Sunday, August 18, 2019

The King's Shadow


Two women occupy a place in Herod's court. The first, Salome, is the king's only sister, a resentful woman who has been told she is from an inferior race, a people God will never accept or approve.

The second woman, Zara, is a lowly handmaid who serves Salome, but where Salome spies conspiracies and treachery, Zara sees hurting people in need of understanding and compassion.

Powerful and powerless, Idumean and Jew, selfish and selfless--both women struggle to reach their goals and survive in Herod the Great's tumultuous court, where no one is trustworthy and no one is safe.

My thoughts: I have learned so much from the previous books in this series about the time period between the Old and New Testaments! The King's Shadow was no different. I didn't know a whole lot about Herod's reign, outside of what it mentioned in the scriptures. Reading this book made me realize that I am glad to not be a part of the royal court back then, since it was fraught with politics, jealousies, suspicion, and death. Trying to keep ahead of the rumors and ruler's ire would of been a full time job!
I like that the story is told from two point of views, that of the historical figure and sister to Herod, Salome, and the fictional one of her handmaiden, Zara. This is an interesting story that will keep you reading late at night to see what becomes of the two women and their loved ones!
Even though there is a cloud of distrust and sinking feeling of what will happen that hangs over the story, I do appreciate the message at the end of it.
I received this book from Bethany House. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Vow of Justice Review


FBI Special Agent Lincoln St. John is living his own personal nightmare. When the woman he loves, Allison Radcliffe, is killed, he devotes his life to tracking down the killers and making them pay for their crimes. He expected it to be a challenge. What he never expected was to find Allison very much alive shortly after her "murder." As his anger and hurt mix with relief, Linc isn't sure how he's supposed to feel. One thing he does know for sure: he and Allison will have to work together to stop a killer before she dies a second time--this time for good.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lynette Eason closes out her Blue Justice series with a story that will have you tearing through the pages to get to the stunning conclusion.

My thoughts: I have loved this series since I read the first book! Vow of Justice concluded the series perfectly, though I was sad that it had to end.
I love the premise of this story, that of an agent thought dead to protect those she loves from a powerful mob member. This story has so much more going on to it that first appears, which I loved. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so suffice it to say that you need to pick this one, along with the rest of the series, up!
I received this book from Revell. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Standing Together


A true story of hope and courage in the face of astonishing challenges

During his fourth deployment, US Marine Corps Sergeant Carlos Evans stepped on an IED--and the loss of both legs and his left hand was just the beginning of the struggle for his life.

For the next two years, he and his wife, Rosemarie, went through the rehabilitation process together. As a nurse and mother of two young children, Rosemarie was used to caring for people, but the task of taking care of her triple-amputee husband brought new challenges every day. In addition to his limb loss, Carlos faced PTSD and developed an addiction to painkillers. He was sure Rosemarie's life would be better without him--and that it might have been better if he hadn't survived at all.

But unlike the majority of marriages put under similar strain, Carlos and Rosemarie stayed together. With the help of family, friends, and--most importantly―a strong faith, they've built a solid marriage and discovered a ministry they never expected. By the hand of God, their story, which began in devastation, has turned into one that draws in and lifts up more people than either of them would ever have dreamed.

Not only will disabled veterans and their loved ones find help here, Carlos and Rosemarie's captivating journey also speaks to those who long for stronger marriages, care for loved ones with disabilities, or are facing a new normal in their own lives, small or large. It is a powerful resource for leaning on God in the midst of life's great difficulties--and for finding ways that, through faith, profound loss can bring incredible blessing.

My thoughts: This is such a powerful read! I appreciated it on multiple fronts, both from the standpoint of his being a veteran, since my parents are both veterans and a lot of my family works with veterans, but also how Carlos and Rosemarie share about their marriage and how their experiences have molded them into the couple they are today. This is a well written book that is easy to read. I appreciate Carlos and Rosemarie for their honesty with what they share, since their message is one that needs to be heard. I highly recommend this book!
I received this book through Reading with Audra. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Daughters of Northern Shores Review!


Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.
Having fled the Norgaard orchard after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade, where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s—which is already imperiled due to a grave illness brought to him at the first prick of warfare.
Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.

My thoughts: The first book left off with a bit of a cliff hanger, since Haakon runs from the mess he has made and goes out on his own. It was hard to wait for the sequel and the chance to find out what happened to Haakon and his family afterwards! Both books are raw and unlike any other I have ever read, since they are full of surprises. I really loved the message of Daughters of Northern Shores, that of forgiveness. I think that it is a message that, if we are honest with ourselves, touches all of us. This is an excellent series to pick up! I look forward to reading what Joanne writes next!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at JoanneBischof.com; Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof; Instagram: @JoanneBischof.

More from Joanne
One of the questions I receive most often is “How do you get it all done?” As a single, homeschooling mom, I’ve long-since learned that there would be easier ways to have a day job than being an author, but God has been gracious in providing abundantly in so many areas. Here are four that I am most thankful for as I look back over the last few years, including this season of writing Sons of Blackbird Mountain and Daughters of Northern Shores.

Togetherness
Now, most authors would agree that “togetherness” isn’t exactly conducive to quality writing time – especially when kids are involved! And while I do need quiet focus to be able to work through a scene or chapter, what I’ve been thankful for is the chance to share story and research discoveries with my children. It’s created more unity around the stories. Instead of needing to usher the kids away, isolating them from the novels I’m writing, I’m able to invite them into them. For the Blackbird Mountain series, I walked them through the Pinterest boards, showing them the different characters. Then we did a history unit on Vikings since that’s the Norgaard Family’s background. We had a blast and it helped make “the story that Mom was working on”, something that they were more aware of and interested in. For my current work-in-progress, we just recently finished an all new history unit including visits to a few local museums and stories that the kids wrote on their own!

Patience
I used to want to write, write, write all the time. And often, that’s what I did! Well, I still would love to write as often as I can, but God has been teaching me something oh-so-important: patience. As part of this, I set aside certain parts of the week for writing office hours. These slots of writing time typically occur on Tuesday evenings, and include a few additional 1 ½ hours slots during the week, once homeschooling is done. In this manner, I am able to carve out some quiet writing time while still making sure the kids are having a great and productive day. But for any writer or working mom, we can agree . . . that’s not a lot of time when added up! In God’s wonderful provision, though, He seems to extend much richness to those little snatches of time. They might not be many, but they are mighty! It’s been a prayer of mine for several years now, that by keeping my writing below these other priorities, that God would help me fill in the cracks of time and energy—and He has been so faithful to supply. I still have my moments when I feel frazzled, especially when deadlines are near, and that’s why I am thankful for this next lesson that God has been teaching me . . .

Communication
The thing about living with a writer, is that you often find them staring at a computer screen. That doesn’t look all that productive, does it? But what we’re doing on the other side of that screen is weaving a story-world of plot, characters, purpose, and heart. Typing words onto the page that we hope will touch lives, digging through old articles for research, or jotting down messy plotting notes that we pray will somehow amount to a story one day. By communicating with my kids (like sharing with them about the story and characters) I’m able to help them see what I’m doing and why. And since kids can be rambunctious and full of life (and questions, and needs for snacking, and ideas, and messes . . . *wink*) and since this writer works well with quiet, I have a little chalkboard that I hang on my doorknob when it’s one of my “office hour” slots. I jot down my start time and end time for that 1 ½ hour block, add a heart or smiley face, and often make note of what our next task will be like preparing a meal or doing an activity together. Then I shut my door and the little sign dangling from the knob outside helps the kids remember what I’m up to. It reminds them that I won’t be tucked away for long, but that I do need to focus for a little while. They’re always allowed to come knocking if a need arises, but for the most part, they’re happy on these afternoons with their own projects. When the hour or so is up, we reconvene and go back about our day, usually slipping into something fun that we do together. By having these slots of time in the week, and by communicating carefully with them in a way they can understand, it helps to bring us all what we need.

Grace
There are days when I blow it, and days when I need a lot of grace. Maybe I’ve spilled iced tea on one of the research books (don’t worry, this is a hypothetical example ) or maybe I didn’t save a scene properly, or just feel stuck and exhausted with a plot thread. These days can certainly tamper with the harmony, which begins with my heart and the need to remember the reason for why I write these stories: for God’s glory. When I begin to lose my calm, or grow frustrated or weary with the challenges afoot, I know it’s time to circle back to what it’s all for. It’s for the readers, it’s for my children, it’s for my joy, and most of all, it’s for God’s glory. By me being harried or stressed, very little of this is being accomplished! God has used the writing process to speak to my heart in ways that have reminded me of what I can surrender, and more and more of the ways that I can look to HIM for guidance. The lessons aren’t always easy, but through each season, and through each book, I have come to see more and more all the ways to be thankful.

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Wally's Misadventure Review!


Wally had been cooped up all winter and was ready for a great adventure! His chores came first, then after his father reminded him of the rules, Wally was off. The first rule was to never go exploring alone, but when none of Wally's friends could go, he was determined to go anyway. Look inside to find out what Wally faces on his adventure!

My thoughts: Little ones will be able to relate to Wally as he sets out on an adventure after being cooped up for the winter. Despite being told not to venture off alone, when his friends are all to busy for him, Wally does just that. I like that this picture book has an important lesson in it, that of rules being in place for a reason. I felt like the illustrations could of been better, having more depth and detail to them. That said, I think that children will enjoy the bright colors of the forest.
I received a copy of this book from Just Read Tours. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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The Story Raider Review and Giveaway!


Deceiving an empire is a treacherous game.
Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers race to collect the strands of an ancient cure that might save Gryfelle. But Tanwen has a secret: Gryfelle isn’t the only one afflicted by the weaver's curse.
As Queen Braith struggles to assert her rule, a new arrival throws her tenuous claim to the Tirian throne into question. Braith’s heart is turned upside down, and she’s not sure she can trust anyone—least of all herself.
The puppet master behind Gareth’s rise to power has designs on the story weavers and will stop at nothing to reclaim the throne. A plot to incite the angry peasants of Tir takes shape, and those dearest to Tanwen will be caught in the crossfire. As the fight for Tir consumes the realm, no one can remain innocent.

My thoughts: Where to start with this one? I really enjoyed the first book in the series, so I was thrilled to have the chance to read The Story Raider so quickly! The only downside to that? Now it will feel like I have to wait even longer until the third book comes out!
I enjoyed the direction the series took with this story. For the most part, it goes back and forth between Braith and Tanwen, as the two young women fight the enemy from different fronts. I love the quest that some of the characters go on to find the cure for Gryfelle, since it brings to life the world that this story is set in. I highly recommend picking this series up, since it will keep you on your toes!
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Lindsay A. Franklin is a best-selling author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following. You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and she Facebooks at www.facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.

More from Lindsay
I often get asked how I came up with the idea for The Story Peddler, book 1 in The Weaver Trilogy. It’s a dangerous thing to dig too deep into a fantasy novelist’s imagination (it’s pretty weird in here, you guys), but the short answer is I was sitting in a workshop at a writers’ conference, and an acquisitions editor made a comment—something like: “I have to peddle your stories to executives. At the end of the day, I’m just a story peddler.” When I heard that phrase, my imagination exploded. I thought of what a “story peddler” might look like if we added a little wonder and a sprinkling of fairy dust to the equation. Then Tanwen emerged as a character who might be a fun vehicle for this story-peddling process, and I imagined a story that would suit her. The Story Peddler was born.

But someone recently asked me why I visualized the supernatural art of storytelling in the way I did—as strands of color, light, fabric, or glitter coming out of the hands of the person telling the story, then crystallizing into a solid object for her to sell. And I have no real answer for that, except, again, “It’s pretty weird in here, you guys.” The Weaver Trilogy is a celebration of creativity and art, and that gave me reason to think about what other types of strand-weavers in this story world might look like.

If you’re new to the series, here’s a primer on the weavers you’ll find in these books.

Storytellers: Strands pour from their hands as they tell stories. When they reach the moral or ending of the story, the strands come together to form a crystallized sculpture. A story peddler then sells the sculptures to make her living.
Songspinners: Strands are lighter, airier, and come from their mouths instead of their hands as they sing. Songspinner strands are emotive and speak to the hearts of the hearers. Once the song is over, the strands disappear.
Colormasters: Strands are like streams of paint, ribbons of fire, or jets of water. When they hit a solid object, they create an image on the object. Colormasters seek to reflect the beauty of their surroundings, capturing the physical world exactly as it is or simply as it feels.
Stoneshapers: Their hands light up as they manipulate rock and stone with their fingertips. They create beauty by molding something that already exists and releasing the art trapped inside.

If that sounds like fun, welcome to my weirdness! Tanwen can’t wait to weave a sparkling adventure for you.

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Lindsay is giving away a grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card, The Corsyth custom Story Peddler candle from Novelly Yours, The Cethorelle custom Story Raider candle from Novelly Yours, choice of two tea tins from the Adagio Story Peddler Tea Shoppe, “Hedgenibblers, fluffhoppers, mountainbeasts, oh my!” mug
Story Peddler book sleeve, Story Raider enamel pin, and assorted bookmarks, stickers, and art prints.
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.

Hills of Nevermore


Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on helping her survive?

In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane.

Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God.

Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Hills of Nevermore explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.

My thoughts: The mid 1800's present few options for women wanting to make a living, and is even tougher on widows who are looking to make an honest living in the Wild West. When Addie invites America and her baby to join her and her son on a venture to open a restaurant, neither woman realizes what they are in for. This is the first book that I have read by Janalyn, but it won't be the last! I enjoyed her attention to detail and how she brings the time period to life. I also fell in love with her characters, and appreciated that both America and Addie have their stories told in Hills of Nevermore. If you enjoy historical fiction with plenty of twists and turns to the story, then I highly recommend this story for you to pick up!
I received this book through Just Read tours. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Full Circle Review and Giveaway!


In the aftermath of spiritual abuse and toxic leadership, one woman's shattered life is restored by the faithfulness of God. Athena's driving desire for affirmation and attention pulled her away from her family, husband, and children into what she thought would bring happiness. Deceived by Scientology, forays into mysticism, and twelve years in a restrictive and legalistic cult, she lost everything her marriage, relationships, home, business, money, and reputation. This is the candid and inspirational story of how her eyes were opened, how God restored what had been lost, and gave her the desires of her heart, including a new love.

My thoughts: Athena does a wonderful job of writing down her story in such a way that makes it hard to put down! Drawn into Scientology and then a legalistic cult, this book shares her spiritual journey through it all. She is very honest about the roll she played in her mistakes, but also shows what a loving God we serve. Through all the rough spots in her journey, God was still there, holding her up and helping her make it through. This is an interesting book to pick up!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Athena Dean Holtz has been at the forefront of Christian custom publishing for the last 30 years. The co-founder of WinePress Publishing, she now leads Redemption Press. Author of three previous books, and a highly-rated personal blog, she serves as president of the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association, is a president’s club member of the Christian Women in Media Association, and a member of Advanced Writer & Speaker Association. She recently retired as host and interviewer on “Always Faithful Radio,” KCIS, Seattle. Married to Ross Holtz, pastor of The Summit, Athena enjoys her grandchildren and time spent sailing. The couple makes their home in Enumclaw, Wash.
Inger J. Logelin is a freelance writer, author, and senior editor of Redemption Press. Ministry experience includes pioneer church planting among the Inuit, and a wilderness camp for First Nations youth of Canada, as well as short-term missions around the world. She and her husband make their home on Whidbey Island, Wash.

More from Athena
When people hear about my Job-like experience with the modern-day Cinderella story ending, I often hear remarks like “WOW, that should be a movie!” It has been six and a half years of full-on redemption and restoration and, honestly, I still pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming this!
After 12 years of spiritual abuse that left me a shell of a person, devastated and distraught, I began a breathtaking journey of healing for all the loss I’d endured. The loss of my 18 year marriage, destroyed relationships with my adult children, the death of my well known publishing company and destruction of my career, along with the fatality of my credit score as I lost my home, my income, and all material things that meant anything to me. Those 12 years of deception cost me big time, but we serve a Romans 8:28 God who uses all things, even that, for good.
I’m on the other side now, healed and restored, proclaiming the faithfulness of a God who used what the enemy meant for evil … for good! I love the creativity He uses in the redemption process … to think He would allow me to be a pastor’s wife now … hand-picked by my pastor-hubby’s late wife of 49 years … with restored relationships with my adult children and grandchildren … to be a radio show host interviewing authors whose stories ring of the faithfulness of God … to steward well another publishing endeavor called Redemption Press … so many full circles where God’s sovereignly connects the dots and brings insight that mends my soul.
I’m excited to share my story with you, to be authentic and transparent, and to reflect the glory of God. I pray that you’re encouraged by all that God has done, and that you’re left with a healthy dose of hope in His faithfulness and His ability to bring good out of bad, every time.
And now, I’ll leave you with an inviting peek into some trivia about my life…
My Uncle Skeeter is a famous actor, James B. Sikking. Known for his part as Howard Hunter on Hill Street Blues and Doogie Howser’s Dad.
When I was 14 years old, I owned 7 horses and showed most of them in horse shows across the country, with my last official show being Madison Square Gardens.
I absolutely LOVE Vizslas…also known as Hungarian Pointers…I’ve had 2 of them over the last 14 years and am addicted. They are THE COOLEST dogs!
I used to work for Helen Reddy, as an administrative assistant to her manager/husband, and before that, for the manager of Rufus & Chaka Khan when they recorded their first hit, Tell Me Somethin’ Good.
My Grandma’s house overlooked the Santa Monica beach and originally belonged to the silent movie star, Mary Pickford.
When I was five years old, my grandma, Dr. Sue Sikking, was the honored guest on the popular TV show “This is Your Life” with host Ralph Edwards. I was part of the cast when our family surprised her with our attendance, and fervently tugged on Mr. Edwards suit jacket to try to get his attention!

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Athena is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and signed copy of her book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The David Years Review and Giveaway!


Nia looked at her aunt and asked, “So what am I ‘spose to do now?”
“Have you ever heard of King David from the Bible?”
“I guess.”
“There were a lot of years between the time David was anointed as the king and he actually became the king. It’s a time for you to grow in your relationship with God.”
“And then later I get to be king?” Nia giggled.
“I meant that figuratively not literally but these are your learning years–your David Years.”’
“My David Years. I like that.”
Nia Johnson has spent the past four years developing a closer relationship to God. She wants to believe she’s still anointed to become a healer at Puzzle House but as each year passes, she has more and more doubts.
Now that she’s graduated from high school and is an adult she is sure it’s time to take the mantle of healing Rachel passed to her so many years before. But the harder she tries, the more it eludes her.

My thoughts: This book brought up some interesting thoughts that had never crossed my mind, like what it would be like to feel God calling you and yet knowing that the time is not yet. I enjoyed the characters in this book, Lillian does an excellent job of bringing to life not only the main characters, but also the secondary characters as well. They deal with some challenges as the story progresses, which kept me reading to see how things would turn out for Nia. I thought that the ending was well done and enjoyed this story immensely! I look forward to reading more by Lillian!
I received this book through Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Lillian lives in a small town in Ohio with her husband. She writes the types of books she loves to read. Even though her books cross genres, they have one thing in common, faith-based stories that demonstrate God’s love—and lots of action. OK—that’s two things.
She was a school speech pathologist for over 30 years but retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors due to Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), a rare genetic disease.
Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word. To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillian–duncan.com.


More from Lillian
The David Years is the second novel in the Puzzle House series. In Puzzle House, Nia was anointed to become a healer. The David Years starts out where Puzzle House stopped.
Nia looked at her aunt and asked, “So what am I ‘spose to do now?”
“Have you ever heard of King David from the Bible? There were a lot of years between the time David was anointed as the king and he actually became the king. David was tested many times during those years. Those years were very important to David’s growth as a man so that he would be the king God wanted him to be when the time was right.”
“So what are you saying, Auntie?”
“I’m saying these are your David years.”
And so the story begins. Most of the book takes place after Nia’s high school graduation during her first year in college. She’s impatient to begin her time as healer and tries to make that happen in her timing—not God’s.
But God will not be rushed and whether Nia likes it or not, she’s still in her David Years—her learning years. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘we learn from our mistakes.’ Well, Nia learns a lot that year. In other words, she makes a lot of mistakes.
My college years are long, long past so I thought it might be hard to get into the mindset of a college student, but it really wasn’t. I thought back to all the mistakes I made during my college years and the story took off from there!
Even though Nia is a college student, her story will resonate for anybody who’s facing changes in their life, no matter the age. We all have learning years throughout our lifetime—our very own David Years.
Life changes whether we want it to or not. A new marriage. A baby. A divorce. A new job. Retirement. No matter what age we are, we all struggle with finding our place in the world, especially when life changes. The good news is that as Christians, we may not have all the answers, but we know where to find them.

For a complete list of the blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Lillian is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and the choice of one of her eBooks!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Love and Other Mistakes Review and Giveaway!



There’s a fine line between love and hate . . . And for the last seven years, Natalie Groves has hated Jeremy Walters.
Natalie Groves was meant for great things. But soon after her fiancé left, Natalie’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly her grand plans evaporated . . . and God felt very far away.
Fast-forward seven years, and an internship presents Natalie a chance at her destiny—but she needs a job to work around it. And the only offer available is worse than a life sentence. Her ex Jeremy, now back in town, is desperate for help with his infant son and troubled teenage niece, Lili. And Natalie may be just the one to help Jeremy . . . provided they don’t kill each other in the process.
When Jeremy and Natalie join forces, sparks fly. But will either of them get burned along the way?

My thoughts: This seemingly light hearted rom com took on some tough topics as the story progressed. I have to say, I felt awful for Jem's niece, as her father puts her in a difficult position (one no father should ever do) when he has her keep his affair a secret. Lili was stuck between two selfish parents who I just wanted to give a talking to!
Natalie is a fun character who comes to realize some things about herself and her response to the situations around her when her former fiancé comes back into town with a toddler in tow and a job offer.
I look forward to reading more by Jessica! While this book missed the mark for me, I did think that it was well written and look forward to seeing what happens with Samuel and Kimberly.
I received this book through Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Australian author Jessica Kate writes inspirational romances with wit, sass, and grit. Jessica is a screenwriting groupie, cohost of the StoryNerds vlog and podcasts, and her favorite place to be—apart from Mum and Dad’s back deck—is a theme park. She has traveled North America and Australia, and samples her favorite pasta wherever she goes—but the best (so far) is still the place around the corner from her corporate day job as a training developer. She loves watching sitcoms with her housemates and being a leader in a new church plant.

Jessica Kate brings rom-com fans a reminder that love has its own timing in her breakout novel, Love and Other Mistakes. Kate is best known in the book world as the cohost of StoryNerds, a vlog and podcast about all things books and pop culture, recorded from her home city of Toowoomba, Australia. Now, she’s carving her own place in the Christian fiction arena and helping to fill the rom-com genre gap with a novel full wit, sass, and grit.

More from Jessica
A romance that makes me laugh and snort my strawberry milkshake across the keyboard when I sneak in chapter at work – that’s just the best. My loftiest career aspiration is to create that experience for someone else. There can never be enough of those books in the universe, especially novels that include deep faith and emotion, as well. I adore love-hate romantic comedies like The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and I spend my days dreaming up plotlines that force characters who hate each other to work together as a team. But, Natalie’s journey came from a real place for me—that feeling you’re missing out on your purpose and you don’t know how to fix it.

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Jessica is giving away a grand prize of a finished paperback copy of Love and Other Mistakes!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Meghan's Choice Review and Giveaway!


An unusual ultimatum. A young woman’s bold journey. Two handsome men. An amazing God. That’s Meghan’s Choice.
Meghan Gallagher complies with her father's demand that she work on her own for a year by choosing to tutor eight children in a wild Kansas railroad town. But she had no idea just how wild it was until she was hit by a stray bullet and rescued by a local dance hall girl.
In short order, she meets a dark, handsome cowboy and a wholesome, attractive doctor who both vie for her heart. As things heat up around town, Meghan's love life catches fire as well. Is she scandalous to allow both men to court her at the same time? And—how close a relationship with God does Meghan want? Will she draw near?
Meghan’s Choice was named a semi-finalist in the 2014 Operation First Novel by Jerry B. Jenkins and an honorable mention for the Golden Leaf Award in 2015.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this unique story of love and strength set in the wild west in the late 1800's! Meghan is looking for her place in a world that is turned upside down when she choses to teach children in the Kansas prairie. I didn't always care for her, with stringing along two beaus, but the book was still a fun story to read with a lot going on. I like how Meghan grows as a character throughout the story, and enjoyed how the story gives readers a taste of the time period.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy here:

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About the Author:
Donna L.H. Smith is a Kansas prairie girl transplanted to Lancaster County, PA. She is a graduate of Christian Writer’s Guild Craftsman program and holds two college degrees, both B.S. and M.A. in Mass Communication. She’s been married to a wonderful man named Kirby for thirty years. Her debut novel, Meghan’s Choice, made the finals of both the Selah and Will Rogers Medallion Awards. Rose’s Redemption, the sequel, was just released. She blogs, speaks at workshops and retreats and although she is at an age where many begin slowing down, she wouldn’t think of it. Recently, she took on the role of Managing Editor of Almost an Author.com, and serves as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Mid-Atlantic Zone Director. She is also a member of AWSA’s Protégé program (Advanced Writers & Speaker’s Association).

More from Donna
Back in 2012, I wrote “Zorro” stories for Fan Fiction. I had an awful lot of fun with them, and people seemed to really like them. So, the thought came, what could I write for ‘real?’ I contemplated, prayed, and after a couple weeks or so, an idea came floating across my brain.
“Gunfight at Hyde Park.” Huh? I thought about it, and realized it was an obscure history lesson from my hometown in Kansas. I had Google it to get the details. I thought, well, I’m not gonna write a Christian romance novel just about a series of gunfights that killed and wounded more people than the OK Corral.
But I did think that the beginning of the gunfights could be the climax of the story.
Now, who should my heroine be? And the hero?
I started with that and took Christian Writer’s Guild’s Craftsman and the novel was completed in 2013—but only published in late 2017.
I’m proud of Meghan’s Choice. Pre-published it made the semi-finals of the last Operation 1st Novel that CWG held and placed in a couple of smaller contests. Last year, it made the finals of the prestigious Selah Awards for published books through the BRMCWC, and the finals of the Will Rogers Medallion Award.
My hope is that you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Donna is giving away the grand prize of a copy of her book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Enlightenment of Bees

 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

 
Title: The Enlightenment of Bees 
Author: Rachel Linden
 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Release Date: July 9, 2019
 
Genre: Women's Fiction

Sometimes a shattered dream leads to an amazing journey.



At twenty-six, apprentice baker Mia West has her entire life planned out: a Craftsman cottage in Seattle, a job baking at The Butter Emporium, and her first love—her boyfriend, Ethan—by her side. But when Ethan declares he “needs some space,” Mia’s carefully planned future crumbles.



Feeling adrift, Mia joins her vivacious housemate Rosie on a humanitarian trip around the world funded by a reclusive billionaire. Along with a famous grunge rock star, a Rwandan immigrant, and an unsettlingly attractive Hawaiian urban farmer named Kai, Mia and Rosie embark on the adventure of a lifetime.



From the slums of Mumbai to a Hungarian border camp during the refugee crisis, Mia’s heart is challenged and changed in astonishing ways—ways she never could have imagined. As she grapples with how to make a difference in a complicated world, Mia realizes she must choose between the life she thought she wanted and the life unfolding before her.



In a romantic adventure across the globe, The Enlightenment of Bees beautifully explores what it means to find the sweet spot in life where our greatest passions meet the world’s greatest need.


My thoughts: Over all, I really enjoyed this story! I wasn't so sure at first, with how things start out when Mia goes to train before going out on the field, since working with a reclusive billionaire is pretty fanciful. I thought Rachel did a fantastic job with the story and showing how much aid workers sacrifice when they go out to help in difficult situations, and how messy those situations can be. I could appreciate Mia's personal journey as she works through her responses to the different situations and loved how she grows as a character. This is a thought provoking piece of fiction that kept me up reading! (I devoured it pretty fast!) I recommend picking it up.
I received this book from Just Read. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



 


Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures in over fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her writing. She is the author of Ascension of Larks, Becoming the Talbot Sisters, and The Enlightenment of Bees. Currently, Rachel lives with her family in Seattle, Washington, where she enjoys creating stories about hope, courage, and connection with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.



CONNECT WITH RACHEL: Website | Facebook | Instagram

 




Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Cross My Heart

Can two broken paths lead toward God’s redemption?
When Ashley Showalter and Ben Henning meet on Ashley’s horse rescue farm, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Both were raised by single moms. Both want to help where they see a need. And both work with horses in the Boise valley. Ben needs Ashley’s help and expertise after starting an equine therapy barn on his great-great-grandfather’s farm—and the more time they spend together, both Ashley and Ben have the feeling that there could be something more between them.
They also carry the burden of past experiences that may drive them apart if the truth is ever revealed. Ben is a recovering alcoholic with five years of sobriety behind him, while Ashley’s brother is an opioid addict residing in court-ordered rehab. Holding fast to the belief that addicts can never be cured, Ashley has promised herself she will never walk knowingly into the chaos created by addiction. Ben knows that with God, all things are possible—but will Ashley find it within herself to give love a chance? Or will her brother’s mistakes and the pain of her past jeopardize her future with Ben?
Cross My Heart threads together a contemporary love story with the heartwarming tale of Ben’s great-great-grandfather, Andrew Henning—reminding us that God’s Word is timeless and that His promises are new every morning.

My thoughts: Another beautiful story by Robin Lee Hatcher! I enjoyed the characters, and really like how the book was set up with the modern day story and the telling of Ben's great-great-grandfather's story. Showing how the past and present collide makes for a delightful read!
Robin deals with some tough subjects with this story, with both Ben having overcome his addiction and Ashley's brother being in the middle of his. The story is well written and drew me in from the get go! I highly recommend this story.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

About the Author:
Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of over 75 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is an ACFW Carol Award winner and an eight-time finalist and has won two RITA Awards and been a finalist eleven times. Her numerous other awards include the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. She is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.
For more information, visit robinleehatcher.com; Facebook: robinleehatcher; or Twitter: @robinleehatcher.

More from Robin
MY WRITING DESK
ROBIN LEE HATCHER
I have a wonderful home office with a large screen iMac and the perfect place to keep important papers and reminders right in front of me for easy access. There is also a bed for my dog, Boo, because no office is complete without a bed to welcome the dog. Right?
I also do a lot of writing while seated in a big easy chair in the living room. It all depends upon my mood and how many reference books I might need at the time.
My office usually looks neat when I begin a book. By the time I’m writing the end, the room has become a disaster—stacks of papers demanding my attention and a layer of dust are the most obvious issues.
My office also serves as my art studio (where I do decorative planning and Bible art journaling), so every inch that isn’t taken up by writing related items is filled with art related ones—paints, washi tape, stickers, pens galore, etc.
An early riser naturally, I consider sleeping in to be anything after 6 AM. On a normal writing day, I try to get in half an hour on the treadmill first thing in the morning (and often return to it for ten minutes segments a couple other times during the day). Then I sit at my desk or in my easy chair to do my Bible study. And finally I begin writing.
I can usually create new words for about four hours or so a day. The rest of the work day is filled with editing, revising, research, and correspondence with publisher, agent, readers, and other writers. I have an active online presence which needs attention daily, as well.
I am also a late-in-life part time college student, taking my classes online, so at least a couple of days a week, you’ll find me doing assignments and taking quizzes. For some reason, I rarely use my office for that. The kitchen table seems to suit me better. Probably because it is a large table and I can really spread out.
I feel very blessed to be able to work at home. I had a full time job when I wrote my first book. In fact, I wrote nine novels over the course of nine years while still working full time. The month my ninth book released, I quit my job in order to write full time. Seventy books and almost 28 years later, I’m still at it. As I said, I am blessed.

For a complete list of blog stops, go here.

Giveaway!
Robin is giving away a grand prize of her story! Go here to enter!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Talk the Walk


This attitude-altering book invites Christians to cultivate boldness and humility in communicating gospel truth. By uncovering self-righteousness and spiritual arrogance, Talk the Walk by pastor and author Steve Brown shatters stereotypes and helps believers consider how they present the good news without watering it down. The Christian faith is true, and while we may be right on issues of salvation and theology, we may miss the less articulated truths of humility, love, and forgiveness. We live in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christians and their faith. Talk the Walk unpacks the call to go out into the world and share faith by being truthful and winsome. By helping men and women love others out of a deeper love in Christ the one who first loved us Talk the Walk helps Christians present the gospel clearly and with compassion. Take a step back and look at others perceptions. Explore the tools necessary to accomplish an attitude change of confidence and humility, repentance and truth. Share the message of Christ without distorting it. Speak confidently without being cold. By operating out of humble gratitude for the gospel, begin to talk the walk of Christian faith, reflecting the love and truth of Jesus.

My thoughts: I always wonder how books like this are going to go, since I feel like their is a fine line between standing up for what is right without being self righteous and insufferable about it. I felt like this book, over all, does a great job showing us how that can be done. I really appreciate how he summed the whole book up in the final chapter (though it's worth it to read through the book to get there!). This is an excellent book about witnessing for Jesus without being in peoples faces.
I receive this book from New Growth Press. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy:

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The Most Important Stories of the Bible


Most of us are familiar with the exciting adventures of David and Goliath, Noah, or Daniel in the lions' den, but we don't always understand how they fit together. We lack context, and so we sometimes miss the point.

The Most Important Stories of the Bible will give you a working knowledge of the key events in Scripture and how they flow into one big story. The book's 75 stories are compact, easy to read, and enjoyable. Each chapter includes a brief introduction that gives historical context to help you grasp the overall narrative of the Bible, and concludes with an explanation of why that story matters in our lives.

There's a reason most of the Bible is made up of stories. They speak to us in a deep way, helping us internalize God's message. And in the end, understanding the stories of God's Word will help us connect more closely to Jesus, the greatest storyteller of all.

My thoughts: This book kind of surprised me, since it was set up more like a devotional than with actual lengthy chapters, like I was expecting. I like that each short chapter tells the story, some of the background, and then the message that the story conveys. Since the chapters are short, the book has a lot in such a small book, which is excellent for busy readers. I liked how it was set up and the way the messages made me think more about stories I have heard my whole life. This is a wonderful book to pick up!
I received this book from Bethany House. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy here:

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Here I Am


Constant noise and distraction clamor for our attention and make it difficult to distinguish God's voice from the voices surrounding us--both internal and external. We can be immobilized by fear of failure and our own insecurities, leaving us uncertain that it is God's voice we hear.

A fresh voice for a new generation, Brittany Rust teaches believers how to discern the voice of God and live out the plans God has for them by
· silencing the other voices so it's God's voice that prevails
· tuning out the world and tuning in to the voice of God
· gaining the confidence to step out in faith

It's time for us to separate the loud, external distractions from the quiet whisper of our beautiful God, who promises us that when we call his name, he is ready to respond.

My thoughts: I love how this book really dives into the scriptures and what it meant for various people throughout the Bible who answered the call of God by saying "Here I am". Not only does it cover a variety of Biblical heroes, but it also shows how their response can be applied and reflected in our own lives. This is an excellent book about the Scriptures that also has a wonderful way of applying it to our lives. This is an excellent book.
I receive this book from Bethany House. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy:

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

A Return of Devotion


Daphne Blakemoor was perfectly happy living in her own secluded world for twelve years. She had everything she needed--loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes on, and the new marquis has an undeniable connection to her past, everything she's come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford's main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.

They've spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, find a new path for the future together?

My thoughts: I loved this story! It took me a while to get into it, since it lacked some of the pizazz of the other books I have read by Kristi Ann Hunter, but I think that is partially due to Daphne and the kind of character she is in comparison to the other heroines. Don't get me wrong, she is a wonderful lead, but she is quiet and happy with her life to continue as it is, so it suits her that the book doesn't start off with a bang. I did get into the story and enjoyed how it played out. Daphne blossoms in unexpected ways when she is forced to act as the housekeeper she has claimed to be. Things go horribly awry when William moves into the house and she feels she must keep the secrets of Haven Manor from him. I love that this story has a deeper message that will resonate with a lot of mothers. This is a wonderful story to pick up! I look forward to finally reading Jess' story next!
I received this book from Bethany House. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy:

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The Cranky Mom Fix


"Finding other moms who will admit to what real life in the trenches looks like is always a relief. Becky is that kind of mom friend. She's been there, and she's going to give you real-life, practical advice for how to climb out."--LISA-JO BAKER, bestselling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood

You want to be a great mom. But does the "Momster" inside you growl and roar at the people you love best?

If we're honest with ourselves, almost every mom knows she can go from being kind to cranky in no time flat. When we're tired, busy, anxious, preoccupied--okay, so anytime, really--we tend to default to snapping and barking at our kids. But life doesn't have to be this way.

Through coaching other moms who share a desire to be a kinder, gentler parent, Becky Kopitzke has learned the keys to taming the "momster" in all of us. And in this grace-filled book, she will help you
assess the triggers that spark your angry responses
understand your children better so you can minimize frustrations
learn gentle, effective responses to trying situations
and much more
Purchase The Cranky Mom Fix as your personal battle plan to focus on who you are and how to wield God's wisdom and strength in your family. With an extensive resource section of practical activities, tips, and self-assessment tools, this book will help you reclaim true peace for your soul and your home.

My thoughts: I really appreciated this book by Becky on how to over come to cranky mom in all of us. The best part about the book is the list of scripture verses at the end of each chapter that help to remind the reader of their mission with raising children. I know I needed the reminders! I also like how honest and open Becky is, letting the reader know that we are not alone. I highly recommend picking this book up!
I received this book from Bethany House publisher. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy:

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Friday, August 2, 2019

Jessie and James Review and Giveaway!



Jessie Madsen has her hands full helping her parents run their small farm and boarding house while every fortune-seeker in the country seems to be flocking to her small town in search of gold. It’s bad enough that claim jumpers won’t quit trespassing on her property, but geologist James Kelsey, mildly intriguing and surprisingly handsome for an Easterner, seems more interested in her than the mining business. Jessie is certain she doesn’t have the time or the need for a man, and after getting her heart broken, she has resolved never to fall for an outsider again. Add stolen cash, a fast-talking con man, and a pair of bandits, and Jessie is indeed up to her eyeballs in trouble. Will she soften her rock-hard exterior and let the geologist discover the hidden treasure in her heart?

My thoughts: Such a fun story to pick up! I love that Jessie is not your average heroine, since she is rough around the edges and well suited to life in the "wild" west. James is her opposite, with his likeable personality and not seeming to quite fit into his new situation. I love that this story is not conventional and that the characters throw the reader for a loop. This is an enjoyable historical read to pick up!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy here:

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About the Author:
Jennifer Beckstrand is the two-time RITA-nominated, #1 Amazon bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, The Honeybee Sisters series, and The Petersheim Brothers series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer and Home on Huckleberry Hill were both nominated for the coveted RITA® Award from Romance Writers of America. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth, the Honeybee sisters’ Aunt Bitsy, and Alfie and Benji Petersheim. Jennifer has written twenty-one Amish romances, a historical Western, and the nonfiction book, Big Ideas. She and her husband have been married for thirty-four years, and she has six children and seven adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

More from Jennifer
Jessie and James is my first published Western historical novel, and I couldn’t be more excited. The first book I ever wrote was a historical Western, and I’ve been wanting to write another one for ten years. (That first Western is still hanging around my house somewhere. I might decide to publish it next. J) For my research, I traveled to a real mining town about two hours from my house. Yes, it really is named Eureka, and it was a boomtown in the 1880s, the period in which my book is set. I met an old-timer in Eureka who told me some fascinating stories about mining then and now.
Did you know that you may own the ground your house sits on, but you only own it to sixty feet deep? So a mining company can come in and dig a mine right under your house, and it’s perfectly legal. Many mines were dug straight down or in any direction that would get them to ore faster. In the 1880s in Eureka, often they’d dig straight down using only picks, shovels, and dynamite. A plumb bob was utilized to make sure their tunnels were straight up and down. They usually dug down 600 feet then drifted horizontally a couple hundred feet, then dug down again. Some mines went deeper than 1800 feet. Nowadays, there aren’t many mines that deep. They’re more dangerous, so they’re too expensive to insure.
In Jessie and James, James is an ex-cowboy turned geologist looking for gold. Jessie is a feisty, independent woman who runs a boarding house with her parents and thinks Eureka needs a little more fire-and-brimstone preaching to keep the incorrigible miners in line. Jessie doesn’t want anything to do with a gold digger, and she’s willing to use her shotgun to run James off. But James doesn’t scare that easy, especially when the woman on the other end of that shotgun might turn out to be the love of his life.
Jessie and James is full of shotguns, bandits, and heart-stopping romance. Don’t miss it!

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to two winners!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Gators, Guts, and Glory Review and Giveaway!


Wander on the wild and humorous side of adventure with long distance hiker Lauralee Bliss (trail name Blissful), hiking the 1,100-mile Florida Trail from Big Cypress National Preserve to Gulf Islands National Seashore. From alligators and cottonmouths to tenting among the palmettos and walking on water, from forests of cypress knees and lofty pine to the help of trail angels along the way, “Blissful” uncovers the hidden gems of glory in this National Scenic Trail with a unique journey unlike any other.

My thoughts: I will admit that hiking along a trail that is amongst the gators and cottonmouths does not appeal to this yuppy girl (lol), but I did find Lauralee's account of her adventure a lot of fun to read! Her style of writing drew me in from the get go. Lauralee is hilarious and her adventures keep readers wondering "what will she encounter next?". I enjoyed that she wove her physical and spiritual stories together with this book. Whether you are into hiking or not, this is a delightful book to pick up!
I receive this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Purchase a copy:

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About the Author:
Lauralee Bliss is an avid adventurer, one of only a few women to hike the entire Appalachian Trail both north and south. She is also the published author of over 25 romance novels and novellas. Lauralee’s desire is that readers will come away with both an entertaining story and a lesson that ministers to the heart. She makes her home in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

More from Lauralee
Why hike the Florida Trail of all things?
L – I’ve had several adventures under my belt, like completing the Appalachian Trail twice (see book one in the Hiking Adventure Series – Mountains, Madness and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail)! We used to vacation in Florida as many do come winter, and once we came upon the Florida Trail sign. I couldn’t imagine hiking among the palm trees. After talking to other hikers who had done it, I knew it would be a unique experience unlike any other. After all, why should life be boring?

It all sounds kind of dangerous – the alligators, the swamps. Were you scared?
L – I’ll admit there are facets of hiking that can cause scary situations. Once I got stuck in mud-like quicksand. In Florida it’s known as sucking mud, and I thought I’d never get out of it. Can you imagine? I also had some rough weather, dangerous water crossings, and an encounter with a cottonmouth. Btu through it I learned about God’s peace and His saving hand in situations where you really have no control.

What did you do to prepare?
L – I hiked as much as I could. I talked with other hikers and asked questions. I joined online trail forums to find out about the Florida Trail. I bought the guidebook for it. I believe one should always try to prepare and not venture into something blind. But of course there’s always the unexpected, which adds to the adventure aspect.

What lessons did you learn?
L – What one can accomplish in life if you keep going and not give up, despite the challenging situations thrust your way. I like to go on these journeys to witness God’s care in my life firsthand and seeing the kindness of others to help a hiker in need. I’ve had people try to give me money. Folks that invited me into their homes or given me rides. The human spirit is amazing and one of the most valuable things I experienced.

What else can you tell us about yourself?
L – I am an avid adventurer covering thousands of trail miles in the US from east to west including two completions of the Appalachian Trail, the Colorado Trail, the Long Trail of Vermont, the Allegheny Trail of West Virginia, and the Foothills Trail of South Carolina. I have also authored of over 25 romance novels and novellas and when not writing or hiking, I love to talk to others about hiking. My motto is – make your dream come true! (and it has, in more ways than one)

For a complete list of the blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Lauralee is giving away a grand prize of a $25 REI gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.

Love's Belief Review and Giveaway!


Midwife Pia Hertz and her mother Sabine have been delivering babies long before the Nazis came to power. Now, the Third Reich has implemented mandates that require Jewish babies and other “undesirables” to be killed as part of The Final Solution. Is Pia’s new faith in Christ strong enough to defy the laws of man?

Despite the agony of the injury at the Battle of Drøbak Sound that took his arm, Dieter Fertig is relieved he’s no longer part of Hitler’s army. He returns to Berlin and discovers Jews are being deported by the thousands. When he realizes the Nuremburg Laws require his best friend’s baby girl to be killed, he must find a way to spirit the child out of Germany before the Nazis discover her existence.

Inspired by the biblical story of Shiprah and Puah, the midwives who saved Jewish babies during Pharaoh’s reign, Love’s Belief shows how one person’s actions can change the world.

My thoughts: I love that this book is inspired by the story of the midwives who defied Pharoah and saved Jewish babies back in Moses' day and puts it in a more modern setting. The moral/conviction questions that the story brings up really get the reader to think about what one would do in a similar situation. I loved the characters and how they grow throughout the course of the story. This is an excellent book to pick up! Linda does a wonderful job of bringing the story to life and making it easy to get immersed in. I highly recommend this one!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

Read an Excerpt
Berlin, late February 1943
Chapter One

“I thought Frau Schmidt was going to die.” Pia Hertz blew out a deep breath. “We haven’t had a difficult birth like that in a long time, Mutti.”
“Ja, but you are a gifted midwife, Pia. I wasn’t too worried.”
Pia chuckled. “You always say that.”
Mutti linked her arm with Pia’s. “We must have confidence, otherwise fear will make us prone to mistakes. Now, let’s reward ourselves with strudel, if we can find it, hmm?”
“A wonderful idea. I’m starving. Hopefully, the baker has some, and the line won’t be too long at this early hour. Selections at most of the shops have been meager as the war has ground on.”
Leaning close to Pia’s ear, Mutti whispered, “Be careful what you say. You don’t want to be accused of sedition.”
Pia cast a glance over her shoulder. “You’re right. It doesn’t seem to take much to get arrested these days.” She sighed. “I don’t understand why God has allowed Herr Hitler to succeed. Why has He not stepped in to save His people, the Jews?”
Dust coated their shoes as they sauntered along the sidewalk, skirting the piles of rubble from the most recent RAF bombing raid.
“There are some things we will never have an answer to, Daughter, but we must trust in His plan. It is difficult. Despite being a believer since childhood, I still struggle with doubts. It’s understandable that you do, too.” She stroked Pia’s cheek. “When we get home, let’s pray together and see what He would have us do.”
Pia stifled a gasp. “What are you suggesting?”
Her lips pressed in a thin line, Mutti frowned. She jerked her head toward the SS officer standing about ten meters away, then tugged on Pia’s arm. Continuing down the sidewalk, they arrived at the bakery. Unlit windows and lack of women waiting indicated there were no more treats to be had for the day.
“Ach, we’ll have to assuage our penchant for a sweet another time.” Mutti rubbed her belly. “Let’s take a shortcut down Rosenstrasse then head for the river. It would be nice to look at something other than damaged buildings and debris.”
“Good idea. It is warmer today than yesterday, and there is a market at the end of the street. Perhaps they have some bread or cheese we can nibble on.”
A chill swept over Pia as they walked past a police officer, their eyes averted to avoid any interaction. An elderly couple tottered along in front of them, holding hands and speaking softly. Pia’s heart tugged. Would she ever find someone to spend her life with: someone to look at her like the wrinkled, gray-haired man gazed at the petite woman by his side? At twenty-eight, it seemed unlikely. Der Führer’s desire to rule the world was destroying an entire generation of young men, and she certainly had no interest in a black-coated member of the SS.

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Giveaway!
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