Thursday, February 2, 2023

January 2023 Reading Recap & February 2023 TBR

My January 2023 Reads: 

I read lots of poetry in January and I have no regrets. 

  1. The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  2. Walking With My Angel by Adam Scott Campbell - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  3. Woman of God by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - This novel surprised me. It's a general market fiction novel that held some things I don't enjoy (occasional profanity, irreverent attitude toward God), but it also contained a religious depth that I appreciated. More conservative readers might be offended by a woman in a church leadership role or the occasional mention of gay/lesbian inclusivity in the church. Overall, I enjoyed reading the novel and appreciated Brigid's authentic journey to/with God.

  4. The Last Chance Cowboy by Jody Hedlund - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  5. Poems by C. S. Lewis -  ⭐⭐⭐½ - This collection reminded me of the poetry I read in college. While I appreciated its literary excellence, I only liked a handful of the poems. πŸ™

  6. Everything is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  7. Peace in the Midst of the Storm by Kaleb Thompson - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.



Expected February 2023 Reads:

If January was the month of poetry, I think February is the month of nonfiction. πŸ“š
  1. The  Glass Road by Alyssa Schwarz.

  2. The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz. - Yes! I read this book in January, and I'll be reading it again in February as it's my local book club's monthly selection.

  3. Write Better by Andrew T. Le Peau.

  4. The Weight of Air by Kimberly Duffy.

  5. An Explorer's Guide to Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf - Currently reading and I absolutely love it!

  6. The Sound of Light by Sarah Sundin.

  7. Return From Tomorrow by George G. Ritchie and Elizabeth Sherrill.

  8. Endless Grace by Dan Wilt and Ryan Smith. - Prayers inspired by Psalms 76-150 - Currently reading.




What will you read this month?

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Book Spotlight: Relational Reset by Laurel Shaler

Relational Reset JustRead Blog + Review Blitz 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Blitz for Relational Reset by Laurel Shaler, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book


Relational Reset Title: Relational Reset 
Author: Laurel Shaler 
Publisher: Moody 
Release Date: February 2019 
Genre: Christian Living (non-fiction)

From the author of "Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events" comes this Selah Award Finalist on a topic everyone can relate to: Relationships. So, are your relationships all that you want them to be?

Despite our best intentions, we all have blind spots--bad relational habits that are keeping us from enjoying our relationships fully. And since relationships stand at the center of all we are and all we do, if we can learn to do relationships better, every aspect of our lives improves. Whether you struggle to overcome past wounds, insecurity, blame, or envy, it's time to reflect on your relational habits and reset them so that your relationships can be all you want them to be.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub


Excerpt


When we develop empathy for others, act from realistic expectations, and take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we gain freedom from the negativity that weighs us down and holds us back. When we toss off the weight of unhealthy patterns, we experience renewed strength and confidence . . . and a restored ability to move forward in our relationship with God and our relationships with others. As a counselor and a professor of counselor education and family studies, I wrote Relational Reset: Unlearning the Habits That Hold You Back to help you do just that.

My prayer for you is that this book will equip you to reclaim what God intended all along: healthy, whole, nurturing, loving, satisfying relationships. This can happen regardless of your past and within the many types of relationships in your life. Just think of the freedom you will feel and how much better you’ll sleep when you aren’t staying awake worrying about relationships. Even when others won’t participate in improving a messy relationship, you can learn to be your best you and feel better for having done so.

About the Author

Laurel Shaler

Dr. Laurel Shaler is a licensed mental health professional and a Professor at Liberty University . She has contributed to many well-known publications including Lifeway's Journey, Guideposts, and Proverbs 31 Ministries. Laurel is the author of "Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events" (David C. Cook, 2016) and "Relational Reset: Unlearning the Habits that Hold You Back" (Moody, 2018). She regularly speaks on a wide variety of topics, and has been interviewed by Building Relationships, Focus on the Family, and more. Most importantly, Laurel is a follower of Jesus Christ and seeks to share His love with others. She and her family live in the Deep South.

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


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a print copy of the book and $25 Amazon gift card!

Relational Reset JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight February 1, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on February 8, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Ebook available international. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Enter Giveaway Here


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Book Review: Everything Is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels

About the Book:



It was just one of those nights. One of those crazy, impossible nights that change your life. Forever.

When guitarist Michael Sullivan gets kicked out of his band (and his apartment), landing a record deal seems an impossible dream. And nothing about Michael's prospects points toward a better future. Until the invitation for a swanky New Year's Eve party shows up in the mailbox. It's addressed to his uncle, with whom he shares both name and living space, but his uncle is going out of town . . .

On the effervescent night of December 31, 1989--as the Berlin Wall is coming down, the Soviet Union is falling apart, and anything seems possible--Michael will cross paths with the accomplished and enigmatic young heir to a fading musical dynasty, forever altering both of their futures.


My Thoughts:

Though Everything Is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels starts on New Year’s Eve of 1989, it’s a tale of family, dreams, and responsibility (or lack thereof) relevant to any generation. Michael Sullivan, the main character, is an underperforming, self-focused, immature twenty-something. I disliked him from the beginning which made it hard to enjoy the book. He grows as a character and turns decent for the last 1/3-1/4 of the novel, but I never felt invested in the story.

Opposite Michael, the female lead, Natalie Wheeler, is highly talented, proactive, (mostly) mature, and committed to excellence despite having her own obstacles. She’s quite a foil character to Michael, but their relationship isn’t an enemy-to-lovers tale. Rather, it’s an unlikely friendship that grows out of loneliness and impending loss.

Everything Is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels contains some excellent themes about the importance of forgiveness, viewing obstacles as helpful for growth and new opportunities, finding family outside of biological kin, working hard to accomplish goals, and realizing every person has a backstory that affects their actions and attitudes. This story isn’t my favorite of Erin Bartel’s novels, but offers good themes, fun vintage music references, and plenty of depth for readers who manage to like the book’s main character.


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, January 27, 2023

Book Review: The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz

About the Book:


In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley's father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Blythe quietly awaits the crowning of a new king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.

No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with her maid in tow. He has his own problems--a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

In this whirlwind of intrigue, ambitions, and shifting alliances, Blythe yearns for someone she can trust. But the same forces that draw her and Everard together also threaten to tear them apart.

Read an excerpt from The Rose and the Thistle on the publisher's website.


My Thoughts:

Reading The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz made me want to visit Scotland. The descriptions of the beautiful scenery and the historical details immersed me into the story. I could picture the fog over Edinburgh, Everard riding on his mount, the garden at Canongate townhouse. The combination of the setting and historical elements created an absorbing plot and revived some history I’d forgotten. I googled for information about King George I and everything I read confirmed that Laura Frantz researched this story well.

Both main characters of The Rose and the Thistle, Everard and Blythe, interested me from the start, but I do wish they had met sooner in the novel. Once Blythe arrives at Everard’s estate, sparks start appearing and I enjoyed their slow-burn romance. The blossoming of their love allowed them both to grow individually and in the relationship. I especially liked how Everard’s love for Blythe helped her overcome her certain issues.

The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz is a stand-alone novel for historical romance fans who enjoy slow-burn romance, historical detail, and beautiful prose. Five stars!



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, January 25, 2023

Fiction Meets Real Life: Bertha Palmer Edition


This is a fiction-meets-real-life post. I read Jocelyn Green’s Veiled in Smoke back in 2020 and loved the novel.  One of its characters suffered from “soldier’s heart” – what we would call PTSD today. The author handled the situation with sensitivity and the book gave me the push I need to get professional counseling for my own PTSD. I’m still reaping the benefits of that counseling.

This novel also awakened my interest in Bertha Palmer, a side character in the novel, but a wealthy, widowed, businesswoman in real life. Her winter estate in Osprey, FL, sits about 45 minutes from my home and is now known as Historic Spanish Point. I’ve visited many times and I always love walking the grounds.

A year or more ago, I visited a Little Free Library and found the book, Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota by Frank A. Cassell. It sat in my TBR for months, but in December 2022, I finally cracked open its pages to find a fascinating read that illuminated my hometown's history.

And that's the story behind this book photo.

Read my review of Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green.

Read my review of Suncoast Empire by Frank A. Cassell


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Book Review: Peace in the Midst of the Storm by Kaleb Thompson

About the Book:



Anxiety and fear seek to prey on the damaged and create heavy burdens that scar the soul, being heartless and insensitive to the lost, unkempt, and broken-spirited in a troubled, unwholesome world. However, they do not reign for eternity, as faith, resilience, and empowerment remain planted from within to help overcome pressing obstacles, regardless of how difficult they may be.

Peace in the Midst of the Storm primarily focuses on the beauty of positivity, selflessness, and honorable confidence that symbolizes the importance of light being present within darkness. This book also holds accountability in facing the realization that as life may prove frustrating at times, giving up is never an option! This shows that regardless of our mistakes, life does not promise us that we will remain positioned in negativity. What we were in our pasts will not seep into who we have grown to be as positive individuals. What we have now realized is that we often must prepare to speak victory over our storms and, as we continue to encourage ourselves to do that, we will overcome anything.


My Thoughts:

In Peace in the Midst of the Storm, Kaleb Thompson invites the reader to join him in being “passionate in denouncing negativity of any kind (page 32).” The poetry in this collection seems so deeply personal that I’m remiss to critique the narrator’s experiences and feelings. Rather, I’ll note that the purpose of this collection is to encourage the reader toward wholeness and wellbeing. The poetry presents a compelling, recurrent message about setting boundaries and leaving toxic relationships. It also emphasizes career empowerment and financial success.

The poems in Peace in the Midst of the Storm Thompson are written in easy-to-read, contemporary English. Sometimes, the narrative tone switches from prayerful lines to prophetic declarations within a stanza. All the poems adhere to a freestyle form to express powerful thoughts and strong feelings, but the lack of ending punctuation stood out to me. Depending on the reader’s tolerance for grammatical deviation, this may or may not be an issue.

Recommended for readers who enjoy inspirational, freestyle poetry.



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.


Monday, January 23, 2023

2022 Favorite Fiction Reads

I published my 2022 list of favorite nonfiction earlier in the month, but this post is all about fiction! 

I must note that I read many good books that I truly enjoyed but these are the tip-top, cream-of-the-crop, favorite reads for me.  

In no particular order, my favorite fiction reads of 2022 are below. 

Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen 

This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts.

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

πŸ‘‰ Read my review.

Turn to Me by Becky Wade 

His promise will cost him far more than he imagined.

Guilt has defined Luke Dempsey's life, but it was self-destructiveness that landed him in prison. When his friend and fellow inmate lay dying shortly before Luke's release, the older man revealed he left a string of clues for his daughter, Finley, that will lead her to the treasure he's hidden. Worried that she won't be the only one pursuing the treasure, he gains Luke's promise to protect her until the end of her search.

Spunky and idealistic, Finley Sutherland is the owner of an animal rescue center and a defender of lost causes. She accepts Luke's help on the treasure hunt while secretly planning to help him in return--by coaxing him to embrace the forgiveness he's long denied himself.

As they draw closer to the final clue, their reasons for resisting each other begin to crumble, and Luke realizes his promise will push him to the limit in more ways than one. He'll do his best to shield Finley from unseen threats, but who's going to shield him from losing his heart?

πŸ‘‰ Read my review

Love and the Dream Come True by Tammy L. Gray 

Their faith will face its toughest test yet.

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

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

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

πŸ‘‰ Read my review

A Piece of the Moon by Chris Fabry 

An inspiring southern fiction story from the bestselling author of War Room.

When eccentric millionaire Gideon Quidley receives a divine revelation to hide his earthly treasure somewhere in the hills, he sets out to find a fitting hiding spot, choosing only a few Bible verses as clues leading to untold riches of gold, silver, cash . . . and one very unexpected—and very costly—item.

Treasure hunters descend upon the hills of West Virginia, including those surrounding the small town of Emmaus, where TD Lovett and Waite Evers provide the latest updates and the beating heart of the community on radio station Country 16. Neither man is much interested in a wild-goose chase for Quidley’s treasure, though. Waite is busy keeping the station afloat and caring for the bruised souls who have landed there. Meanwhile, TD’s more intent on winning over local junkyard owner Pidge Bledsoe, who has taken in a shy, wounded boy to raise.

But after an estranged friend goes missing searching for the treasure, TD is unexpectedly drawn into the hunt. As TD joins the race to find Quidley’s wealth, he discovers where his own real treasure lies, and he begins to suspect there’s a hidden piece to Gideon Quidley’s treasure that no one could’ve expected.

πŸ‘‰ Read my review

The Finder of Forgotten Things by Sarah Loudin Thomas 

It's one thing to say you can find what people need--it's another to actually do it.

It's 1932 and Sullivan Harris is on the run. An occasionally successful dowser, he promised the people of Kline, West Virginia, that he would find them water. But when wells turned up dry, he disappeared with their cash just a step or two ahead of Jeremiah Weber, who was elected to run him down.

Postmistress Gainey Floyd is suspicious of Sulley's abilities when he appears in her town but reconsiders after new wells fill with sweet water. Rather, it's Sulley who grows uneasy when his success makes folks wonder if he can find more than water--like forgotten items or missing people. He lights out to escape such expectations and runs smack into something worse.

Hundreds of men have found jobs digging the Hawks Nest Tunnel--but what they thought was a blessing is killing them. And no one seems to care. Here, Sulley finds something new--a desire to help. With it, he becomes an unexpected catalyst, bringing Jeremiah and Gainey together to find what even he has forgotten: hope.

πŸ‘‰ Read my review.

Nightshade by Ronie Kendig 

After a tour of duty in a war-torn country, embattled former Navy SEAL Max Jacobs finds himself discarded and alienated from those he loves as he struggles with war-related PTSD. His wife, Sydney, files a restrain order against him and a petition for divorce. Max is devastated.

Then a mysterious man appears. He says he's organizing a group that recycles veterans like Max. It's a black-ops group known as Nightshade. With the chance to find purpose in life once again, Max is unable to resist the call of duty and signs on.

The teams handles everything with precision and lethal skill--until they're called upon to rescue a missionary family from a rebel-infested jungle and avoid a reporter hunting their identities.

Will Max yield his anger and pride to a force great than him--love?

πŸ‘‰ Read my review.

The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall 

One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.

When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption... and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?

πŸ‘‰ Read my review.

The Lady's Mine by Francine Rivers 

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to the California frontier in this sweeping, romantic tale of a displaced New England suffragette, a former Union soldier disinherited by his Southern family, and the town they join forces to save.

1875. When Kathryn Walsh arrives in tiny Calvada, a mining town nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, falling in love is the farthest thing from her mind. Banished from Boston by her wealthy stepfather, she has come to claim an inheritance from the uncle she never knew: a defunct newspaper office on a main street overflowing with brothels and saloons, and a seemingly worthless mine. Moved by the oppression of the local miners and their families, Kathryn decides to relaunch her uncle’s newspaper—and then finds herself in the middle of a maelstrom, pitted against Calvada’s most powerful men. But Kathryn intends to continue to say—and publish—whatever she pleases, especially when she knows she’s right.

Matthias Beck, owner of a local saloon and hotel, has a special interest in the new lady in town. He instantly recognizes C. T. Walsh’s same tenacity in the beautiful and outspoken redhead—and knows all too well how dangerous that family trait can be. While Kathryn may be right about Calvada’s problems, her righteousness could also get her killed. But when the handsome hotelier keeps finding himself on the same side of the issues as the opinionated Miss Walsh, Matthias’s restless search for purpose becomes all about answering the call of his heart.

Everyone may be looking to strike it rich in this lawless boomtown, but it’s a love more precious than gold that will ultimately save them all.

πŸ‘‰ Read my review.

Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby

A richly imagined novel inspired by the true story of Anne Sharp, a governess who became very close with Jane Austen and her family by the #1 International bestselling-author of Miss Austen.

On January 21, 1804, Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess. At thirty-one years old, she has no previous experience of either teaching or fine country houses. Her mother has died, and she has nowhere else to go. Anne is left with no choice. For her new charge—twelve-year-old Fanny Austen—Anne's arrival is all novelty and excitement.

The governess role is a uniquely awkward one. Anne is neither one of the servants, nor one of the family, and to balance a position between the "upstairs" and "downstairs" members of the household is a diplomatic chess game. One wrong move may result in instant dismissal. Anne knows that she must never let down her guard.

When Mr. Edward Austen's family comes to stay, Anne forms an immediate attachment to Jane. They write plays together and enjoy long discussions. However, in the process, Anne reveals herself as not merely pretty, charming, and competent; she is clever too. Even her sleepy, complacent, mistress can hardly fail to notice.

Meanwhile Jane's brother, Henry, begins to take an unusually strong interest in the lovely young governess. And from now on, Anne's days at Godmersham Park are numbered.

πŸ‘‰ Read my review.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall 

With more than one million copies sold, this series of modern classics about the charming Penderwick family from National Book Award-winner and New York Times best seller Jeanne Birdsall is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager. 

When summer comes around, it's off to the beach for Rosalind...and off to Maine with Aunt Claire for the rest of the Penderwick girls, as well as their old friend, Jeffrey. That leaves Skye as OAP (oldest available Penderwick) - a terrifying notion for all, but for Skye especially. Things look good as they settle into their cozy cottage, with a rocky shore, enthusiastic seagulls, a just-right corner store, and a charming next-door neighbor. 

But can Skye hold it together long enough to figure out Rosalind's directions about not letting Batty explode? Will Jane's Love Survey come to a tragic conclusion after she meets the alluring Dominic? Is Batty - contrary to all accepted wisdom - the only Penderwick capable of carrying a tune? And will Jeffrey be able to keep peace between the girls...these girls who are his second, and most heartfelt, family?

All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes
 
When all of Venice is unmasked, one man's identity remains a mystery . . .

1807
When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the quiet canals of Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastien Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn't until a woman washes ashore on his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastien must make a choice that could alter not just his own future, but also that of the beloved floating city.

1904
Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden with regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a city of colliding hope and decay, much like his own life, and a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien Trovato.

πŸ‘‰ Read my review

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Book Review: Walking With My Angel by Adam Scott Campbell

About the Book: 


Walking With My Angel is a series of poetic letters to and from a real, heavenly Angel and her mortal warrior companion. They are shared in the hope that others find hope, encouragement, empowerment, and even enlightenment from reading them.

Read excerpts of Adam's poetry at: https://adamscottcampbell.com/

Purchase Link: Amazon


Mini-Interview with Adam:

This video features excerpts from a full interview with Adam. Both interviews are available at: https://adamscottcampbell.com/


My Thoughts:

In Walking With My Angel, Adam Scott Campbell presents a poetry collection based on his physical and spiritual experiences with his angel. I highly recommend viewing Adam’s condensed interview on his website as it gives substantial information about his experiences that are helpful to know prior to reading the book.

In Walking With My Angel, the reader enters an ethos of the poet as a writer-warrior with his personal angel as his soulmate. I’ll pass on trying to examine any theology as the Bible only gives snippets of information about angels and I am no expert on the matter. I will say that the poetry includes basic Christian beliefs of Jesus as the crucified and resurrected Savior as well as God as a loving Father with a divine will for each of His sons and daughters. 

The poems in Walking With My Angel interested, soothed, comforted, and inspired me. Though independently published, the book is professionally formatted and the author’s passion for his craft is evident. The poems carry elements of rhythm and rhyme with careful word choice that adds art and beauty to the narrative.

Suicide Trigger Alert: Several times, the author mentions his desire to end his mortal existence and enter eternity with his angel. However, the poems do not glorify suicide. They are presented with the narrator’s knowledge that ending his life prematurely is not God’s chosen path for him. Still, I feel it is appropriate to offer a suicide trigger alert due to such content.



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.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Author Interview: Beauty From Ashes by Pamela Hart

Beauty From Ashes JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Beauty from Ashes by Pamela Hart, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book


Beauty From Ashes Title: Beauty from Ashes 
Series: Beauty from Ashes Trilogy #1 
Author: Pamela Hart 
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing 
Release Date: July 25, 2022 
Genre: Young Adult Clean Fantasy Romance (Allegorical) 

How far are you willing to go for love? 

When Prince Arnion volunteers to infiltrate the prison colony of Gehenna, romance is the last thing on his mind. Rescuing its inhabitants is his only priority. But the corruption in Gehenna runs deep, fueled by the obsessions of its fanatical leader—a king rumored to devour human hearts. 

To succeed, Arnion must conceal his identity from the people he’s been sent to save, including a young woman he’s inexplicably drawn to. And when her life is threatened by two merciless guards, the prince risks everything to save her. 

Afterward, she wants nothing to do with him or his promises of rescue. But she soon realizes there’s more to Arnion than meets the eye, and what he’s about to unleash on Gehenna will change everything. 


About the Author

Pamela Hart

Pamela Hart is the author of Beauty from Ashes and City of a Thousand Tears. Raised on a steady diet of fantasy, science fiction and anime, she spent most of her childhood failing to acquire a Boston accent. Since then, she has slurped ramen in Ikebukuro, stampeded through flamenco lessons in Granada, and splashed her way across a fishpond for the Milkman Triathlon in Dexter. During her travels, she tends to overpack horrendously, but never regrets cramming her backpack full of books to devour along the way. She wanders the planet with Joe, the love of her life, and her adorably maniacal Boston terriers, Willy and Marvin.

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


Author Interview


Q: What was the inspiration behind Beauty from Ashes?

Pamela: Beauty from Ashes was inspired by a creative outreach I participated in while attending Discipleship Training School at YWAM Tokyo. We created a 5-paneled bilingual comic in English and Japanese to share the gospel.

Years later, the seed from writing that comic still stuck with me. It stretched and morphed and eventually grew into Beauty from Ashes.

Ultimately, Beauty from Ashes, was inspired by the desire to share the gospel with people who might never step foot in a church.
 

Q: How long did it take you to write this story?

Pamela: Once I buckled down and started writing, it took seven years to go from the first word to the published book.


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

Pamela: I think my favorite quote is, “My lunatic has a name now.” I like it partly for wry humor of the protagonist’s voice but also because it’s the start of a deep character change within her and her relationships.
 

Q: What do you hope readers take away from Beauty from Ashes?

Pamela: My hope is that readers will see an illustration of the gospel and know that they are loved more than they can ever possibly imagine. That God sent his son, Jesus, to die in their place and raised him to life so that they can live with him forever and have a personal relationship with him.


Q: Would you share something about yourself that most readers would not know?

Pamela: I’m learning how to scuba dive. I just finished my first certification class tonight and I’m very excited!


Q: What are you reading now?

Pamela: I’m reading a really cool version of Hinds’ Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard that has beautiful watercolor illustrations and spaces for journaling.

I’m also finishing up Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Snow Kissed by M.J. Padgett, and How to Write your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell.


Q: How many bookcases are in your home?

Pamela: We have four. 😊


Q: What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Pamela: I love reading, watching movies, and taking walks with my dogs and my hubby. I also love traveling, hiking, exploring new places and trying new food. When I see something in the grocery store that I can’t recognize, I like to buy it and figure out how to cook it. That’s how I discovered red currants and a really yummy red currant, lemon, and yogurt muffin recipe.


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a print copy of Beauty from Ashes, 2 themed bookmarks, a $15 Amazon gift card, a book themed tote bag, and a book themed pencil case!

Beauty From Ashes JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight January 17, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on January 24, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Open internationally. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Book Spotlight: The Bonita Creek Series by June McCrary Jacobs

Bonita Creek JustRead Blog Blitz 

Welcome to the Blog Blitz for the Bonita Creek series by June McCrary Jacobs, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Books


Robin's Reward Title: Robin's Reward 
Series: Bonita Creek #1 
Author: June McCrary Jacobs 
Publisher: Independently Published 
Release Date: May, 2021 (re-release) 
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Is a relationship which began with both parties harboring secrets destined to survive?

Welcome to friendly Bonita Creek, a small town in the Coastal Mountains of the Mendocino Coast of California . . . 

Bonita Creek’s librarian, Robin Bennett, is heartbroken after being abandoned by her husband, Thomas. Mysterious Jeff Clarke arrives in town unexpectedly and touches Robin’s life with his wit and warmth. Without warning, Jeff’s harsh words and abrasive actions scare her off, and Robin’s hope of finding true, long-lasting love withers again. 

Can the couple move past their troubles and the obstacles in their path to find love and happiness together? Jeff and Robin must use their faith and their newly-forged bond with each other to remain strong and true. Will it be enough for them to embrace a life of love, trials, and blessings . . . together? 

'Robin's Reward,' Book One in the Bonita Creek Series, is a contemporary Christian romance story which is completely clean in language and content.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | BookDepository | BookBub


Jorie's Journey Title: Jorie's Journey 
Series: Bonita Creek #2 
Author: June McCrary Jacobs 
Publisher: Independently Published 
Release Date: May, 2022 
Genre: Christian Western Contemporary Romance 
  
After an idyllic life scarred by a traumatic event, is Jorie Woodstone ready to move forward to share her life's journey with a man who loves her unconditionally? 

Welcome back to friendly Bonita Creek, a small town in the Coastal Mountains of the Mendocino Coast of California . . . 

Jorie Woodstone is the owner and operator of the wildly successful Cowgirl Bakery in Old Town Bonita Creek. She appears to have it all. She is musically gifted and belongs to a warm, loving, supportive family; but she's built a brick fortress around her heart after being traumatized by an acquaintance in an unforgettable event three years earlier. 

Join this talented, spirited cowgirl as she journeys on through life's joys and sorrows with faith, strength, courage, and love on the road to true happiness. 

'Jorie's Journey,' Book Two in the Bonita Creek Series, is a contemporary Christian Western romance story which is completely clean in language and content.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Christmas in Bonita Creek Title: Christmas in Bonita Creek 
Series: Bonita Creek #3 
Author: June McCrary Jacobs 
Publisher: Independently Published 
Release Date: December, 2022 
Genre: Christian Historical Romance with Military Elements

After seeing more than two years of combat in the Korean War, will the homecoming of two men from Bonita Creek be filled with the joy and romance they are yearning for or will it bring them even more heartache?

It's late summer, 1952, in friendly Bonita Creek, a small town in the Coastal Mountains of the Mendocino Coast of California . . . 

Estelle Vincent is missing her older brother, Sam, and her fiancΓ©, John Chaplin, who are far away fighting for the US Army in the Korean War. They've been gone for more than two long years, and she is feeling out of sorts. 

When she has a frank discussion with her mother, Estelle realizes that she is not the only one who has been moody and bored with her uneventful life. Her mother's words inspire Estelle and catapult her into action organizing a community holiday project for the children and teens whose parents work for Mountainside Ranch outside of town. 

As the story deepens, Estelle learns that several people close to her are harboring secrets—including her mother, her brother, and her best friend. She learns to be flexible and understanding as she looks outside of her own life and examines the impact of unforeseen events on those closest to her heart. 

Join this intelligent, strong-willed hometown young woman as she navigates the obstacles and challenges of life with hope, perseverance, faith, courage, and love on her road to a brighter future filled with dreams come true. 

'Christmas in Bonita Creek,' Book Three in the Bonita Creek Series, is a historical Christian holiday romance story which is completely clean in language and content.

PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon | BookBub


Excerpt from Robin's Reward 


Robin put on her sunglasses as they headed toward the park across the street. "Ready for the official tour now?" she asked.

"Whenever you're ready."

"This is Veterans Memorial Park. My Grandpa John Chaplin's name is on the World War II memorial wall here. He was in the Army and was wounded in Europe. I think it was in France. After he recuperated, he worked in intelligence at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. until the war ended. He worked on codes and communications."

"Sounds like a smart man."

"He was. He was intelligent, clever, compassionate, and kind. I was blessed to have him as my grandfather. His name is also shown on the Korean War memorial wall over here."

They walked further into the park to see the Korean War wall.

"He served in both wars?" Jeff asked.

"Yes. In the Korean War he was stationed in South Korea and saw some combat. Fortunately, he wasn't wounded in that conflict," Robin said with a slight smile.

"I'm in awe of anyone who saw combat in not only one, but two wars!" Jeff replied.

"It's pretty amazing, isn't it?" she asked.

"Definitely amazing. Maybe more like astonishing since I don't come from a military family. Is this all right?" Jeff gestured to a bench engulfed with shade.

"Yes, it's nice and cool here."

They both sat down and then Jeff handed Robin her ice-cold smoothie. She slid the straw through the lid and took her first sip.

"Delicious. Thanks."

"You're welcome. Tell me more about your family." Jeff sat back with his legs stretched in front of him and began sipping his smoothie through his straw.

"My grandparents raised me from the time I was fourteen. My mother died of colon cancer after a lengthy battle. My dad was an emotional wreck after she died. We appeared on his parents' doorstep in Bonita Creek one July afternoon about three months after Mom's death. He asked his parents to look after me while he tried to 'find himself.'


© June McCrary Jacobs, 2015


About the Author

June McCrary Jacobs

June McCrary Jacobs's debut novella, 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom', was the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing's 2013 Holiday Tale Contest. 'Robin's Reward', a Christian contemporary romance, is set in the Mendocino coastal region of California. It is Book One in the 'Bonita Creek Series' and was originally released in 2015; the second edition of the book was released in July, 2022. The second book in the series, 'Jorie's Journey', was released in late May of 2022. The third book in the series a Christian historical romance, 'Christmas in Bonita Creek', was released in December, 2022. 'Romance By Proxy' is a later-in-life clean, wholesome romance set in Humboldt County on the Northern Coast of San Francisco which was released in August, 2021. June's Christian historical romance short story, 'Handmade Hearts', was inspired by the true story of how June's aunt and uncle met in New Orleans during World War II and was released in December, 2018. June's debut middle-grade novel, 'RES-Q Tyler Stop', a historical novel set in Sonoma County, California, in 1968, was released in the spring of 2019. In early 2022 she published two short story collections for children entitled, 'Carter's Cookies & More Family Stories for Children' and 'Banjo & More Pet Stories for Children'. As a retired elementary school teacher and literacy mentor, June finds writing for children to be a rewarding and challenging experience.

Connect with June by visiting authorjunemccraryjacobs.blogspot.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift card + Bonita Creek Series e-books!

Bonita Creek JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight January 18, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on January 25, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Enter Giveaway


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Book Spotlight: Midnight Blue by Suzie Waltner

Midnight Blue JustRead Blog + Review Tour 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Midnight Blue by Suzie Waltner, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book


Midnight Bllue Title: Midnight Blue 
Series: Love in Color #1 
Author: Suzie Waltner 
Publisher: Anaiah Press Publishing 
Release Date: September 6, 2022 
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance 

A series of heartbreaking setbacks behind her, Scarlett Sykes is now focused on creating the best life possible for her daughter. One where innocence and joy is not colored by rejection or loss. While finances are tight and Scarlett’s job isn’t ideal for a single mother, her child will always know she’s loved. Especially since Harmony’s father wanted nothing to do with them. 

As lead singer and the face of a successful country band, Jake Turnquist’s closest friends depend on him, but life in the spotlight is quickly losing its appeal. At a party celebrating another accomplishment, he’s stunned to discover Scarlett assisting the caterer. Almost ten years have passed, but he’s never forgotten his first love. 

In the hours after a surprise revelation, Jake scrambles to orchestrate a way to spend time with Scarlett and Harmony—the family he’s always wanted but never knew he had. He once gave her up to pursue his music. What will he have to surrender to win her back?

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookBub


Excerpt


Scarlett twisted until her backside came into view in the mirror. The jeans were tighter than the last time she’d worn them, but they would have to do.

With a sigh, she slumped onto the bed piled with the other clothes she’d tried on. Her search for something that said “look what you missed out on” and “I’m not affected by you” was futile. Ha. She flopped onto her back and stared at the popcorn ceiling. No outfit in the world that would meet those criteria.

About the Author

Suzie Waltner

Suzie Waltner is a lover of fiction and is first and foremost a reader. When she’s not at work or reading or writing, you can find her cheering on the Nashville Predators (hockey) or dancing an hour away in Zumba class. Until her second year of college, her life plan was to become a veterinarian. A fainting spell while watching a surgery performed on a sheep changed that plan. Now she works in the corporate world during the day while creating stories in her free time. Suzie resides in a suburb of Nashville, TN and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers as well as Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers. She currently serves as the president of the Middle Tennessee ACFW chapter.

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


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a Everything But the Book Cozy Reading Basket: sherpa throw, I'd Rather Be Reading mug, I Read Past My Bedtime socks, 12 oz orange spice candle, portable power bank, book cozy, and some reading snacks plus a $20 Amazon gift card!

Midnight Blue JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight January 16, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on January 23, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Enter Giveaway


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

JustRead Publicity Tours

Monday, January 16, 2023

Author Interview: She Is My Child by Tammy Coulter



About the Book


Book: She Is My Child

Author: Tammy Coulter

Genre: Memoir

Release date: June 7, 2022

In 2007, fourteen-month-old Ava was diagnosed with Morquio Syndrome, a rare, progressive, genetic disorder for which there was no treatment. The jarring news left her mother Tammy reeling and wondering what the future held for her daughter. As the days following the diagnosis blurred together, Tammy saw two paths before her—fall apart or fall into the arms of the Lord. For a time, she did both, struggling with her emotions one moment, feeling God’s peace the next, all while continuing to care for her young family. Slowly, through near-constant prayer and Bible study, her burgeoning faith grew stronger than her fear and distress, leading her to a path she hadn’t seen—one that would test her even more and offer help for Ava.

In She is My Child, Tammy Coulter shares her spiritual journey, alongside Ava’s physical one, from diagnosis to surgeries to a long-anticipated Morquio clinical trial that had them flying to Chicago every week for more than two years. She reveals the most difficult moments and the greatest victories, as well as the humorous situations she and her daughter so often encountered, while highlighting God’s provision and what He taught her along the way.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author


Tammy Coulter graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a communication arts degree and a certificate in technical communication. She was a technical editor until the birth of her son, when she became a stay-at-home mom. After the birth of her daughter, her role expanded to include researcher, student of the Psalms, and full-time prayer warrior. In addition to writing, she enjoys quilting, reading cozy mysteries, and studying Bible prophecy and current events. Tammy lives in Madison, Alabama, with her husband, two children, and their Jack Russell terrier.


Interview with Tammy


Q:
Please give us a little introduction to your book. 

Tammy: My memoir is really two stories, the first being my daughter’s physical journey with a rare disorder. I discuss everything from her diagnosis to surgeries to an eventual clinical trial in Chicago for the first and only drug to treat her disorder, which affects her physically but does not cause any cognitive impairment. She and I traveled from Alabama to Chicago every week for over two years so that she would have access to a medicine that could halt or ameliorate her symptoms. Otherwise, she would have had to wait two to three years for it to become commercially available. She is now sixteen years old and about forty-one inches tall, and she doesn’t let her shorter stature stop her from living life to the fullest. Our time in Chicago also resulted in meeting so many wonderful new friends who became like family to us. The second story in the book is about my spiritual journey. While my husband and I walked with each other through everything and shared similar emotions, I mainly discuss my personal faith journey as a mom and an individual, seeing God work in amazing ways. Other than a few times over the course of our journey, it was just Ava and me traveling to Chicago, so that’s where my faith blossomed and where I learned so much more about trusting and leaning on the Lord. There were definitely some difficult days, but with God’s help and Ava’s personality, we had so many wonderful days filled with lots of fun and laughter. That girl is a hoot!


Q: How long did it take you to write this book?

Tammy: It took me about ten years to write this book. Part of that was actually going through everything and the rest was finding the time to put it all down, edit, and actually get it published. When Ava and I began traveling to Chicago, I sent out some updates to family and friends, telling them what was happening with Ava or the trial or my frustration at the airport and the funny things that happened there. They came to expect them each week, so if I missed one, people would ask where their update was. I am so thankful for that because those updates became a journal of our travel and clinical trial experiences and helped me to put the book together. Once we stopped our travels, I began homeschooling Ava and our son Grant, so my days were very full, which didn’t allow a lot of time for getting all of my thoughts down. Now that they are both older, I have finally had time to get everything together and have it published. I should note that Ava has also had a chance to weigh in on everything I included, and there was nothing I wrote that she wanted me to take out. She enjoyed the book.


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

Tammy: I hope readers will be encouraged by my book. As I saw God working in our lives, I wanted other people to know about it, even perfect strangers if we happened to strike up a conversation. I just wanted to share how He provided for Ava and for me as we went through all we did. He always gave us what we needed–strength, faith, new friends, and even laughter and joy.


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

Tammy: Most people would not think of me as someone who is fascinated by true crime stories and forensics. I am so interested in what makes people do the things they do and in how law enforcement is able to find the culprit much of the time.


Q: In what setting do you enjoy writing the most? 

Tammy: I prefer to be indoors shut away from everyone and every sound, so no music or television for me as I write.


Q: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Tammy: When I am not writing, I enjoy quilting (both piecing and applique), punch needle, reading, spending time with family, walking with my dog, and listening to my favorite online pastors discuss Bible prophecy and current events. I also have an affinity for Andy Griffith and Gomer Pyle reruns.


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

Tammy: Readers can find out more about my book in two ways:
  • By going to the site set up by my publisher: tammycoulterbooks.com
  • By going to my personal blog site, where readers can find out more about me, my book, and any new books that may come along: tammycoulterauthor.com


More from Tammy

When my daughter Ava was diagnosed with Morquio Syndrome, I was crushed and very frightened. Morquio is a progressive disorder and there was no treatment for it. How was my mother’s heart supposed to handle that? I’ll tell you how. By immersing myself in God’s Word. Only then did I begin to calm down and grow stronger in my faith, leaning on Him in ways I never had before. As I look back, I am still amazed at everything we went through and how God was present in all of it.

When we embarked on this trial, everything was new. The name of her disorder was new, seemingly constant doctor visits were new, and then, after four years of prayer for a treatment, a clinical trial for a new drug to treat Morquio was new. And so was the location. Chicago. That meant getting on a plane every week, also new, and flying there from Alabama, just me and my daughter who had just started kindergarten. It surely felt like God was doing a lot in such a short time. And He was. He took all the newness and turned it into both a testament to His provision and lasting memories for both of us. Not all of those memories are pleasant (the cab incident for one, though we joke about it now), but they remain as evidence of God taking care of us, bringing a sweetness to each remembrance. But, oh, so many of them are, and while we were going through something quite serious, the Lord, in His goodness, allowed us adventures, fun, laughter, and new friendships. Best of all, I had the most wonderful traveling companion who, at her tender age, taught me a thing or two along the way!

Just the other day, at a routine checkup, a specialist Ava sees said, “You just never cease to amaze me at how well you do.” I added that comment to so many other comments and experiences that have paved the path of my learning to turn to God first instead of immediately jumping into the quicksand of fear that will quickly suck me in if I let it. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Ava is now sixteen and the shy little girl I so worried over years ago currently wants to be a theater teacher.

I wrote this memoir to share how God provided for our family during a stressful period in our lives. It may make you cry some. I hope it makes you laugh a lot (let me tell you, Ava is a hoot). But the thing that would bring me the greatest joy is someone being encouraged in their own circumstances and life trials.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4.


Blog Stops


Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 8

Texas Book-aholic, January 9

Artistic Nobody, January 10 (Author Interview)

Lots of Helpers, January 11

Cover Lover Book Review, January 12

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, January 13 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, January 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 15

Beauty in the Binding, January 16 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 16

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 18

Guild Master, January 19 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, January 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 20

A Baker’s Perspective , January 21 (Author Interview)


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Tammy is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

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

Link for giveaway: https://promosimple.com/ps/23643/she-is-my-child-celebration-tour-giveaway