Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How to be a Perfect Christian

With a biting, satirical style reminiscent of The Onion, How to Be a Perfect Christian takes a humorous look at the quirks of cultural Christianity while subtly challenging the reader to search for more than a cultural faith.

Written in the trademark style of The Babylon Bee, this book humorously satirizes cultural Christianity while peppering in subtle challenges to the reader. Through humor and sarcasm (and a handy meter to rank your "holiness" as you progress through the book), readers will be called to find a more biblical understanding of the Christian faith, all while poking fun at the quirks of the modern, American Christian community.

My thoughts: This book is interesting. It does have some interesting insight into "the quirks of the modern, American Christian community", which probably need to be out there, but it is also incredibly sarcastic. So, while the style wasn't always my thing, I did think this book was an interesting take on what we can consider the norm that is really just tradition. I would recommend this to my sarcastic friends! lol.
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Take Ten: Books I can't believe I read

1. War and Peace

Honestly, I had too much time on my hands when I was in high school, so I decided to see how many classics I could knock out. I still can't believe I read this one.;)

2. Space Trilogy

I love C.S. Lewis, but this was just tough to read!

3. Anna and the French Kiss

I'm sorry, I know a lot of people like this series, but I barely made it through book one! I felt bad for Ellie.

4. Vanishing Point

I probably wouldn't of read this book, had I not been into the series already, since it was heartbreaking!

5. Wives and Daughters

Don't get me wrong, it's a great story that I enjoyed, but no one told me how it being unfinished would leave me feeling at odds for days after coming to the end!

6. Sandition

Honestly, I should probably re-read this one, since I remember really liking it despite the fact that "Another Lady" finished it. I thought it was well done at the time.

7. Frankenstein

Just wasn't my thing.

8. Dracula

9. Rook

This one was fine, but it really just made me want to back and read the original story.;)

10. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
This one was one for college Lit, otherwise I wouldn't of read it.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Lost Castle

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“It’s been a long time since I’ve been so thoroughly engrossed in a novel . . . The Lost Castle kept me spellbound!” —Tamera Alexander, USA TODAY bestselling author of To Whisper Her Name and Christmas at Carnton

Broken-down walls and crumbling stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own.

What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

My thoughts: Well, I feel a little bit torn with this story. While I love Kristy's books, I felt like this one almost has too much going on with it, since the story is split between three different time periods. I felt a little overwhelmed for part of the story. It is worth it with how it comes together in the end. I enjoyed the different view of the French Revolution and WWII. I would of personally liked a bit more depth to Ellie's story. That said, I still thought it was an excellent story and I enjoyed it immensely.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Judah's Wife

Seeking peace and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she can rest easily. But the land is ruled by Antiochus IV, descended from one of Alexander the Great's generals, and when he issues a decree that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws upon pain of death, devout Jews risk everything to follow the law of Moses.

Judah's father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands his son to pick up his sword and continue the fight--or bear responsibility for the obliteration of the land of Judah. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband's decision--what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?

The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah's wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.

My thoughts: Once again, Angela has brought a historical time period to life with her characters and attention to detail. I had heard of the Maccabees before, but I couldn't of told you a whole lot about them. So, I enjoyed reading this story and learning more about their story! Angela does a wonderful job of making the story flow well, with it's blend of history and fiction. I highly recommend this story!
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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Ain't Misbehaving review and giveaway!

About the Book


Title: Ain’t Misbehaving


Author: Marji Laine


Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Fiction


Release Date: January 16, 2017

True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school day care in the worst area of town. Through laughter and a few tears, Annalee finds out that some lessons are learned the hard way, and some seep into the soul unnoticed.

Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundations after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes, but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her.

My thoughts: This is a neat little story! I loved getting to know Annalee as she went from being a bit spoiled and naive to learning how to serve and open her heart. The characters are well written in this story and come to life rapidly, as they learn to work together for the children. I look forward to reading more by Marji!
I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase the book here:

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About the Author


Marji Laine has completed seventeen years of homeschooling with the surreal notion that

she’ll now have time on her hands. But that’s unlikely. Her publishing company, Write Integrity Press, keeps her extremely busy. In her spare time, she teaches a high school and college Bible Study, leads a Sunday morning high school fellowship group, directs a children’s choir, and sings in her church’s adult choir.

She enjoys road trips with her family and friends, photography, scrapbooking, and participating in musical theater. Her favorite past time is game night with her family and her kids’ extended collection of friends.

Guest Post from Marji Laine

AIN’T MISBEHAVING delves into the depth of life from the perspective of a shallow, sheltered woman. Annalee Chambers has been raised to pay attention to all aspects of society, particularly the appearance of success. Being cultured and socially-educated, she’s not really prepared to work in one of the poorest sections of town. And she’s really not expecting to find such joy intertwined with such poverty.

Having my story set in my hometown has some fun aspects. I got to handpick the homes for the main characters and the locations for the after-school program. And even now when I drive past some of those places, I get all excited about the story again.

For instance, I chose a particular building downtown to be CJ’s (the hero’s) condo. It’s in One Arts Plaza. This condo was for sale when I was writing the book so I was able to download actual pictures of the place including the view from its southeast facing patio. You’ll laugh, but I don’t drive by that building without looking up to the 18th floor and half expecting to see CJ standing there.
Photo by Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia Commons

AIN’T MISBEHAVING goes much deeper than only the setting, though. It was written a number of years ago, so many that I barely remembered the storyline. But when I started editing, I was moved to tears again and again. These characters are so real, and I would love to meet them!

I hope you’ll enjoy AIN’T MISBEHAVING and watch for Annalee and CJ to have an extra special cameo part in Book 2 of the Dallas Duets, PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ.

Blog Stops

Go here for a complete list of blog stops


[Insert Giveaway Picture Here]

To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away a grand prize of Dallas chocolates, Texas snack box, and a packet of Bluebonnet seeds!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Their Daring Hearts Review and Giveaway

Author: Sharlene MacLaren

Genre: Christian Historical Romance (Civil War)

Release Date: Jan 9, 2018

Levi Albright rebelled against his Quaker roots to fight for abolition in the Union army in the first year of the Civil War. Two years later, 19-year-old destitute orphan Josephine Winters, with her chopped hair, boy’s clothes, and new name, “Snipp,” enlists in the Union army out of desperation.

Just over five feet tall and barely weighing as much as a newborn calf, Snipp seems to Levi to be barely old enough to hold “his” gun. But despite being teased by the regiment, Snipp quickly earns admiration for skill with a musket and unequaled bravery. When Levi explains one night that he is a Quaker leading a regiment, it leads to a late-night discussion of faith and a developing friendship.

But Snipp’s secret can only be hidden for so long. After an injury forces Josie to reveal her real identity, Levi is angered by her deception. Worse, Josie is marched out of the company without a chance to explain—or even say goodbye. Will their friendship survive? Or will the hatred saturating the war-torn nation affect even the heart of a peace-loving Quaker?

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My thoughts: This book was such an interesting spin on one of the most interesting periods in American history. I thought it was unique for their to be a main character who came from a Quaker background. I loved how the characters and stories developed, and that the author has some surprises up her sleeve with the plot! If you are looking for a thought provoking book, then I highly recommend picking this one up.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author
Born and raised in western Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren graduated from Spring Arbor University then traveled nationally with a contemporary Christian vocal ensemble. She married Cecil, with whom she’d grown up in Spring Arbor, and the couple had two daughters. Shar embarked on a teaching career that would span over 30 years. As she contemplated retirement, Shar sought God’s guidance, praying for a vocation that would provide the kind of fulfillment and joy she experienced as a teacher and mother. A lifelong gifted story teller, she began to write Christian romance novels. Her first book, Through Every Storm, published in 2007, was met with critical acclaim and brisk sales. The rest, as they say, is history. Whitaker House’s bestselling fiction author, she’s subsequently published 18 books, mostly historical romances. Shar enjoys reading, singing in her church choir and worship team, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She’s very interactive on Facebook and Twitter. For more:,, Twitter @ sharzy_lu

For a complete list of blog stops, go here


To celebrate her tour, Whitaker House is giving away:

Grand Prize Package: Their Daring Hearts (Forever Freedom Series) #2 by Sharlene MacLaren; Summer on Sunset Ridge (Forever Freedom Series #1) signed by the author, Sharlene MacLaren, Abba Jerusalem Hyssop 6” Pillar Candle.
1st Place: Their Daring Hearts (Forever Freedom Series) #2 by Sharlene MacLaren; Heart of Mercy (Tennessee Dreams #1) by Sharlene MacLaren; Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book with Colored Pencils.
2nd Place: Their Daring Hearts (Forever Freedom Series) #2 by Sharlene MacLaren; Whitaker House/Anchor Coloring Book with Colored Pencils.!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Breaking Cover

A real-life, can’t-put-down spy memoir.
The CIA is looking for walking contradictions. Recruiters seek out potential agents who can keep a secret yet pull classified information out of others; who love their country but are willing to leave it behind for dangerous places; who live double lives, but can be trusted with some of the nation’s most highly sensitive tasks.

Michele Rigby Assad was one of those people.

As a CIA agent and a counterterrorism expert, Michele soon found that working undercover was an all-encompassing job. The threats were real; the assignments perilous. Michele spent over a decade in the agency―a woman leading some of the most highly skilled operatives on the planet, secretly serving in some of the most treacherous areas of the Middle East, and at risk as a target for ISIS. But deep inside, Michele wondered: Could she really do this job? Had she misunderstood what she thought was God’s calling on her life? Did she have what it would take to survive?

The answer came when Michele faced her ultimate mission, one with others’ lives on the line―and it turned out to have been the plan for her all along. In Breaking Cover, Michele has at last been cleared to drop cover and tell her story: one of life-or-death stakes; of defeating incredible odds; and most of all, of discovering a faith greater than all her fears.

My thoughts: This book grabbed my attention from the get go, with the author's adventure rooting out potential trouble in the refugee camps. It is incredibly easy to read and get into the story, since it starts out a lot like many Americans, that of living a life sheltered from a lot of international events. This book is an interesting look at life as a CIA agent. I highly recommend it!
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

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The Sky is Yours

A sprawling, genre-defying epic set in a dystopian metropolis plagued by dragons, this debut about what it’s like to be young in a very old world is pure storytelling pleasure

In the burned-out, futuristic city of Empire Island, three young people navigate a crumbling metropolis constantly under threat from a pair of dragons that circle the skies. When violence strikes, reality star Duncan Humphrey Ripple V, the spoiled scion of the metropolis’ last dynasty; Baroness Swan Lenore Dahlberg, his tempestuous, death-obsessed betrothed; and Abby, a feral beauty he discovered tossed out with the trash; are forced to flee everything they've ever known. As they wander toward the scalded heart of the city, they face fire, conspiracy, mayhem, unholy drugs, dragon-worshippers, and the monsters lurking inside themselves. In this bombshell of a novel, Chandler Klang Smith has imagined an unimaginable world: scathingly clever and gorgeously strange, The Sky Is Yours is at once faraway and disturbingly familiar, its singular chaos grounded in the universal realities of love, family, and the deeply human desire to survive at all costs.

The Sky Is Yours is incredibly cinematic, bawdy, rollicking, hilarious, and utterly unforgettable, a debut that readers who loved Cloud Atlas, Super Sad True Love Story, and Blade Runner will adore.

My thoughts: I had high hopes for this one, since I find dystopian stories to be interesting and a bit eye opening. This one is neither. It was weird, has a lot of language, and just wasn't for me. The story could of had a lot more to it. I can't really think who I would recommend this book too.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Take ten: books I loved but don't remember much about

1. Heirs of Cahira O'Connor

I remember finding the story fascinating, but all I remember now is that each woman in the ancestry line (at least the ones who were main characters) had a white streak in their hair.;)

2. A Gown of Spanish Lace

Another one I remember loving, since there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the dress. I don't remember a lot outside of that...

3. Dreams in the Golden Country

I remember thinking the main character had some spunk and that this one was one of my very favorites out of the Dear America stories.

4. Little House in the Big Woods

This is one of the first series I ever read, so it has been over 20 years since I picked it up... (that makes me sound so old!)

5. Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie

The one thing I remember from this story? Don't trust "wild carrots", since it could be hemlock.

6. The Betsy and Tacy books

7. Encyclopedia Brown

I loved these as a kid, so it would be good to pick them up again to read with the kids!

8. Emma

Yes, I know the story, but I feel like it has been so long since I read it that I sometimes forget where the movie may have added some lines.;)

9. War and Peace

So many names...

10. Right Where I Belong

Super cute, from what I remember...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

High Treason

When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised—and none too happy—when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.

Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit—plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince—or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?

My thoughts: This is the first time I have read one of Diann's stories, which I had heard a lot about. I highly recommend it! The story was fast pace and interesting, and I enjoyed getting to know more about the characters, along with the Saudi culture that the prince was from. The only thing that bothered me, which is just a small thing (just a pet peeve of mine), is how Kord went on about Monica's looks. Otherwise, though, this is an excellent, fast paced story!
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Song Unheard Review and Giveaway

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

My review: I loved the first book in this series, A Name Unknown, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of this one as well. The story is well written and I enjoyed getting to know Willa. My husband is a professional violinist, so it was fun to have so much of this story reflect the world he is a part of.
I love that this book has some deeper discussions, with the characters dealing with the start of WWI and how religion fits in a changing world. I highly recommend this series! I only wish the next book were already out.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

Buy a copy here:

About the Author

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at

Guest post from Roseanna
started playing the piano when I was 7. I didn’t discover any long-dormant genius or anything, but I liked it. When my sister quit, I kept playing. In middle school, I switched teachers, and moving from the lady at my church that I knew so well to someone who was just my piano teacher made a difference in how I applied myself. It deepened my love of music.

We all know how some random moments stand out forever in our memory. One such for me happened on the school bus. I was sitting with my best friend, talking about the new piano piece I was learning. “Via Delorosa” means Road of Sorrow, and it’s a song that tells musically about Jesus’ journey to Golgotha—ending with the faint chime of the nails being driven into his palms. As my beloved Mrs. Peto went through this song with me the night before, I remember her circling a D♯ that I’d missed and saying how important that note was. That it made the whole line weep.

That it would make the hearers weep. An epiphany so huge I had to share it with my friend. A well placed sharp could make music weep! Who knew?

That was but one lesson Mrs. Peto taught me in how music could evoke things words never could. A woman of strong faith, she also taught me how a song could preach the Gospel. Music can be medicine. It can be hope. It can be tears. It can be truth. Music can be Jesus to a hurting heart that turns its back on words.

This is a lesson I never forgot, and I had it always in mind as I was writing A Song Unheard. In this story, both my hero and heroine are musicians—violinists. But Willa (who is SO STUBBORN) wouldn’t listen to words of faith from any of the people in her life “suddenly spouting such nonsense.”

But then, in her darkest hour, she hears a slip of melody. And she realizes it’s the Lord.

I pray as readers move through the story of Willa Forsythe—violin prodigy and top-notch thief—that their spirits’ ears hear more than words, more than just a story. I pray they hear the Lord whispering that ultimate song. The one that says, “I love you.”

Want to hear the song Willa eventually wrote in the book? You can! The violin music in this trailer is officially dubbed “Willa’s Song” and written specifically for this book. I hope you enjoy it!

Blog Stops

Roseanna is hosting a Giveaway here. Grand Prize Package: To celebrate the release of A Song Unheard, she is giving away a signed copy of the book as well as a lovely album of soothing songs based on the Scriptures called Hidden in My Heart (winner’s choice of CD or digital download).
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Monday, January 15, 2018

Take ten: Bookish resolutions

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Top ten Tuesday has moved here

1. To read at least 80 books. I feel like I have a good handle on this and may have underestimated how many books I read in a year. Or, it could be that it has just been so cold out that all we do is read right now.;)

2. To do a better job knocking out my non fiction TBR pile.

3. Start the Little House series with my children.

4. Work on calligraphy/brush lettering. I received a set of pens for Christmas, so I am looking forward to using them!

5. Finish the stack of books by my bed. (seriously, it keeps trying to grow and eat up more of my floor space.)

6. Figure out the best reading/book apps.

7. Get my daughter to where she can read on her own. Working on this. She can read quite a few words, but still needs me to sit there and help her out. This may be a goal that goes into next year...;)

8. Take part in the winter challenge at the local library. This year, that means reading 5 mysteries in two months.

9. Take part in all the summer reading programs with the kids.;)

10. Fill this journal! (okay, I was running out of ideas. I did get this journal for Christmas, since I loved the Emma one I had!)

What are your resolutions?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Magnolia Storms

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Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting—even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

My thoughts: This is one of the books I meant to read in 2017, but didn't get around to doing so. I'm glad I finally picked it up! Janet is an exceptional author who does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life and adding many layers to her stories. I enjoyed getting to know Maggie and her family; it was especially easy to relate to Maggie, who has allowed the storms in her life to cause her to build up walls around her heart. This book has an excellent message!
I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Portrait of Vengeance

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An unsolved case. A tempest of memories. The future’s at stake—and time is running out...

Gwen Marcey has done a good job of keeping the pain of her past boxed up. But as she investigates the case of a missing child in Lapwai, Idaho, details keep surfacing that are eerily similar to her childhood traumas. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. So what’s going on here?

No one knows more about the impact of the past than the Nez Perce people of Lapwai. Gwen finds herself an unwelcome visitor to some, making her investigation even more difficult. The questions keep piling up, but answers are slow in coming—and the clock is ticking for a missing little girl. Meanwhile, her ex-husband back home is threatening to take sole custody of their daughter.

As Gwen’s past and present collide, she’s in a desperate race for the truth. Because only truth will ensure she still has a future.

My thoughts: While I didn't read the first book in this series, I have since read the rest of the books in it. I felt like this one had a little different feel to it, since in it we learn a bit more about Gwen and her past (which I don't remember much of it coming up in the other books). Even though this book has a different feel to it, I thought that the story was well written and had a lot going on. Not only is Gwen trying to figure out the current mystery of the missing child, she is also struggling with the feeling that the case is linked to her past in some way. This is a series that needs to be read in order, since the Gwen develops along the way as a character. I highly recommend picking up this series!
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sacred Rest

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Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested-now there's a challenge.

How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In SACRED REST, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.

Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative-and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. SACRED REST combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.

By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, SACRED REST gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.

My thoughts: As a busy mom of two littles, I needed this book! Largely for the reminder that I need to be more serious about physical rest (which can be hard when I get more done once the kids have gone to sleep!), but I also enjoyed learning more about the other ways to rest. I found this book to be thought provoking and well written, as well as easy to read through. With a new year, this is an excellent book to pull out to help you take better care of yourself!
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

The One Year Experiencing God's Love Devotional

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One of Called Magazine’s Favorite Fall Releases!

When was the last time you took a break to experience God’s love?
To experience something is to live it, to encounter it, to understand it, to explore with our hearts, minds, and souls as well as with the five physical senses and our God-given spiritual ones. Every action we do with and for God, every good day and bad day, we walk hand-in-hand with God, experiencing Him.

Experiencing God’s love takes time. Love unfurls its blossoms in our lives when we concentrate all of our senses on the small gifts we pass by every day. Time slows, and we finally get to hear God’s beautiful background hum to our lives.

The One Year Experiencing God’s Love Devotional helps you intentionally carve out those moments in your day to savor God and his love for you.

My thoughts: This book is a wonderful way to start the new year! I love the thoughtful devotionals that Sandra has put together. They are just one page each, though some of the thoughts span over more than one day. I thought that this one was a great one to pick up, since there are testimonies, scriptures, and even a craft idea or two. If you are looking for a devotional that will span the whole year, then I highly recommend this one!
I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Last Stop in Brooklyn

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It's the summer of 1894, and an infidelity case has brought PI Mary Handley to a far corner of Brooklyn: Coney Island. In the midst of her investigation, Mary is contacted by a convicted man's brother to reopen a murder case. A prostitute was killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat years ago in her New York hotel room, but her true killer was never found. Once again it's up to Mary to make right the city's wrongs.
New York City's untouchable head of detectives, Thomas Byrnes, swears he put the right man behond bars, but as Mary digs deeper, she finds corruption at the heart of New York's justice system, involving not only the police, but the most powerful of stock titans. Disturbing evidence of other murders begins to surface, each one mimicking Jack the Ripper's style, each one covered up by Thomas Byrnes.
As Mary pieces together the extent of the damage, she crosses paths with Harper Lloyd, an investigative reporter. Their relationship grows into a partnership, and perhaps more, and together they must catch a killer who's still out there, and reverse the ruthless workings of New York's elite. It'll be Mary's most dangerous, most personal case yet.

My thoughts: This was my first time reading one of the Mary Handley stories. While the writing style was well done, I thought that the character didn't suit the time period. I didn't care for the language or the romance side. I feel like this could of been better executed, overall. The mystery and time period are interesting, but weren't enough to give me a high opinion of this story.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Raising Men, Not Boys

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Perhaps there has never been a more challenging time to raise children than in today’s culture. Parents are having to address challenges that their parents never had to with them. And while the core elements to raising children are the same, parents need wisdom for applying them to this day and age.

That’s what this book is about: navigating the times and raising a generation of men on godly principles—sons who are ready, able, and motivated to represent God during their days of sojourning on this earth. Pastor and author Mike Fabarez will help parents pass the faith on to their sons, in prayer that the promises of God extend to the third and fourth generations… and beyond.

Parents will be equipped to:

Envision their son’s future every day
Set his spiritual trajectory
Build a home that grows godly men
Address the rebellion in their son’s heart
Prepare him to face the world and contribute to it
Help their son toward a right view of play and leisure
Navigate the teenage years

There is an epidemic of grown men with the maturity of young boys. Be a parent who saves your child from prolonged adolescence. Scripture says, “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him” (Prov. 23:24). Children are a gift from the Lord. Read Raising Men, Not Boys to steward the gift of parenting and shepherd your sons to be men of God.

My thoughts: This book is excellent, since it takes a lot of the guess work out of raising boys. I thought it did a fabulous job of proving insightful information, especially for navigating the scary teens years and discussing hard topics like dating and the opposite sex. I like the variety of subjects that this book addresses and that it talks about them in detail, encouraging parents to help their sons cultivate their God given abilities. This is an excellent book for parents of boys.
I received this book from Moody in exchange for my honest review.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

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How to focus on Christ during Advent

Most Christians agree that Christmas is all about Jesus, yet most of us spend little time preparing our hearts to celebrate Him. Why is this? Partly because we don’t know how.

In Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, Asheritah Ciuciu leads readers through the four weeks of Advent (Hope, Preparation, Joy, and Love). Each week:

Begins with an interactive family devotional that equips readers to celebrate Advent together
Offers five daily reflections that focus on that week's name of Jesus
Includes suggestions for fun-filled family activities or service projects

This devotional can be used by readers in their own personal worship times or as a tool to engage in family worship during the busy holiday season. Either way, participants will gain a greater sense of awe and wonder at who Jesus is.

By focusing on the person and character of Jesus throughout the Advent season, readers will prepare their hearts so that when they admire the live nativity, sit in the candlelight service, or wake up on Christian morning, they can join the faithful who sing from the bottom of their hearts, "O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!"

My thoughts: I wish this book had arrived sooner! I still found this devotional fun, though it is one that I will be revisiting this December to make the most about it. I like that the devotionals have more to them, they aren't too short (nor drag out). My favorite part about this book is the weekly activities it suggests, everything from adopting a family to talking to family members about their favorite Christmas memories, taking hot cocoa to the local homeless to reaching out to those spending their holidays in the hospital. This is an excellent advent devotional!
I received this book from Moody in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Take ten: Books I meant to read in 2017 but didn't

1. The Fill-in Boyfriend
Or, basically just more Kasie West, since they are the perfect book to read when needing a pick me up.;)

2. Love, Lies, and the List

3. Ravenswolde
I have had this one on my kindle way to long!

4. The Illusionist's Apprentice
I've read all of Kristy's books up to this point, and they are always enjoyable. I need to make time for this one!

6. Magnolia Storms
Janet is an incredible author, so I really need take the time to read this one!

7. Surprised by Motherhood

8. Raising Boys by Design

9. The More of Less

10. In 27 Days
This one just looks fascinating.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Strains of Silence review and giveaway

Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.

Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancĂ©, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.

Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.

My review: What an excellent debut book! I thought that Bethany did a fantastic job of bringing the characters and their struggles to light, especially since she takes on the sensitive and heavy topic of abuse. The story is incredibly well written. I look forward to reading more by this talented author!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

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About the Author
Bethany loves a home filled with family and friends. Word gets around that—at the Kaczmarek house—food is abundant, conversations are real, and anything is up for discussion. She and her clan are fans of laughter, indie music, sonic screwdrivers, and superheroes. Home is wherever in the world they’re all together.

Guest post from the Author:
Strains of Silence: A Novel for Anyone Who Can Say #MeToo

We’re everywhere. After years of silence, many survivors of sexual assault are raising our voices. You’ve seen the hashtag. You know someone who suffered like this—a friend, a sister, a daughter.

Maybe you know personally what it’s like to be used.

I’m thankful for the conversations the #MeToo campaign has started, proud of the brave women who are speaking out. But I know some are still quiet, nursing wounds.

I could list loads of valid reasons a victim chooses to suffer in silence.

People won’t believe her.
If she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s easier to pretend it was a nightmare.
He’s got authority over her—at work, at church, in the family—and it’ll cost her too much. He’s done enough damage already.
He’s threatened to destroy her reputation, and she believes him. One, because he’ll do it without flinching. Two, because she’s already convinced that she’s living a lie.
Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.
The few times she’s tried to speak up, her used-to-be friend basically made her feel like it was her fault.

The list could go on, but it’s fair to say that being honest about what happened to us makes us vulnerable all over again. The idea is understandably stressful.

But you know what? Pretending we’re fine is exhausting too. We bear a great strain when we hide our hurts, for whatever reason.

Kasia Bernolak, the heroine of my novel Strains of Silence, gets it. She’s got reasons for keeping it quiet too. But when God brings some new people into her life, she realizes she doesn’t have to be alone.

And speaking up offers a freedom, a lightness, she wants.

It’s a freedom I want for my readers.

I know. Strains of Silence sounds like a heavy book right now. The themes are heavy, no doubt. There’s no glossing over and prettying up sexual assault or domestic violence. But—just like in real life—it’s how well we surround and support the suffering that can set the tone. Kasia’s friends are real, they’re funny, they’re quirky, and they believe in her.

Besides, it’s not all dark and brooding. There’s travel—an entire summer in the mountains of Peru. There’s a lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). There’s heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. There’s humor—enough to keep the story light when you need it to be.

And there’s hope. Kasia’s life is absolutely full of possibility.

So are the lives of everyone who can say #MeToo.

Sometimes, it just helps to see someone else fight the battle on our own horizon. And if you can do it with a fantastic new playlist and some laughs, why not?

My hope is that Strains of Silence will lead to real discussions with reader-friends, book-club gatherings that become turning points, and the true pursuit of freedom. It’s time to throw off the burdens we wear and stand up. Raise your voice, link arms with others, and fight for hope.

Healing is within our reach.

For a complete list of bloggers for this tour, visit Celebrate Lit

I'm excited about the giveaway Bethany is offering! Grand Prize: A signed book, a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character's favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer), a box of chocolate butter cookies, and a $50 Amazon gift card. Visit the here

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My New Crush Gave to Me

Charlotte Charlie Donovan knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He's the school's star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor), and is about to be featured as One to Watch in a teen magazine basically, he's exactly the type of guy Charlie s meant to be with. The only problem he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie is determined to be Teo's date to the Christmas ball. And she has a plan: To rig the paper's Secret Santa so that she can win his heart with five perfect gifts. But to do that she needs help. Enter J.D. Ortiz Teo s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He's easy going, laid back, unorganized, spontaneous, and makes a joke out of everything the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he's willing to provide insight into what Teo wants, so she s stuck with him.

Yet, the more time Charlie spends with J.D., the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

My thoughts: I wasn't so sure about this book and what I thought about it when I first started it, since I found it hard to relate to Charlie in the beginning. But, I liked where the story went and how she grew as a character. I also really liked the romance in the story, since it shows that love is more than butterflies and romance, but needs friendship and variety to help it thrive. I loved the side characters and thoroughly enjoyed this story!
I received this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.
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Bestselling author and world-renowned chef David Lebovitz continues to mine the rich subject of his evolving ex-Pat life in Paris, using his perplexing experiences in apartment renovation as a launching point for stories about French culture, food, and what it means to revamp one's life. Includes dozens of new recipes.

When David Lebovitz began the project of updating his apartment in his adopted home city, he never imagined he would encounter so much inexplicable red tape while contending with the famously inconsistent European work ethic and hours. Lebovitz maintains his distinctive sense of humor with the help of his partner Romain, peppering this renovation story with recipes from his Paris kitchen. In the midst of it all, he reveals the adventure that accompanies carving out a place for yourself in a foreign country--under baffling conditions--while never losing sight of the magic that inspired him to move to the City of Light many years ago, and to truly make his home there.

My thoughts: This was a fun book for me to read, since it told the story of buying and renovating an apartment in France. It was fun to see the differences between our story of renovating a home in America. While the book could of been edited better or had more going on with the retelling, I found it interesting. It will open ones eyes to what it is like to live in France.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Take ten: new authors (to me) in 2017

1. Jamie Jo Wright

This is the only book I have read by her so far, and while it was a bit darker then what I usually read, I loved the message. It was surprisingly deep for fiction!

2. Kasie West

I read two of Kasie's books this year, since they are just so cute! Everything YA fiction should be, IMO. I look forward to reading more by her this next year! (I also read Lucky in Love)

3. Mark Batterson

The women's study group I am in choice to start 2017 off with this devotion, which was amazing! I'm starting this year off with it as well, to see if it is a trend I want to continue. I also read Whisper by him, which was interesting, but not near as life changing.

4. Julie Daines

My sister recommended Julie's books to me, then I realized I had downloaded two of hers on Netgalley! I've enjoyed Eleanor and the Iron King and A Blind Eye, both very different stories, and look forward to reading Willowkeep here soon.

5. Janice Cantore

Another author that my sister recommended to me. I need to read more than this one book by her!

6. Stephanie Morrill

This is the only book I have read by Stephanie, but I look forward to reading some of her other stories, since this one was amazing!

7. Heidi Chiavaroli

I've just read Freedom's Ring, but I look forward to reading her next book that releases in May.

8. M.J. Thomas

My daughter and I read the first and second books in this series together. They are a lot of fun for young (and not so young) readers!

9. Heidi St. John

Becoming Mom Strong is the only book I have read by Heidi, but I did notice she has a Bible study that looks like it would be good to go through!

10. Kim Vogel Sawyer

Bringing Maggie Home was incredibly well written and hit on some of my insecurities. I loved that it about three generations of women.

Honorary mentions:
Michele Phoenix-While Of Stillness and Storm is well written, it was not my favorite book by far.
Eric Metaxas-I feel like I am cheating with this one, since I really just listened to him talk about his books 7 Women and the Secret of their Greatness and 7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness, both of which were interesting to hear about.
Shani Petroff-I'm only about half way through My New Crush Gave to Me, so I can't say for certain if it is one that I will recommend. So far though, it's a fun story.
What authors were your new favorites this year? Who would you recommend?