.)

Trouble to Twilight
(Land of Twilight Trilogy #3)
By Charmayne Hafen
Middle Grade Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 129 Pages
April 1st 2020 by Capture Books

How can the most colorful world in the universe turn hapless and gray?! That's what mystifies both Sam and Lorna.

Trix falls from the Land of Twilight, showing up at the discarded camper shell in the Arizona desert where Sam and Lorna are making their secret plans.

Trix and Melvin focus on the Land of Realtime because the lives of both Lorna and Sam have interwoven with the Land of Twilight. How can the four unravel themselves?

A tragic accident forces Sam to again realize that life can change suddenly. Now he and Lorna must rethink what in life is most important to them.

History, philosophy, and faith enter the scene through interdimensional time travel. The Land of Twilight Trilogy is filled with adventure and supernatural elements for readers ages 9-12. With its relatable characters and fast-moving plot, Sam and Lorna discover their priorities. As Sam faces unbearable consequences, he learns the bonds of true friendship and personal truth are real.

Readers are given not only an interesting story filled with allegorical elements about the meaning of faith, but are also challenged to think about their own ideas of reality and meaning.

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Author

Charmayne Hafen has been writing since she was nine years old when she kept a private journal documenting love and loss in her fourth-grade class. In 2016, she published her first book, The Land Of Twilight, which was selected as a winner in the category of Juvenile Fiction in the Winter 2017 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards. Using knowledge and skills acquired from her MA in counseling, Charmayne wrote The Land Of Twilight series to help kids navigate the sometimes difficult waters of divorce. Her love of Celtic mythology also influenced the book. The first book in the series has been republished under a new title called Journey To Twilight which will be available November 1, 2019. There will be two more books in the series coming out early [2020].

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive an ebook of Journey to Twilight and a $50 Amazon eGift Card
Open internationally
Ends April 30, 2020

Grab Our Button!

Friday, April 24, 2020

First Line Fridays: Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

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 Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock:

"He left me for a size-two selfie star and didn't want me to make a scene."

Have you read this book? I'll be reading it in June with my local book club.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love to read your first line! 🙂

Have a great weekend! Happy reading!

About the Book:

A gripping new novel from New York Times bestselling suspense author Terri Blackstock.
One father was murdered. Another was convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.
Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado hometown. His mother begs him to come back now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.
Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down not long after, people assumed Nate set the fire to get even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left town without looking back.
Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and now she’s fighting a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. Brenna is barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.
As Nate and Brenna deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—the past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Monday, April 20, 2020

Book Review: Big and Little Activity Devotional

About the Book: 

Kids crave constant activities and attention. Adults crave quiet moments of refreshment. How can we achieve both? Big and Little Activity Devotional engages minds of all ages with biblical devotions, while providing a creative outlet through coloring and activities to diffuse stress.

My Thoughts:

As soon as the Big and Little Activity Devotional book came out of the package, my daughters (ages 7 & 4) wanted to try it out. As expected, they loved it! Though I limit us to completing one page spread per day, they’ve looked all through the book and expressed their delight over future activities. With about 70 parent-child sets of activities, the book should last us 2-3 months.

The Big and Little Activity Devotional works best for us if I let them complete the activity and then we do the short devotional as they finish up coloring. (For example, a maze that they work through before coloring the little embellishments outside of it.) Each page spread is laid out so that the adult and child sit facing one another and can interact face-to-face. The activities captivate their attention and they thoroughly enjoy them before we discuss the Scripture and thoughts presented.

I recommend the Big and Little Activity Devotional, written by Rachel C. Swanson and illustrated by Jacy Corral, to any parent or caregiver seeking a way to teach spiritual truths while engaging a child with a fun activity.

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

Friday, April 17, 2020

First Line Fridays: Desert Willow by Patricia Beal

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 Desert Willow by Patricia Beal:

"Clara Malone sat alone in the airport, her grandmother's labored request rushing through her mind."

Have you read this book? Book blurb below.

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

Happy reading!

About the Book:

After a failed engagement, Captain Andrew Lee James has focused on building a career in the Army he loves. That commitment includes helping a feisty, out-of-work ballerina whose devotion to her grandmother’s dying wish immediately grabs his heart. She’s the one, but will he be able to win the heart of a woman who has vowed to never be involved with a soldier?

College graduate Clara Malone swore to never love anyone in the military again but when her dying grandmother asks her to deliver a love letter to the general who broke her heart decades ago, she agrees and finds herself escorted by a handsome Army captain whose kindness challenges her beliefs. Surrounded by desert willows that shower her path with pretty pink flowers and sing with the buzzing of hummingbirds, Clara enjoys the wild beauty of El Paso—and her time with Andrew—more than expected.

Can she deliver her grandmother’s last love letter without losing her heart to a man who represents everything she fears?

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility

About the Book:

Sense and Sensibility. Frankenstein. The Scarlet Letter. You’re familiar with these pillars of classic literature. You may even be able to rattle off a few quotes, but do you really know how to read them? Do you know how to read them as a Christian?

Through this beautifully designed series, bestselling author, literature professor, and avid reader Karen Swallow Prior will guide you through a selection of classics. She will not only navigate you through the pitfalls that trap readers today, but show you how to read them in light of the gospel, and to the glory of God.

My Thoughts:

This beautiful hardcover edition of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen features a built-in bookmark, an introduction by Karen Swallow Prior, and an abundance of reflection questions. Many years have passed since the last time I read Sense and Sensibility and Prior’s introduction helped reacquaint me with the backgrounds of both the author and this work. She deftly avoided spoilers while pointing out major themes of the story and suggesting how to read the novel as a modern-day Christian.

I enjoyed reading this edition of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. The notes within the text furthered my understanding.  Austen’s talent and wit shine. The reflection questions are what I would expect in a college literature class. Most of them require thoughtful consideration of the text and examination of one’s own opinion. The questions would be suitable for use in a book club setting.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham

The Thorn Keeper Birthday Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour and Giveaway for The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham Title: The Thorn Keeper
Series: Penned in Time #2
Author: Pepper D. Basham
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Release Date: February 28, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance

With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope?

Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope.

Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale. David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pump fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.

When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.

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


The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham The Thorn Healer by Pepper D. Basham


“I’m truly fine,” he whispered to her. “Give me some gauze, and I shall see to the wound myself. You should help Michael.”

She answered by taking his sleeve in both fists and ripping the bloody cloth up his arm. With rebel brow still raised, she looked up at him. “Is it your desire to pass out on the floor as you take care of your patients?”

He scoffed. “Of course not.”

She glanced at the ceiling as if weighing his answer. “Good.” She focused her attention on his sleeve. As she peeled it back and wiped away the blood, the size and depth of the gash surprised him. It was at least two inches long and had barely missed the main vein in his forearm.  “Then you must wish to develop an infection to such a degree we’d need to amputate your arm?”

She reached for a bandage by the sink. Her intention shone as clear as the needling look in her eyes. 

“I’m capable of taking care of myself, Nurse Dougall. I’ve been doing it for quite some time before you entered my life.” He attempted to pull his arm free, but she pinched down tight enough to produce a wince.

“Pressure limits the blood flow.” A twinkle lit her gaze. “At least, a certain doctor in my acquaintance told me as much.”

His lips twitched against his will. “You’re incorrigible.”

“And you’re stubborn.” She leaned in and narrowed her eyes. “Not to mention struggling with a hint of pride.”

His smile broke free. He preferred her feisty wit over her distance any day. “Aware of that are you?

She poured peroxide over his wound, and he stifled another wince. “Personally, I am painfully aware of pride.” With gentle and confident movements, she began bandaging his arm, her fingers soft and swift. “It can cause some disastrous side effects, I’m told.”

Her touch, her subtle confession, reignited the deep longing within him he’d felt earlier. Its vibrancy spread through him with a more potent and pleasurable sting than the peroxide on his wound. Attraction? Yes, but something else, an emotion with a great deal more substance. Dangerous. Powerful. And something he wasn’t ready to embrace. Not with a wager hanging over his head that could possibly separate them forever. 

Her raised brow nudged his reluctant admission. “Guilty.”

“I hear an excellent remedy for pride is good care, hot food, and a long nap.”

He tried to still the warmth branching out through his chest, to no avail. He internally repeated the words he’d so adamantly declared to his sister. Attraction was one thing but acting on it was another. “Is that so?”

She nodded and pinned the bandage in place. “Wise doctors heed such thoughtful advice.”

He looked down at her hand resting on his arm and another swell of tenderness and kinship gripped his chest. Their eyes met, tightening the growing bond, securing it against his will.  


Pepper Basham

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and history, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

 Pepper loves getting to know readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You may also learn more about her on her website at

CONNECT WITH PEPPER: Website | FacebookTwitter | Instagram  


(1) winner will receive all three Penned in Time novels in print or ebook format plus a stained glass dragonfly!

The Thorn Keeper JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 14, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on April 21, 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!


*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, April 10, 2020

First Line Fridays: Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

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 Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese:

"If Obsessive Email Checking Disorder were a disease, I was likely already in the final stages: trigger thumb, mindless refreshing, aimless scrolling, and of course, an inability to focus on anything else in the entire world."

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:

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.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Book Review: The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

About the Book:

What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common?

Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity.

My Thoughts:

In her newest release, The House at the End of the Moor, author Michelle Griep brings readers a multi-layered story of danger, mystery, and romance. As always, Griep’s writing features lyrical prose to paint a vivid setting before sweeping the reader into all the romance, drama, and mystery of the story. The novel held my attention from the start and the mystery of the stolen jewels elevated my interest. While certain characters give the novel a bit of a dark, creepy feel, it’s not a heavy book. I was pleased with the character development of Maggie and Oliver. The novel’s exploration of themes about justice, forgiveness, and mending relationships offers spiritual encouragement to the individual reader, but also provides plenty of discussion topics for book clubs.

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep is a stand-alone novel and will likely appeal to fans of inspirational historical romance.

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Grand Finale & Giveaway: Formula for a Perfect Life by Christy Hayes

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 inspired you to write FORMULA FOR A PERFECT LIFE?

I wanted to write Kayla’s story (and the whole series) for college-age kids trying to live a Christian life in a secular world and specifically a secular university. I have college-age kids—both strong Christians—both attend secular universities—and the challenge at their age to balance their faith and worldview in a place where sin is rampant is very real. I worry about young adults who don’t know Jesus and who struggle with sin and forgiveness and self-worth.

Simply Kelina - Spotlight

@momfluenster - Excerpt

Kayla Cummings stared at the two lines so long her vision blurred. Her breath came fast and faster until her lungs felt too full, too thick, too heavy to function. Her mind whirled, her neurons firing through a maze of wrong turns and dead ends. She dropped the stick with the prison-bar stripes onto the counter and fell back against the bathroom door, freefalling in the void of denial.

No. No. Just … NO.

"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."

Uplifting Reads - Review

"I enjoyed reading this reading this book. It had just enough faith references to serve as a reminder to keep the faith, especially as we are in a very weird place in our world right now. But it wasn't preachy. So I think even others who are less religious may still find some value in this book."

“I won’t keep you, honey, but I wanted to let you know Darcy will be in town this weekend.”

Ben rolled his eyes. His ma kept pushing him to officially get back together with Darcy. Although they’d broken up freshman year when they’d gone to different colleges, they were still a couple in every way that counted. Everyone—his parents, Darcy, her parents—still thought of them as a couple. It was only a matter of logistics. “That’s nice. Give her my best.”

“No, silly. She’s going to be at Addison State.”

His stomach glazed with ice. “Here? It’s the weekend before finals.” And why hadn’t she given him a heads-up?

"Let me say - I LOVED everything about this book! The cover is gorgeous, the story has all the feels and the mail characters (Kayla and Ben) have so much depth and emotion and have you rooting for them till the end! . . . I love how this book truly portrays the struggles. The hard choices that have to be made. . . . It’s not all sunshine and rainbows but you can get through it and be happy one way or another.

This is a top book for me for 2020, the connection I have to it is real."

"Wow! This was such a great story and is definitely up near the top of my list of favorites. . . . I loved the way this story progressed. . . . I felt that the romance between these two built naturally, starting with two people who did not really know each other and were uncomfortable with the situation, to a couple who truly cared for each other and the life that was created between them. This story was very nicely done."

"In the book Formula for a Perfect Life by Christy Hayes, the characters go through a world-shifting experience that changes their life plans. . . . Though this is marketed as a Christian novel, it’s not sugary sweet. The situation heads into real-life territory."

As soon as the door closed behind her, Ben closed his eyes. What in the world was she doing here? He couldn’t wrap his mind around the strange turn of events. First Darcy, now Kayla. Thank goodness Darcy left before Kayla knocked on his door. How would he have explained that one? And how did he explain her showing up weeks after they’d shared an unforgettable night together? What could she possibly want from him now, the weekend before finals? He—they—should be studying.

Kayla emerged from the hallway, her shoulders back, her chin lifted. When she stopped a few feet from him, he noted her glassy eyes and pale skin.

"The novel is a cozy romantic read. It was a predictable read as there weren't many unexpected surprised or deep dark secrets. . . . it was a bit realistic. The book would be a good read for fans of cozy heartwarming romantic reads."

I'm Into Books - Excerpt

Kayla pulled her legs into her chest, tucking her face against her knees, choking on guilt and fear. She’d majorly screwed up, but this time she’d broken more than just her life—she’d broken Ben’s. Ben sat inches away. Wilting. Steeped in misery. She pitied them both, but like it or not, what was done was done. The time for pity was over. Feeling sorry for themselves was a luxury they couldn’t afford.

“The thing is, Ben, it’s not about us. What we did was weeks ago, and no matter how much we want to go back and change what happened, we can’t. It’s about the baby. Everything has to be about the baby. Because intended or not, however we decide to move forward, there is a baby and we’re both responsible.”

"This bittersweet story has merit in both the various individual character's personalities and in the situations involved. These are all well defined and "draws" the reader into the story causing the feeling of him/her being there. . . . The novel is very well-written. The connection of book and reader are strong and poignant."

Remembrancy - Review

"Christy Hayes tackles a challenging, but relevant, subject in her latest New Adult release. Formula for a Perfect Life is about an unplanned pregnancy and the fallout that occurs for the two families whose lives will change."

Pause for Tales - Review

"I liked this story. I liked who Kayla and Ben become by the end. Especially as they reach for a greater purpose and put away their own selfishness for the sake of their child. This story does bring us to a satisfying and sigh worthy conclusion and I was glad to go on this journey with them."

"Hayes kept me anchoured into the story - she didn't make excuses for her characters, nor did she overtly bring into the forum of their duress the inspirational messages you might have felt could have been added into the fray of their spiraling anxieties. . . . She openly lets her characters choose their own words and to fumble their own way through tomorrow . . . I needed a story to pull me back into the joy of reading- Hayes game me a story which rooted me into her characters' lives, gave me a reason to champion their cause and gave me such an uplift of joy to discover their story . . ."

"With a pinch of faith, this is a realistic and honest look into unplanned pregnancy along with the impact it has on the mother-to-be, the father-to-be, as well as their families. It also highlights how important strong friendships are in addition to family. Delightful, and a true example of the plans God has for us – even when we’re sure of what we want. And, sometimes it gives us the courage to stand up for ourselves."

"This is a sweet read by Christy Hayes that I will definitely recommend right from the start! . . . I was drawn in from the beginning of the book until the end and I really liked how the author used the phrase God has a plan for you Karebear. He sees outside the big picture where we can only see what is front of us. . . . I will be looking forward to reading more of this author's books in the future. She's just that enjoyable!"

Splashes of Joy - Excerpt

“I know that.”

“You know what?”

“I know I probably can’t give the baby away. I love the idea of it. I’ve looked at some websites. I know there’s a need.”


Kayla played with the hem of her shirt, rolling and unrolling it between her fingers. “I’m going to get attached. Even knowing it’s the right thing to do, I don’t think I can give it away and live with myself. I’d always wonder. I’d always miss it. I’d never recover.”

"It opened strong and kept my interest throughout. . . . This story doesn’t gloss over the difficulties or the negative views others reflect on couples finding themselves in unplanned pregnancies. It deals with all aspects reasonably and authentically, good and bad, and binds it together with soft and subtle Christian themes of perseverance, acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption."

"Formula For a Perfect Life meets the new adult age group where they are at. It takes an honest look at the consequences of choices this demographic has to make every day, and it frames them in the light of Truth and grace. Well-written and engaging – even really cute at times – you’ll be invested in Kayla and Ben’s journey from beginning to end."

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

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.)

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 Giveaway

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

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