Thursday, May 18, 2017

True To You by Becky Wade and GIVEAWAY

True to You by Becky Wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. 

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John's already dating someone and Nora's not sure she's ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

My Thoughts:

Indubitable!! It is impossible NOT to love True to You. Honestly, this story had me from page one and it'll be a long time before I'll be able to stop thinking upon Nora and John's story.

First, let's talk characters. Nora is bookish, quirky, uber fan of all things British PBS television (that can be a thing, right?), and has captured the unsuspecting attention of former Navy Seal John Lawson-a hunky hero desperate to find out about his past. Okay, so those are the leads but this story is chock full of characters with personality that won't let you soon forget them. Whether it's Nora's sisters, her cantankerous grandmother, or the subtle invasion of handsome men who I'm hopeful will find their spotlight in future books-Ms. Wade delivers a colorful cast rich in depth that bring purpose to the story in profound ways that not only round out the plot beautifully but resonate with the heart and soul.

Now, let's talk story.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Joy of Letting Go by Vicki Caruana

The Joy of Letting Go by Vicki Caruana

Parents let go of their children every day, even in ways they don’t realize. The 52 devotional readings within shine a light on all the times readers have loosened their grip on their children and encourages them to continue to let go in life-giving ways. Written by a parenting and education expert, The Joy of Letting Go will comfort and inspire parents in all seasons of parenting.

My Thoughts:

This little 52 week devotional is filled with scripture, quotes, and personal stories written to help parents whether they are embarking the newness of a child's independence or edging the empty-nest stage.

Having one daughter already in college and another leaving this year, I found some of the advice and encouragement helpful. Because I was reviewing this book I didn't have the luxury of reading it on a weekly basis and that maybe would've helped the book not feel so disjointed in its cohesiveness. One day I could be reading a devotion about toddler defiance and the next day the devotion touches on college responsibility. It felt a little jumpy but I was still able to glean some good stuff and I think most parents will too.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of The Joy of Letting Go HERE.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hometown Hero's Redemption by Jill Kemerer

Hometown Hero's Redemption by Jill Kemerer

When he becomes guardian to his friend's troubled ten-year-old boy, firefighter Drew Gannon knows he needs help. But before he can get former social worker Lauren Pierce to agree, he's got to prove he's changed from the sports jock who gave her a hard time back in high school. Returning home, Lauren wants no part of her old profession. She only wants to forget the unspeakable tragedy she left behind. She can't take responsibility for another child. Or a reunion with Drew—no matter how generous he's become. But a desperate boy and his handsome guardian may be more than Lauren can resist…

My Thoughts:

In the final installment of the Lake Indwell Series we meet firefighter Drew Gannon, the guardian of his best friend's son and desperate for help in securing a "normal" environment for the child whose life has been upended and the only one experienced to help is the goody-two-shoes girl from his past-Lauren Pierce.

My opinion of these short novellas often vary because for as many as I've read they too often feel fast, formulaic, and dismissible. However, author, Jill Kemerer, brings so much authenticity to her novellas that I can't help but become instantly immersed in the story world. And Hometown Hero's Redemption is no exception.

One of my favorite things about this story is the twists and setbacks Ms. Kemerer weaves throughout the plot bringing complexity to the novella you'd find in longer novels. The characters behave and react naturally, which I love because it makes them feel real. The faith element is subtle and organic as it breathes a sweet theme that resonated with me.

Hometown Hero's Redemption is the perfect summer read and might be my favorite of the series!!

***I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of Hometown Hero's Redemption HERE.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chasing Famous by Lisa Lloyd

Chasing Famous by Lisa Lloyd

Have you ever considered your life as an audition? Regardless of who or where we are, we are constantly, often unconsciously, auditioning for a part. Loving wife. Amazing employee. Crafting queen. Socialite. All we really want is to be loved, affirmed, and accepted. What if we could learn to live the life we have always been auditioning for without all the stress?
Chasing Famous is a redemptive book that teaches us how to take the focus off ourselves and shift it back on to the glory of God. Written by a professional actress who readily admits that she is the most self-centered person she knows, Chasing Famous provides practical and sometimes humorous examples of scriptural truth that will help you master the natural self-centered tendencies of life. Once you've mastered these issues, and you can, your story will turn the spotlight on God where, you'll soon discover, what it means to truly live.

My Thoughts:

Am I chasing famous? Or am I chasing after what makes God famous? Author and actress, Lisa Lloyd poses these questions in her book, Chasing Famous-Living the Life You've Always Auditioned For. 

I was hesitant at first because how can my life as wife/mom/homemaker compare to this actress? But Lisa Lloyd removes all pretense immediately offering honest, heartfelt, and revealing guidance to live life in the Light of who God created each of us to be. Ms. Lloyd does this through chapters uniquely titled to reflect terms related to the stage. Topics like Method Acting, Encore, Booking the Job, The Aside, Trust Fall among many dive into the truthful theme that when we live on purpose--doing what God called us and created us to do--we will make Him famous. We can bring Him the glory and honor and live boldly in the calling.

I found myself underlining a lot of passages that became personal to me. Ms. Lloyd uses personal stories and Scripture to support each idea and at the end of each chapter there are a list of questions that will help readers dig deeper. I found each chapter gave me much to think and pray about. In fact, it gave me much to discuss with my growing teenagers and husband.

Chasing Famous is well-written and thought out book that I think would make a great women's study but can also be read individually. I think this would also be a great resource for young women who are preparing to face a world where the topics in this book will help validate them and encourage them to live boldly.

"What if you and I trusted Him with radial faith?" -Lisa Lloyd, Chasing Famous

At the end of this book, this is the question that remains on my heart and I believe Ms. Lloyd ignites the flames of hope by suggesting what if... How will I answer that question and what amazing things can happen in my life, in the lives of those around me, and in the world if I truly begin to chase what makes Him famous??

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of Chasing Famous HERE.

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

Hope Harbor police chief Lexie Graham has plenty on her plate raising her son alone and dealing with a sudden rash of petty theft and vandalism in her coastal Oregon hometown. As a result, she has zero time for extracurricular activities--including romance. Ex-con Adam Stone isn't looking for love either--but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief? Yet wishing for things that can never be is foolish.

Nevertheless, when Lexie enlists Adam's help to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks begin to fly. And as they work together, it soon becomes apparent that God may have a different--and better--future planned for them than either could imagine.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this novel in the Hope Harbor Series. I was drawn to the characters instantly and could visualize the setting in my mind as I continued to read this easy story. It wasn't difficult to be pulled into the plot and becoming emotionally invested in the outcome. I was a little concerned as I got to the end of the story that so many pieces of the plot weren't wrapped up but the epilogue ties it all together believably, leaving me satisfied overall.

Ms. Hannon delivers characters with depth creating a balanced story that left me wanting more by the time I turned the final page. I haven't read any of the other Hope Harbor Series books so I don't know if there's further development with the main characters from this book but Ms. Hannon does a great job bringing these characters to life that I want to know more about them, which means I'll be picking up the rest of the series soon!

Overall, this is a great book that doesn't come off preachy (in fact, I very much appreciated the delicacy in which Ms. Hannon handles the faith component in this novel) and will be one of my top summer recommended reads for 2017 😀

***I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of Sandpiper Cove HERE

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pursued by Lisa Harris

Pursued by Lisa Harris

Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine--up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing--and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects. 

My Thoughts:

Book #3 in The Nikki Boyd Files takes us on another trip with Special Agent Nikki Boyd of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations. Action fills the pages of this book from the start when the plane Nikki is traveling crashes upon landing and the woman sitting next to her mysteriously disappears.

This suspense story certainly delivers. It seemed that every other chapter significant setbacks held the heroine from accomplishing her mission but I have to admit that by the time I got to the last ten chapters I was exhausted. And so I skimmed ... yeah, not entirely proud of that but I really just wanted to see the story end and the good guy win and the bad guy go down. 

The story doesn't slow down much if at all regardless of the interpersonal struggles the heroine is facing. I know this is suspense but I really, really wanted something more to happen between Nikki and beau Tyler. After all, in the last novel they were so close ... and then BAM! I have to wait until next book and yet here I am still wanting some closure or something more ... maybe I've been reading too much romantic suspense 😐.  Regardless of my need for some romance, I did find the heroine's dismissive response to her family and friends post-plane crash (and several other life-threatening moments) a bit too much for me to empathize with. I get being all job-focused and whatever but I would've liked to seen Nikki respond differently--or at the very least a reasonable explanation besides a missing person case to keep her away from them. Even my soldier knows how important familial connection is post-traumatic events. 

The plot is full of crashes, explosions, and near-death experiences that will make suspense fans happy. The faith element isn't preachy but the heroine offers up prayer in her times of need, which at times felt superficial to the plot but authentic to the character. I think fans of Lisa Harris and Nikki Boyd will be satisfied with this new release and anxious for the next.

***I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of Pursued HERE.

NKJV The Woman's Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV The Woman's Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

The Woman’s Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God’s truth for balance, hope, and transformation. Special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman’s identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.
Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, The Woman’s Study Bible reflects the contributions of over 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman’s Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold over 1.5 million copies.
Features Include:
  • Beautiful full-color design throughout
  • Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
  • Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
  • Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
  • Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archeology, and philosophy
  • Book introductions and outlines
  • Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
  • Quotes from godly women throughout history
  • Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
  • Topical index
  • Concordance

My Thoughts:

Early morning is the best time for me to grab a cup of tea and open my Bible to study the Word of God--so I was excited when Thomas Nelson offered this Bible for review. I try to read the Bible all the way through each year usually beginning in Genesis on January 1st. However, this year I started in the middle of last year and so I was able to use this Bible as I read through Matthew and Mark.

What I noticed first on this Bible is it's beauty. Three different versions are available, a hardback cover, imitation leather, and a cloth covered. All three covers have these bold, beautiful flowers on them but the imitation leather, the version I chose, has the flowers embossed on the upper half of the Bible. Who doesn't love a pretty cover?! This colorful design continues within the pages of the Bible making it bold and bright and NOT your grandma's Bible.

Next thing I noticed as I read was the use of italics throughout the text. As a reader I know that italics mean emphasis. Pay attention to this word-the author is saying. And so I did ... only, I didn't fully understand why. Going to the front of the Bible I read through the beginning and it was stated that italics represent the words originally highlighted but for the life of me I still couldn't make sense of all the italicized words and so it became distracting. I had to force myself to ignore those highlighted words rather than pause and try to find some meaning in what the passage was saying.

This leads to my next discovery. I've been using a life application study Bible for years and am used to the footnotes at the bottom of the page offering insight, references, and understanding. This Bible lacks the depth I think is necessary to qualify it as a study Bible. When I had questions about context, especially in regards to the italicized words, there was nothing in the footnotes to explain.

There are sections throughout the Bible that are highlighted offering a deeper context on specific passages (example: The Widow with Two Mites-Mark 12:41-44) dealing with Biblical characters, historical information, and life application. But some of these seem randomly inserted in areas where I can find a connection between what I just read and the notated information. That same randomness is also shared with quotes inserted throughout the passages--again with no real connection that I can see.

Overall, I really enjoyed the NKJV of the Bible and the larger font of the text made it easy for me to read (hate admitting that 😏) but I'll probably continue to use my current Bible and keep this as a reference source.

**I received this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. You can purchase your copy of the NKJV The Woman's Study Bible HERE.
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