Monday, July 25, 2016

Book review with a giveaway: She Who Knows by Barbara Bras


Purchase your copy of She Who Knows here.

About the Book

One girl’s journey from loneliness to love.

Isolated on a Maui mountaintop, Cassandra has only her imagination to keep her company. Shut in due to her heart condition and shut out emotionally by her father, she meets the Menehune in a dream. Their “Gift” enables her to take the first step away from her loneliness. Along the way she finds an amazing woman in the grandmother she never knew and experiences true friendship with a new classmate. Eventually she learns that to love another she must open her heart, even if it means it may break.

My review

There was much to love about this book.  There were descriptions of Cassie's imaginings and dreams that transported the reader to a fantasy world.  There was the opportunity to experience, through the eyes of a child, Cassie growing up physically, emotionally, and socially.    There was a theme throughout the book of how important other people are, and how our encounters with them, small or great, can immensely shape the people we come to be.  While many descriptive passages were amazing, sometimes I thought that the dialogue and transitions could have been developed more fully.

This book would appeal to those with an interest in folklore, those with an interest in Hawaii, and those who enjoy stories about children.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.


About the Author

In 2015, Barbara Bras left her career to pursue her dream of serving God. She believed that her first step would be to share the amazing ways God had blessed her. As she wrote of her son’s miraculous adoption and the challenging years that followed, it led to the rediscovery of her entire life, including the history of her grandparents’ remarkable survival in Armenia and her search for purpose and love. Her memoir led to her first novel, which she hopes readers will find engaging and memorable.


Guest Post from Barbara Bras

An interviewer asked what inspired me to write and publish two books within a year. It’s a long story. Unlike many authors, I didn’t always write, nor did I yearn to write. In fact, the opposite was true for me; fear of judgement discouraged me from writing. Judgement from my mother, an English teacher and a strict perfectionist who demanded excellence in everything, especially writing.

In spite of the circumstances, my love of reading led to my first profession, teaching English at the high school level. Teaching laid the foundation for my career, which ultimately resulted in twenty-five plus years in various corporate environments as an Human Resources leader. Naturally, during my career I wrote a great deal, including proposals, papers, and communications of all kinds. But never anything creative, I never even journaled.

Almost two years ago, our Pastor handed out little pieces of paper during his sermon that said, “ENOUGH”. He questioned our inane desire to accumulate things when we already have the one thing that is needful. Just as Mary choose to worship at the feet of Jesus rather than be distracted by the world, so must we choose what is most important. (Luke 10:42) It struck a nerve.

Shortly thereafter, I made the decision to leave my position of ten years. Unsure of my next move, I focused my energy on a burning desire. Ever since the Lord provided a son for us through a miraculous adoption, I believed He wanted me to share it as an encouragement to others. I had tried to write the story many times without success. I signed up for retreat that promised, “Write your book in a weekend!”

 The three-day retreat required nonstop writing, first in long hand, then on the pc. Amazingly, at the end of the third day I had not only finally written the story of the miraculous adoption, I had shared the incredible disappointment and heartache of the years that followed, all captured within the context of my life and the life of my ancestors. Wrapped in God’s Grace, a Life Rediscovered had materialized. I felt a great release and I thought that would be the end of my writing.

Over the next few months as I edited the book, I followed the system of editing for 45 minutes, and writing new material for 15. What emerged during those 15 minute segments became Cassandra’s story, or She Who Knows, a Tale of the Heart. The story unfolded in front of me, inspired by the woman who supervised my student teaching in Honolulu back in 1977.

Barbara Robinson was an inspiration to me both as a teacher and as a person. As we worked together that semester, she shared many stories and took me under her wing. She told me the story of how her grandmother, a musician, had come to islands and married her seafaring grandfather. She spent a great deal of her childhood isolated in the mountains on Maui, presumably to recover from an illness. When finally allowed to return to school years later, her years of isolation and her archaic English made for a lonely life. She also believed she that she had an usual gift, which she decided was better left unused.

 So what began as an effort to share my story and encourage others has developed into a love of writing and a desire to serve the Lord through my new passion.

Soli Deo Gloria. To God Alone Be the Glory!

Blog Stops




July 23: Mary Hake




July 27: A Greater Yes

July 27: Reading Is My SuperPower (Spotlight)


July 29: Splashes of Joy

July 29: Artistic Nobody (Spotlight)


July 31: Bukwurmzzz


August 2: Carpe Diem

August 3: Pause for Tales

Giveaway





 To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away a $100 Amazon gift card, copies of She Who Knows, and Wrapped In God’s Grace. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9f1e




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book review with a giveaway: Going Up South by Janet W. Ferguson



To purchase your own copy of Going Up South, click here.

About the Book

No one told him he had a son. Actor Dylan Conner is furious. Not only has he been left out of his child’s life, the baby boy has been given another man’s last name. Determined to be a better father than the sorry guy who’d left him and his mother, Dylan fights to ensure a significant place in his son’s life. Unfortunately, his bad-boy reputation overshadows his good intentions. Only one woman in this small town sees beyond his Hollywood image. And he’s falling for her. Too bad she’s the custody mediator. After her scandalous divorce in the small town of Oxford, Mississippi, attorney Cassie Brooks has no intentions of practicing law again. The humiliating experience left a bitter taste for love, marriage, and her profession. Now friends need Cassie’s help in a custody negotiation, and her role demands she remain objective. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Conner—the actor who everyone warns is bad news. Not only is the mediation at stake, but so is her heart.

My review
  
The best part of this book was how very real the characters were.  The group of individuals featured in this story were all unique in their personalities and vocations.  They were fearful, snarky, and angry, but they also were loving, compassionate, and forgiving.  They were willing to submit to God and change their ways according to His promptings.

Author Janet W. Ferguson did a great job of moving the story along, and keeping my interest until the very end.  I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Since this was the second book in the Southern Hearts series, I missed a lot of history by not reading Leaving Oxford first.  However, I did enjoy this book thoroughly so I recommend reading the first book first.  Those who enjoy contemporary fiction and southern fiction will also enjoy this book.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Here are a couple of quotes that I loved:

On a blind date:  "'I hope you at least enjoyed the lunch and the company.'  His eyes searched hers for some sign.  Her mind went blank and she scrambled for something to say.  'I do like this restaurant.'"

"'Libraries.'  She took a deep whiff.  'I love that smell.  Books, computers, and all that knowledge in one place thrills me.'"

About the Author


Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.


Guest Post from Janet W. Ferguson

Hi, I’m Janet W. Ferguson, and I’m so excited to meet the readers of Celebrate Lit! I’ve always been an avid reader, but I’ve had an odd career path prior to writing. With a Banking and Finance degree, I took my first job working at a brokerage firm handling their mutual fund trades. After the market crashed in the late 80s, I took a job managing a large, upscale apartment community. During this time, I married and became a stay-at-home mom and church volunteer. My volunteering eventually led to a staff position as children’s minister. After five years, I felt my calling had changed, and I left the job, not really sure what God had in store. Haphazardly, my husband suggested I apply at our local schools. Not long afterward, I certified in teaching and became the library media specialist at the large public high school near our home. I met so many wonderful young people as children’s minister and high school librarian. During my times as a librarian, I had a story idea for about seven years, but never made time to try my hand at writing. Finally, after my elderly parents passed away, and I felt it was time. I wrote every evening for three months, and finished my first story which was Leaving Oxford. I spent the next three years learning about the craft of writing and editing that story. Yes, there was much to learn! In the meantime, one secondary character from Leaving Oxford demanded his own story… From that, came Going Up South. I tend to write what I know, and I’m from the peculiar and wonderful state of Mississippi. My first story was set mostly in Oxford, Mississippi. The charming town made the perfect backdrop for book 1. So book 2 is also mostly set in Oxford, although the characters go on a mission trip to Honduras. The hero of Going Up South, Dylan Conner, is a funny and charming actor that made a number of appearances in Leaving Oxford. From outrageous costumes to intense flirting, he just had a personality as large as the characters he portrayed on the screen. In Going Up South, he realizes that he fathered a child, but he had been left out of the baby boy’s life. Though he’d never planned to have a family, due to his disappointment in his own father, seeing the child, his child, changes his mind. Dylan’s not sure how he’ll raise a child or what to do, but he finds help in his new friend and custody mediator, Cassie Brooks. The scripture theme for this series comes from Isaiah 61. This particular book draws on “He binds up the brokenhearted.” The heroine, Cassie Brooks, is still hurting from her scandalous divorce in a small town. Unlike my last heroine in Leaving Oxford, Cassie had done things the way she’d been taught, avoiding alcohol, drugs, and sex outside of marriage. And her heart was still broken by an unfaithful husband. I wanted to show that life just hands out some tough blows, no matter how hard we try to do the right thing, but God is there in the midst of it all. He does bind up our broken hearts. I pray that you are uplifted by this story, and whatever hurts life has dealt you, that you find comfort in the arms of our faithful Father. Blessings!

Blog Stops

July 8: Bigreadersite
July 11: Pause for Tales
July 17: Quiet Quilter

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Janet is giving away some fantastic prizes including a $50 Amazon gift card! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9e33

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book review: To Follow Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino


About the book:

Duty and love are powerful forces. Only one has the power to make her life complete.

It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton’s ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados. There were no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island.

Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy sails aboard a British warship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold—and to an overjoyed Patience—it’s not quite the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for.

With a finely tuned sense for authentic historical characters and settings, Rebecca DeMarino plunges you into a world of tall ships, daring journeys, and yearning hearts.

My review:

The third and final installment of The Southold Chronicles was a joy to read. I was immediately drawn into the drama, and found myself dwelling on the story when I wasn't reading it. Author Rebecca DeMarino has turned out her best writing to date. The book read smoothly, and the dialogue was natural. I felt the heartbreak, the longing, and the frustration that the characters felt as duty continued to call Jeremy from Patience's arms.

From its beautiful cover to its satisfying ending, historical fiction fans will treasure this book.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:

Rebecca DeMarino writes love, legends, and lore as a historical romance author and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother, a love of horses, reading, and writing from her dad, and the wanderlust gene from both parents. Her travels have taken her from Alaska to Nebraska and Florida, from Long Island to England and Italy, and from Washington, DC to Texas, California, and Guam. But usually you can find her at home, enjoying her grandchildren and baking crisp little ginger cakes. Learn more at rebeccademarino.com.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book review: Devo For the Rest of Us by Vince Antonucci



About the book:
You are loved by a limitless God!

Yet many of us don’t live our everyday lives in that reality. The “rest of us” subconsciously believe half-truths about God and ourselves, sabotaging our lives in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

For the next forty days, spend time every day discovering what life can be like in light of God’s love for you.

Devo for the Rest of Us is designed to increase your knowledge of God and help you establish habits that will keep you connected and growing in your love for him for the rest of your life. If you’re new to faith or coming back to God after some time away, this book will be a perfect fit for your spiritual needs. If your faith is more established, this book will be a challenging refresher on what living for God means. It will deepen your love for God and your commitment to living the life he has for you.

With these devos, you will start your days refreshed and renewed, revived and rejuvenated.

My review:
This was a devotional that I looked forward to picking up each morning. It is written in a relaxed, conversational way, with plenty of stories and examples to help the reader get the point. Yet, in spite of the humor found in most days' devotionals, the writer did not shy away from the truth. It was theologically sound, and basic, yet challenging. After reading the discussion of the day, there were passages to be read from the Bible, and then clarification questions and challenges based on the Scripture. As the description notes, this is good for a new Christian, and a solid review of the basics for long-time believers.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.
About the author:

Vince Antonucci pastors Verve, an innovative church that seeks to reach people who work on and live around the Las Vegas Strip. The upcoming television series God for the Rest of Us will chronicle Vince's work there. In addition to writing books, Vince leads mission trips around the world, speaks nationwide, performs stand-up comedy in Las Vegas, and most of all, loves spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and their two kids.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book review: Forever Safe by Jody Hedlund



About the book:

Race Point, Massachusetts, 1876

Will she ever be able to stop running, even when she believes she’s finally safe?  Heiress to a vast fortune, Victoria Cole has everything she wants, including the perfect fiancĂ©. Having left two other men at the altar, Victoria is sure that now she’s found her true love and will finally live happily ever after. As her wedding draws near, however, Victoria’s life is threatened. To keep her safe, Victoria’s father hires a bodyguard.

Tom Cushman’s number one priority is protecting his clients, which means no personal entanglements.
But he’s never guarded someone as beautiful and winsome as Victoria. After a near-kidnapping, the
wedding is cancelled, and Tom hides Victoria at Cape Cod’s Race Point Lighthouse until her attacker can be found. Appointed as assistant light keeper with Victoria posing as his wife, Tom believes the isolation of the lighthouse will keep her safe.

As Victoria struggles to live without familiar luxuries, her heart betrays her with growing feelings for her protector. Determined to help Tom stop fleeing from his haunted past, can the runaway bride learn to face her own fears? With the attacker closing in, will both of them ever be able to stop running and find the safety they long for?

My review:

Victoria Cole's life has been threatened, and her bodyguard attacked.  Her new bodyguard, Tom Cushman, insists on secretly locating her to a remote location where she will be kept safe until the attacker is found.  The Race Point Lighthouse on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, kept by Tom's father, is certainly secluded enough, but Tom insists that they travel as man and wife in order to not arouse suspicion.  Victoria must make the adjustment from being pampered to taking care of her own needs, as well as of those around her.  There is hilarity and heartbreak as Tom and Victoria masquerade regarding their union, until the attacker is found and Victoria is finally safe.

I enjoyed this fourth installment of the Beacons of Hope series, perhaps more than the others.  When the reader can't help but feel the tension between desire and propriety, feel the sweat trickle down her back, hear the crunch of broken glass beneath her feet, and wrinkle her nose at the stench of her captor, you know you have good writing.  Author Jody Hedlund has written another thoroughly enjoyable novel full of love, laughter, healing, and suspense that fans will certainly enjoy.  Those who are new to the series will have no trouble picking it up and fully appreciating it; it stands alone well.

I received an ARC ebook from the author in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Book review with a giveaway: Dawn of Liberty by Amber Schamel


Purchase your copy here.

About the Book

Liberty comes with a price. Can a fledgling nation bear the cost? British forces advance upon a struggling colonial army. The time of decision has come. Declare independence, or give up the fight. The weight of a nation rests on Samuel Adams’ shoulders as he joins the delegates of the Second Continental Congress. Can he raise the cause of Liberty above the fear of the King’s wrath in the hearts of his countrymen? Three riveting short stories follow Samuel Adams as he struggles through the events surrounding the Declaration of Independence and evokes the Dawn of Liberty.

Dawn of Liberty

Liberty hangs in the balance. With Pennsylvania’s vote divided, the declaration may not pass. Samuel Adams has two hours to convince the delegates to pass the document, or the lives sacrificed for freedom will be worthless.  

A Shot at Freedom

“The Regulars are coming!” Samuel Adams is awakened by Revere’s cry of alarm. A large force of British soldiers are marching on Lexington to seize him and his compatriot John Hancock. Adams and Hancock encourage the militia to make a stand against the Regulars, but should they stay and join the fight, or escape to safety?

Travail of a Nation

Samuel Adams felt the weight of the nation resting on his shoulders as he and his cousin entered the Pennsylvania State House. If the declaration did not pass today, their chances at ever truly gaining independence were all but lost. The British forces bound to arrive in New York any day would crush their revolution if it was not bolstered by a formal declaration. The “Travail Of A Nation” has begun…

My Review

Dawn of Liberty is a collection of short stories detailing events leading up to the American Revolution, from Samuel Adams' perspective.  This book is quick and easy to read, but truly enlightens the reader regarding what it would have been like to be a part of the events.

As Americans, we know that the signing of the Declaration of Independence was a turning point in our history.  We know it happened.  But author Amber Schamel put me into the situation in such a way that I was fully involved and couldn't wait to see what happened.  Then the beautiful climax had me in tears.  

Even though this is a small book, it is entirely worth the read.  Lovers of historical fiction will be pleased with this book.  It has value for all, American or not, and I believe it would be an effective tool in a history classroom.  

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the Author


Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Visit her online at www.AmberSchamel.com/

Guest Post From Amber Schamel

On July 4th, 2016, Americans across the nation will celebrate the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Besides the basic overview you got in history class, how much do you really know about the document and the men that signed it? As an American and a history nerd, I was upset when I realized how much I didn’t know the struggle these men went through, who they really were, what they felt, and what they were putting on the line when they signed their name to that document. There are SO many inspiring stories in the signers and founding fathers, so when I began looking at which signer to feature in Dawn of Liberty, it was a tough decision to pick only one. One of the signers was terminally ill and rode unthinkable miles through the rain to be there in time to sway the vote. Most were away from their homes and families for incredible amounts of time. Some sacrificed fame and fortune. But after looking through all of the names, I ended up with Samuel Adams. Sam is such a passionate and inspiring character, and I really related to him. He voiced his passion for freedom and independence before the idea was popular, spent countless nights writing articles and pamphlets promoting the cause, always held faith and optimism that someday the Colonies would be free from the tyranny of England. His character is so intriguing and inspiring…Yet, Sam is only known as a beer brand. Talk about infuriating a history nerd! Sam Adams is a patriot and a hero. The more I learned and read about him, the more I liked him. Americans should know Sam for who he really is, rather than as the icon to sell liquor. That’s why I am so excited for people to meet Sam in DAWN OF LIBERTY. These stories give folks a chance to experience the tension in Philadelphia at the time of the signing, meet some of the signers, and feel the weight of the decision placed in their hands. It is my hope that this collection of short stories will make the signers more than just portraits in a history book. By the time you finish reading it, my prayer is that you feel you know Sam and his compatriots as friends.

Blog Stops



June 23: Petra’s Hope

June 24: A Greater Yes


June 25: A Holland Reads

June 26:bigreadersite







Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Amber is giving away a signed copy of The Healer’s Touch and a $15 Amazon Gift Card! Enter to win here: https://promosimple.com/ps/9ccf