Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Sea Rose Lane"

Irene takes her readers back to Hope Harbor in her latest book, "Sea Rose Lane," and I enjoyed this return trip.  Eric is returning home after a change in his life and hoping to figure things out; however his home is not the same as his father is converting it into a bed and breakfast.  BJ is in charge of the renovations and Eric and her so exactly click at first.  BJ is dealing with things from her past and Hope Harbor may just be the place where both of these individuals need to be at this time.


Hope Harbor is such a cute town that has really become like a real place to me in Irene's books.  It is a town filled with wonderful people and I love how she weaves in multiple characters and their stories into the books.  This is a sweet story of healing and love and moving on, but also one that just has such a homey feel to still and a picture of small town life that will leave you longing to be a part of the town and a part of these characters' lives. 


*Thanks to the Revell Reads Blogger Program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

"All Summer Long"

"All Summer Long" is the latest read from Melody Carlson and it is THE perfect summer read!  Tia has been working in the family restaurant with her uncle until suddenly her aunt calls from San Francisco with an offer Tia jumps at.  Tia is so excited at the prospect of helping get a new business going and being a chef on a yacht, so many wonderful times to come she is sure.  When Tia arrives, she is met at the airport by Leo, a man whom she met years earlier as a teenager, and with whom she shared a kiss.  Tia is shocked when she learns that Leo is engaged, and just became engaged that very day. 
I really enjoyed this book, it is a nice blend of adventure, and romance in a beautiful city by the water.  It is a light and fun read, but has a lot of heart.  I love the strong bond that Tia has with her extended family and the love they share for cooking.  This is a must read for fans of Melody and if you are new to Melody's books this is a great one to start with this summer!


*Thanks to the Revell Reads Blogger Program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Varina Denman’s ‘Jilted’ $50 Sweet Summertime Giveaway


Jilted Varina Denman
Can all things really work together for good, and can the joy of living be found once again? Don't miss one woman's story in book three, Jilted, of Varina Denman's Mended Hearts series. Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago. Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Celebrate the release of Varina's Jilted by entering to win a $50 gift card.

jilted-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Jilted to kick off a summer of reading
  • A $50 Kohl's gift card to make your summertime sweet
The giveaway ends on July 1st. The winner will be announced July 5th on Varina's website.




Book info
About the book:

Jilted (David C. Cook, June 2016)

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.

Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must---once and for all---leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/237iWMF
 
About the author:

Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly grown children.


My Review:
If you are looking for a book to read that is full of heart and a story that will completely draw you in and hold you captive, then "Jilted" is for you!  However, I would highly recommend you read the first two books in the series first just because they are THAT good and the characters will become even more so real to you.  Varina is a talented writer as she has the ability to create characters and storylines that are so easy to relate to and her descriptions are so detailed and written in a way that I became a part of the story. 
Lynda has struggled with heartache, depression and thoughts of just feeling trapped, yet not willing to actually leave her hometown and start over.  Described as a half-empty girl, she is consumed with negativity and tired of pretending.  However, Lynda has determined that she is going to try and not hide within herself and move on with her life. 
This book portrays life in a small town and how things can be both difficult and wonderful when everyone knows each other and their pasts.  This is an emotional read and I found myself tearing up at times and smiling at other times.  I highly recommend the Mended Heart series for a hopeful and inspiring read that will completely captivate you.

To read other reviews on this blog tour, go here!

*Thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

"Fading Starlight"

I absolutely loved Kathryn Cushman's latest novel, "Fading Starlight."  Kathryn takes the reader into the world of Hollywood, and the betrayal and secrets, including a mystery that has been unsolved for decades.  Lauren's career has been destroyed in one moment as a young star has a wardrobe malfunction while wearing one of her dresses.  Forced to do anything and everything she can at this time, she packs up and moves into a home that needs a lot of TLC and takes on the task of designing and making costumes for a high school production.  Lauren's new neighborhood is beautiful and gated, with a suspicious and secretive neighbor across the road who is determined to uncover Lauren's true nature, making life even more interesting and even more difficult. 
I loved how this storyline progressed and the character development.  Lauren is a main character whom was so easy to connect with and root for as she was a compassionate person and did her best to make the right choices when faced with difficult decisions to be made, mainly pressure from Kendall.  At first of course it was difficult to really like Charlotte, but it was obvious she was covering up hurt and pain and really was living a lonely life.  The descriptions of Charlotte's dresses and accessories were amazing, as were the descriptions of Lauren's creations; I could picture them all so well in my mind.  I loved that Lauren and Charlotte shared the same fashion sense and their love for the clothing of that era and dressing for dinner and tea.  The story is inspiring and I love how Kathryn wove in Biblical truths throughout the story through Lauren's friends and her interactions with others. 


*Thanks to the Bethany House Blogger Review Program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"June"

"June" written by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore is a powerful, dramatic and engaging story that covers years and generations.  Cassie is struggling to come to terms with her grandmother June's death and she is living in June's mansion that has seen better days.  Cassie is overwhelmed at the thought of fixing up the mansion and in general the thought of life and what she is should be doing with her life.  However, one day an incessant noise which turns out to be the doorbell completely changes her life and has her wondering who her family actually is and what happened in this town so many years ago.
MIranda does an incredible job with jumping back and forth between present day and decades earlier when Hollywood came to town and June was on the brink of marriage.  I was completely engrossed in this story from the very beginning, and just wanted to keep reading to find out the full story.  The characters were all so real and also the mansion and rooms had so many stories to share as well.  I could completely picture this town, this home and the individuals living there, and loved how their lives intertwined.  I highly recommend this book for an engaging read this summer. 


  "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Season of Refreshment Giveaway with Lucinda Secrest McDowell


Dwelling Places Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Drown out the busyness and noise of everyday life and find a deeper faith with something as simple as a single word in Lucinda Secrest McDowell's new book, Dwelling Places. Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word—such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace—to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

Join Lucinda in celebrating the release of Dwelling Places by entering to win her Season of Refreshment giveaway.

dwelling places - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
  • A kit full of goodies you'll need to make refreshing lemonade this summer
One second place winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
dwelling places - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 5th. The winner will be announced July 6th on Lucinda's blog.

dwelling places - enter banner


Book info
About the book:

Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season (Abingdon, June 2016)

Do you long for serenity and refuge, peace and hope? Are you seeking a deeper spiritual life through a closer relationship with God?

If you're tired of dwelling in busyness and noise, then perhaps one word a day can change your life. Award-winning author Lucinda Secrest McDowell knows that if you spend time each day turning to God's Word for wisdom and guidance, your faith can flourish and grow.

Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word---such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace---to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

These "dwelling places" that offer the joy of God's promise and presence cover four seasons: fall, Advent, Lent, and summer. Whether in the midst of busy holiday schedules, holy days, ordinary moments, or changing seasons, a deeper faith can be as simple as a single word.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/28U4tj1
 
About the author:


Lucinda Secrest McDowell
is the author of 11 books, including Live These Words, Amazed by Grace, and Quilts from Heaven. She has contributed to an additional 25 books and has been published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she speaks internationally through her ministry Encouraging Words. An award-winning writer who has earned accolades from prominent writers' conferences and retreats, McDowell has also worked in radio broadcasting, in retreat planning, and on church pastoral staffs. She writes from "Sunnyside" cottage in Connecticut.



My Review:
"Dwelling Places - words to live in every season" by Lucinda Secrest McDowell is just what I needed at this time.  The book is divided by season and it begins with Fall and the word "dwell."  I wholeheartedly agree that I tend to dwell, tend to live, but not really have my focus and dwell where and how I ought to as I find myself rushing to another task and having an endless to-do list.  Each two page reading focuses on one word, just one!  I love that as it really helps me to be mindful on the reading and on that specific encouragement for the day.  Life is busy all the time, but it a different kind of busyness depending on the season and time or year; therefore I love that Lucinda has divided the readings by season, specifically tailored to that type of typical busyness for each season.  This book is also the perfect size to tuck into a purse or to leave beside the bed so you can pick it up and read first thing in the morning, last thing at night or whenever you have a free few minutes.  

To read other reviews included on this blog tour, go here!

*Thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*
 

a true myth


Book info
About the book:

The Seed (New Growth Press, May 2016)

Young Madeline and Roark are desperately running from the shadow that destroyed their home and is threatening their lives.

One day, they encounter Tatus, an older man who has sworn to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the shadow, and they form an alliance with him. Tatus promises that he can keep them safe from the shadow if they will help him build a fortress. So they build.

But as fortress-building consumes their lives, Madeline and Roark are increasingly filled with anger and fear, and an unseen evil threatens to ultimately destroy them. When they finally face the shadow, he presents them with an unthinkable offer that will reveal shocking secrets of the forgotten past, the unseen present, and the unimaginable future.

We've all had the feeling that something's not quite right with our lives. It's bigger than any specific failure or disappointment. It's bigger than any person. No matter what you achieve or how much you drink or sleep, you can't shake it. It haunts you---night and day---and propels you to do something. So you build. You build and build the maze that is your exhausting life. Sound vaguely familiar?

The Seed: A True Myth is a journey into the personal labyrinths we create to protect ourselves and those we love from the pain of living in a broken world. Guzman's "true myth" takes the reader on an unforgettable journey that is, in essence, the grand narrative of God's redemptive work in the world. This page-turning Christian fantasy tale is packed with mystery and drama, and readers will feel the weight and power of redemption as they journey alongside Guzman's characters in their epic battle. The Seed deftly communicates the heart of Trinitarian theology through story---without using theological language or Christian terms---and reinforces biblical themes such as God's character and man's true identity and calling.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1YSvMfl

 
About the author:



Erik Guzman is Vice President of Communications and Executive Producer at Key Life Network. He's the cohost of the nationally syndicated talk show Steve Brown, Etc. and announcer for "Key Life." His writing has been featured in Key Life's magazine and online at KeyLife.org, Liberate.org, Burnside Writers Collective, and Sojourners (sojo.net). He is also a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a drummer, and a 5th degree black belt in Aikido. Erik, his wife, and three children live near Orlando, Florida.


My Review:
"The Seed" is an interesting read by Erik Guzman and one that really made me think a lot throughout the book.  Guzman has been compared to C.S. Lewis as far as the writing style and type of story and I completely agree.  I was not sure what to expect with this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was immediately drawn into the story and I loved how it was written.  I was able to become completely immersed I the story and draw parallels with my own life and my relationship with God.  This is a deep read, but don't let that push you away as it is a great summer read that will take you on a journey to truth and how God redeems each of us.  Not any one of us lives a perfect life and we may be living with regrets from the pasts and looking ahead with apprehension to the future and wondering what if's.  Yet throughout life and in each moment God is right there guiding us if we let him take control. 


To read other reviews included on this blog tour, go here!


*Thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review*






Friday, June 24, 2016

"Happy Ever After in Christmas"

BOOK INFORMATION




Title:  Happy Ever After in Christmas
Author: Debbie Mason
Series: Christmas, Colorado #7
On Sale: June 28, 2016
Formats: Mass Market & eBook
Price: $5.99 USD
 Add to Goodreads





































It's beginning to look a lot like love . . .

As her thirtieth birthday approaches, deputy Jill Flaherty decides it's time to live a little. When she walks into Sawyer Anderson's bar in her sexiest dress, she's not thinking that he's her brother's best friend or about the many women he dated during his years as a pro hockey player. All she's thinking is that it's finally time to confess to her longtime crush how she truly feels.

Sawyer is done being a player on and off the ice. Yet no one in the small town of Christmas seems to believe he's ready to settle down, not Jill, and certainly not Jack, who is determined to keep Sawyer from breaking his little sister's heart. But as Sawyer and Jill's relationship heats up, can he prove that he's her happy ever after?






THE FULL SERIES

The Trouble With Christmas, #1
Christmas in July, #2
It Happened at Christmas, #3
Wedding Bells at Christmas, #4
Snowbound at Christmas, #5
Kiss Me In Christmas, #6
Happy Ever After in Christmas, #7
Series Page on Goodreads: here!






BUY THE BOOK HERE

Walmart (Special Edition)
Amazon http://amzn.to/1Py636A
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1tu5o1b
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/1UAamDZ
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1XZiz7z
 iBooks : http://apple.co/261knRQ
Indiebound : http://bit.ly/1Py9n1m
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1UDy52a 



AUTHOR INFORMATION

Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Chri stmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with
her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.
Author Website : http://bit.ly/1Un7Csb
Facebook: http://bit.ly/267uMbm
 Twitter : http://bit.ly/1tArzDq 




FOLLOW FOREVER ONLINE
Website: http://bit.ly/1W6ZY8C
 Facebook: http://bit.ly/1Zmyycz
 Twitter: http://bit.ly/1XcnZu1
 Instagram: http://bit.ly/1Xco7tE
Pinterest : http://bit.ly/23uLXQZ 


RAFFLECOPTER
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/26635ce2333/?




Excerpt from the book:




 Deputy Jill Fla herty sat at her desk wrapping her brother's birthday present for his surprise party tonight. The yellow helium balloons she'd ordered were currently bouncing in front of her face. She lifted her hand to bat them way, ripping the paper off the present in the process. A present that she'd been painstakingly wrapping for the last ten minutes. Frustrated, she swore under her breath while shaking her fingers to free them of the tape and brightly-colored tissue paper.
 "You're stuck," Suze announced in an authoritative voice from behind her computer.
 "Thank you for your insightful observation," Jill grumbled at the forty-something woman sitting at the dispatcher's desk across the room as she bent her head to pull the tape off her fingers with her teeth.  
 Suze leaned around her computer and grinned. "I didn't mean literally. I mean you're stuck, stuck. That's why you've been so bitchy lately. You have the pre-30 birthday blues."
 "It's my fingers that are stuck, not me. And I'm not. . . " Jill sighed. "Okay, so maybe I have been a little bitchy. But it's because of all the overtime I've been putting in the past couple of weeks. I'm tired." 
 She ignored the reference to her thirtieth birthday. She wouldn't admit to Suze that she was partially right. Like an ominous black cloud, the big 3-0 loomed large in Jill's mind. It always had. Her mother died two days before her thirtieth. Preparations for Jack's thirty-seventh birthday had served to remind Jill that her thirtieth was only five months away.  
 "Because you don't have a life."
 Jill lifted a hand still covered in tape and paper in an are-you-kidding-me gesture. "I do so. I have--"
 "Yeah, yeah, I know. You have friends and family and a job you love. Still doesn't mean you have a life. You put yours on hold when Jack was MIA. I had a front row seat so I know what I'm talking about."
 "I have a life," Jill reiterated without elaborating. Suze had stolen her ammunition. If having friends, family, and a job she loved didn't count, Jill didn't know what else to say. 
 A chair scraped noisily on the tile floor and Suze took a seat across from her. "Okay, so tell me, when was the last time you hid the salami?" she asked.
 Jill frowned. "What . . ."
  Suze rolled her brown eyes as she peeled the last of the tape and tissue paper from Jill's fingers. "Bumped uglies. . . Did the horizontal mumbo?"
 "I have no idea what you're--"
 "Oh for godsakes, when was the last time you got laid?"
 Since the answer didn't immediately pop into her head, Jill hedged, "What does that have to do with anything?" 
 "And there's your problem. You can't remember, can you?" Suze said as she rolled the paper and tape into a ball.
 "Yes, I can. Seven months ago," she said, taking a guess. Then realizing the number of months might unwittingly validate Suze's no-life pronouncement, Jill added, "Before you say anything, I've been busy."
 Suze pursed her lips and tossed the ball into the garbage can. "Don't buy two-sided tape again. And it was eight months ago with that accountant from Logan County."
 "Really? Huh. I could have sworn . . . " She took in the I-told-you-so look on Suze's lightly freckled face. "Oh, come on, that doesn't mean anything."
 "Yeah, it does. It says it all. You have unmemorable sex with unmemorable men. And do you know why you do?"
 "No, but I'm sure you're going to enlighten me," Jill said, carefully working the rest of the paper off Jack's present with a pair of scissors. 
 "Fear," Suze said, taking the scissors from Jill's hand and looking her in the eyes. "You're afraid to get your heart broken. That's why you spend your time fantasizing about the man and life you want and not doing anything about it."
 "I do not fantasize about Sawyer," Jill blurted without thinking. She caught the triumphant look in Suze's eyes and quickly added, "Or any other man in town."




Thursday, June 23, 2016

Will a leap of faith and an act of courage turn into a new life?

Book info
About the book:

The Ringmaster's Wife (Thomas Nelson, June 2016)

An ounce of courage. A split-second leap of faith. Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life---one that's reimagined from what they might have become.

In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures to call her own, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World's Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny---a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.

A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.

When Rosamund's path crosses with Mable's and the Ringlings' glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers' circus.

A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster's Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the greatest show on earth!

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/28JxcaK
 
About the author:


Kristy Cambron
fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal Reviews' "Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)" for February 2015.
Cambron is an art/design manager at TheGROVEstory.com storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.


My Review:
Kristy Cambron is a must-read author for me and her books are must-haves for my shelves.  Kristy's latest, "The Ringmaster's Wife," is fabulous - the cover, the storyline, the characters, the history, everything about it!  I loved the two main characters, Mable and Rosamund, and the paths that they chose and how Kristy wove their stories together.  Mable sets out to see what the Chicago World's Fair has to offer and her life is completely changes as she meets John Ringling.  I found the circus life aspect of the story fascinating and the 1920's has always been a time period I have loved ready and learning about, everything from the historical events to the society life to the fashion.  These details and aspects of life all become so real n the book and I love how the story and the history comes together.  I am already anxiously waiting for another book from Kristy!


*To read other reviews included on this blog tour, go here!


*Thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for the honest review.*



Dropping the masks...


Book info
About the book:

Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart (New Growth Press, May 2016)

We like to pretend that hidden agendas are just for self-important bosses or egotistical politicians, but we all have them. Deep down, we all have a secret plan for getting from where we are to where we want to be, even if we refuse to admit it to ourselves.

And if our hidden agendas aren't enough, we wear masks to obscure the truth even more. We put on these masks---like religion, appearance, power, politics, or protection---to drive our agendas. But all of this leaves us feeling phony, ashamed, guilty, and afraid. It's killing us and hurting those we love. But for most of us, it will be a cold day in a hot place before we will be fully honest with anyone else.

There is so much more to life than hiding, pretending, and never being loved. In fact, there is already one person who sees behind the masks we wear and the hidden agendas that drive us. It does no good to tell God that you're sick when you're drunk, that you love him when you don't, or that you didn't steal and eat an apple (with apple juice dripping down your chin). God always recognizes and loves the "you" behind the mask.

So what can we do about the hidden agendas we have and the masks we wear? How can we gather the courage to be real? "Being real" has to start with your relationship with your heavenly Father. God already knows you inside and out. But God doesn't know you in order to "out" you to your friends. His unconditional love for his own is reason we can pray to our Father without fear of rejection or judgment. Knowing God's love, knowing that your heavenly Father is for you not against you is the only reason to give up your masks and develop the type of authentic relationships you never thought you could have.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1Q4xXMY
 
About the author:

Steve Brown is a radio broadcaster, author, and the founder of Key Life Network. A former pastor, he also sits on the board of Harvest USA and devotes much of his time to the radio broadcasts "Key Life" and "Steve Brown, Etc."


My Review:
"Hidden Agenda: (dropping the masks that keep us apart)," by Steve Brown is an eye-opener read that is so honest and so fresh that it will keep you turning the pages and leave you thinking about it long after you close the book.  In the very first chapter, Steve shares when he had an emotional breakdown and made some major changes in his life.  He states that he was alone in his office with no one to encourage, no one to impress, and no one to convince; this really stuck out to me and has stuck with me.  I thought about a typical day of mine and how much of that day I am hidden behind a mask because I feel like I have to encourage someone or convince them of something or impress them by how many things I can get done or how many things I can balance.  The important thing is how I feel behind these masks, how these masks are affecting me.  I really like the self-reflection questions at the end of the chapters and also the tips for small groups reading through this book together.  I think this would be an excellent choice for a small group to work through together, but it is also a great choice to read on your own as well.  I was constantly reminded throughout this book that God can see the real me behind my masks and also to make me mindful of my true agendas. 

To read other reviews included on this blog tour, go here!

*Thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"School Time Blessings"

Book Description from the publisher:

It’s back-to-school time in Bear Country!
After the long and lazy summer, it’s time for school. Brother and Sister are ready to see their friends and get busy with all of the things they enjoy about school—but are nervous about the more challenging subjects like math and history. And Honey Bear will be going to nursery school for the first time—but how will she handle not being home with Mama and Papa all day?
In this new Berenstain Bear Living Lights book, Mama and Papa Bear remind their cubs that prayer and God’s love are always there to guide them and that they will support them no matter what the challenge.

My Review:
Another great book from Mike Berenstain, following in his parents' footsteps; "School Time Blessings" will be an instant hit with your children!  Summer is coming to an end and Brother and Sister are ready to get back to school and Honey is excited about nursery school; however each of them are nervous as well.  Mama and Papa call a family meeting and the fears and excitement are discussed and they all have a successful first day.  Then it's homework time and Brother and Sister find themselves becoming frustrated and agitated.  Papa and Mama encourage them with prayer and they are able to come up with a plan as well.  This is a great book with a great message for children, and honestly adults as well!  This story stays true to the Berenstain Bears series with the adorable family and the lesson tied into the story.  I highly recommend that this book be added to your home library. 

*Thanks to the BookLook Bloggers Program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"More Than Rivals"


"A monster slam dunk that will impact your life."--Pat Williams, founder and senior vice president, Orlando Magic


In 1970, one small southern town was a powder keg ready to erupt.
But it was also on the verge of something incredible.


Eddie Sherlin and Bill Ligon grew up on opposite sides of the tracks in Gallatin, Tennessee. They knew the barriers that divided them--some physical landmarks and some hidden in the heart--but those barriers melted away when the boys were on the basketball court. After years of playing wherever they could find a hoop, Eddie and Bill rose as leaders of their respective high school teams. And at the end of the 1970 season, all-white Gallatin High and all-black Union High faced each other in a once-in-a-lifetime championship game. What happened that night would challenge Eddie and Bill--and transform their town.

A fast-paced true story of courage, determination, and forgiveness, More Than Rivals offers hope and inspiration for our times.


My Review:
"More Than Rivals" is such an inspiring, feel-good read!  I was immediately drawn into the story and transported back in time to life in the south in the midst of segregation and tension.  Ken Abraham does a great job with creating the backdrop of the story; he really brings the societal views, politics and everyday life in general to life making it so real to the reader.  Also, the story transitions back and forth "across the tracks" offering views of life from both sides and I like the way that this was done.  The friendship that these boys and their love of basketball is such a nice, inspiring story and one that will have each of the readers thinking about and being inspired by for a long time. 


*Thanks to the Revell Reads Blogger Program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*






"If You Left"


All relationships have their ups and downs. For Althea and Oliver Willow, the ups and downs are a bit . . . extreme.

Welcome to the bipolar marriage.

Althea is a thirty-seven year old upper crust Manhattan-ite on the brink of another breakdown—her fifth in nine years. Diagnosed with manic depression, she has spent her marriage oscillating between what she calls “the Tombs” and “the Visions”. Her husband Oliver has been there for her through all of it. It is Oliver who packs her bag for the hospital, who visits during visiting hours after each suicide attempt, and who takes care of their nine-year-old daughter Clem. It is Oliver who holds their family together.
Discharged from the hospital, Althea decides that this summer will be different—she will be the loving, sexy wife Oliver wants, and the reliable, affectionate mother that Clem deserves. This summer, she will be “normal”. When the family moves to their East Hampton mansion for the summer, for the first time in Clem and Althea’s lives as mother and daughter there is no “summer girl” there to pick up the slack when Althea cannot face the reality that comes with being a mother.
But once they arrive, nothing goes according to Althea’s plan. Oliver becomes even more distant, and his relationship with their interior decorator is a bit too close. Clem also seems not to need her as a mother, and Althea finds that getting to know her own daughter is far more exhausting than she had though it would be. Into this scene enters the much younger, attractive, David Foster Wallace-reading house painter, who reaches something in Althea that has been long buried.
Fearless, darkly funny, and compulsively readable, If You Left, is a searing exploration of the limits of family and the unavoidable truth that sometimes in order to move forward we have to destroy the things we've worked so very hard to build.
Author Bio:
Ashley Prentice Norton is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel The Chocolate Money, and a graduate of Exeter, Georgetown, and the creative writing program at New York University. She lives in New York with her husband and three children.
For more information visit his website at http://www.ashleyprenticenorton.com and connect with her on Facebook.
Reviews:
"If You Left examines two of the most complex, compelling topics of our time — marriage and mental illness. With devastating yet loving candor, Norton shows how one mapped onto the other can cause any heart to break, any mind to break open." — Lea Carpenter, author of Eleven Days
"Ashley Prentice Norton's If You Left uses a summer in East Hampton as the backdrop for a brutally honest tale of her protagonist's struggle with mental illness, motherhood, a failing marriage, and her need to fulfill herself as both a woman and an artist." — Charles Dubow, author of Indescretion
"A woman suffering from bipolar disorder reaches a crossroads in her marriage and her life in this irresistible, tightly plotted novel... Norton (The Chocolate Money) writes Althea with a sure hand, unsentimental in her portrayal of a woman who is ruled by her illness and her codependent relationship with Oliver, yet desperately yearns for more. The lean narrative is unflinching, which only makes Althea’s story, and her eventual self-enlightenment, even more poignant." — Publishers Weekly

Praise for the work of Ashley Prentice Norton:
“Gripping, vivid, and moving.” — Isabel Gillies

“A truly gifted new voice in fiction.” — Jill Kargman

“Darkly funny, compulsively readable.” — People

My Review:
"If You Left" is a complex read, but at the same time is the perfect summery, beach read.  Althea has struggled with mental illness for most of her marriage and she ponders the fact that her husband has stuck by her side and why he has done this.  Althea is trying to put forth effort with their adopted daughter and just effort into her life in general, but then she is faced with the realization that it might be too late and also that it might not be what is the best for her. 
I enjoyed Ashley's style of writing as the story just flowed so nicely, but also it was so easy to become a part of the characters' lives.  I liked how the conversations were written, but also what Althea was thinking was shared as well.  Althea couldn't become more real to me, as honestly how many of our thoughts are held in and not spoken aloud; this allowed me to really connect with Althea as I was hearing her, but also knowing what she was thinking.  I liked Oliver's character in the beginning of the book, but as the story went along, I grew less and less fond of him.  Clem's character was created and portrayed so nicely and I enjoyed her interactions with Althea, even though some made me cringe as I hurt for them and their lack of a bond. Yet, this made me feel even more connected to the characters and invested in the story. 
An added side note - this book is for a mature audience, as there is vulgar language and explicit intimate scenes.  Also, the issues that are addressed are geared for more adults as well. 

*Thanks to FSB Associates for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Lily's happily ever after barely survives the honeymoon, and she faces the toughest choice ever.

Book info
About the book:

My Father's House (March 2016)

Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to one constant --- her father's love.

But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning. There begins Lily's struggle to find herself and the life she's lost. . . . Marriage promises fulfillment, but her happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Her husband's sophisticated fa├žade hides a brooding man with even darker secrets.

When all illusions shatter, Lily must make hard choices --- abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about. This is one woman's compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to who she's meant to be . . . in her father's house.

Purchase a copy: http://amzn.to/217Bvib
 

About the author:


Rose Chandler Johnson
is the author of the award winning devotional God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments. My Father's House is her first novel. She happily makes her home near Augusta, Georgia.


My Review:
"My Father's House" is a multi-layered read that will stay with you long after you finish the book.  This is Rose Chandler Johnson's latest book and it is filled with heart, romance and suspense.  Lily Rose grew up with her father and his love and when he passed away her world was changed.  Lily struggled with her mother's mental health issues and her detachment from Lily's life.  Lily's bond with her father was the one thing that grounded her in life and she thought she had found what she needed when she got married.  However, the honeymoon bliss was over quite quickly.  This book addresses quite a few issues that are sometimes just glossed over and not really discussed or addressed as they can be uncomfortable.  Rose explores these issues in Lily Rose's life and how she must decide what is best for herself.  Rose writes in such a way that the reader is immediately drawn into the story and into the characters' lives.  I love how the characters' strengths are highlighted and the roles they play in Lily's life.  I highly recommend this read.


To read other reviews included on this blog tour, go here!


*Thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a  honest review.*



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"They Danced On"



"They Danced On" is the third book in the Darling Family saga by Carre Armstrong Gardner and it draws the readers back in the lives of this beloved family.  Jane and Leander are the pillars of the family and after Leander is diagnosed with a debilitating illness, the family struggles to come to terms with this, in particular Jane.  This book focused on the subject of faith and the struggle of having faith, but yet still bad things happen. 
I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, mostly because the characters are all so real and easy to relate to as they struggle with things that all of us deal with in our lives, and things are not just fixed and dealt with nicely, just like real-life.  Carre does a nice job with  developing the storyline and also bringing the reader up to speed on all of the characters' lives.  The writing is so descriptive as well that it felt as if I was a part of the story.  I highly recommend this book as it focuses on family life, and issues and situations that are faced in everyday life. 







. . . About the author:
Carre Armstrong Gardner is a former worker with children at risk in Russia. Now she lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and three teenagers, where she writes books and works as a nurse. Visit her at carregardner.com.














A few Q&A with Carre:
Life doesn’t always go as expected for the characters in your book (and for us in real life). What are some ways you’ve learned to respond when this happens?
Living and working in Russia was a great training ground for this: life hardly ever went as expected there, both in small ways and big. There were constant curve balls; lots of disappointments and also wonderful, unexpected surprises. I learned to roll with it; I had to, in order to save my sanity. When I came back to the States, a pastor friend said, "Wow, Carre, you’re so much less uptight than you used to be!" How’s that for a back-handed compliment? But I took it in the spirit it was intended. I think there are a couple of keys to how to handle life not going as we expected. The first is to get your own expectations out of the way from the start: expectations that you’re going to get what you deserve; that your kids are going to turn out well; that other people are going to live the way they should live. Disappointed expectations are the root of all bitterness. In fact, we are promised very little by God: we are owed even less. When our expectations are low, it clears the way for gratitude. And gratitude is the second key: it has the power to change our outlook on everything. Paul’s injunction to give thanks in everything means that sometimes we have to give thanks even when we don’t understand a situation; even when there seems nothing to be thankful for. It can be a real discipline. Like all disciplines, the gratitude muscle should be exercised during the less-than-dire times. Then, in times of crisis when we need to call on it, the habit will be there.




What is next for you, writing-wise?
I’m working on a young adult series. Sort of a futuristic mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Very different from the Darlings! I’d like it to be an allegory of the Gospel for people who would not read the Gospel otherwise. And I’m working on some short stories.


*Thanks to the Tyndale Blog Network for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*