Book Review – Christmas Embers

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About the Book

 

Name of book: Christmas EmbersChristmas Embers Cover-sm _preview

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Contemporary Christmas

Release Date: November 25, 2016

It’s a truth universally unacknowledged that sin will hunt you down and advertise its presence the moment you try to hide it.

Emily Byrne sits in her daughter’s classroom listening to the deepest wishes of twenty kindergarteners as she sketches them. But when little Joey Cordell breaks down, weeping and insisting the only thing he wants to find is his father, she isn’t sure where her Christmas project will take her.

Davia Cordell came to Rockland for one purpose–find her son’s father before she dies. An ex-prostitute, she’s well aware that the news will cause waves, but what’s a mother to do?

As these women join forces to search for Joey’s father–a Rockland area pastor, no less– Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can’t quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her.

Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn’t confident she’ll find the boy’s father in time–if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this–an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes.

A mother’s love. A boy’s confidence. A family’s faith. A preacher’s failure. Is redemption even possible anymore?

Christmas Embers: a story of love, failure, and redemption.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My review

This is a very touching, thought-provoking book. Not your typical, light-hearted easy reading Christmas novel. I found myself gripped in it’s pages. I had to keep reading.

Sean and Emily, the main characters, are portrayed in depth. Their feelings, their thoughts, their actions, all of it is so very realistic. Their marriage seemed to be solid. And then the test came. This book is so very well written, I kept going back and forth, not sure what the outcome would be.

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This book has so many life lessons. It hits home about sin, especially the sin of adultery.

It’s a story about love. About hurt, deep pain, forgiveness, grace, and so much more.

It reminds us that we are all sinners. Saved only through God’s grace.

Every thought, every action, that I have has a consequence. And this can be very far reaching. Sins, even small ones, will also hurt those we love. The steps to sin are oh so slippery, and it is only because of Jesus that I can be anyone. Because your spouse sins does not give you the right to sin. I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the gist. There are so many good thoughts, quotes, scattered throughout this book. I’ve included memes of some of the more gripping ones here in this blog post.

If you  are looking for a book that will make you think, challenge you in your Christian life, and probably make you cry, than you might want to read this one. (Note-this is not an easy read, not a book I recommend for teens)

I received a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

About the Authorheadshot-5x7_preview

Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.

 

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

Infidelity to the Tune of Adeste Fideles

“I think my husband is having an affair.”613_preview

An explanation followed. Look, I tend to be one who assumes the best of others—to a fault even. I read the “evidence” and frankly could see it going either way. It’s hard to tell across thousands of miles. While others on the message board saw red flag after red flag—and frankly, I did, too—I also saw perfectly innocent explanations for things. It’s a curse sometimes—that ability to see both sides of an issue. I cautioned against assumptions no one would want other people to make of themselves. And I prayed she was wrong.

She wasn’t.437_preview

It wasn’t the first time I’d come face to face with infidelity. As a child, there was an extended family member. As a newlywed, one of my wedding party—then another. Then another. The excuses, the justifications. Friends and I went to confront a sister in Christ on her affair with her husband’s best friend. We foolishly asked “what happened?” regarding her marriage. Her words: “We drifted apart.”

I wanted to scream the words that battered my brain and heart. “Then row back together!

But over the years, it just grew worse. One by one, wives and husbands tossed aside vows made to a brother or sister in Christ—vows made before the Lord—in favor of what sometimes were serial affairs. Abuse. Horror.

I’ve prayed women I love through court cases, medical visits, and disclosures from children no mother should ever have to hear. I’ve prayed for men I didn’t even like because of the pain their wives inflicted each time she left them alone with the kids. He knew. He always knew.595_preview

Adultery is real. It’s ugly. And there’s absolutely a cure for it. Jesus. 100% surrender to Jesus. But as long as we rely on those little loops on the back of our boots instead of the saving, healing, strengthening power of Jesus, we’re just as vulnerable as the next person.

And that’s why I wrote Christmas Embers. I took every heartbreaking story I’d observed 766_previewover the years and put in each character for a reason. Every scene, every plot point, every twist—I put them exactly how and where they are for a reason.

They’re there as a warning.433_preview

This isn’t your lighthearted Christmas novel. Some have suggested I shouldn’t have set it at Christmastime. But you know what? Over half the disclosures I’ve ever heard of happened between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I couldn’t get the idea of Joey’s story out of my head. And to write his story, it had to be at Christmas.

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Let me say it again. While Christmas may not seem like the optimal time for a hard-hitting book like this, I had to do it. Adultery is reaching epidemic proportions in the church. There’s a solution. His name is Jesus.

 

 

 

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, December 5

A Baker’s Perspective, December 5

Mary Hake, December 5

Moments Dipped in Ink, December 6

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 6

Daysong Reflections, December 6

Fiction Aficionado, December 7

A Simply Enchanted Life, December 7

Genesis 5020, December 7

Blogging With Carol, December 8

The Power of Words, December 8

Bigreadersite, December 8

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 9

A Greater Yes, December 9

Radiant Light, December 9

Just Jo’Anne, December 10

For The Love of Books, December 10

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10

Aryn the Libraryan, December 11

A Reader’s Brain, December 11

The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 12

Books, Books, and More Books., December 12

Quiet Quilter, December 13

Seasons of Opportunities, December 13

Christian Book Devourer, December 13

Allofakindmom, December 14

Texas Book-aholic, December 14

Pursuing Stacie, December 14

Pause for Tales, December 15

Reader’s cozy corner, December 15

margaret kazmierczak, December 15

Red Headed Book Lady, December 16

Purposeful Learning, December 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16

Janices book reviews, December 17

Christian Bookaholic, December 17

Karen Sue Hadley, December 18

Remembrancy, December 18

Blossoms and Blessings, December 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a 6 month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c512

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Book Spotlight – The Esther Paradigm

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Welcome to a Spotlight Post about a new book – a modern day twist on the Biblical story of Esther.

 

2_149_origGenre:  Christian, Contemporary, Romancethe-esther-paradigmjpg_orig
Publisher: Radiant Publications
Publication date: November 2, 2017

The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.

As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution is to be found within marriage vows.

In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow?

Old Testament history meets Twenty-first Century tensions in this compassionate, tender inspirational romance.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

 

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Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings. Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.

GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | WEBSITE

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1. When you are not writing, what other “hats” do you wear?
I am the happy (exhausted) mother of two, Elijah (6) and Arianna (3) and the wife of the most wonderful Navy chaplain in the military (not biased at all).

2. What does your writing process look like?
I never really know how to answer this question because I don’t feel like I have much of a process. It starts with a small idea that germinates, takes root, and won’t go away until I write down the story the characters tell me. Usually I may have a vague idea of where the story is going to go, but I’m often surprised by it myself. Mostly, I just sit down and write and let the story come out organically. Is that a process?

3. What inspired the idea for The Esther Paradigm?
Is it okay to say I didn’t really have a direct inspiration? I’m not even sure where the idea came from except from God. One day the idea for a modern day story inspired by Esther entered my head and the need to write it was so strong, the character’s voices so loud, that I had to write it then even though I was in the middle of writing another series. This story…it was more like it wrote me than the other way around. Like I was but a tool to get it down, it flowed so freely. No other story has been like that before.

4. What do you want readers to take away from reading The Esther Paradigm?
Love. I want readers to take away love. Love for those who are different, whether they believe differently, live differently, or look differently. I want 1 Corinthians 16:14 to take root in everyone’s hearts. “Let all that you do be done in love.”

5. What is your current WIP?  What can you tell us about this project?
Shhh…It’s a super secret project at this point, but I CAN tell you it’s also a super fun novella story that will be in a collection with some super awesome authors. You can expect some info to start leaking about the project come the new year.

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This was not how I’d thought I would die.

Not that I sat around imagining my death. I’m not that morbid. But never in my wildest dreams had I imagined this.

Along the horizon, racing toward me with frightening speed, a billowing brown wall licked the earth’s surface and spit it out again—a ferocious scream that caused my heart to stutter in my chest. Six years away and this was how my beloved desert welcomed me home.

Wind whipped my long, loose dress around my legs and tugged at the few strands of hair not safely tucked in a ponytail under my hijab. I’d always been thankful the Bedouin clan my parents ministered to as missionaries didn’t adhere to the more concealing Muslim headwear, such as a niqab or burqa. I had to admit, though, that having more material to cover my nose and mouth would be helpful against the dust storm about to consume me. With quick motions, I reached around my head and unwrapped the bottom of my hijab, rewrapping it around my nose and mouth. A bit of water or petroleum jelly would work even better to save my nose and lungs from the dry desert sand, but some protection was better than none.

Tiny grains of sand picked up by the wind pelted my body like fastballs pitched by major league baseball players. I hunched over, lowering my frame as close to the ground as I could. Never knew if the wind had picked up more than just the earth’s surface. An abandoned tire rim or something else could decapitate a person when chucked at top speeds. It would be just like that temperamental mistress to hurl an object absently left on the wayside.

The storm was on me now.

My lungs constricted to rid themselves of the tiny particles I’d breathed in, coughing hot breath into the material around my mouth. My eyes watered with the force of the wind, and I blinked rapidly to try and rid the granules scratching my irises.

Lifting my backpack, I shielded my face and eyes, wishing I hadn’t let the driver drop me off so far from where the clan currently had their tents pitched. The inside of a twenty-year-old Jeep would have served as a wonderful bunker against this onslaught. Now I had no protection.

In the thick of it, I squinted through the brown haze, looking for something to hunker under on the leeward side. The rise of a nearby dune lied of its ability to protect. Fortunately, I understood the reality of the phrase “shifting sands.” Had no desire to change my death sentence from asphyxiation due to sand in my lungs to being buried alive when the wind deposited the dune right on top of my head.

A camel’s bray rent through the cacophony of the storm. My heart restarted. If ever there was an animal built to survive the temper of the desert, it was the camel. I pushed my legs forward, wishing I wore pants rather than my dress, which wrapped itself around my calves and threatened to topple me. If I could hear the camel’s call, perhaps its owner could hear mine. I lifted my chin and took in a lungful of air before pulling down the covering from my lips.

Musaeada!” I yelled for help in Arabic. “Musaeada!”

The camel answered, and I took a few more stumbling steps toward the sound. The sand made it difficult to do anything—walk, see, breathe. If I didn’t find a place to wait out the storm soon, I wouldn’t survive it.

 

 

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$25 Amazon Gift Card

Enter the giveaway HERE.

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December 11-The Green Mockingbird | Paulette’s Papers | Zerina Blossom’s Books
December 12-Faithfully Bookish | Karen Sue Hadley | Flowers of Quiet Happiness 
December 13-Singing Librarian Books | Heidi Reads… | A Baker’s Perspective
December 14-Book by Book | allofakindmom | Fiction Aficionado
December 15-Remembrancy | Bibliophile Reviews | Kat’s Corner Books
December 16-Red Headed Book Lady Bookworm Mama | Ponderings of a Poet & Procrastinator

Book Review

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About the Book

 

Title: Like Moonlight at Low TideLike-Moonlight-at-Low-Tide-Cover-F2

Author: Nicole Quigley

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Release Date: 2012

When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor’s pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom’s latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My review:

Well written, thought provoking. This book starts off with a bang. Melissa, the main character had a miserable life in junior high, because of all the name-calling and bullying she had to endure. Then they moved away. Now she’s a junior in high school, and just moved back to this same place, and has to go back to the school where she endured so much ridicule. Except things are different now.

This book, it’s story, is so needed, as a reminder to all of us. Bullying is way too common. Sadly,  teens overdosing, committing suicide, etc., has become a lot more commonplace lately. Where is God in all of this? What am I doing to help those struggling with this? Am I a person that they can turn to, that they can trust? Am I noticing what’s going on? Am I showing them that I care, or, more importantly, that God cares?

We need to be the ones to show God’s love to the hurting in this world.

This book is geared toward mature teen readers. It does have some pretty intense scenes, and events.

Also, a few words from my fifteen year old daughter, who also read this book:

Like Moonlight at Low Tide is a fairly interesting, cliche, teen Christian fiction. It portrays a teen who is running with the wrong crowd at school, for want of fitting in. I liked the fact that the book showed an accurate portrayal of a normal high school student’s life.

About the Author

Quigley - Book Signing 2Nicole Quigley is the author of Like Moonlight at Low Tide, a winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers “Carol Award” and “Genesis Contest” for best young adult fiction. Nicole works in public relations and spent many years in Washington, D.C. She now lives on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where she grew up. Nicole holds a B.S. from Appalachian State University, where she majored in Communications/Public Relations and minored in English. Her favorite place in the world is Western North Carolina, and her favorite place to write is a late night coffee shop, wherever she can find one open.

 

Guest Post from Nicole Quigley

Three Things I Hear from “Like Moonlight at Low Tide” Readers

When I first wrote “Like Moonlight at Low Tide,” I thought my readers were going to get the same things out of it that I did. The book gets off to a start when Missy Keiser sneaks into her neighbor’s pool to go nightswimming. She thought no one was home until she sees the figure of an unknown guy standing in the dark, at the edge of the pool.

 

Missy was bullied when she was younger, but this story is about what happens after she is bullied. What happens if you got everything you ever wanted? Would it be enough? I think that when we really look at the reasons behind why we want things and why the things we want can become so big in our lives, especially in high school—we often find that there’s really a bigger question left for all of us.

 

Who is going to love me?

 

Since “Like Moonlight at Low Tide” debuted, I’ve been so honored to hear from readers who could relate to Missy’s story. One thing that has surprised are the things I hear about from readers time and again.

 

First, I always hear about the ending! I definitely wrestled with how to bring the book to a close. I won’t say more about it (no spoilers!), but I have to laugh because most readers tell me I was really close to hearing a lot more from them! Second, I always hear about a certain guy who becomes the male protagonist. Yes, girls, I have to admit that I loved writing him!

 

Lastly, I often hear the book was written “just for them.” That’s what touches me most of all. I wrote this story from the heart. It means so much to hear that it reached others, and often in ways I never predicted. I love that.

 

Once a reader picks up my story and brings her own experiences to it, it becomes something new. And it’s really special to connect with a reader on some of these heart questions that we all have in common. One reader who has really made an impact on me sent me a hand-made charm bracelet based on the book. She took Missy’s story, and she turned it into something entirely new. Her creativity is really special, and the bracelet is now one of my most treasured possessions

 

I love hearing from readers about what they liked (or even didn’t like) in Missy’s story. As it turns out, listening to readers is one of the very best parts of writing for them.

Blog Stops

Avid Reader Book Reviews, December 9

amandainpa, December 9

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 10

Multifarious, December 10

Rembrancy, December 11

allofakindmom, December 11

SusanLovesBooks, December 12

Reading is my Super Power, December 12

proud to be an autism mom, December 13

A Greater Yes, December 13

Texas Book-aholic, December 14

Power of Words, December 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 15

The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 16

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 16

Janices book reviews, December 17

Blogging With Carol, ecember 17

Carpe Diem, December 18

A Baker’s Perspective, December 19

Pause for Tales, December 20

Red Headed Book Lady, December 21

Bigreadersite, December 21

Pursuing Stacie, December 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Nicole is giving away a $50 Amazon Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c402

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New Book Release Day!

Today is the release day for a brand new book by Heather Day Gilbert.24294336_1619011284846886_7834778675953571963_n

 

24068097_10212576231299550_3084171793463158824_nI am privileged enough to be an early reader for this delightful book. If you enjoy mysteries, you will want to read this one!!(I don’t have it finished yet, so I will post my review later.)

I was first introduced to this set when I received an audio version of the second one in the series, Trial By Twelve. Prior to this, I hadn’t read any of Heather Gilbert’s books.

This series is set in a small town in West Virginia. Tess Spencer is the main character. In the second book, she starts investigating because the crime happened right at her feet, so to speak.

After listening to the second one, I was hooked! Then I went back and read the first book in the series, Miranda Warning. Of course, it would have been better to read that one first! 🙂

When I heard there would be a third book coming out, I couldn’t wait.

These books have quite a bit of suspense, and the characters themselves, especially Tess, are downright delightful, and lots of fun! Because Tess is married, there is not a lot of romance involved. (I find this refreshing.)

In each book, there are so many plot twists, and unexpected events, the author keeps you guessing until the end.

I leave you with some quotes from the book. (these lovely memes were not created by me, I borrowed them from a facebook group)

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51OxczSXACL._UX250_You can purchase this book, Guilt By Association here.

Author Heather Day Gilbert is donating a portion of the proceeds to a local charity.

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Book Review

Holly, Ivy, & Intrigue – A collection of Christmas suspense novellasholly-ivy-intrigue-fb-banner-copy

About the Book

 

Title: Holly, Ivy & IntrigueHolly-Ivy-and-Intrige-high-res-194x300

Author: Joanie Bruce, Alexa Verde, Denise Weimer

Genre: Mystery/suspense, Christmas

Release Date: November 13, 2017

Christmas Murder Mix-Up

“I have to get rid of her now.”

After four months of a blissful marriage, Paige is devastated to overhear her husband, Cooper, say those words to his best friend. Because of a suspicious Christmas gift, a gas leak, and a home invasion, Paige’s love for Cooper is tested to the limit. Will their marriage survive the Christmas Murder Mix-up?

Holiday Pursuit
When Brianna Rockwell’s brother finds himself in danger and disappears three days before Christmas, she does everything to rescue him. Brianna dodges bullets, escapes fire, and even turns to her longtime crush for help. But the closer she gets to solving the mystery and finding her only sibling, the more desperate someone gets to silence her forever…

A HOLIDAY INTRUDER:

Kelsey Jordan prefers upcycling junk and refinishing antiques for her store in a Georgia mountains town to being the center of attention. When a robbery and an unknown benefactor shove her in the middle of a decades-old mystery, and a real estate developer and a former baseball star compete for her attention, Kelsey isn’t sure who to trust.

 

Click here to purchase your copy.

 

About the Authors

ESP_9231 (2)As an avid reader, Joanie Bruce welcomed the transition from reading to writing and considered it a wonderful new experience to please others with her words. She has three published Christian suspense novels, and enjoys writing from her home in the country. Thankful that God has given her the ability to write, draw and paint, Joanie strives to use them to encourage others and to honor Him in all her accomplishments.

New Author PortraitAlexa Verde penned her first literary masterpiece, a rhymed poem, at the ripe age of eight, and since has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has a bachelor degree in Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her series Rios Azules Christmas and Secrets of Rios Azules.

2016headshotDENISE WEIMER holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. An associate editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Denise is the author of The Restoration Trilogy, The Georgia Gold Series, romantic novella REDEEMING GRACE, and ACROSS THREE AUTUMNS: A Novella of The Backcountry Brides Collection through Barbour Publishing (May 2018). This wife and swim mom of two daughters always pauses for coffee, chocolate, old houses, and to write any story God lays on her heart.

 

My review: Here is a collection of three Christmas stories, all mysteries. They are novellas, which mean they are short. Pro – they can easily be read in a short time. Con –  they can be read in a short time. (I love long stories!) I enjoyed each one of these stories, but because of the brevity of the story, there was not a lot of details, not a lot of time to get to know the characters, etc. I would’ve enjoyed having a bit more depth in these stories.

If you are looking for a short, fun, Christmas-y fiction, then give these a try!

Leave me a comment & tell me about a good fiction, Christmas story you’ve read recently.

 

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, December 3

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 3

Reflections From My Bookshelves, December 4

History, Mystery & Faith, December 4

Zerina Blossom’s Books, December 5

proud to be an autism mom, December 5

Mommynificent, December 6

Inklings and notions, December 6

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 6

Allofakindmom, December 7

Blogging With Carol, December 7

Blossoms and Blessings, December 8

Have A Wonderful Day, December 8

Janices book reviews, December 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 9

Carpe Diem, December 10

Mary Hake, December 10

A Baker’s Perspective, December 11

Daysong Reflections, December 12

Avid Reader Book Reviews, December 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 13

Remembrancy, December 13

Multifarious, December 14

Margaret Kazmierczak, December 14

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 15

Pursuing Stacie, December 15

Vicky Sluiter, December 16

Bigreadersite, December 16

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c515

 

 

Book Review-Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point-Another wonderfully intriguing book read!

Christian romantic suspense is my all-time-favorite genre of fiction.

I really enjoyed this one–didn’t want to put it down until I finished it!

 

vanishingpoint

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. These opinions are entirely my own.

This book is the conclusion to the terrifically suspenseful Nikki Boyd series.

It gives the backstory, tells of how Nikki’s sister went missing, of what actually shaped her life in this way. Nikki is a character in this book, but she’s not the main character.

Main characters are Jordan Lambert, FBI, and Garrett Addison, TBI. They have a history, but chose to end their relationships in favor of pursing careers.

Now they are brought together again in this case of missing girls. Six girls missing. All evidence points toward a serial killer. The harder they try to catch the killer, the more they keep hitting dead ends.

I loved the pace of this story. Enough action to keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. Characters that are true-to-life. A bit of romance thrown in, but it’s not the main focal point.

If you haven’t read the others in this series, I recommend you read those first. This one kind of ties it all together for a satisfying ending.  (Other books in this series are Vendetta, Missing, and Pursued)

If you are a fan of Christian suspense, tell me a good one you’ve read lately!

 

Book Review – Raising Kingdom Kids

 

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post to review about this book, Raising Kingdom Kids, for some time now. I keep mulling over what to say, and then I put it on the back burner. Because I received this book through Tyndale’s blogger review program, I really do need to get a review posted. I’ve put it off too long, because it’s one of those books that really have to be processed. And I’m not sure I’m there yet.

Here’s the brief review I posted on Goodreads & Amazon:

This is a well-written, relevant book for Christian parents.
In our world today, it’s not easy raising our kids for Jesus.
Tony Evans offers excellent advice to assist on your journey to reach this.
This is one of those books that need to be read and read again, and meditated on, to really soak it up.

 

A few quotes that hit me, from the first chapter of the book:

It is difficult for a parent to pass on a faith that he or she does not possess. The best way for you to inspire your kids to have their own faith is for them to witness your faith—not only in your words, but also in your actions.”

“In order to raise our kids with the skills to not only survive but also to thrive in the world, we need to raise children with the ability to discern what the world puts in front of them to lure them into bondage—whether that be emotional, spiritual, financial, or relational.”

 

“Kingdom parenting involves intentionally overseeing the generational transfer of the faith in such a way that children learn to consistently live all of their life under God’s divine authority.”

 

“Through parenting, each of us raises kingdom kids to be kingdom men and women so that God’s purposes are fully manifested on earth, and countless more are ushered into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

 

“Kingdom parenting is more than a social enterprise; it is at its core a spiritual and theological imperative.”

 

I’m not sure why it’s been so hard for me to be able to do a review on this book. Maybe it’s because parenting is so close to my heart. And that it’s such a difficult, overwhelming task. The older our kids get, the less I feel like I know what I am doing, or that I am even cut out to be a parent. To put it simply, being a parent, a mom, requires continual dependence on God. I CANNOT do it on my own.

I can, so plainly, see my own failures and inconsistencies. I want my children to be able to rise above that. And yet, I can’t expect them to see more of faith in God, in me, than what is there. It is so incredibly sobering. They know me better than anyone else. They live with me. Are they seeing Jesus in me?!

I have yet to finish this book. It is good, and has lots of powerful truths, things I need to get a good handle on. Let God work through me, through the reading of this book. I look forward to growing in my own life, as a parent, and as a child of God.

Tips? Advice? This is especially an area in which we need others—to rally around us and give us support, both spiritually, through prayer, and literally.

Audio books

Do you listen to audio books? I’ve just recently started doing this, and I’ve kinda gotten hooked. Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer reading paperback books. But this, of listening to audio books, gives me a way to ‘read’ while doing my work-sewing, desk work, etc.

One way to listen to audiobooks is through Audible, a website that is connected with Amazon, and I’ve gotten numerous audio books to listen to this way. I have the app on my phone. You can sign up for an account, but if you get fortunate, you can even get free books on occasion!

Let me tell you about a few…

One of the first ones I listened to was Distorted by Christy Barritt. This was the first I’d read of this series, and I am hooked! The narrator does a fantastic job on this one. The suspense is terrific! Here’s my review:

I loved this story!! This is a book I’ve wanted to read then when I searched on my library’s website, the audio version popped up, so I decided I’d experience this story in that way! And boy was I glad I did!
No matter how you choose to enjoy it, you won’t regret it, this story pulled me in from the very beginning! Tennyson, a SEAL, rescued Mallory when he completed his final mission, which also included killing the ‘bad guy’ (Torres), and Tennyson had personal reasons, too, for wanting revenge. And this is just the prologue!
On to the story–Two years later, they cross paths again. In spite of how much Mallory has changed and overcome her fears from that year she spent in captivity, Tennyson is immediately attracted to her.
Then he hears that rumors are flying about, and it seems that someone is out to harm her (is Torres dead, or isn’t he?!). Then he is asked to be her bodyguard.
Tennyson has guilt of his own, things that he’d rather forget. Mallory is trying to be strong on the outside, to show the world she has become stronger through her ordeals; that she’s more than just the spoiled socialite she used to be.
As the story progresses, more & more of their inner feelings are revealed, and you can’t help but love them. This is such a well-written novel, I felt their feelings, and the events right with them!
Action, decisions, fears, love, anonymous letters, near-misses, and more!
Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, an unexpected twist shows up–it completely surprised me! If you like Christian suspense, you won’t want to miss this one!

I’ve also found another favorite author this way. I think I found her book because I won an audible version in a giveaway or something. The book is Trial by Twelve by Heather Day Gilbert. Like the one I just mentioned, this is also not the first in the series, but I was forced (by myself, nobody else… 😉 ) to also read the first one in the series. Unfortunately, I read the first one, Miranda Warning, on my kindle app, and that reading experience was not quite as delightful as the other. (I’m not talking about the book, because the writing of it, and the suspense, all of it was super! I’m just talking about the experience of reading versus listening, especially because I’d had the privilege of hearing the other one, and yes, that is also one talented narrator. I will forever have that voice in my head as the main character’s voice!)And now there’s a third one coming out any day, and I can’t wait to read that one!

My review: This story is great! I love the setting, the author makes you feel as though you are there in Buckneck WV, and the characters feel like friends.
The mystery kept the story moving right along, and I had to keep listening-it was very compelling!
If you like Christian mystery/suspense novels, I recommend this one!

And one other author I’d like to recommend: Sherri Schoenborn Murray. I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of her before, much less seen any of her books, but somehow, I don’t even remember how it happened, I think it must have been through an email newsletter that I’ve signed up to receive (or maybe a facebook group), somehow, I found out that she was looking for willing volunteers to listen to audio versions of her books. (What?! Who can refuse this! 🙂 )

The first book of hers I listened to was out of my normal reading genre, but it was absolutely fun, with unexpected twists and turns. I’m talking about her series that include The Piano Girl  and The Viola Girl. These are fairy-tale type of stories, set in some foreign land, in the 1800s. And they are unlike any other you’ve read! Full of details, from a first-person point of view, and so very well written! I think they’re geared toward young adults, and I think my girls will enjoy listening to them. (The only caution I would add is that there is some romance, including a few kisses mixed in, just so you know….)

Here’s my review for The Viola Girl:

This is an exceptional ‘fairy-tale’ Christian fiction!
Told in the first person, this is the story of Princess Wren.
Beginning when she’s a young girl, it goes through her life till she arrives at her own ‘happily-ever-after’.
I expected it to be a traditional, ‘normal’ fairy-tale, but was pleasantly surprised!
The characters include a delightful old viola teacher, a handsome young guard, giants and other villains, the betrothed prince, and more!
I found it full of twists and turns. Yes, although I found some parts were a bit predictable, overall, I found it very intriguing and delightful.
One of Wren’s earliest memories is seeing her beloved older sister and sent off to be married to some unknown gentleman. She is determined to see her sister again. Wren is independent and a bit headstrong. This story betrays how she learns important life lessons along the way.

This is my first introduction to this author, and I was enthralled by this book, and I will definitely read more of her work!
I believe this could also be classified as a Young Adult book, and have already encouraged my daughters to read it too!!
I received a complimentary audiobook version of this story, all opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

After listening to those two, I was also privileged to listen to another of her books, and this one is completely different from the first two. It’s a Christmas story, set in 1965–Heaven Sent. This story is a humorous Christmas romance, in a small town, filled with some of your normal small-town characters-town gossips, a single pastor, and then there were the choir girls. Although Christmas stories, are not necessarily my preferred reading, I did enjoy this book! I especially liked the fact that the author keeps you guessing until the last chapter! 🙂

In addition to audible, there is also another website (& app) that I’ve found called Christian Audio. If you set up an account with them, you can get one free audiobook each month from them. The free ones are not necessarily what I’d pick otherwise, but I have found them to be of interest. They are mostly nonfiction, inspirational, type of books. Some that I’ve gotten since I signed up earlier this year: Risen by Angela Hunt (like the movie made about Christ’s death, from the perspective of a Roman soldier); Everything is Possible by Jen Bricker; Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman; and Meet Martin Luther.

I started listening to Risen, but haven’t made it through, and have yet to listen to any of the others, so I’m not really giving them as a recommendation, just trying to show a bit of what they have available for free.

And one more…another series we’ve found enjoyable is the Sugar Creek Gang series. I’ve known of these books for most of my life, but hadn’t realized they also had audio versions. Upon the recommendation of a friend, we borrowed the audio version of a few books from this series from our local library and took them along on a road trip. It kept us entertained quite well for a large portion of the trip! 🙂

Last but not least, we enjoy listening to Adventures In Odyssey! They post a new episode online every day, that you can listen to, for free, and leave the link up for a week. It’s to the point where we are a bit excited if we stumble upon one we haven’t heard before. (Yes, certain of my family members particularly enjoy having them playing when there’s work to be done around the house–washing dishes, cleaning, etc. It makes the work go so much easier!)

What audiobooks or stories have you listened to? Any recommendations?!

Book Review–Beauty from Ashes

beauty-from-ashes-fb-banner-copyBeauty From Ashes by Alana Terry

This is a heart-wrenching story. A “pull-on-your-gut-real”, nitty-gritty story. It feels like an auto-biography as you read. Tiff is telling her story, and it’s not pretty! (She’s definitely not your typical role-model type of character!)

Her sweet little daughter Natalie, only 4 months old, is struggling to live. Tiff wasn’t ready to be a mom, much less a wife. She grew up in foster care, never had a loving family of her own, (except for her foster mom Sandy) how can she begin to know how to do this?

She & Jake were practically strangers when they got married—what were they thinking? His mom, Patricia, well she’s like the mother-in-law of nightmares. And she moves in with them, to help look after Natalie, keep house, and all the many things that Tiff is failing at as a wife & mom.

Tiff is questioning God—does He even care about her at all? Is He punishing her for her many sins? Will baby Natalie live? How can she & Jake make their marriage work? And so much more.

The ending of the story leaves you with more questions than answers. But there is one message that comes through loud and clear–in spite of circumstances, in spite of the fact that life is not fair, God is good!

I think one reason this story resonated with me in such a strong way, is that I’ve been there! Maybe not to the extent of what Tiff is facing here. But that thing of having your baby girl lying in the hospital, hooked up to all kinds of tubes…entreating God for healing. That heartache of being helpless to save her, and knowing He is the only one who can. Yes! In those dark days, I found Him carrying me, minute-by-minute, as only He can.

You will want to have the tissue box handy, this story will have you breaking out in tears throughout the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions expressed here are my own.

About the BookBeauty-from-Ashes-ebook-194x300

Name of book: Beauty from Ashes

Author: Alana Terry

Genre: Christian Women’s Lit

Release Date: July, 2017

A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator.

As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more?

The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction books are standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine.

 

Purchase your own copy here

About the Authoralana-terry-300x300

Alana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.

Guest Post from Alana Terry

“You better come in,” I told my husband. “The doctors don’t think he’s going to make it.”

Not the kind of conversation you want to have with anyone at one o’clock in the morning. I was spending the night at the hospital with our nine-month-old baby Silas and hadn’t left the hospital complex in days. Scott was home with our toddler trying to get some sleep.

And our son Silas was dying.

Raising a medically-fragile baby changed me like nothing else ever has. Thankfully, Silas pulled through that horrific evening, but that didn’t mean life was sugar and cream from then on.

As anyone with experience knows, it’s hard work being a special-needs mom.

And it can devastate a marriage.

Thankfully, God brought my husband and me through those nearly impossible first few years while Silas was in and out of the hospital with no guarantee of his survival.

And he continued to sustain us through even more years of therapy, hospital visits, and medical tests.

And now we have a happy marriage, a healthy boy, and hearts full of gratitude for all God’s done for us.

But I never want to forget where we were.

The depths God delivered us out of.

The despair that would have overwhelmed us if God hadn’t been our strength and our support.

Writing Beauty from Ashes was one way to remind myself of those difficulties God brought us through. It’s not strictly autobiographical, but the baby in this novel went through a very similar traumatic birth experience as Silas did, and all the health issues — including that night in the hospital when I truly thought we were going to lose our baby — are based on the trials we went through when Silas was young.

I wrote Beauty from Ashes because we all need to be reminded every now and then that even though life can be impossibly hard, even though there’s no guarantee our children will grow up and love Christ and make good choices with their lives or even survive until adulthood at all, God is good, and he will sustain us through all the trials we have to endure.

I think that’s why Beauty from Ashes resonates so much with Christian readers hungry for more than a simple story with a happily-ever-after ending, like these readers:

“…by far some of the best Christian fiction I’ve read.” Amy L, author

” … a story that is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming.” ~ Jaime Hampton, award-winning author of Malnourished

“I didn’t think it was possible that the author could write any better than she already does … This is a book I will never forget … She writes with realism and doesn’t pull any punches … Every time I read a book from this author, my faith grows.” Deana at Texas Bookaholic

I hope you’ll take a chance to grab your own copy of Beauty from Ashes today, and don’t forget to watch the video and enter to win the $100 gift card to christianbooks.com.

Because Christian fiction should encourage, edify, and inspire.

And because God is big enough to carry all our burdens.

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, November 19

A Greater Yes, November 19

Reading is My Superpower, November 20

Mary Hake, November 20

allofakindmom, November 21

Mommynificent, November 22

Seasons of opportunities, November 22

The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 23

Karen Sue Hadley, November 23

Christian Bookaholic, November 24

Carpe Diem, November 25

Blogging With Carol, November 26

Lots of Helpers, November 26

Reader’s cozy corner, November 27

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 27

Janices book reviews, November 28

Bigreadersite, November 28

Red Headed Book Lady, November 29

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 30

Pause for Tales, December 1

The Power of Words, December 2

Zerina Blossom’s Books, December 2

Giveaway

4cbe2033-e1af-4cd3-8345-1fc60a9926a8-300x213

To celebrate her tour, Alana is giving away a grand prize of a $100 CBD gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c3c1

Stencil Giveaway Winner

This time I’m going to do just a short blog post about it.

I had, using random.org, chosen a winner and made numerous attempts to contact her. It’s been awhile, and I have not heard back. (I tried posting on that original post, and also sending an email, but who knows…both of those attempts at contacting must have gotten lost in cyberspace somewhere…)

So I went ahead and chose another winner…

The winner is

Martha!

Martha, get in touch with me and let me know if you want this laurel wreath stencil, or if you’d prefer something else! 🙂