Saturday, September 1, 2018

My Review: Thief of Corinth


"God wants everything.  Every part of you." - Paul


Description:
First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It's also filled with danger and corruption-the perfect setting for Ariadne's greatest adventure.
After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father's home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city's corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father's apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future-and very lives-hanging in the balance.


About the Author:
Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel Land of Silence was voted by Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of 2016 and won the INSPY Award for General Fiction. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. Her book Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category. In 2011, after publishing her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, Tessa was named New Author of the Year in the FamilyFiction-sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards. Tessa lived in the Middle East for the first fourteen years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States. She holds an MDiv from Yale Divinity School, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. But that has not cured her from being exceptionally fond of chocolate. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar/


My Review : 5 stars
I’ve long been a fan of Tessa Afshar’s books and this one is far from the exception!  Her books first introduced me to Biblical Fiction and she is still my go-to author for anything in the genre.  When I learned she was writing a book set during the time Paul would have been in Corinth, I was really excited to read it!  Plus, how could I pass up a book titled “Thief of Corinth”?  I couldn’t, and so here we are.  I’m not sure this is my absolute favorite of her books (I think Pearl in the Sand still holds that title), but it was definitely an excellent book and one I’d for sure highly recommend!

One of my favorite things about her books is how relatable the characters always are.  They may be “living” in centuries long past, but they are still so relevant to life right now.  I connect with them very quickly and often become immersed in their stories before I’m even through the first chapter.  By the end of the book, I always feel as though I’m being forced to say, “goodbye” to some very dear friends that I’m not at all ready to depart from, yet.  I also really enjoyed how Ariadne’s story is told.  It’s as though she’s writing a letter to someone, sharing her life with them and looking back on memories.  She sees her faults and failures very clearly and where the decisions that were made shaped and formed the future.  I loved how the author chose to incorporate the Apostle Paul (and some other people mentioned in his letters) into the story.  Obviously she doesn’t use the exact wording from scripture and this is fiction, but the things she does include are woven precisely where they needed to be.  Oftentimes I found the words convicting or encouraging right when I needed it.  

"It would be sad, indeed, if the world were at the mercy of an impersonal force, a detached power without the ability to love. The God I speak of gives life and breath to everything. To this clump of mint, to you, to me. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He cares for the desires of your heart. Underneath the currents of your life, he stretches his everlasting arms. He has set his affections on you, though he knows your every weakness. The broken and the good in you. His love makes you whole. No man can give you this. Only God." - Paul, page 212

The story itself was fast-paced and kept me wanting to read more!  I rarely actually wanted to put the book down and I’d usually go back to work wondering what was going to happen next or how the story was going to move forward from there.  Especially during Ariadne’s escapades.  I was up late more than once, trying to stay awake long enough to answer some of those questions.  Ms. Afshar definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and I’m looking forward to being able to take the time to read this book again, soon!

  (There are several other quotes that I really want to share from this book, but they're long and I don't want to steal the pleasure of discovering them for yourself.) 

Hello bookish friends!  Long time no post, yes?  I'm kind of sorry about that - I just haven't had much time to read or play around on here, lately.  Or more accurately, I haven't taken the time.  I've only got 2 more weeks 'til my wedding!  So the next post you see from me may be a couple wedding photos!  (I'm debating whether I'm going to share any on here, or not.  Maybe just Facebook . . . )  

Have a lovely weekend!  (or whatever day you see this, have an amazing day!)






Friday, August 3, 2018

My Review: A Defense of Honor



" . . . grace doesn't come because of anything you can do.  Jesus didn't die and rise again so you could crucify yourself with guilt." - Graham, Lord Wharton

Description:
When Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend's missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can't matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn't worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.


About the Author:
Kristi Ann Hunter is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.









My Review: 5 stars
I’m not even sure where to start this review . . . I simply fell in love with this book and the characters!  I’ve been a huge fan of Ms. Hunter’s books since reading her very first one, which was actually a novella to introduce her first series.  And I’ve happily fallen into each of her books, smiling at the end, but also sad that the journey is over, at least for now.  So learning she had a new series beginning made this book addict incredibly happy!  And as expected, I was not disappointed in the least!  I never have a favorite of her books, except for perhaps the one I’ve just finished.  For the moment, this one must be m favorite, until I reread one of the others.

I can’t even begin to describe what makes her writing style different, but there is something that is just distinctly Kristi Ann Hunter.  I’m actually not even typically that much of a fan of the Regency time period, so her books are definitely the exception to my rule.  They are unique, at least to me.  I so enjoy the genuineness.  The characters simply come alive and I often feel as though I’m right there with them.  I adore the humor she weaves into them.  I don’t often read Regency novels that make me laugh like hers do: out loud and often.  I so appreciate the depth in her stories.  They aren’t “preachy,” but at the same time, I often find myself convicted by something one of the characters is struggling with.  I can see myself in them or in the situation and that just deepens how much I’m enjoying the story, lighthearted though it often was.  

I immensely enjoyed getting to know all of the characters in this book, from Graham and his friends (I’m hoping we’ll see more of them!), to Kit and the ladies at the manor, and of course the children that simply stole the show, more often than not!  If you enjoy stories that tug on your heart, but also encourage you to laugh out loud in public places, then I highly recommend this book!

Thanks for stopping by!  I so appreciate the time you take to read my reviews and I hope you enjoyed it! 
As always, links are below!







Thursday, August 2, 2018

My Review: Love's Silver Lining


"No fret, darling - God already knows we're not perfect.  It's certainly no surprise to Him when we falter or fail . . . or even forget how much He loves us."

Description:
She tampers with his life.
He tampers with her heart.
Love tampers with them both.

Desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a womanizer, twenty-two-year-old Maggie Mullaney flees New York for Virginia City, Nevada with her Aunt Liberty, two spunky suffragists intent on bettering the lives of women. Fresh out of nursing school, Maggie hopes to devote herself to serving others rather than just one man, a goal quickly affirmed when she encounters Blaze Donovan, a womanizing cowboy who both riles and rouses her pulse. But when Aunt Liberty’s parents' house burns down, she and Maggie are coerced into staying at the ranch of Liberty’s ex-husband, Finn McShane, who just happens to be the uncle of the cocky cowboy Maggie had hoped to avoid.

If there’s one thing twenty-nine-year-old Blaze Donovan can’t abide, it’s respectable women who spout piety and prayer, so when he butts heads with perky Maggie Mullaney at St. Mary Louise Hospital, he wants to stay as far away from her as he possibly can. Unfortunately, she now lives in the bedroom next to his in his uncle’s ranch house, a revolting development that sends Blaze to The Ponderosa Saloon more than usual. But when Maggie interferes in Blaze’s life by converting his favorite “disrespectable” girl, Blaze is determined to make her pay. Only problem is—the price HE has to pay may be a little too steep for his heart.

About the Author:

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, and Isle of Hope series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com

My Review: 4 stars
Julie Lessman has been one of my favorite authors for several years now, so this review may be a tad biased.  I just so enjoy her stories!  This book (series) is very different from anything else she’s written.  I’m quite enjoying how she’s trying different time periods and genres, and was especially excited for this one, knowing it was going to be a bit of a lighter read and more humorous.  Though I’ve found her other books pretty amusing as well, particularly her San Francisco series.  I tried to start this book without many expectations.  I knew it would have a dual storyline (one of my favorite things in her books) and a strong spiritual element (my very favorite thing about her writing), but other than that, I was just looking to enjoy the ride.  And she had me hooked from the opening page!  I’m not going to spoil it, but it is very interesting!

Ms. Lessman is one of those authors that I’m fairly confident that someone could hand me a random page from one of her books and I could tell you right away that it was one of hers.  Her writing style is quite distinct and vivid.  I so enjoy getting pulled into one of her stories and seeing life through the characters’ eyes.  They are sometimes rather dramatic in their telling, but that’s also part of the fun!  And I appreciate how honest her writing is - I’ve rarely, if ever, read stories with characters that were more realistic than hers.  Even in the midst of the lighthearted moments and fun, she tackles a few more difficult topics, specifically commitment and trust.  Along with a healthy dose of God and the gospel, which I find to be such an encouragement.  Her books always include wisdom that seems as though it’s directed straight at me, or something that I know I needed to hear at the time.  I enjoy rereading her books for that same reason.  

If you’re looking for a rather lighthearted read about stubborn cowboys and possibly more stubborn women, then I would highly recommend this book!

Hello fellow reader friends!  Goodness!  I hadn't realized how long it's been since I've been on here!  I've rather missed it - though I do have a good excuse for my absence:  I'm getting married in right about a month and a half!!  So I've been doing wedding things and enjoying time with my fiancĂ©, so there's that.  :)

As always, links are below.  And please leave me a comment about what's been going on with your summer!




Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Review: Falling For You


"Fake perfection was tiring.  The mistakes you didn't confess accumulated more and more mass over time.  No one ministered to you because you were busy broadcasting the fact that you didn't need ministering to."  - Willow Bradford

Description:
Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family's small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin--and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he's never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he's determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they're forced to confront their past and who they've become--and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.



About the Author:
Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Christy Award, a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at www.beckywade.com.








My Review: 5 stars
I’m not sure where to even start this review!  I have a completely biased opinion, because I always greatly enjoy Becky Wade’s books.  She’s one of my very favorite authors and I love diving into any of her stories (usually multiple times) and this one is certainly no exception!  I’ve been anxiously awaiting Willow’s book since getting a glimpse of her and Corbin’s story in “True to You,” (you can read my review for it hereand it definitely surpassed any expectation I may have had.

Corbin and Willow are characters that I could so easily identify with, even if I hadn’t walked in their shoes, directly.  I was pulled into their story from the first page and didn’t want to put it down!  The relationships are always one of my favorite things in Ms. Wade’s books and that is true of this one, too.  I loved the quick dialogue and comebacks between Corbin and Willow, as well as the bantering between the sisters, and the teasing with Charlotte (who is definitely one of my favorite secondary characters!).  They had me laughing out loud more than once and earned me a couple interesting glances from anyone sitting nearby.  And the mystery!  I’m always a sucker for a mystery and having this unlikely team searching for answers to a cold-case was excellent!  More fun banter, as well as questions needing answered?  Yes, please!

"Love was an intensely powerful emotion,
but it wasn't always the smartest of entities.
Was it possible to control whom you loved?
Perhaps in part.  But not fully.
Sometimes, you just loved."

I also so appreciate that even though this book was a lot of fun to read, it also dealt with some deeper topics: loss, grief, perfectionism, expectations, and relationships in general.  The story was never weighed down by them, but rather I found she hit precisely the right note with each one.  And I needed the truth the characters come to find.  Willow struggles with perfectionism, so the message of grace and love in the midst of our failings was exactly what she (and I) needed.  Corbin’s struggle was as equally, if not more personal for me.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was almost crying at the end, knowing the pain a fictional character was going through.  And if that doesn’t say something about this author’s writing skills, then I’m not sure what does.  Before I make the ending sound like a downer, it wasn’t.  I was alternating dreading reading the last line and smiling as I did, because it was a fantastic ending!  Though I now want to demand Britt’s book!  I have to know what happens with her and Zander!  

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it!


Welcome back fellow book and chocolate addicts!  Goodness, I haven't done this in 5 months!  Where did the time go???  And I hadn't written a review in that long, so please, bear with me.  I think I need to do a life catch up post at some point, maybe.  Until then, please leave me a comment and let me know how you've been doing!

As always, links and such are below!

Have a beautiful day, friends!






Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Song Unheard Blog Tour and Giveaway


"You can spend your life regretting what you've lost.  Or you can thank the Lord for what He's given."  - Barclay Pearce

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

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

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

You can purchase a copy here!

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







My Review: 5 stars
This is the second book in a series by one of my favorite historical authors, so of course I was super excited to hold a copy, admire the beautiful cover, and dive into it.  I’ve been anxiously anticipating Willa’s book since finishing the first book, “A Name Unknown,” and was not at all disappointed!

As always, Rosanna M. White weaves a compelling story, this one set in 1914, during The Great War in Europe.  I so enjoy the history in all of her books, as well as her writing style.  She brings her stories to vivid life, drawing me in until it seemed as though I could heard the orchestra, see the Stradivarius, and feel the autumn wind.  And this cast of characters she’s created - they began to feel like dear friends, after a while.  I’m very anxious for Barclay’s book, which I’ve just learned will be the next one.  Though if you’re not able to read the books in order, she’s written them to stand alone just as well.  This family of thieves though . . . .there’s something about them.  It seems like such a novel concept, though not entirely, if I think about it.  The way she portrays them has me cheering them on, rather than being appalled at their audacity.  I have to appreciate their ingenuity and quite liked learning how such things might play out 100 years ago, without all of the technology we have now.  I also really appreciated the balance she found in the morality of the story.  Especially in the context of the German soldiers, I thought she did an excellent job of showing them to be human as well.  And allowing for a debate over how they handled the War.  She never condones their actions, but tries to show a bit of both sides of the story.

Willa Forsythe has undoubtedly become one of my very favorite characters from Ms. White’s novels.  She is strong, stubborn, straightforward, more than a little blunt at times, a wonderfully talented musician, and so very broken.  I couldn’t not love her.  Or Lukas De Wilde.  Both he and his precocious sister, Margot, made sure they took up residence in my affections, as well.  I enjoyed how the story came from all three perspectives, giving me an insight into each situation and character.  Though I don’t believe I could choose a favorite, Margot would definitely be near the top of the list.  With her sharp wit, need for order, and incredible intelligence, she may have started out a secondary character, but she quickly became a leading lady.  I also couldn’t resist smiling at the relationship Lukas and Willa slowly form.  Particularly his persistence in loving her.  And by extension, showing God’s love.  The author so seamlessly weaves faith throughout the story, giving space to questions so often unvoiced, but not overwhelming the rest of the narrative.

I would highly recommend this book, as well as the first in the series, to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and desires an introduction to a rather unorthodox family of thieves.



To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a Grand Prize Package of a signed copy of the book as well as a lovely album of soothing songs based on the Scriptures called Hidden in My Heart (winner’s choice of CD or digital download)!!
Click the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!  And pop over to the other stops (listen below) to gain more entries!

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, January 11


Genesis 5020, January 11

Bookworm Mama, January 11




Blogging With Carol, January 12

Multifarious, January 12


Faithfully Bookish, January 13


Karen Sue Hadley, January 13

Mary Hake, January 13

A Greater Yes, January 13

Remembrancy, January 14




Texas Book-aholic, January 14

A Reader’s Brain, January 15



Cordially Barbara, January 15

Pursuing Stacie, January 15





Bigreadersite, January 16

Mommynificent, January 17



Baker Kella, January 17



allofakindmom, January 18



Pause for Tales, January 19


Just Commonly, January 19



Radiant Light, January 20

The Power of Words , January 20

Book by Book, January 20

CAC Devourer, January 20


Splashes of Joy, January 21


Neverending Stories, January 21




The PhD Mamma, January 22

Cafinated Reads, January 22

Daysong Reflections, January 22


Purposeful Learning, January 23


Carpe Diem, January 23



Henry Happens, January 24

Joy of Reading, January 24






Strains of Silence Blog Tour & Giveaway


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

Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancĂ©, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.
Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.

You can purchase a copy here


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








My Review: 4 stars
I’m honestly not entirely sure where to start.  Though it took a chapter or two, I found this story so utterly compelling.  It kept me up much too late more than once and the further I read, the less I wanted to put it down.  I had to know how everything was going to work out!  I believe this is Bethany Kaczmarek’s debut novel and I will be anxiously awaiting the opportunity to read any future releases!

There’s a quality of authenticity within Ms. Kaczmarek’s writing that I so appreciated.  I found the characters came to life on the page and invited me into their stories.  I don’t know how she did it, but they quickly became dear friends, and I had to pause more than once and remind myself that they were fictional.  This story isn’t a light, easy read.  More than once I had to pause and wipe tears from my face, at the pain the characters were experiencing.  Much of the story focuses on the topic of physical abuse and while I’ve never faced that situation myself, I trust she portrayed it accurately.  So much so, that I actually found myself becoming frustrated with Kasia’s behavior toward the guy abusing her, though I understand that it’s most likely true.  And my heart just broke for her and others like her.

I also really enjoyed getting to know Alexander “Zan” Maddox and especially how Ms. Kaczmarek portrayed his faith journey.  The honest questions he asked, the debates and struggles.  Again, so very authentic.  I confess that I didn’t quite like Zan much, at first.  But he definitely grew on me as the story progressed.  I felt as though I knew Kasia and Zan quite well, but the other characters remained a bit one-dimensional, which was a little disappointing, because I would’ve so enjoyed getting to know their friends much better.  Though I do realize it probably would’ve made the book even longer, and it was tipping at over 400 pages (which flew by for me!).  I so enjoy stories that challenge me or pull me out of my world and into the characters’ lives, both of which this book did easily.  It isn’t a perfect story, with perfect characters, but there is so much of the author’s heart on each page and I appreciate the hope I found within a tale that could have otherwise been so very dark.


Now, onward to what you're actually looking for - the giveaway info!



To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand grand prize a signed book, a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character’s favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer), a box of chocolate butter cookies, and a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!  And pop over to the other blog stops (listed below) to enter there as well!   https://promosimple.com/ps/c5dc 


Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, January 6




Fiction Aficionado, January 8

Genesis 5020, January 8


Bigreadersite, January 9


Mommynificent, January 10

Texas Book-aholic, January 11

allofakindmom, January 11

Blogging With Carol, January 12 (Interview)

The Power of Words, January 12

Pursuing Stacie, January 12


A Greater Yes, January 13




Janices book reviews, January 15

Faithfully Bookish, January 16




Carpe Diem, January 18

Remebrancy, January 19