Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book review: The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

About the Book:

Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother--and nearly his own life--in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It's 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company.

Larkin Heyward's life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more--maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there--until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together.

My Review:

I've thoroughly enjoyed Thomas' previous books, and this latest offering did not disappoint.  First, she tells the story well.  Judd Markley, physically and emotionally hurting after a mining accident that took his brother's life, moves from his West Virginia home to start a new life in South Carolina.  His story of finding his way and forging new relationships was very satisfying.

Secondly, the author has a writing style that is comfortable and easy to read, as I was able to quickly get through the book.

But most of all, Thomas really gets the time and place of her books, and easily transports the reader there.  Although the book takes place before I was born, I felt the nostalgia as I read.

Told mainly from Judd's perspective, this book has many male characters, which gives it appeal to a wider audience.  For those who love the 50s, or the mountains, or the ocean, this is a book to treasure.  

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author:

Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014. Married with one dog, she now lives in Western North Carolina, which is almost as beautiful as West Virginia.

Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency. You can visit her at www.SarahLoudinThomas.com.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep


About the Book

Name of book: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor
Author: Michelle Griep
Genre: Historical Christmas
Release Date: September 1, 2017


England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

This was an interesting book.  It reminded me of a murder mystery dinner or a game of Clue.  Or think of it as a Dickensian-era game of Survivor.  A varied cast of characters is brought together to see who will win by staying for the duration of the Christmas season.

The book itself is pleasantly decorated.  The chapters are short, and the story moves along briskly, yet is a full story and not rushed.  The characters were certainly quirky, and not all were likable, which helped give the story its depth.  

For those who love a setting at the time of Charles Dickens, or who love Christmas books, or both, this is a book you'll want to read!

I received a copy of this book from the author, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of both Regency and Colonial historical romances but also leaped the writerly fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. Keep up with her escapades at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.









Guest Post from Michelle Griep

Go Green With Victorian Christmas Décor

Walk in any store and you’ll be bombarded with displays of Christmas lights, gaudy ornaments, and inflatable life-size lawn characters. Commercialization at its worst. 150 years ago, that wasn’t the case. Yearning to decorate in a simpler fashion this year? Here are some ways you can bring a bit of the nineteenth century to your home this Christmas…

TREE DECORATIONS

Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the German Prince Albert, introduced the concept of a Christmas tree to Windsor castle. And you know, if it’s good enough for royalty its good enough for the common folk, right? So, the tradition spread. Generally trees were brought inside on Christmas Eve and taken down on January 6th. Trees were decorated with homemade ornaments from paper or fruits and nuts, strings of popcorn or cranberries, or hanging cookies such as gingerbread men from the branches. And remember, an authentic Victorian Christmas tree would’ve been small, like small enough to stand on a table.

GREENERY


Holly. Evergreens. Mistletoe. Most Victorians couldn’t afford store-bought decorations even were there a commercialized industry at the time (which there wasn’t). So the next best thing was to bring in some free/natural ornamentations. Greenery would’ve been perked up with berries, ribbons, dough ornaments or flowers. Pinecones were also scattered throughout the house.

WREATHS

“Writhen” is the root word where we get the word wreath from. It’s an old English word meaning “to writhe” or “to twist.” While the art of hanging wreaths goes back to Roman times, Victorians continued the tradition.

CANDLES

Candles were primarily placed in one of two spots during a Victorian Christmas. A single candle in a window was lit to show that the house was willing to provide food and shelter to travelers. Candles were also used on each and every branch of a Christmas tree, which meant a huge danger of fire. Usually a servant would stand nearby with a bucket of water just in case the thing started to burn.

DRESDENS


Dresdens are ornaments hung from the tree, from a window, or really hanging pretty much anywhere. These were handmade by cutting out shapes (usually animals or trains) and painted with metallic paint so that they looked like metal.

And that’s about it. No obnoxious Santas or reindeer inflated on the front lawn. No psycho Christmas lights strobing enough to give every passerby a seizure. Just plain and simple decor that made the home feel cozy.

And speaking of cozy, how about grabbing a blanket and a cup of hot tea and settling in for a holiday read that’s sure to put you in the Christmas spirit? My latest release is 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, a Victorian blend of Dickens and Agatha Christie.

Blog Stops


By The Book, December 14
Bukwurmzzz, December 14
Faery Tales Are Real, December 14
A Baker’s Perspective, December 15
A Reader’s Brain, December 15
Have A Wonderful Day, December 15
Texas Book-aholic, December 16
Carpe Diem, December 16
Cafinated Reads, December 16
Just the Write Escape, December 17
A Greater Yes, December 17
Remembrancy, December 17
Allofakindmom, December 18
History, Mystery & Faith, December 18
Simple Harvest Reads, December 18
amandainpa, December 19
Kat’s Corner Books, December 19
Mommynificent, December 19
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 20
Bookworm Mama, December 20
Vicky Sluiter, December 20
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 21
Christian Author, J.E.Grace, December 21
To Everything A Season, December 21
Reader’s Cozy Corner, December 22
The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 22
Reading Is My SuperPower, December 22 (Interview)
My Writer’s Life, December 23
Janices book reviews, December 23
For The Love of Books, December 23
Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 24
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 24
Red Headed Book Lady, December 25
Raining Butterfly Kisses, December 25
Bibliophile Reviews, December 26
Blogging With Carol,December 26
Mary Hake, December 26
Reflections From my Bookshelves, December 27

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift card and a signed copy of 12 Days of Bleakly Manor!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c5b8

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Book review with a giveaway: Christmas Embers by Chautona Havig


About the Book

Name of book: Christmas Embers
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Contemporary Christmas
Release Date: November 25, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

This book IS NOT warm and fuzzy for Christmas, but it does have some very sweet moments.

This book IS Intense.  Heart-Wrenching. Painfully Honest.  Well-Written.

I've been enjoying Chautona Havig's books for a while now, but this one stands out in its intensity.  It's the kind of book that is hard to put down, and when you're not reading it you're thinking about it, or praying for the characters, or dreaming about it at night.

At first I was a little jealous of what seemed to be the perfect marriage between Emily and Sean.  He's a minister in their church and she supplements the family's income by blogging.  When they came off their pedestals, I still loved the characters.  Both were so honest as they struggled.  The content is not easy to deal with, but it is clean, it is necessary, and it is very well-written.

I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author

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








Guest Post from Chautona Havig

Infidelity to the Tune of Adeste Fideles


“I think my husband is having an affair.”

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

She wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re there as a warning.

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

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

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, December 5
A Baker’s Perspective, December 5
Mary Hake, December 5
Moments Dipped in Ink, December 6
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 6
Daysong Reflections, December 6
Fiction Aficionado, December 7
A Simply Enchanted Life, December 7
Genesis 5020, December 7
Blogging With Carol, December 8
The Power of Words, December 8
Bigreadersite, December 8
Reading Is My SuperPower, December 9
A Greater Yes, December 9
Radiant Light, December 9
Just Jo’Anne, December 10
For The Love of Books, December 10
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10
Aryn the Libraryan, December 11
A Reader’s Brain, December 11
The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 12
Books, Books, and More Books., December 12
Quiet Quilter, December 13
Seasons of Opportunities, December 13
Christian Book Devourer, December 13
Allofakindmom, December 14
Texas Book-aholic, December 14
Pursuing Stacie, December 14
Pause for Tales, December 15
Reader’s cozy corner, December 15
margaret kazmierczak, December 15
Red Headed Book Lady, December 16
Purposeful Learning, December 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16
Janices book reviews, December 17
Christian Bookaholic, December 17
Karen Sue Hadley, December 18
Remembrancy, December 18
Blossoms and Blessings, December 18

Giveaway


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

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

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

About the Book:

Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman's destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?

Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting. When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties. Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Hebrew camp, he's unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.

In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy. But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

My Review:

Author Connilyn Cossette brilliantly brings the Out From Egypt series to a close with Wings of the Wind.  There were so many excellent elements to this story.  First, the characterization.  Alanah, the enemy, was written in such a way that I was totally on her side.  The total honesty that I got from knowing her thoughts in this first person narrative drew me to her.  I felt her pain, was amazed at her strength, and experienced her joy.  I also loved Tobiah for his honesty and strength of character.  It was also a pleasure to spend time with characters from the previous books.

Secondly, the descriptive passages were excellent.  Cossette makes the reader feel the pain of a viper bite, the horror of living in Jericho as the walls fell, and the majesty of Yahweh dwelling in the midst of His people in the form of a cloud.

Finally, the lessons learned through the course of the story were substantive.  Lessons of forgiveness, redemption, and God's sovereignty were beautifully woven throughout the book.

This book is why I love biblical fiction.  Doing life with the Israelites as they neared the end of their wandering really brought this portion of Scripture to life for me.  I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for review purposes.  The thoughts expressed here are my own.

About the Author:

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.