For the Love of Literature

For the Love of Literature

As a bibliophile, my passion for books coalesces with a love of writing, and writing book reviews allows me to share literature with the world.

Review
4 Stars
Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers

Author: Kathy Joy

Genre: Non-fiction, Gift Book, Picture Book

Release Date: October 1, 2019

The final book in the series, Breath of Joy, Winter Whispers speaks of the deep quiet earth movements that echo human proving grounds and transitions during rest. Photo Art and Prose. Three everyday celebrations on every page spread are not commercially Christmas but rather interrelational and spiritually poised. This is simply because in Winter, when the earth’s axis is the farthest away from the sun, people warm themselves and grow in the wonder of darkness, where God still sees us, breathing life. 


Click HERE to get your copy. 

About the Author

 


Kathy Joy enjoyed being a popular Christian radio D.J. in Colorado for many years. When her husband wanted to move to Pennsylvania to take over the family farm, Kathy Joy accompanied him with their two young daughters. Four years later, Kathy Joy found herself a widow raising two teenagers. To stave off despair, she began writing three every day celebrations in a journal. Friends on Facebook began prompting her to write a book, and so the beginning of the Breath of Joy series began. Kathy Joy now works in human services, speaking wonder on the weekends to grief therapy groups, motivational corporate meetings, and women’s retreats. Some of her topics include Vision Board workshops, Being a Harbor Pilot, Mirroring the Savior, The Fifth Season, and A Christmas Tea.
 

More from Kathy

 

I’m so excited to join Celebrate Lit for this first real blog tour of my Breath of Joy series!
 
As a collector of celebrations, curating pithy delights and sharing them with my readers, I do hope you enjoy the visual experience and personal comfort offered in my Winter Whispers book.
 
Wintertime, especially Christmas and Valentine’s day, can be some of the toughest times of the year for people who have experienced trauma, or significant loss and grief. I’m one of those people.  Collecting three everyday celebrations for me was a means of refocusing on common joys in my life. They were a means of turning my despair into faith. Now, by publishing four books in less than two years, I have encountered another ladder of faith and I continue to face fear in order to live the adventure that God has for me.
 
Don’t you know, the Lord gives us many different kinds of gifts, and some of those gifts we would rather return to Him?  However, my seasonal “Breath of Joy!” books helped me not only to be thankful for the phase of life in which I found myself, but writing these books also built depth into my relationship with my real self, not my public persona, and specifically with the real God of the Bible.
 
It brings joy to my heart to collect snapshots of life and give my readers an opportunity to experience simple blessings in fresh, new ways. My books were borne out of sudden loss and grief when my husband of 23 years died of a massive heart attack. Gathering up my will to go forward, I remembered he always encouraged me to collect “beautiful moments” and write them down.
 
Now, when people connect with me, they say things like, “I couldn’t sleep, and so I picked up your book, and it gave me a new perspective that has helped me go on. If you can do it, so can I.” / “I went to one of Kathy Joy’s vision board making workshops. When I posted my board on the refrigerator, I had no idea how much I would rely on it to get me through the next year.  I am writing this to thank you for helping me stay out of the hospital for a full year.” /

”Just downloaded your file/book. Absolutely beautiful. I thought you wrote prose/poetry. Forgive me for putting you off. I loved perusing the pages. I went through it too fast. I need to sip it. I will peruse it again tomorrow. Totally different from what I thought it’d be. Hmmm. It’s more than a coffee table book. Gift book. Calming book. Nice, very nice.  Let me sit with it and ponder it. Lovely creation.
 
These kinds of receptions make my day. They let me know that God still has adventures for me to take and purposes for me to speak wonder into other people’s lives.
 

My Review

 

Short, simple, and picturesque, “Breath of Joy: Winter Whispers” is the fourth and final book in the Breath of Joy series. Not having read any of the other seasons, I was not sure what to expect. I am accustomed to reading full-length books, so this was a unique experience for me. The format is somewhat unusual because it is essentially a postcard picture book. At first I was trying to connect each page into a continuous story, and I was struggling, especially when I suddenly finished the book. Looking back, I recognize that each page contains its own thoughts, which flow into the season and, taken compositely, offer hope: “Having strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…when heaven sings and earth replies…echoes of mercy, whispers of Love…” There are some wonderful truths within this book, presented so frankly, and they are a fitting contrast to the sheer beauty of the photographs on each page. Likewise, the writing itself stems from a place of loss and yet brings beauty to it. After all, “The honesty of trees in Winter: how the limbs know to let things go…how we turn over the broken bits…to discover hope.” Whether you are experiencing loss or not, “Winter Whispers” is a gorgeous little book that quietly comforts and reassures. It causes the reader to ponder: What has the Lord been whispering to your heart, and how will He continue to do so in the future?

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize of a copy of the book in reader’s choice of format!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Christmas on Breakers Point Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Christmas on Breakers Point

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction, Christian Romantic Fiction, Christmas

One man’s last Christmas wish might change two lives forever.

Mallory Barrows has one last Christmas with her uncle.  She’s determined to make it the best one he’s ever had.

She knows when she asks what he wants as his final gift, it won’t be a tie or a new mug. He won’t need those where he’s going, and he’s quite happy about that.

Mallory just didn’t think he wanted a miracle wrapped in paper and tied with a shiny red bow!

Christmas on Breakers Point is the introductory book to the Independence Islands Series.



Click HERE to get your copy! 

About the Author

 


Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.  

More from Chautona

 

The book opens with a phone call that goes like this:
 
Her phone buzzed. Without taking her eyes from the page, Mallory Barrows fumbled about until her hand closed around it. The book held her bound in ropes of suspense as the villain slipped into the party unannounced—unseen. While she followed him around the edge of the imaginary room, her thumb swiped, tapped, and answered the call as if on autopilot.
 
Even as Mallory said, “Hello?” her breath caught. The guy had found his prey.
 
“Mallory, honey?” Without a second look, she dropped the book and sat up, feet planted firmly on the floor and all attention on the call.  “Is it time?”
 
“’Fraid so, darlin’. Doc says it’s a matter of weeks or a month or two. And I promised.”
 
“I’ll be there Friday afternoon.”  
 
 
 
Just days after I wrote those lines, I woke up to a message from my sister.  “Call Mom.”
 
I called.  Mom said, “I need you to come.”  That was Thursday.  I walked into Mom’s house on Saturday evening and our lives changed forever.
 
I don’t know if God prepared me for this change by having me write that scene just days before, but I have to say it felt like it!  Everything went crazy for over a month as I tried to wrap up my mother’s affairs in Missouri, I had to try to finish three books in a time of upheaval and turmoil.  No, it’s not the same as trying to help a young woman reclaim her True First Love so she could reclaim her first earthy love.  It isn’t the same as starting a whole new life and a new business.  But… oh, how it felt like it.
 
Another parallel in the story and my life was how Mallory struggles to try to get Uncle Bud to eat. I did the same thing for most of my time in Missouri.  Mom struggled so hard just to swallow and just wanted to eat.  So, while I was writing, I worked hard to come up with a recipe that Mallory might use to convince Uncle Bud to eat something.  The result were these Coconut Lime Cookies. I hope you love them as much as Uncle Bud did.
 


Coconut Lime Cookies Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups white flour ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup sugar

3 oz room temp cream cheese—cubed

½ tsp vanilla

Zest of 1 lime (key limes may be preferred)

½ cup (1 stick) melted butter (warm)

1 egg

1 TBS milk (whole is the most delicious… and half & half is even better)

1 TBS lime juice (again, some may prefer key limes)

½ cup powdered sugar  (reserved for rolling cookies in)

Directions: (oven preheats to 350)

Stir together the first five ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.Set aside

Stir together sugar, cream cheese, and lime zest in a large mixing bowl. Cream butter in. Repeat with egg, milk, and lime juice, one at a time. Make sure your ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Add dry ingredients slowly. Mix well. Roll dough into approximately 1” balls.  Roll each ball into powdered sugar and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for approximately 11-12 minutes until lightly golden.

Before you eat, close your eyes and imagine yourself beneath swaying palm trees with warm sand between your toes.  Merry Christmas!
 

My Review

 

Every year I intend to read lots of Christmas books during November and December, but somehow this doesn’t usually happen. When your to-read list has gone well past the point of no return, it becomes difficult to fit in all of the books that you expect to get through. As a book reviewer, it’s nice to have a set schedule in advance, and another perk is the opportunity to branch out and take a chance on books that are different from what you usually choose. “Christmas on Breakers Point” fits the bill! I have to admit that I am not at all an island or beach girl, although I have always loved lighthouses, and I’m not gung-ho for romances either, so I had some trepidation going into this one. As it turns out, I ended up enjoying it immensely!

Blending a variety of engaging elements together, Chautona Havig writes “Christmas on Breakers Point” with both sadness and joy interlaced into each chapter. Despite being a short book, it reads like a full-length novel, with detail and depth that are not rushed yet also not dawdling. Had I known the plotline beforehand, I likely would have passed this one up for fear that it would be too sad, and this is just another reason that I like to enter into a book figuratively blind. One of the main characters has terminal cancer and an unattainable wish for Christmas, but thankfully God does the impossible every day, and He often works through people.

With finesse, Havig offers a story that is layered with sorrow yet filled with hope and joy. A terminal illness, lost love, and renounced faith all figure prominently, but I did not once think that the narrative was depressing. Instead, I found myself inspired by the sacrificial love and deep conversations of the characters, highlighting a multitude of passages that I felt were convicting and very pertinent in this day and age. Mallory seems to speak to the prodigal in all of us when she says, “You have decided how you want things to be, and because they’re not, you’re crying foul. You define what He does by what you want rather than what it is. He speaks to us today. Don’t tell me His Word doesn’t.” What it all comes down to is that life is not about us, but about HIM. “If you’re going to choose a cause over Jesus, then you’re choosing to die for that cause. You’re throwing what Jesus did for you and for all mankind up in His face.” When we follow His Word and walk in faithful obedience to Him, we have joy; all other paths lead to death.

There is so much to love about this first book in the Independence Islands series. It will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. Although obviously a great holiday read, this is one that can easily be enjoyed at any time of year. I think that everyone needs an Uncle Bud in their lives to speak truth, love, guide, and pray them through the good and the bad. One line from the book beautifully encapsulate the story: “A lifetime of moments could be summarized in a Breakers Point sunset.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Among the Reads, December 2

She Lives to Read, December 2

Daysong Reflections, December 2

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

Mamma Loves Books, December 3

Aryn the Libraryan, December 4

CarpeDiem, December 4

A Baker’s Perspective, December 5

Hebrews 12 Endurance, December 5

Betti Mace, December 6

For the Love of Literature, December 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 7

Cultivating Us, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 8

For Him and My Family, December 8

janicesbookreviews, December 9

SusanLovesBooks, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 10

Connect in Fiction, December 10

Lots of Helpers, December 11

My Devotional Thoughts, December 11

Wishful Endings, December 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 12

Stories By Gina, December 12

Quiet Quilter, December 13

Batya’s Bits, December 13

Godly Book Reviews, December 14

Emily Yager, December 14

Blossoms and Blessings, December 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 15

Back Porch Reads, December 15

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize of a 6 Month Kindle Unlimited subscription!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
3 Stars
The Barn Quilt Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: The Barn Quilt

Author: Patti Michels

Genre:  Children’s Book

Release Date: November 19, 2019

Farmer Max and Miz Patti have a big red barn on their Maple Shade Farm, but one thing is missing—they need a barn quilt. But what pattern should they hang on the side of their barn? The pineapple quilt, or the corn and beans quilt, or what about a quilt with animals on it? None of them are quite right though. Since it’s Christmas, they wonder what barn quilt would have been just right for the stable where Jesus was born. Work along with their neighbor boy, Dennis, as he helps Farmer Max and Miz Patti decide on and make the perfect barn quilt.



Click HERE to get your copy!  

About the Author

 


Patti Michels has lived in the same rural midwestern county her entire life, thirty-nine of those with her husband. She loves designing her family’s Christmas card and working with senior citizens. At the end of a long day, she enjoys returning to the farm and looking out her kitchen window at her own barn quilt. 
 

More from Patti

 

Believe it or not, the idea for this children’s book started out as a Christmas card.  Each year the Michels family produces their own original Christmas card.  This tradition started out simple, in the early 1980’s, as the Michels’ two small daughters helped with the coloring, cutting, and gluing!
 
Patti Michels and Max, her farmer husband of 39 years, live on a small farm in Southern Illinois.  The girls have grown and moved on, and the empty-nesters have joined others in their small farm community, in creating a barn quilt to hang on their barn.
 
While Max was preparing the 36″ X 36″ wood panel for Patti to paint, Patti was drawing and designing and dreaming up the best barn quilt pattern to display on the barn at Maple Shade Farm. As Patti painted their special barn quilt, a Christmas card idea popped into her head. ”What if the stable where Jesus was born had a barn quilt?”
 
Patti feels like ideas are a gift from God, as is her husband, who helps her pull off one after another completed “project”.  Whether it’s feeding cows, baling hay, making Christmas cards, or creating a barn quilt, they continue to work side by side. This book, based on the real life story of creating the barn quilt, gives kids a glimpse into a small farm family life, while also enjoying and celebrating those things that make Christmas so special, like hot chocolate, cookies and God’s love.
 

My Review

 

Imagine my surprise when I briefly researched the history of barn quilts and discovered that they apparently originated in my home state of Ohio! And that they are not an Amish legacy; I had always connected the two in my mind because of the quilting link. I was eager to read this children’s book because I love literature about farm life, and I was anticipating the seasonal setting. Christmas always seems like a good time to enjoy some children’s books, and it’s even merrier when the two come together!

Patti Michels’ “The Barn Quilt” is written for young readers, perhaps around third grade age, and it is also suitable for parents to read to their children. I thought that it was a cute story, and although as an adult reader the narrative felt repetitive and the resolution obvious, the target audience would doubtless enjoy it and find it appropriate. I appreciated the fact that despite being contemporary, there is no mention of electronic devices. This gives it an old-fashioned feel that harmonizes with the title. The subtitle, however, did not fit as well for me. It did not read to me like a Christmas story, and I would not really have described it as such. The very ending is Christmassy but not altogether connected to the rest of the story, and while on a second read-through I noticed a few more holiday details, overall I had a difficult time classifying this as a Christmas tale. The cover indicates springtime, and the illustrations within only hint at the Christmas season. The outdoor scenes do have bare trees, but the ground is more green than white. Also, the note at the end of the book remarks that the custom of barn quilts “started many years ago”, but it seems that they are not documented before 2001, so I question this. It doesn’t have much bearing on the story itself, but I still think that if it is included, it should be verified. Nevertheless, the message of love and the conversation about what type of barn quilt should have been on the stable where Jesus was born are endearing.

Thoughtful and easy to read, with basic details of farm living and animals worked into the dialogue, “The Barn Quilt” offers a story that will cause young readers to think and ponder solutions while learning about farming and the fascinating variety of barn quilts.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

The Power of Words, November 26

Remembrancy, November 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 27

For Him and My Family, November 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 28

Older & Smarter?, November 29

Seasons of Opportunities, November 29

Vicky Sluiter, November 30

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 30

Bigreadersite, December 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 1

Maureen’s Musings, December 2

Texas Book-aholic, December 2

janicesbookreviews, December 3

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

For the Love of Literature, December 4

Mary Hake, December 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 5

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

Emily Yager, December 6

She Lives to Read, December 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 8

Inklings and notions, December 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 9

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour Patti is giving away the grand prize of a signed copy of The Barn Quilt, and a $25 gift card from Amazon!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
The Melody of the Mulberries Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: The Melody of the Mulberries

Author: Tonya Jewel Blessing

Genre:  Historic Southern Romance

Release Date: September 16, 2019

This sequel is set in the late 1920s Appalachia, where granny witches and spiritualism often show the path for wanderers to take, especially in matters of the heart.
 
Coral sat in contemplation under a mulberry tree. It was spring, and the fragrant female blossoms promised the mid-summer arrival of first white, then pink, then crimson, and finally deep purple berries. The white berries were hard and tart and enjoyed by the quail, wild turkeys, mocking birds, and blue jays. The blackish purple berries were soft and sweet – perfect for pies and jams.
 
 
When the berries turned white, Coral would thank the good Lord for providing food for the birds, and when the berries ripened she would thank the good Lord for the sweetness savored in her mouth and curse the birds for wanting more than their share.
 
Where Emerald Ashby’s story leaves us in the last pages of The Whispering of the Willows, pure and innocent sixteen-year-old Coral Ashby’s story begins. Like the changing mulberries, Appalachian siblings Coral and Ernest Ashby, navigate their lives and loves through the Spanish Flu epidemic, poverty, and various as sundry prejudices. Coral is determined to visit the family nemesis, Charlie, who now stews in prison.When Ernest’s previous love interest, Mercy, returns to the holler of Big Creek, she discovers that Ernest has a new romantic attraction. He is singing a melody for Charlotte, the older Ashby brother’s widow. No matter, Mercy has brought along her own spiritual tools to circumvent the inconvenience and a special friend who guides her way.

Accompanied by friends and foes, matters of the heart complicate life for Coral and Ernest. Relationships must be journeyed carefully.



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


More about Tonya Jewel Blessing: Growing up Tonya spent numerous vacations and holidays in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Most of her adult life has been spent in full time ministry with a focus on helping women. She has traveled nationally and internationally as a conference speaker. For a number of years, Tonya and her husband operated a retreat facility in Colorado for pastors and missionaries. She and her husband currently live in South Africa. They are the founders and directors of Strong Cross Ministries, a non-profit organization that assists local churches, pastors, cross-cultural workers, and others in Christian leadership in providing spiritual reconciliation and humanitarian relief to the poorest in the world. Tonya writes monthly devotionals for women in ministry. She is the award-winning novelist of The Whispering of the Willows, which is Book 1 of the Big Creek Series. She is the co-author of Soothing Rain, a discussion starter handbook/devotional that provides women with important tools for sharing biblical truth.
 

More from Tonya

 

Greetings From Author Tonya Jewel Blessing
 
The Melody of the Mulberries is book two in the Big Creek Series. Both books are set during the late 1920s in the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia. The Appalachian Mountains were untamed in the 1920s and remain so in part today. The wonder of the hills is breathtaking, magnificent, and glorious.
 
The term “wild wonderful West Virginia” was used as early as 1969 before being adapted in the 1970s as the state slogan.
 
In 1937, my mother, Virginia Ashby, was born in the rural hills of West Virginia. She spent several of her formative years in an area known as Big Creek. I have borrowed my mother’s maiden name, several names from her past, and the name Big Creek.
 
The morning mist hanging in the lowlands, the dew on the ground, along with the green of spring and the deep red, sparkling gold, and brilliant oranges of fall draw me visually, emotionally, and on some level spiritually to its feral fascination. John Denver recorded in his tribute to West Virginia, “Take me home country roads to the place I belong…” Certainly, there are seasons in my life where I long for the steep, curvy country roads of my youth. This is one deeply satisfying reason for writing about hope with connections to West Virginia, a life held close to my heart.
 
It is a pleasure and an honor to share this story with the Celebrate Lit family. My southern story is an authentically derived historical romance for young adults and for women of all ages who love Appalachian lore and West Virginia history. It contains some depictions of spiritualism and traditional Christianity during the 1920s in West Virginia. It continues with the inter-racial dealings between two communities, where, some are friends and some are foes.
 
If anyone would enjoy a free sample of the first audiobook, The Whispering of the Willows, please go to the link and click “play sample”.  This amazing voice actress, Courtney Patterson, will start reading you my story so that you will feel like you are eavesdropping on the Ashby family. Enjoy!
 
Enjoy an excerpt from Tonya’s first book in the series, The Whispering of the Willows, HERE.
 

My Review

 

As a child, one of my favorite books was Cynthia Rylant’s “When I Was Young in the Mountains.” Growing up in rural Ohio, near the border of West Virginia, my home is considered part of Appalachia. I’ve always been drawn to folk music and the backcountry. I remember watching the television adaptation of Catherine Marshall’s “Christy” when I was younger. There is just something fascinating about living off the grid, regardless of the time period: creating a unique community that is self-sustaining and learning what makes it flourish and what holds it together. Set in late 1920s in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, Tonya Jewel Blessings’ “The Melody of the Mulberries” presents a wonderful glimpse into this experience.

“The mulberry tree that shaded her from the afternoon sun sang a melody of obedience. It grew, blossomed, and bore fruit in submission to God. All flora and fauna flourished in Big Creek through obedience to the Maker of All Things.”

Despite not having read the previous book, I decided to take a chance and read “The Melody of the Mulberries” anyway, and I am glad that I did. If possible, I would recommend reading “The Whispering of the Willows” first to set the foundation for this sequel, but it is not a prerequisite. I was a bit confused for the first chapter or so; my main problem was keeping the characters straight and remembering who was who, but then again I’m terrible with names, so that could have just been my personal issue. As the story progresses, the main events from the first book receive mention, which helps establish the plot of this second book.

My favorite element was the presentation of beliefs, the amalgamation of Christianity and folklore, and how Ernest in particular does his best to disenchant others from superstitions and lead them instead to Christ. As a teacher, “Ernest thought that education was one of the best ways to combat mountain mysticism.” His wisdom in both book knowledge and spiritual matters reveals his altruistic nature: “He had choices to make. He could choose to let others dictate his life, choose to direct his own life, or make the right choice and allow God to dominate his thoughts and actions.” Two of the other main characters include his sister Coral, 16, and his fellow teacher, Lottie. Although young, Coral is attuned to the voice of God and determined to follow where He leads her, even if it means leaving home to visit a convicted felon who harmed her family. I loved her conviction! Lottie doesn’t take center stage, but her actions prove her to be an encourager and supporter. Something that stood out to me throughout the narrative was how the characters use hymns and songs to talk to God and to minister to others. So often when I am praying or when I read a Scripture verse a Christian praise song or hymn comes to mind, and they can be such a beautiful part of worship!

“The Melody of the Mulberries” does not shy away from tough subjects. It deals with wedlock, race relations, and other issues that continue to be prevalent today, but it is a clean read. Each chapter begins with an epigraph that states an Appalachian folk belief and has an image of a black raspberry branch, with a leaf image used to divide the sections of each chapter. The author’s affinity for alliteration made me smile while reading. It took a few chapters for me to become accustomed to the Appalachian dialect, more so because I was reading it instead of listening to it, but I appreciated its inclusion in the characters’ dialogue because it enhanced the story’s authenticity. As such, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in mountain life, godly living, evangelizing, and tackling challenging topics.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Tonya is giving away the grand prize package of a special pillow and reader’s choice of an eBook or Audiobook of The Whispering of the Willows!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Heart of a Royal Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Heart Of A Royal

Author: Hannah Currie

Genre:  Young Adult/Royalty

Brought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner. But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with?  
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy!
   

About the Author

 


Aussie author, Hannah Currie, loves God, family, people (in small numbers, let’s not go crazy here!) and writing. She and her husband live with their three adorable kids in sunny Queensland, where it really is beautiful one day and perfect the next. Except, maybe, during heatwaves. They’re not so fun. She loves to connect with readers at www.hannahcurrie.com.  

More from Hannah

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by royalty. Real ones like Queen Elizabeth II, who is such an incredible woman and a total hero of mine (not to mention, as a proud Australian and member of the Commonwealth, my monarch) but also the not-so-real ones. Those found in fairytales. Romances. Narnia.
 
I’m one of those people who blocks out an entire day to watch a royal wedding, sighs like a hopeless romantic through cheesy princess movies, reads just about any novel I find with a crown on the front and loves a full-spread photo souvenir magazine. I may have even written a short story starring a princess for an English assignment at school. More than once. [Side note, if you’re going to write a story about a princess who is totally adorable but can’t spell, don’t use a misspelled word as the title. It takes a lot of explaining to make sure the teacher knows you did it on purpose and doesn’t mark you down for it… sorry Ninth Grade English teacher!].
 
The glamor draws me in, the beautiful clothes, the history and romance of it all, but it’s the expectations they have on them which hold me there. Every title comes with a million expectations, whether or not they’re realistic. We expect royals, both real and fictional, to behave in a certain way. To be honourable (assuming they’re the good guys). To care for their people and put them first. To always be there. Yes, even to be beautiful.
 
But what happens when they’re not? When they’re shy? Fight anxiety? Hate the spotlight? Are blemished in some way? What happens when what’s best for the people isn’t what’s best for them? Or when they make a mistake? Something which, for anyone else, would be easily fixed or glossed over but for a royal, gets written into the history books forever. Purely because of their title.
 
 
Kenna, the main character in Heart of a Royal, never meant to be a princess. She wasn’t born into royalty, neither did she choose it. And yet, due to circumstances far beyond her control, there she is. Living in a palace. Part of that life.
 
Very few of us are royalty but I think we all know how heavy expectations can be and the pain of being thrust into situations beyond our control. And yet, even in those moments and seasons, just like Kenna, we have choices. They might seem small, maybe even insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they’re there. Who we put our trust in. What we do with the circumstances we’ve been given. Where we go from there.
 
Heart of a Royal is as much my story as it is Kenna’s. No, I’m not a princess (thankfully!) but I have struggled through finding hope and purpose when life flies out of control and the expectations prove too much. And here’s what I’ve found – God is good. There is hope and God is good. I hope, through Kenna’s story, you are reminded of that too.
 
 

My Review

 

While most little girls dreamed about being princesses, in the fantasy of my imagination I was a prairie girl—funny, really, because my name is Hebrew for “princess.” I watched all of the Disney movies and read endlessly, so I had a passing familiarity with fairy tales, but the life of royalty never appealed to me as something I would welcome. Too much attention, too many restrictions, having to dress up and entertain…no thanks! Finery and lavish living don’t entice me at all. I will admit that being able to have a gorgeous library for my vast collection of books would be wonderful, though! That aside, however, I gravitate toward frontier fiction and add a few imperial reads for spice. In this case, I’m glad that I did!

As a debut novel, “Heart of a Royal” swept me off my feet. Hannah Currie crafts a beautiful beginning to the Daughters of Peverell series, and I enjoyed it more than I was expecting to. Although it is primarily a romance, there is also plenty of humor as well as some somber scenes. Even the cover evokes uncertainty and refinement. The interplay between the characters was well done, and although the major plotline itself was for the most part predictable, its execution and details did contain several twists. Mackenna (Kenna) Sparrow narrates the tale in the first person, and from the first line, I liked her. As more or less a companion to Princess Alina, she has lived her entire childhood with the same privileges, but that ends with Alina’s engagement: “For almost eighteen years, I’ve lived the life of a princess. It’s time I stopped pretending to be someone I’m not”. Kenna is much more down to earth and sensible than Alina, with an empathetic nature and compassionate heart. In some ways, Prince Thoraben (Ben) seems too good to be true, although more of his disposition becomes clear later in the narrative. Ashe’s roguish yet caring personality makes him shine. I was a bit disappointed that Kenna’s parents did not feature into the story much, especially given the decisions they made in her life.

 

 

Intended for a teen and young adult audience, “Heart of a Royal” is suitable for older readers as well. While there is some angst, I did not think that it was overdone, and this is a clean Christian story that promotes faith and traditional values. I will confess that there were many times during the narrative when I wondered how Mackenna could be so blind as to not recognize the love being bestowed upon her, but then I realized that we do the same thing. How often do we not realize God’s love for us, even after we are saved? Sadly, we, too, doubt the One who has never left us and who never will. Yet His arms are always open to welcome us home, and if we will take Him at His word and trust Him, as Kenna learns, “All will be well.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 28

CarpeDiem, November 28

Hebrews 12 Endurance, November 28

Hallie Reads, November 28

Emily Yager, November 29

For the Love of Literature, November 29

Through the Fire Blogs, November 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 30

Back Porch Reads, November 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 30

To Everything There Is A Season, November 30

Books, Life, and Christ, December 1

Mia Reads Blog, December 1

Bigreadersite , December 1

Kathleen Denly, December 2

Genesis 5020, December 2

She Lives To Read, December 2

Texas Book-aholic, December 2

A Baker’s Perspective, December 3

Livin’ Lit, December 3

Kat’s Corner Books, December 3

The Becca Files, December 4

Becka Jiménez , December 4

HookMeInABook, December 4

janicesbookreviews, December 4

Blossoms and Blessings, December 5

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 5

Just the Write Escape, December 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 5

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 6

Avid Reader Nurse, December 6

For Him and My Family, December 6

A Reader’s Brain, December 6

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, December 7

Moments, December 7

Simple Harvest Reads, December 7

Remembrancy, December 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 8

Pause for Tales , December 8

Inklings and notions, December 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 9

For The Love of Books, December 9

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 10

Just Your Average reviews, December 10

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 10

Living Life Free in Christ, December 11

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 11

Batya’s Bits, December 11

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour Hannah is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
1 Stars
The Choice is Yours Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: The Choice is Yours

Author: Barbara Dahlgren

Genre: Religion/Christian Living/Devotional

Release Date: November 2019

Do you stress over making decisions? Does the possibility of making the wrong choice paralyze you? In The Choice Is Yours: 52 Choices for Happier Lives, Barbara Dahlgren explores decisions we face daily. She does so with the spiritual insight and practicality developed through fifty years of ministry. The Choice Is Yours is drawn from Dahlgren’s blog, Barbara’s Banter: taking my faith but not myself too seriously, and is suitable for a devotional or a Bible study tool. Each chapter includes practical suggestions, a key Bible verse, and the option for the reader to jot down their own tips for making better choices in daily life.



Click HERE to purchase your copy.
   

About the Author

 

 

Barbara Dahlgren is a humorist, freelance writer, and speaker whose articles have appeared all over the world. Married to a pastor, she and her husband have served churches in Florida, West Virginia, Kentucky, Washington, Michigan, and California where they currently reside. She blogs at Barbara’s Banter: taking my faith but not myself too seriously and is the author of Zorro and Me, a humorous look at the couple’s adventures in ministry.
 

More from Barbara

When my granddaughter was in preschool, she came home one day and was sad. Her mom asked what was wrong. Sophia replied, “My teacher said I didn’t make good choices today.”
 
I always felt her teacher had a great deal of wisdom. Instead of saying Sophia was naughty or bad, she planted a seed of thought into her little life about making better choices. Better choices lead to happier lives. In a way, that was the inspiration for my latest blog theme which led to this book.
 
My first book was called Zorro and Me. It was about my husband, whom I’ve nicknamed Zorro, and our experiences in 50 years of ministry. Usually known as a humorist, I try to intersperse a lot of personal experiences in my speaking and writing. My philosophy is to take my faith, but not myself, too seriously. I think we would all be happier if we chose to laugh more and criticize less.
 
Here’s a little quiz to get to know me better. Which one do you think is false?
 
  1. I was born many years ago in the foothills of the Ozarks in a town with a population of 10.
  2. While on a mission trip to Nigeria, our children were held captive by the police for a few hours.
  3. My son was unexpectedly born in a hotel room while we were traveling, so we used a dresser drawer as a baby bed.
  4. I’ve mounted a camel near the Great Pyramids in Egypt, climbed the Great Wall in China, leaned with the Tower of Pisa in Italy, and been on safari in Kenya.
  5. While on a teen trip touring the White House, one of my children became ill, so the Secret Service took him outside where he barfed behind a big bush on the White House lawn. It’s the one on the left when you look at pictures of the White House.
    Guess what! They are all true. There’s more, but I don’t want to give all my secrets away today.
 

My Review

 

This is a very difficult review for me to write. As a Christian book reviewer, my goal is to serve the Lord through encouraging Christian authors and promoting their work because it glorifies God by pointing readers to Him. However, when there seems to be conflict in how God is being portrayed and how Scripture is being interpreted, the book does not sit well with me. We are to hold everything up to the light of Scripture, and when something does not align with God’s Word, we should not follow it. I am sorry to say that this was my experience in this case.

Barbara Dahlgren’s “The Choice is Yours” is a collection of fifty-two chapters, each of which represents a choice for living a happier life. Instead, though, I found it full of confusing contradictions and statements that do not reflect the Word of God. In some cases, the author’s wording is not clear, and while I can work out what I’m guessing she meant, I do not think that that is a solid approach to a book intended for devotional or Bible study purposes. The first red flag went up for me during the introduction, and I was hoping that it was only a blip on the radar, but sadly it went downhill from there. In hindsight, I suppose the subtitle (“52 Choices for a Happier Life”) should have invoked caution, because the author’s views on happiness do not agree with those of the Bible. She states that “We think we know what will make us happy, but we don’t. God knows, and God wants us to be happy”, and that “God wants us to do what He tells us to do for our own happiness.” While it’s true that God doesn’t want us to live in gloom and doom, our happiness isn’t His goal. We are to live to glorify Him, and doing so brings joy, which is different than happiness. Happiness isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t God’s goal, and it shouldn’t be our priority either.

Another bone of contention I have is with the author’s portrayal of Jesus. While Jesus ate with sinners, whom He came to earth to save and which describes each and every one of us, and He was naturally good-natured and pleasurable to be around, I draw the line at depicting Him as someone who participated in revelry, as the author seems to suggest. She also writes that He “emptied Himself of His divinity” when he came to earth, but this is untrue because Jesus was both fully divine and fully human. Kenosis is the term used to refer to Jesus’ self-emptying of His own will to accept God the Father’s will, but Jesus did not lose His divinity.

All of that being said, I cannot in good conscience recommend this book. I am not saying that the author has ill intent. I do, however, feel that the writing is not clear enough to follow without skewing the Bible’s meaning and Jesus’ identity. This could be very harmful to Bible-believing Christians, particularly those who are young or new to the faith, as well as unbelievers because the information is not correct. The way in which “The Choice is Yours” is set up is beneficial, though, with each chapter brief and containing a “Consider this” section to stimulate thoughtful reflection, “Suggestions for practicing this choice”, a Bible verse, and a few numbered lines for the reader to record their own suggestions for putting the choice into practice. If the content were revised and brought into line with Scripture, this could be a convenient book for daily readings to promote study of the Bible itself.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

Jacquelyn Lynn, November 24
Mary Hake, November 24
Older & Smarter?, November 27
CarpeDiem, November 30
Texas Book-aholic, December 2
janicesbookreviews, December 3
A Reader’s Brain, December 5
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away the grand prize of a  $50 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

A Precious Loss Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book


Book: A Precious Loss

Author: Sharon Fox

Genre: RELIGION / Christian Living / Death, Grief, Bereavement

Release Date: July 8, 2016
 
Losing a child is the worst tragedy a parent can experience. And yet it happens to many from various causes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), death from illness, stillborn birth, or miscarriage. A Precious Loss offers those who have experienced such a death a window into the grief process. It presents the biblical grief model and the emotions to expect after a loss, and it includes the steps to move forward toward peace and contentment. 
 
While each parent’s experience is unique, this book is written with deep insight and strong compassion. It provides grieving parents with: 
 
·         Concrete steps to coping and recovery, including how to care for your health and your relationships and how to cope with emotions and behaviors you can expect to experience 
 
·         Biblical support for finding comfort and hope in your darkest hours
 
 
Recognition of the hard questions you may have, such as these: 
·                     Why me? 
·                     Was this my fault? 
·                     Is someone to blame? 
·                     Is this some sort of punishment for things I did or did not do? 
·                     Is there a purpose for my child’s death? 
·                     Can I trust God? 
 
If you or a loved one is grappling with the devastating loss of a child, this book will provide hope and encouragement to press on, knowing that God will sustain you through this painful experience. 




Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 

 

Sharon Fox is a wife, author, speaker and co-founder of Brave Penny (non-profit). Her heart for those who mourn and struggle with loss has led her to write and teach about God’s model of grieving the death of his son, Jesus.  
 
 A Precious Loss, was written for families who have experienced miscarriage, SIDS, infant death and stillbirths. (Spanish - Una Perdida Preciosa) 
 
Sharon published Reframing Adoption, (also in Spanish) and a children’s Christmas book, The Stone Carver’s Son. 
 
She has led a grief recovery ministry for over twenty years. Sharon is a certified grief facilitator and has been a speaker at the National Conference on Adoption and the Anglicans For Life Summit. 
 

More from Sharon

 

Precious Loss (Una Perdida Preciosa- Spanish) was written to present a Christian perspective on the survival of families when a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death (SIDS) have occurred. A miscarriage or infant death is strikingly harsh and so many times unknown by others, which leaves the mother and family without support or understanding.  The statistics tell the story.  One in four conceptions end in miscarriage.  Seventy Five Percent of the marriages end in divorce when a child under three dies.
 
How do families survive the death of a child, a miscarriage, or tragic illness or accident that is such a sacred, personal and bewildering loss event?  A Precious Loss is packed with sage advice, coping skills, presentation of God’s Model of Grieving, the Gospel, helpful, authentic recognition of the emotional overload of loss.  The book presents the blueprint from chaos, sadness, upheaval, questioning, new and strong emotions to contentment. It presents the pathway to the reach contentment and live abundantly again.
 

Author Interview

 

Q: When/how did you decide to become a writer?

 

 

A: I did not set out to be a writer.  I was a professional trainer at a major retailer’s corporate offices in Minnesota for fourteen years.  It was a total God thing that I wrote my first book, Reframing Adoption (Published by anther publisher).  That book was for Birthmothers who chose, through adoption, to gift their child to another family.  The book was the result of a friend who had chosen adoption for her son.  She asked me to write something for her (and other birthmothers), who knew they had made a wise decision, but were still grieving the loss.  She knew about my grief recovery ministry because she had experienced a significant loss when a family member took their life, a few years before.  I had the honor of walking with her through that grieving process.  

 

I have been involved in Grief Recovery Ministry for over twenty years.  The ministry began after my sister, Penny Scaggs, was murdered by her husband in 1996. I took a grief class, at my church, about six months after her death.  For me, it was a life changing class. I realized I was not the only one who had had a tragic loss and did not know how to cope.  I joined the American Academy of Bereavement and was certified as a Grief Facilitator.  It was wonderful training – but all secular.  I started to look for biblical teachings on grief and found that God grieved the death of Jesus, his son.  He created a pattern which matches the secular patterns perfectly.  I base my ministry on the Model of Grieving which is described in Matthew.  It is the blueprint to contentment from the chaos of loss.  I have compiled two programs for those who have experienced losses.  General loss is taught in Shadowlands and Precious Losses is taught for the mothers and families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death due to illness or accident and SIDS.  My book A Precious Loss (and the Spanish version Una Perdida PRECIOSA) is the companion of the five-section program of Precious Losses.  The book was written after a pregnancy center asked for Christian materials to support their clients.  The had been using the only resource available at the time which was a trifold describing the medical terminology associated with miscarriage.

 

 

Q: Describe your book in five words.

 

 

A: Grief Recovery: Miscarriage, Infant Death, SIDS

 


Q: What are your hobbies?

 

 

A: My husband and I love to travel.  This year we spent a total of seven weeks in Europe on two trips.  We visited Greece, Italy, Russia and the highland of Scotland.  On my bucket list is to see the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors.

 

When at home, I read light-hearted mysteries and currently I am interest in books on how we, as humans, think.  These books are examining the influences, emotional reactions and actions that make us think a certain way and do what we do.

 

I like to crochet.  I make prayer blankets for nursing homes and hospitals.

 


Q: Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

 

 

A: I do most of my reading on ebooks.  However, I am just as happy with a paperback.  The choice is usually based on convenience and where I will be reading the book.   For my readers, I hope they use the paper version of Reframing Adoption.  There are discussion questions in the chapters which can be shared in groups or addressed individually. For A Precious Loss, paper is my preference.  There is a chapter which addresses sex after the loss of a child which both parents should read together and discuss openly in the privacy of their home.



Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

 

A: Since I am a Christian writer, I believe the most important thing is to listen to what God is prompting you to write, not your ideas, opinions, nor the towering piles of devotionals or personal testimony books that are out there.  What is it you and you alone can write about that is not about you – but about reflecting God into the life of others?  How can you lead those who are lost, needing comfort or need to experience God’s love, to find peace and wisdom?   What is it that God wants others to know about Him which you can write about?

 

 I do know the value of telling your story.  Your personal story is critical in healing and getting a perspective about something that has made a very large impact on your life.  But, be sure to keep your eye on the prize, fellow writer.    We are made to worship and praise God.  We are created to seek him as he seeks us. So, as you write, keep pointing back to God concerning anything you write.  The need to pray, listen and allow Him to be the writer and you be the transcriber, in my opinion, is the purest form of worship and sharing God’s love with others.

 

Know your reader.  I had A Precious Loss translated into Spanish; Una Perdida PRECIOSA. I know that miscarriage and infant death crosses all nationalities, cultures and geographic areas.  One in four conceptions ends in a miscarriage.  The numbers of families who have had miscarriages, is not recognized nor acknowledged by others.  Seventy-five percent of the families who lose a child under the age of three, end in divorce.  Couples are so injured emotionally when a child dies, they seem to drift away from each and see divorce as the next step in their relationship.  Unless they know they are at risk, they are likely to lose something else – their marriage. A Precious Loss responds to the need for information, an understanding of God’s compassion and helpful coping skills to recover and flourish again.

 

Blog Stops

 

Quietworkings, November 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 17

Artistic Nobody, November 18 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, November 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 20

Simple Harvest Reads, November 21 (Author Interview)

As He Leads is Joy, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 23

For the Love of Literature, November 24 (Author Interview)

janicesbookreviews, November 25

A Reader’s Brain, November 26

My Devotional Thoughts, November 27 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, November 28

Just the Write Escape, November 29

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Sharon is giving away the grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Dreaming of the Majors Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Dreaming of the Majors

Author: Dick “Lefty” O’Neal

Genre: SPORTS & RECREATION / Baseball / History

Release Date: April 4, 2014

By all counts, Dick “Lefty” O’Neal didn’t have a chance of playing professional baseball. However, today he holds the distinction of being the only white baseball player to pitch for two teams in the Negro Leagues that flourished throughout the twentieth century. “Dreaming of the Majors” is his account of the dream he nurtured from the age of five to play Major League baseball, the people God brought into his life who shaped the dream, and the amazing and unexpected twists and turns Dick experienced along the journey toward fulfilling the dream.



Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


Lefty is currently an Adjunct Professor in Speech, Motivational Speaker, and MLB Scout. He is also a consultant for a possible movie, “Dreaming of the Majors,” which would be based on Dreaming of the Majors – Living in the Bush. He has two grown children, Amy and Adam. He and his wife Harriett have been married forty-plus years and live in Universal City, Texas.   

More from Lefty

 

 “I wrote my story in order to pass on to my son and daughter what their father experienced in his walk through life as a Christian. I wanted them to understand that  if you have the right purpose, surrounded by the right people, you can make a difference if you listen to His guidance. Using a sports platform was perfect for me to share that whatever your dream is as you are growing as a ballplayer and a Christian helps you stand as an example for all who dreamed of playing a sport.
 
I had no idea the book would relate so well to anyone who dreams their dreams,  but more importantly, if it doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would they realize it was God’s plan to put them where they are. People have found that blooming  where they you are planted is right where God wants you to make a difference.
 
My story is one of hope, persistence, never give up attitude, and it encourages all of us to pursue our dreams regardless of the obstacles that stand in our path. But to remember that our Heavenly Father’s spirit has always been with us throughout the journey, wherever it takes us”.
 

My Review

 

Want to hear a secret? I have never been interested in sports, particularly at any competitive level. I also have zero knowledge of how sports are played or of the jargon used in the sporting world. In the spirit of challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone by signing up to review some books that I normally wouldn’t try, however, I decided to give “Dreaming of the Majors” a go. When I saw the second half of the title (“Living in the Bush”), I honestly thought that it was referring to Australia. Seriously. I was quite confused at first and had to use Google to tell me what a bush league was. With that not-so-auspicious beginning, I was wondering what I had gotten myself into and preparing to be simultaneously bored stiff and clueless. Thankfully, though, I was neither!

Dick O’Neal uses “Dreaming of the Majors—Living in the Bush” to demonstrate how the Lord has worked in his life. Something that I noticed and appreciated right away is how, even though this book is autobiographical, the author does not only talk about himself. In many ways, this is the story of his mentors, colleagues, teammates, coaches, and students just as much as it is his own. I think that this contributes to this not being a dry book, even for someone like me who has no interest in baseball. Let’s be honest: 99% of the time I did not really understand the baseball aspect and its nuances. However, while I’m sure that someone who is interested in the sport would enjoy “Dreaming of the Majors” even more, it is definitely not exclusive for other readers and is still what I consider an overall easy read.

For anyone needing assurance that God has every detail of our lives planned and is orchestrating every moment for our good and His glory, “Dreaming of the Majors” should be on your reading list. It is truly a joy to witness how God guides O’Neal and brings things full-circle, with one event connecting to another years later. Despite not playing in the Major League, O’Neal’s dreams still come true in various ways as he lives in obedience to God’s plans for him despite apparent setbacks. Early on, O’Neal offers sage advice: “If you give your best effort at every level, you’ll be able to hold your head high, and you’ll never have to face those two dreaded words: ‘what ifs.’” I learned that he is the only white man in Negro League Baseball history to play in two professional Negro leagues in two different states, and I realized that he had to be protected because of his skin color. I love his attitude, mirroring that of God, who doesn’t see skin color but rather the state of our hearts and whether we have accepted Jesus or not. The time O’Neal spent in the military also interested me, especially living overseas for a period. Inspirational and motivational, his life story emphasizes humility and the influence that we as Christians have in other peoples’ lives.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 18

Jacquelyn Lynn, November 19

Connie’s History Classroom, November 20

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 21

She Lives to Read, November 22

For the Love of Literature, November 23

Artistic Nobody, November 24 (Author Interview)

deb’s book review, November 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

A Reader’s Brain, November 28

janicesbookreviews, November 29

Inklings and notions, November 30

Simple Harvest Reads, December 1 (Author Interview)

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate his tour, Dick is giving away the grand prize package ofan autographed Dreaming of the Majors book along with two autographed baseball cards and 1 autographed baseball!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Significant Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 


Book: Significant

Author: Carol McLeod

Genre:  Christian Living, Women’s Interest

Release Date: November 5, 2019

In the midst of our busy, stressful lives and the increasingly chaotic state of our world, we can lose sight of—or never really discover—our personal significance. We desire meaning and fulfillment but battle the stress and loneliness that often push their way into the forefront of life.

What makes you significant as an individual? As a woman? As a wife, mother, daughter, or friend? No matter what your age or current course in life, you can come to know your remarkable significance and eternal value. As you thirst for relief from stress and loneliness, you can build a foundation on what is divine and eternal, while also immensely practical for this life on earth. The truths God says about you as a woman are powerful and glorious!

In Significant, you will discover that you are the steward of your own self and will be challenged to embrace every season of your life. What is God calling you to do through the power of His Holy Spirit?  The days of cowering in fear, hiding behind insignificance, and wallowing in lack of opportunities are over. God is blowing doors wide open for women as never before. It is time for women to march forward in grand anticipation of all that God can do through even one woman submitted to the call of God and filled with His Spirit.
 
So often we look for identity, purpose, and comfort in all the wrong places. We have sought lasting meaning from temporary fixes, immature voices, and cultural Band-Aids. This book is a call to women who possess a relentless desire to discover their unique purpose, to embrace their true identity, and to be comforted by irrepressible hope. Significant reminds women from every generation that identity, confidence, and purpose come from who God is—not from how we feel at any given time. How wonderful to know that we are allowed to be both God’s masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time!

You never know your true self until you know yourself in God.  
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Carol McLeod is a popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats through Carol McLeod Ministries. She is the author of ten books, including Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue (Whitaker House, 2018), Joy for All Seasons (Bridge-Logos, 2016), Holy Estrogen (Harrison House, 2012), and Defiant Joy(Thomas Nelson, 2006). Carol hosts a daily podcast, A Jolt of Joy! on the Charisma Podcast Network, and a weekly podcast, The Joy of Motherhood, which is listened to by thousands of moms around the world. Her blog, Joy for the Journey (formerly A Cup of Tea with Carol), has been named in the Top 50 Faith Blogs for Women. After her 2013 devotional 21 Days to Beat Depression had nearly 100,000 downloads in the first month, YouVersion picked it up, where it has been read over 500,000 times in five years. She also has ten other devotionals on YouVersion, including Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Carol writes a weekly column for Ministry Today and often writes for Charisma magazine. She is also a frequent guest on and has cohosted 100 Huntley Street. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman’s Heartwon a Telly Award in 2005 for excellence in religious programming. The first Women’s Chaplain at Oral Roberts University, she currently serves on the university’s Alumni Board of Directors. Carol has been married to her college sweetheart, Craig, for over forty years and is the mother of five children in heaven and five children on earth. Carol and Craig are now enjoying their new titles as “Marmee and Pa” to seven captivating grandchildren! She and her husband recently moved to Oklahoma, where Craig serves as the North American Director for Global Partners, a missions organization that plants churches in remote areas of the world.  

More from Carol

 

Significant is the book that I have yearned to write ever since I was a young woman in college and was deeply impacted by Elisabeth Elliot’s classic work Let Me Be a Woman. That book, which Elisabeth wrote in the form of advice to her daughter, Valerie, on the brink of her marriage, taught me, in every way that mattered, how to be a woman of value and purpose. Elisabeth knew that the only way a woman could exert any lasting influence on her culture was to embrace the truths found in the Word of God.
 
I remember longing to have a profound influence on a generation of women the way Elisabeth did on the young women of my own generation. I aspired, even at the naive age of twenty-two, to be a voice of wisdom and purpose for the women who would come after me.
 
The years flew by, and soon I was a young mother who was homeschooling her brood of five creative, active children. Every school-day morning at ten, I sent the children off to read alone or to go outside to play so that I could turn on my little transistor radio and listen to Gateway to Joy, the thirty-minute program that Elisabeth Elliot hosted for many years. In that season of my life, I was smitten by her knack for calling me out of the daily routine of dishes, laundry, and little sleep to a sacred place of loving and serving the Savior. Elisabeth reminded me time after time that even the mundane can be transformed into a place of beautiful worship. Even today, I can still hear her voice saying, “Anything, if offered to God, can and will become your gateway to joy.”
 
Isn’t it interesting to realize that a person you have never met has the ability to change your life? As I have learned from so many people whom I have never met in person, I hope that my voice will not just be static in your world, but that you will clearly hear and take to heart the life-changing truths I present in this book. You can be assured that these truths have been gleaned by a real woman who has embraced the fulfillment and joy that comes from submitting her life to God’s abundant calling.
 

My Review

 

Earlier this year, I read Carol McLeod’s “Storm Proof”, and it truly spoke to my heart and stood out as one of the best nonfiction books I read in 2019. Now, however, I think that “Significant” might be eclipsing it for the top spot! With any work of Christian nonfiction, there is a requisite balance of Scripture, information, and detail, and pulling it all together is not an easy task. Furthermore, engaging the reader and making them want to keep turning pages adds to the challenge. What is the best way to speak to and embolden women in today’s self-loving and judgmental culture?

Simply put, “Significant” encourages and builds women up in the Lord. McLeod addresses the contemporary issues that weigh us, as women, down, and she does so through friendly, uplifting, conversational dialogue. As we sift through our identity and purpose, we discover the glorious hope given to us. We can never understand who we are until we realize Whose we are. In God’s own Word, the Bible, He tells us that we are created in His image. McLeod points out two aspects of the Creation that I had not previously considered: that God referred to everything He created as good, but mankind he called “very good”, and that Eve listened to the serpent’s statement that she would become like God if she ate the forbidden fruit when in fact she was already like God! If we realize that we are the pinnacle of God’s creation, and that He has had plans for each of our lives since eternity past, even giving up His own Son Jesus that we might live, how can we feel anything but significant?

Another truth that stood out to me while reading this book is that because God loves us and will always do what is good for us and what will bring Him glory (Romans 8:28), we can trust that we are here, when and where we are, for a purpose. “We were created by God to reveal His heart and to do His good works during this singular moment in all of recorded time.” So we are living today and not at any time in the past because God needs us here, today. McLeod reminds us that “to live a truly significant life, we must simply leave a positive impact on those who surround us.” In five affirming sections, each beginning with the phrase “You Are…”, she demonstrates what God’s Word says about us, addressing the weary, the anxious, the hopeless. As a woman who has dealt with infertility and miscarriage, depression, and cancer, McLeod herself speaks from a place of experience. She uses Hebrew words throughout her book to demonstrate both the strength of meaning and impact of certain Scriptures, which I loved, and concludes each chapter with a quotation, most of which are from women.

For any woman struggling to figure out who she is, why she is, and where she belongs, I highly recommend “Significant.” Let it be a guide that points you to the Bible and to the Lord God Himself. After all, “Your life, dear friend, will only be as significant as your choice to lay down your life and tell Jesus’s story. The overriding, driving purpose of your life is to reveal Jesus to others!”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away a copy of Significant and a $20 Starbucks gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Marisol: Spanish Rose Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book


Book: Marisol Spanish Rose

Author: Elva Cobb Martin

Genre:  Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: November 8, 2019

Escaping to the New World is her only option…Rescuing her will wrap the chains of the Inquisition around his neck.

Marisol Valentin flees Spain after murdering the nobleman who molested her. She ends up for sale on the indentured servants’ block at Charles Town harbor—dirty, angry, and with child. Her hopes are shattered, but she must find a refuge for herself and the child she carries. Can this new land offer her the grace, love, and security she craves? Or must she escape again to her only living relative in Cartagena?

Captain Ethan Becket, once a Charles Town minister, now sails the seas as a privateer, grieving his deceased wife. But when he takes captive a ship full of indentured servants, he’s intrigued by the woman whose manners seem much more refined than the average Spanish serving girl. Perfect to become governess for his young son. But when he sets out on a quest to find his captured sister, said to be in Cartagena, little does he expect his new Spanish governess to stow away on his ship with her six-month-old son. Yet her offer of help to free his sister is too tempting to pass up. And her beauty, both inside and out, is too attractive for his heart to protect itself against—until he learns she is a wanted murderess.

As their paths intertwine on a journey filled with danger, intrigue, and romance, only love and the grace of God can overcome the past and ignite a new beginning for Marisol and Ethan.



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 

 

Elva Cobb Martin is a wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in South Carolina with her husband and a mini-dachshund. A life-long student of history, her favorite city, Charleston, inspires her stories of romance and adventure. Her love of writing grew out of a desire to share exciting stories of courageous characters and communicate truths of the Christian faith to bring hope and encouragement. Connect with her on her web site at http://www.elvamartin.com.  

 

 

More from Elva

 

A couple of things inspired me to write Marisol ~ Spanish Rose, in addition to my love of historical romance fiction set in the colonial/pirate era of Charles Town and the Spanish Main.
 
I ran across a teaching of how people often let the one terrible moment of their lives define them and their future. Know anyone like this?



I envisioned a heroine in the 1700’s who let her “terrible moment”—being molested and accidentally killing the Spanish nobleman who attacks her—define her and her future destiny.
 
My premise for this idea and novel is: Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices when we invite God into the equation.
 
Loving horses, particularly the white Lipizzaners, I named my heroine Marisol and set the attack on her father’s Andalusian Stud Farm in Cadiz, Spain in 1740. Andalusians are the Spanish horses in the ancestry of the Lipizzaners. And they can be trained to do dancing steps with a dancing maiden called the Flamenco, which my heroine can do well. Click here for a video of a flamenco dancer. https://youtu.be/lSQWQl0u_Ow
 
Marisol’s exciting Flamenco plays a pivotal part in the novel.
 
All this story idea needed now was an exciting, handsome Charles Town privateer—sometimes pirate—who will cross paths with my heroine when she flees Spain after killing the Spanish nobleman who molested her.
 
Captain Ethan Becket, backslidden former Charles Town minister, has returned to the sea, grieving the loss of his wife and child.



By the time these two get together at the indentured block in Charles Town, Marisol has discovered she is with child. Thanks for stopping by! May you have an exciting, romantic adventure on the high seas with Captain Ethan and Marisol.

 

My Review

 

Several things drew me to this book. It is the first in Elva Cobb Martin’s new Charleston Brides series, and when possible, I like to start at the beginning of a series. It is also set during the Colonial era, which I always enjoy reading about, and the book summary sounded interesting. Had I not been given the opportunity to review it, I probably would not have picked this one up, and as I have mentioned before, this is one of the best parts of being a book reviewer. I try to challenge myself to read outside my standard categories and hopefully learn something and discover new (to me, at least) Christian authors. This book delivered on all counts.

“She’d killed him, but she’d had no choice.”

Immediately, Martin seizes the reader’s attention with the opening scene of “Marisol: Spanish Rose”. Sexual assault and a murder force 18-year-old Marisol Valentin to flee her native Spain, although her plans go awry and she finds herself bound in indentured servitude to Captain Ethan Becket in Charles Town, South Carolina. Becket, a former Presbyterian minister and native of England, now makes his living as a privateer. Haunted by the death of his wife, he hopes to rescue his captured sister, following up on a lead that she is in Cartagena. As Marisol’s and Ethan’s courses become increasingly intertwined, the stakes rise higher and they realize that they need each other’s help, but even more so, they need God’s.

Overall, my impressions of this book are positive. Martin crafts a redemptive story that is different from any Christian fiction I have previously read because of the setting and characters. The tension between Catholicism and Protestantism is clear, and it was interesting to see how this plays out in America, England, and Spain, with the Spanish Inquisition also factoring in here. Add to that seemingly antithetical main characters, with Marisol being Catholic and Ethan a Lutheran convert, both of whom have wavered in their faith, and the action never ceases. This latter point is, however, the issue that I had with the narrative. The beginning chapters seem rushed, with gaps in time and events mentioned after the fact without much, if any, detail. Although I hoped that this was would change after the first few chapters, it continued throughout the book. I understand not writing a Dickensian description, but I did feel jarred at many of the time lapses and was disappointed at the lack of details for some of the events that transpire. Nevertheless, “Marisol: Spanish Rose” is a stimulating read that explores the consequences of polarization, particularly among Christians, and reminds us of the one true God and the undying power of His forgiveness and love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Bigreadersite , November 15

Emily Yager, November 15

Connect in Fiction, November 16

Rebecca Tews , November 16

Moments, November 17

For Him and My Family, November 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 18

Genesis 5020, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 19

Betti Mace, November 20

mpbooks, November 20

Back Porch Reads, November 21

Maureen’s Musings, November 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 22

Pause for Tales , November 23

Batya’s Bits, November 23

Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 24

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 25

Godly Book Reviews, November 25

Inklings and notions , November 26

janicesbookreviews, November 26

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27

A Reader’s Brain, November 28

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Elva is giving away a vintage nautical writing journal and a $20 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Smoke Screen Review
 

About the Book


Book: Smoke Screen

Author: Terri Blackstock

Genre:  Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.



Click HERE to get your copy.
   

About the Author

 


Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com
Facebook: tblackstock
Twitter: @terriblackstock
 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from Smoke Screen

 

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.
 
An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”
 
T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”
 
“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”
 
“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”
 
I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”
 
“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”
 
It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.
 
“The family. Were they injured?”
 
“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”
 
“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”
 
“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”
 
I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.
 
“I won’t need a month,” I said.
 
“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”
 
I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”
 
“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”
 
Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.
 
Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.
 
 

My Review

 

Although many of the books I review fall into the historical fiction and nonfiction genres, I have always loved mysteries and suspense. I grew up with The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Mandie, so when a review opportunity for Christian suspense comes along, I don’t even have to think twice. I read Terri Blackstock’s “If I Run” series as it was released and enjoyed all three books, and I was excited to see “Smoke Screen” hit shelves. I was also happy to note that it does contain discussion questions at the end to facilitate conversation and reflection.

By the time “Smoke Screen” reached the top of my stack of books to read for review, I was ready to dive in. After reading chapter one, I began to doubt whether I was going to like this book. The mystery angle was fairly interesting, if predictable, but the family drama honestly grated on my nerves. Even though I’m not much of a romance reader, I did enjoy Brenna and Nate’s blossoming relationship. The firefighting aspect was informative and interesting to learn about. Nate was my favorite character not only because of what he had overcome since his teenage years, but also because of the way he overcame—by going to therapy and to church. Romans 8:37 rang in my mind: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Jesus has already won the ultimate victory, and when we ask Him into our hearts, that victory becomes ours, too, no matter what we face in this life.

Many of the reasons that I didn’t engage with this book as much as I was expecting to are my issues and not the author’s. Alcoholism and divorce both play a major role in this story, and I am not a fan of reading about either, but they are undeniably prevalent in society today, and Blackstock writes about these issues well and in a clean manner, which I think is so important. Brenna’s ex-husband and his family had me shaking my head every time they entered the narrative, which was no doubt the author’s intent. Blackstock creates convincing characters and situations that evoke empathy and are thought-provoking. By alternating between Brenna and Nate’s first-person viewpoints, she gives readers insight into how trauma affects our reasoning and our faith—sometimes for the better, sometimes not. I appreciated how, in one scene, Brenna helped Nate to see his mom in a different light. One particular conversation between them, though, really tugged at my heartstrings:
“But I’m not the same person I used to be. You probably won’t like me once you get to know me.”
“Oh, you’re still the same,” he said. “You’re just a little burned. But trust me. Burns heal.”

The underlying message of “Smoke Screen” is one of perseverance and hope, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. With a faith element that is gentle, this story speaks to the everlasting love of God and His pursuit of us, drawing us into relationship with Him and through the cleansing refiner’s fire.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 9

CarpeDiem, November 9

Christian Bookaholic , November 9

Fiction Aficionado, November 10

KarenSueHadley, November 10

Quiet quilter, November 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

Among the Reads, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 11

A Reader’s Brain, November 11

Robin’s Nest, November 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12

Bigreadersite , November 12

Blogging With Carol , November 12

Betti Mace, November 13

Spoken from the Heart, November 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

Emily Yager, November 13

By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

Mary Hake, November 16

Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

EmpowerMoms, November 17

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 18

Older & Smarter, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 18

Lights in a Dark World, November 19

amandainpa , November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

Hallie Reads, November 20

Cathe Swanson, November 21

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

All 4 and About Books, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Batya’s Bits, November 22

Livin’ Lit, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

janicesbookreviews, November 22

 

Review
5 Stars
There is Hope for the Hopeless
Words of Hope for Women - Larsen,  Carolyn

In an effort to deliver a clear analysis of this book for potential readers, and because it is very similar to “Words of Comfort for Women” by the same author, my review here will include the same information as my review for the latter, with some details changed to reflect the different focus between the two devotionals.

Within the wide variety of Christian devotionals, there is an offering for just about every need. As with Bible reading plans, selecting one depends upon specific needs and focuses. Whereas reading the Bible in a year or straight through from Genesis to Revelation may suit one person, another’s heart may be craving the particular message in a certain book of the Bible or spending more time digging deeper. The same can be said of devotional materials. What a blessing to have such a diverse yet Bible-based selection available!

Carolyn Larsen’s “Words of Hope for Women” ministers to the heart of the woman who is disheartened and discouraged. Each of the 90 readings is brief yet gratifyingly concise and delineated by numbers rather than by days or dates. As such, it is appropriate as a daily devotional or as a reference to pick up on difficult days for comfort and encouragement. Its compact size also makes it easy to fit into a purse or handbag. For the purpose of this review, I read it in large sections, and that works as well, truly giving a godly confidence boost! Beginning with a Scripture verse, each reading has a title, which is quite handy for locating whatever may be on your heart at the time. Every Scripture also clearly connects to the reading, and most are well-known, comfortably-familiar verses that remind us of God’s truth. I did appreciate that there are some verses taken from the Old Testament, because while the New Testament may be more noticeably hopeful, the Old Testament also contains great hope as it points toward and leads up to Jesus, the greatest hope of all.

While I recommended “Words of Comfort” foremost to women whose walk with the Lord has had time to grow and mature, I feel that “Words of Hope” is fit for both established and new Christians. “Words of Hope” is more firmly tied to Biblical accounts rather than more broad, inherently understood truths, which lends to it being more easily grasped because readers can refer to specific stories in the Bible itself. Also, there is a greater emphasis on the foundational theme of hope, both in the titles of the readings themselves and as a continuing concept throughout. This begins with the title of the first reading, “Hope of Heaven”, which is so fitting because that is what we long for and that is what Jesus died to give us. Our hope begins and finds its fulfillment in Jesus and His sacrifice. All we have to do is accept it, and Larsen provides a great summation of this: “Without trust there is no hope. Without relationship there is no trust…Keep your hope level high as you trust the One who promises to help you.” “Words of Hope” will encourage you and inspire you to “Depend on God. Talk to him. Tell him what you need and go forward with courage knowing that he is protecting you!”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
Rise Up Women of the Truth, Stand and Sing to Broken Hearts
Words of Comfort for Women - Larsen,  Carolyn

Within the wide variety of Christian devotionals, there is an offering for just about every need. As with Bible reading plans, selecting one depends upon specific needs and focuses. Whereas reading the Bible in a year or straight through from Genesis to Revelation may suit one person, another’s heart may be craving the particular message in a certain book of the Bible or spending more time digging deeper. The same can be said of devotional materials. What a blessing to have such a diverse yet Bible-based selection available!

Carolyn Larsen’s “Words of Comfort for Women” ministers to the heart of the woman who is overwhelmed. Even the book’s design reflects this, with each of the 90 readings brief yet gratifyingly concise and delineated by numbers rather than by days or dates. As such, it is appropriate as a daily devotional or as a reference to pick up on difficult days for comfort and encouragement. For the purpose of this review, I read it in large sections, and that works as well, truly giving a godly confidence boost! Beginning with a Scripture verse, each reading has a title, which is quite handy for locating whatever may be on your heart at the time. Every Scripture also clearly connects to the reading, and most are well-known, comfortably-familiar verses that remind us of God’s truth.

Women who would most benefit from and appreciate “Words of Comfort” include seasoned Christians who have matured in their faith. This is not to say that new Christians shouldn’t read it, but only that it seems to be geared toward those who are already familiar with the Bible and the Gospel message. Without a firm foundation of faith, I think that it would be more difficult to reap the full impact of the comfort it offers. Throughout these readings, Larsen emphasizes the Lord’s heart toward us: “He’s with you, offering strength, guidance, and comfort. Talk to him. Tell him how you’re feeling. Ask for his help.” The content is truly a soothing balm, but there is nothing particularly revelatory—again because its purpose is to encourage more so than to formally instruct. This devotional is meant to supplement regular Bible reading, as there is no inbuilt daily reading plan. These short messages are ideal for quick but meaningful reflection and reassurance, reminding each of us that “If you steadfastly keep your mind focused on God, his Word, and the ways you’ve seen his hand in your life, then you will experience peace that can come only from him.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
Glimpses of God: A Winter Devotional Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Glimpses of God, A Winter Devotional for Women

Author: Shirley Crowder & Harriet Michael

Genre: Non-fiction, Christian devotional

Release Date: November 6, 2019

As Christ-followers we also experience spiritual seasons. These seasons do not come in order like seasons in nature, which come regularly without fail. Each spiritual season we experience is defined by certain features also. In spiritual winter we think of the coldness of our relationship with God; in spring, new growth; in summer, warmth and heat; in fall, shedding the old and preparing for difficult days ahead.

This book is focused on winter—both calendar and spiritual. During our spiritual winters, when it feels as though God is far away or we feel stuck or dormant, we must rest in the truth of God’s sovereign mercy, grace, love, and care for His children. It is the first in the Glimpses of God” series.   



Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Authors


Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is conducted in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities that include biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, and writing. She is Biblical counselor commissioned by, and serving on the national Advisory Team for, The Addiction Connection. She is co-host of “Think on These Things,” a Birmingham AL radio/TV program for women; and a freelance writer.
 
 
 
 
 

Harriet is a wife and mother to four grown children and grandmother to two precious grandchildren. She has authored a growing number of books, including “Prayer: It’s Not About You”, a finalist in the 2011 “Women of Faith” manuscript contest. She is also a freelance writer with numerous published pieces, including more than a hundred devotions in various magazines.
 

 

 

 

More from Shirley and Harriet

 

From Africa to America, Life Long Friends
 
March 14, many years ago …
 
In the heart of the African jungle in the Niger River delta of eastern Nigeria, the first cry of a newborn baby echoes from a small jungle hospital. The baby is a girl, Harriet Clarice, the third child of medical missionaries, Alice and Keith Edwards.
 
Harriet and her family stayed in this remote part of Nigeria for a year until the other family returned from furlough. At that time, they went for another year to Oyo, Nigeria to language school and then on to Ogbomoso in central Nigeria, where they stayed the next ten years. Keith practiced medicine at the hospital in Ogbomoso, and Alice worked with him as a nurse.  
 
October 24 of the same year Harriet was born …
 
Deep in the Yoruba country of southwestern Nigeria, some 260 miles away from Joinkrama, piercing through the tropical night sounds, the first cry of another newborn baby cries out at a guesthouse in Ogbomoso. This baby is also a girl, Shirley Jeanne, the fourth child of missionaries Jeannie and Ray Crowder.
 
In 1962 the Crowders moved to Ogbomoso. Ray served as administrator of the 96-bed hospital, and Jeannie taught kindergarten and ministered to the Nigerian women with home visits and Bible studies. Harriet’s parents worked at the Ogbomoso hospital with Ray.  
 
Lifelong friends
 
Harriet ended up living just up the dirt road from Shirley. They played together nearly every day and formed a friendship that remained, even after years and distance separated them.
 
Harriet and Shirley, and the others in this unique group of individuals, who shared a common childhood in Nigeria in our beloved tropical homeland half a world away from where most of us live now, grew up calling each other’s parents aunt and uncle. Even as adults, we still feel a kinship as though we are family—cousins perhaps.
 
Some years ago, at a mission reunion, Shirley handed Harriet a book to which she had contributed. That was the first time Harriet knew she was a writer. Shirley had discovered a few years earlier that Harriet was a writer, too.
 
Several years ago, Shirley suggested that they prayerfully consider writing a devotional book together. Through that experience, they learned that they work well together. Their similar understanding and views on scripture is a good foundation for the different strengths each of us bring when it comes to writing.
 
Since that first book, we have worked and continue to work together on other projects. Glimpses of God: a winter devotional for women is the first of a 4-book devotional series. Through our devotionals we want people to see Glimpses of God all around them. Creator God made the world and the seasons throughout the year. By using the seasons in nature, we help readers see correlations to the spiritual seasons Christ-followers experience and to get “Glimpses of God” in and through everything that happens.
 
So, we guess it could be said that we are once again “playing” with our childhood friend in spite of several decades having passed since they played together happily beneath the shade of mango trees.
 

My Review

 

A plethora of devotionals exist in the Christian market, and I will be the first to admit that choosing one can be daunting. There are so many choices! There are some that I follow perennially and receive in my inbox daily, but it is also refreshing to branch out and try something new during the year as well. This is why I enjoy requesting devotional books to review; although I read them quickly to get my review written, I get the chance to see what is available and what might be a good fit for me and/or for others. Something that I look for in a devotional is something that makes it distinctive, which might speak to a particular need in someone’s life at a certain time—or in this case, a certain season.

Co-written by Harriet Michael and Shirley Crowder, “Glimpses of God: A Winter Devotional for Women” offers a unique collection of writings featuring both authors. What first attracted me to it was the focus on seasons, which I think is a meaningful basis upon which to build a devotional series. This particular book is meant for winter, but there can be both a spiritual and meteorological winter, so there is no wrong time to read it. The first chapter addresses the Christmas season and New Year’s, but the lessons are apt for any time of year. For instance, Michael, speaking of Epiphany, notes that “the real focus is on the fact that the Magi’s search for Jesus represents the world as a whole—the Gentiles—learning about Jesus. Thus, its broader meaning is the celebration of the gospel being presented to the world.” This is something that I had never really contemplated before, and I love gleaning fresh insights into the awesome majesty of God and His redemption of us through Jesus.

There are 13 chapters, each comprised of five days, with a daily suggested Bible reading and a daily Scripture. This allows for two days each week to reflect and dive deeper into the Bible. I appreciated that the readings were demarcated by numbered days (Day 1, Day 2) and not actual dates such as January 1, January 2, etc. because this permits more flexibility as well as acknowledging that sometimes we are in a spiritual winter regardless of the calendar season. The devotionals alternate between Michael and Crowder, sometimes daily and sometimes by chapter. They apply their own real-life, personal stories to Biblical truths and lessons with an interesting perspective because they both grew up in Nigeria as the children of missionaries. Harriet’s comment on fires and fireplaces in the Home and Hearth chapter, that “they always make me think of the fire in the hearts of men and women who traveled so far from the comforts of home for the sake of the gospel”, gives a new meaning to the phrase “Keep the home fires burning.” May we all seek to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning brightly in our hearts! And as Shirley says of missionaries, that “[t]hey had unwavering faith in God to help them”, may the same be true for us in all seasons.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader,  November 9

The Power of Words, November 10

Artistic Nobody, November 11 (Author Interview)

Jacquelyn Lynn, November 11

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 12

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 13

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 15

For the Love of Literature, November 16

CarpeDiem, November 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

Texas Book-aholic, November 19

janicesbookreviews, November 20

A Reader’s Brain, November 21

Inklings and notions , November 22

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate their tour, Harriet and Shirley are giving away the grand prize package of a copy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Soul Mend Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Soul Mend

Author: Luann Dunnuck

Genre: Christian Non-fiction, Christian Personal Growth, Counseling

Release Date: April 12, 2019

Restore your emotional health!
 
Have you felt trapped in an endless cycle of fear, anger, guilt, and other negative emotions? Has depression, anxiety, fear of rejection, or the inability to let go of past hurts robbed you of peace?
 
No matter how hopeless or discouraged you feel, freedom is possible. It’s time to get to the root of your pain so you can heal. In Soul Mend: Discovering Spiritual and Emotional Health, author Luann Dunnuck shows you how to uncover the source of your emotional struggles and experience wholeness with the help of God’s Holy Spirit.
 
See the connection between your mental and physical health. Find scriptural truths to help you work through emotional struggles. God has answers for you and declares in Jeremiah, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” Let Him do the impossible in you as you apply the concepts in this book, rely more heavily on God, and regain the joy of living!



Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


Luann Dunnuck is a conference speaker, author, and counselor. She has a heart for those who are seeking emotional wholeness and spiritual health. Luann earned her master’s degree in Christian counseling and a doctorate in theology, and is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God.
 
Her message of hope and restoration has been heard on radio and television—including Words to Live By, produced by RBC Ministries, and Crossroads Magazine. She and her husband, Robert, have three grown children.
 

More from Luann

 

SOUL MEND was written to break people out of their emotional chains! I know first hand what such things as anxiety, strife, guilt, and unforgiveness feel like. I know first hand how devasting these emotions can be on the physical body. After walking through some of these issues and recovering from a debilitating diagnosis I decided it was time to go back to school, get my counseling degree, and help other people!  In SOUL MEND I cover the three sources of negative thinking and how they impact our emotional and physical health. There are chapters on; a broken heart, stress, guilt, self-reproach, anxiety, and anger/bitterness.  Each chapter contains study questions to help the reader identity and heal from toxic emotions. The book ends on a uplifting and encouraging note on how God created you to walk in His destiny and His goodness. There is always a purpose in your pain and the Bible is clear that what the enemy meant for evil God promises to turn around for God when we seek Him (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28). I am excited to go on this journey with you and help you discover the healing and destiny that awaits you.

My Review

 

In Mark 2:17, Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The Bible is full of examples demonstrating physical and emotional healing, and much of Jesus’ earthly ministry included healing. We all need healing in one way or another, even if we don’t necessarily realize it, and Luann Dunnuck’s “Soul Mend” concentrates on emotional health as the foundation for physical health.

Dunnuck begins by setting forth three steps toward healing from negative emotions: ascertaining why you are struggling with that particular emotion, working through the emotion until it no longer plagues you and then releasing it to God, and refusing to fall under the influence of that emotion again. She addresses many of the common negative emotions that we all tend to fall prey to at one time or another and offers an academic breakdown of terms and examples before entering into their spiritual impact. I appreciated how she interweaves science and Scripture, explaining how our body’s responses to our emotions influence our spiritual health and vice versa, and how the enemy of our souls plays on our fears and past experiences to keep us in bondage. One of the best points Dunnuck makes, in my opinion, is that we need to come out of agreement with the enemy and come into agreement with God by turning to God’s Word and His promises. After all, as she points out, “Our true identity is found in God and what He says about us.”

Each chapter concludes with questions to reflect on and a prayer, and there is a section at the very end that contains all of the prayers given throughout the book. One issue that I had was the number of grammatical errors. This is one of my pet peeves, and while I know that books will have errors, I admit that I struggled with a lack of necessary commas and periods, as well as some significant misspellings (“relieve” instead of “relive” and “alter” instead of “altar”, for instance), which disrupted and slowed my reading experience. I also didn’t agree 100% with the Pentecostal viewpoint. However, I thought that she truly did a skillful job of keeping “Soul Mend” centered around Scripture, at times explaining the original meaning of certain Hebrew words to emphasize their meaning. In so doing, she highlights an essential practice for overcoming negative emotional health: “A principle that I advocate throughout this book is to acquire scriptures that replace the lies with the truth.” Regardless of our individual hurts and sicknesses, our God, Jehovah Rapha, is the God Who Heals. Praise God for that!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 7

Mary Hake, November 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 9

Artistic Nobody, November 10 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 11

Texas Book-aholic, November 12

janicesbookreviews, November 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 14 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, November 15

BookofRuthAnn, November 16

A Reader’s Brain, November 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 18

Stephanie’s LIfe of Determination, November 18

My Devotional Thoughts, November 19 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, November 20

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Luann is giving away a hard copy of her book SOUL MEND, and a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Essential Oils Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Essential Oils

Author: Terri Secrest

Genre: Christian Non-fiction, Alternative Therapies

Release Date: October 8, 2019

Have you ever wondered why the wise men brought frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus? As a curious and highly enthusiastic child, health and wellness coach Teri Secrest asked everyone she knew and met, but no one could tell her. She grew up thinking it was just a nice little story…but never stopped wondering.

This thirst for knowledge sparked Teri’s twenty-three-year quest to learn about essential oils. It has taken her to the far corners of the world—from Croatia and France to Oman, Israel, and beyond.

Teri has written this book to share the mystery, the romance, and the ageless intrigue of essential oils. She hopes you experience the Father’s love as He continually lavishes His children with these exquisite oils and you feel this rich, biblical history come alive in your spirit. Teri wants you to see how miraculous your body is and how it’s designed to heal itself when given proper nourishment and support.

Essential Oils: God’s Extravagant Provision for Your Health offers practical how-to’s that you can use immediately, including the use of oils for romance, balancing hormones, cooking, cleaning, pets, children, and fragrance, as well as health concerns such as stress, negative emotions, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and anxiety. You will find practical guidance to regain and maintain health naturally.

As you gain this understanding, Teri believes you will change the next generation as you discover the hidden secrets of these biblical plants and how to incorporate them into your everyday life.


Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Teri Secrest is a health and wellness expert whose passion is to teach simple and proven methods for vibrant health to people around the world. That passion is rooted in her early experiences of learning about whole foods and herbs in her family’s organic garden and her mother’s passion for good food as the owner of a French cooking school. These early lessons guided Teri to a healthy path for herself and her own family, yet it was her first astonishing experience with essential oils as a young mother that ignited her lifelong passion for learning, practicing, and teaching people to take hold of God’s extravagant provision for their health.
 
Teri has traveled around the world to learn from leading experts about the beneficial uses of essential oils, research the promises and properties of each essential oil, and develop a deep working knowledge of their applications for daily health and wellness. Teri loves to share the simple, practical principles that will help you live in vibrant health through her international keynote speeches, training programs, and best-selling books. She is a sought-after speaker who delivers her message of vibrant health with such enthusiasm, humor, and joy that she has gained the nickname “Ambassador of Joy” around the world.
 
Connect with Teri at http://terisecrest.com
 

More from Teri

 

My purpose in writing this book is to inspire you with the mystery, the romance, and the ageless intrigue of essential oils. My hope is that you experience the Father’s love as He continually lavishes His children with these exquisite essential oils and that this rich biblical history comes alive in your spirit. I also hope you will see how miraculous your body is and how it’s designed to heal itself when given proper nourishment and support.
 
As you gain this understanding, I believe you will change the next generation, as you will know the hidden secrets of these biblical plants and how to incorporate them into your everyday life.
 

My Review

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I admittedly went into Teri Secrest’s “Essential Oils” with some caution. While I am fully supportive of alternative therapies and have experimented a little with essential oils, as someone with chronic illnesses, I take all treatment approaches with a grain of salt. The cure-alls are a dime a dozen and most of them are incompatible with my body to begin with. What works for most people, even most of those who are chronically ill, never works for me, and I have become jaded. Yes, that therapy or lifestyle change is great and helps many people, but I am in the rare subset that can’t do x,y,z because my body does not function normally at any level. So I tend to have very low expectations of gleaning helpful therapeutic options, which is why I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

While reading “Essential Oils”, I learned interesting facts that were tied in with Scripture and also gained insight into some potential remedies in the form of alleviating agents for myself and others. Secrest has done an impressive job of compiling a lot of information in a stimulating way, and I read this book in a few hours. Her personal testimonies and stories were affirming and apropos. The way in which she includes Scripture is engaging and insightful; instead of just dropping in verses that speak to her points, she explains how they demonstrate God’s abundant care for us from the Garden of Eden to today. The chapters on Queen Esther and King Solomon gave me a fresh perspective on these Biblical accounts, drawing attention to and adding depth to details that I had not really considered before.

Because this book is well-designed, each element and section blends together well to form a cohesive and comprehensive whole. This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in looking into essential oils for the first time or for those who want to explore specific health benefits and oil recommendations. Secrest devotes a chapter to the twelve human body systems and how essential oils can benefit each, and she explains how to add supplemental-grade essential oils to cooking. There is also a chapter on enhancing romance for those who are married; being single, I skipped that section. Full-color photos throughout make this a fun and engaging book, although in e-formats this makes the file size very large. At the end is a brief glossary, followed by a reference guide that lists essential oils and what they can be used for and a helpful chart of health concerns and the essential oils that may be used to address them, rounding out this informative and inspiring work.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

Genesis 5020, November 6

A Diva’s Heart, November 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 7

Moments, November 8

Quiet Workings, November 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 9

Emily Yager, November 9

Artistic Nobody, November 10

For Him and My Family, November 10

empowermoms, November 11

Stories By Gina , November 11

Vicky Sluiter, November 12

Jacquelyn Lynn, November 12

For the Love of Literature, November 13

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 14

Splashes of Joy, November 14

Texas Book-aholic, November 15

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 15

janicesbookreviews, November 16

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 16

Betti Mace,  November 17

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 17

A Reader’s Brain, November 18

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 19

Livin’ Lit, November 19

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Teri is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of her book and $20 Starbucks gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.