Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.

Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn't anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea.  

My thoughts: This was such a beautiful, heartbreaking story of loss and love! I really enjoyed getting to know the characters and their stories. One set in WWII, the other set in the early 2000's, this is a lovely story about sacrifice and grief, and how we deal with those emotions. I highly recommend this story!
I received this book from Bethany House. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Sweet on You


Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who's spent the past 18 months traveling the world. He's achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him--Britt's heart.

When Zander's uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But while Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle's tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also, finally, come to light?

My thoughts: I really wanted to like this book, I really did. I loved the first two stories in this series, about Britt's older sisters. Honestly though, I just felt bad for Zander and how clueless Britt is to his adoration, and yet how she kind of sabotages his dating chances. I liked the mystery that was attached to the story and I liked Zander.
I recommend reading this series in order, since this one gives away spoilers from the previous two stories.
I received this book from Bethany House. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Truth Plus Love

Imagine what our world might look like if Christians became known for remarkable love, as well as life-giving truth.
The stakes are high and the need is great for Christians to represent Jesus to a watching world. And today, we have more influence than ever before--for better and for worse. We are among the first generations to have access to a global megaphone through social media. But it's not enough to speak truth louder to a noisy culture. To counter the reputation Christians have earned, our love must be just as loud.
Ask evangelist Matt Brown, and he will tell you Christians today are facing a crisis of influence. In our rush to speak truth to today's tensions, cultural issues, and trending controversies, it becomes all too easy to focus on proving our points rather than extending God's grace. Conversely, when we seek only to love yet never proclaim a better way, we short-circuit God's plan.
Truth Plus Love invites you to rediscover the biblical framework for engaging culture as ambassadors of Christ. Through biblical insight, cultural analysis, and practical principles, Matt Brown outlines how to champion truth without compromise, how to love unconditionally, and ultimately, how to step into this great adventure of representing God to the world. It's hard, it's messy, and it's the unfinished project of a lifetime, yet here we find our great adventure: representing God to a watching world

My thoughts: This book is excellent! I thought that Matt's thoughts were extremely relevant and I appreciated how he presented his thoughts on the important discussion of how to show love as Christians while sticking to the truth and Christ's teachings. This is a great book for people in all stages of life to pick up. I highly recommend picking this book up!
I received this book from Booklook bloggers. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Dear Daughters


With Dear Daughters, Susie Davis creates a bridge between two groups of women–dear daughters and spiritual mamas. Dear daughters are young women in search of spiritual guidance and spiritual mamas are women just a little further down the road with age-old wisdom to share. Each group has valuable insight for the other and the hope is that the reader will invite someone to come alongside them, pore over the included letters together, and pass along wisdom and advice that will make both lives more beautiful, wherever they are in their God story.

This book, ideal for a gift, is a casebound hardcover with ribbon.

My thoughts: This book is wonderful! I love that Susie has written it in such a way that you feel like you are sitting down with a mentor who encourages younger women in all walks of life. I really enjoyed her thoughts on traditions and how they should be contributing to the health of a family and not causing stress, since I feel like I am one to hold to traditions. So, that is some advise that I will be storing away for future reference. I loved this book and found it so encouraging!
I received this book through the publisher. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Heart and Home Review and Giveaway!


Our home and its design can encourage spiritual growth in our hearts.

Heart and Home is a short devotional book with daily devotions for 90 days. The devotionals seek to draw clear connection between the basics of interior design and scripture that encourages spiritual growth within our hearts. The devotionals inspire women to have a captivating heart and home. Included in each devotional is an applicable design tip and photographs. Example devotional topics include unity and harmony, negative space, flow, focal point, and balance.

This devotional includes four-color photographs of home interiors throughout the book.


For more information about the series and for links to purchase, visit https://www.abingdonpress.com/victoriaduerstock.

My thoughts: I wouldn't say I am very good at putting my home together in a truly beautiful way, so I was thrilled to receive this book! I love how it is broken up into different thoughts on how to make your home the best version of itself, all the while encouraging the reader to be the best version of themselves. I love how this book is set up! The devotions are just the right length, making them easy for busy women to add to their days. This is an excellent devotional to pick up!
I received this book from the publisher. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.


As a writer, teacher, and speaker with a busy work and family life, Victoria Duerstock understands that all the tasks of the holiday season can make it easy to forget the true joy that Christmas can bring. In Heart & Home for Christmas, Duerstock brings her mission to inspire hope for God's purpose, and her 20 years of experience in the furniture and design industry together, connecting Scripture with design elements and easy decorating tips in a way that reflects the true spirit of Christmas. The devotions and holiday decorating tips will encourage spiritual growth and inspiration to have both a captivating heart and home at Christmas.

Click here to view a sample of the book.

Releases September 17, 2019

About the Author:

Victoria Duerstock is a writer, blogger, teacher, and speaker. Her mission is to inspire hope and ignite bigger dreams for God’s purpose in each of our stories. She has a master’s degree in music, but ended up working in the furniture industry for more than twenty years and loves to make connections between our home environments and our spiritual lives. Victoria writes at Encouraging Women Today, Everything’s Gravy, Creative Corner, and Serious Writer Academy and also has contributed to devotionals for Worthy. She lives in Nesbit, Mississippi, with her husband, and they have three children.

Learn more about Victoria at:
www.victoriaduerstock.com



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Moments We Forget Review and Giveaway!

Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.

Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.

Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this book immensely! Getting to know Jillian better after her appearance and unexpected marriage in Things I Never Told You (which was more about her sister, Payton) was very enjoyable. I think that this is a wonderful story for people to read who has a loved one going through the aftermath of cancer, since I know that it opened up my eyes more to what my sister in law went through with her battle with cancer. I also like that it continues Payton's story, and gives readers a chance to get to know Johanna a bit, the perfect sister who was hard to relate to in the first story. I look forward to reading the next book in this series!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. Thus is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.


About the Author:
Beth K. Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A women’s fiction novelist, Beth’s first novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, released May 2018.
Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publishers Weekly‘s Best Books of 2014. A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding series by Zondervan. Having authored nine contemporary romance novels or novellas, Beth believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us.
An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Novel Rocket and also enjoys speaking to writers’ groups and mentoring other writers. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

More from Beth:
A sister is like yourself in a different movie, a movie that stars you in a different life.”
Deborah Tannen (1945-), sociologist
I’m launching Moments We Forget, book two in the Thatcher Sisters series, and I’ve just turned in the final book in the series. I’d love to share book three’s title with you, but I don’t know what it is. (Of course, book three might have a final title by the time you read this—that’s part of the fun of prerelease deadlines.)
One thing I do know: the theme of “Little Women gone wrong” is woven through all of the books . . . thanks to the Thatcher sisters: Payton, Pepper, Jillian, and Johanna.
Sisters, be they real or imaginary, can be complicated.
Of course, there are sisters who have close relationships. They “get” each other and love doing life together.
But then there are the sister relationships that are like mismatched socks. Or those expensive jeans you loved in the store, but when you bring them home, they never quite live up to those moments in the dressing room.
Such are the Thatcher sisters. Johanna, Jillian, Payton, and Pepper grew up in the same family. They’re all tall. They love Broncos football and board games. But in so many ways their lives are like different movies because they each made different choices. Choices that changed and separated them. Moments We Forget continues to explore whether the Thatcher sisters can find a way to understand each other enough to bridge the distance between them.


Blog stops:
For a list of the blog stops, go here.

Giveaway! Grand prize winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card plus a softcover copy of Moments We Forget. Go here to enter.

Past Forward Review and Giveaway!

Alone without friends or family to comfort her after the death of her mother, Willow Finley’s idyllic life is over—and just beginning.
The Finley women’s lives, while rich and full, aren’t easy. rejecting electricity and many other modern conveniences, they live purposefully and intentionally–alone and isolated from the world around them.
When Willow Finley awakes on a hot summer morning, she is unprepared for the grief that awaits her. Jerked from a life of isolation with her mother, Willow learns what alone really means when she finds her mother dead.
From the moment Willow arrives in the police station with her startling announcement, Chad Tesdall fights the friendship he knows he can’t avoid.
The Past Forward series opens with Willow’s life-changing discovery and gently guides the reader through aspects of her life–the past weaving through the present and into the future. Experience her first morning in church, her first movie, and the culture shock of her first trips to the city. A birthday party and a street faire add welcome diversion from butchering, canning, and the beating of area rugs. Disaster strikes. Will she choose to continue her simple life, or will an offer in the city change it all? Find out in this first volume.

My thoughts: Another wonderful book/series from Chautona! I enjoyed getting to know Willow as her life changed drastically. I can only imagine going through the shock of seeing how different the world is compared to the one that you are had been raised in! She is a delightful character who comes alive through her story! I look forward to finishing this series and seeing where her story goes.
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:
Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

More from Chautona:
How Did My Weird High School Years Inspire This Book?
December 1985. The time had finally come. After two months of living in a run-down motel in Rosamond, California, we were finally moving to our own place. Seventeen miles away.
Just off Highway 58, outside Mojave, California (about the place that Alton Gansky’s, Distant Memory opens), a huge billboard loomed. For the curious, it’s still there today. Aqueduct City.
For the record, there was no city. There still isn’t. Just a dirt road or three. Oh, and the aqueduct. In fact, that’s eventually how we got our water—stole it from the California aqueduct.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the edge of all those parcels lay our new land. Twenty-two acres of desert sand, creosote, sage, and a tiny, baby Joshua tree at the end of our long, U-shaped dirt driveway.
I took out that sucker with my first attempt at backing down the drive. It looked like a snake had slithered back and forth across the sandy strip of cleared dirt, and somehow I managed to run over the foot-high tree. It wasn’t often I managed to shock my mother speechless. That was one time. I now have mad back-upping skills. Thought you oughtta know.
On that land, my parents put an 18’ travel trailer.
We hauled in water in 55-gallon drum barrels—first from a friend’s house and later from that aqueduct. It was several miles closer. One of those barrels ended up on top of the trailer for showers. The water pressure depended on how full that sucker was. Navy showers? Ever had one? It goes like so:
Turn on water.
Make one slow turn under the water to get all wet.
Turn it off.
Lather up.
Shampoo hair.
Turn on water.

Turn off.
Work conditioner into hair.
Turn on water.

Turn off.
Get out.
Try to stop your teeth from chattering.
For the record, that chattering is no joke. When it’s twenty degrees out there, water gets cold. And we had no way to heat it.
Our plumbing also included a shovel. For… um… other plumbing needs. Winter was the worst and the best time for the call of nature. Worst because, well, 40 mph winds and twenty-degree weather. Best, because no snakes.
We used Coleman propane lanterns, a propane refrigerator (that sat outside our door), and eventually, a gas-powered generator. Once a week, Dad would fire that thing up so I could iron my church clothes. #darkages
For the curious, summer was blistering hot.
No fans (except for stiff cardboard we used arm-power to operate). No air conditioner. Not even a swamp cooler. Mom and I would go into town and read at the library when we just couldn’t take another minute in 112-degree desert heat. She’d drive me to Lancaster so I could go sit in an air-conditioned movie theater and watch another movie. If it came out in 1986 or 1987 and wasn’t pure smut, I probably saw it. Out of self-preservation.
Before long, I’d been relegated to the “porch.” That consisted of a redwood lattice “patio” enclosure in front of the trailer door. (For those who haven’t figured it out yet, I was the dictionary definition of “trailer trash” in some people’s books.) That space was eight feet wide and sixteen feet long.
I had a twin bed out there. When winter came, dad made sleeping out there more bearable by heating huge rocks in one of those 55-gallon drum barrels and wrapping them in old quilts. That went at the foot of my bed to keep my feet warm.
If only the wind hadn’t blown sand into my hair every night…
What does all of this have to do with Past Forward?
Just this. People have often asked why Willow would choose to live without electricity. Some have said you couldn’t live only five miles outside of town and be so isolated and reclusive.
I disagree.
We did it. By choice. Because it’s who my father is. And of all of my characters, Kari Finley, Willow’s mother, is the most like my father. The way Kari taught Willow? That’s exactly how Dad used to teach me—by making it a natural part of life.
I didn’t know it when I wrote the series, but Past Forward really does show exactly what kind of life my father would have chosen to live if he’d ever really considered it. The self-sustaining work, the emphasis on beauty, the isolation—all of it shows the kind of man I call Dad.
If you’d asked me as a kid what I thought of living out there in Mojave, I would have said I hated it. Not only that, I would have believed myself. But if you’d talked to me for a while, you would have figured out that I said that because I was expected to. No one thinks you’ll like living with almost nothing, in the middle of nowhere, especially as a teenager.
Looking back, though, I actually I liked it. Dad. Mom. Me. And Boozer, our dog. I’d tell you about her, but that’s a story for another day. Yeah, I liked my life there “out on the property,” as we called it.
Except for the Mojave green rattlesnakes. Not a fan of those. Not then or today.
Just sayin’.

Blog stops:
Go here for a complete list of blog stops!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize that includes a complete paperback set of Past Forward & a custom Past Forward Lavender Lemonade candle!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter!