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 ๐Ÿ˜€

***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 ๐Ÿ˜.  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 ๐Ÿ˜) 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.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Welcome to College-2nd Edition by Jonathan Morrow & Giveaway!!

Welcome to College (2nd Edition) by Jonathan Morrow

Is there a more frightening question for a graduating high school senior than "What will you do with your life?" In college, whether they realize it or not, students will answer that question every day with each decision. All of the new friends and new experiences of higher education will shape their future. It's critical that students know how to handle college before they're in the thick of it.
Jonathan Morrow tackles the tough questions that arise during these formative years, including:
  • How do you grow spiritually?
  • How do you manage your time to both study well and have fun?
  • Is all truth relative?
  • Are there good reasons to be a Christian?
  • As a Christian, how should you view issues like dating and sex?
Each chapter of this new edition has been updated, and the author has included a new chapter on Christianity, homosexuality, and the Bible. Grounded in both his own extensive experience and biblical truth, Morrow's book is full of quick, easy-to-read chapters and excellent advice.

My Thoughts:

I'm not sure who is more afraid of this giant step in life--the college bound student ... or the parents?? What amazing resource this book would've been for my family two years ago when my husband and I walked our daughter into her dorm, kissed her good-bye, and then left her there ... on her own ... our baby. I bawled the entire flight home. I'll be honest I bawled for most of her senior year (not in front of her, mind you, at least not every time).

Author, Jonathan Morrow, offers this book A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey to help parents and students alike to navigate the complexity and unknown of college for this generation. And as we prepare to send our second child off to college next year I consider this book a MUST-READ.

Welcome to College covers numerous topics that range from campus life with tips on making the four years of new found freedom successful; their belief in Christ and the questions they will face internally and externally regarding that belief; and how to live for Christ as a college student on a campus--in a culture--that vocally dismisses Christianity.

Mr. Morrow offers an abundance of resources at the end of each section for the student to further study the topic along with a number of Bible verses to support the topic. At the end of the book there are discussion questions, which make this book an ideal choice for youth pastors to offer their students to prepare them for this stage of life. After reading the chapters I believe there are plenty of chapters that parents and student can discuss together but there is also some more difficult topics on theology that will create questions I think might be better answered by someone with a background in theological studies. There were some things I, as an adult, didn't know or quite understand so as a parent I wouldn't want to offer answers I didn't have or were wrong.

Overall, this is a great book to offer students preparing to go to college. My suggestion would be that this book be given to a student a year or two before they are dropped off on the stoop of their dorm and if possible in the church/Sunday school/youth group setting. This is an ideal book to be offered by youth pastors as they shepherd their students into the collegiate world. And let's face it, when your college student is staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the over-priced tomes required by their teachers ... they're not going to add this book to their reading requirement. #truth

***I received a copy of Welcome to College from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy of Welcome to College HERE

↑↑↑Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY-Details in the tab at the top of the page!!! ↑↑↑

Thursday, March 30, 2017

To Have and to Hold by Betsy St. Amant, Becky Wade, & Katie Ganshert

To Have and to Hold by Betsy St. Amant, Becky Wade & Katie Ganshert

Love Takes the Cake: A September Wedding Story by Betsy St. Amant

Charlotte Cantrell is always the baker; never the bride. When Will, a regular at Charlotte’s bakery, catches her attention, she can only hope that he is the reliable man this single mother has always hoped to find. The problem is that he’s regularly stopping in to buy cookies for another girl. But when Charlotte is hired to bake a host of wedding goodies for a difficult bride and finds out Will is the best man, she has the perfect opportunity to get to know him better—and find out how serious Will is about this other girl in his life.

The Perfect Arrangement: An October Wedding Story by Katie Ganshert

Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower and the proud owner of Forget-Me-Nots, a quaint flower shop. Her love life has always been a bit lackluster—until she ends up in an embarrassing fender-bender with handsome Nate Gallagher. Meanwhile, Amelia’s younger brother, William, has proposed to his girlfriend. Amelia would be excited except she has evidence that the fiancรฉe is not who she says she is. It seems Nate is the only one available for any advice-giving, and he’s good at it—and pretty fun to talk to, too. As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people, she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nate still be interested when he learns who she is?

Love in the Details: A November Wedding Story by Becky Wade

When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over. Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she longs to be with Josh but doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small-town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?

My Thoughts:

This romantic collection of Three Autumn Love Stories begins with Love Takes the Cake by Betsy St. Amant:

A delectably sweet story where love, pastries, and freedom come with a sprinkle of grace. First, let me say that if you're going to read this story you need to have a snicker doodle (or dozen) nearby because I was craving yummy bakery goodies throughout the story. Besides the yummy food description I really enjoyed Charlotte's character and the authentic nature of her past interpreting her choices. Ms. St. Amant did a fabulous job creating characters in need and delivering them full circle in a theme that resonates.

Next up is The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert:

If flowers could talk ... well, they can't but here we meet Amelia Woods the owner of the cutest flower shop (Forget-Me-Nots) who, through a comedic chain of events and a series of emails reminiscent of You've Got Mail, begins to fall for the man on the other end of the dotcom. Two things bothered me about this story: 1) There's another man who becomes the catalyst for these emails to begin but this man is never further explained ... 2) There's a number that doesn't get fully explained either. >>These might seem like trivial things, well, not the first one because it's pretty relevant to pushing Amelia's connection with Nate but Ms Ganshert played up so much of the "can you guess ..." that it was disappointing (for me at least) not to have some closure/answer/explanation. Other than that, the story has humor, fun characters (I especially loved George!!) and Cinderellesque-romance.

And finishing the collection is Love in the Details by Becky Wade:

Everything is bigger in Texas-even the LOVE. Or the love that once was. Immediately readers are privy to a sacrifice made by Holly Morgan that after 8 years still hasn't ceased to cause her heart to ache for the boy she let go ... Josh Bowen. When the two are reunited the embers of a love begin to heat up but so does the hurt and mistrust. I love the way Ms. Wade develops the plot of this story in a way that doesn't feel hurried but rather allows the authentic emotions of the two characters to emerge in a way that sometimes felt torturous (oh, that missed kiss!!) until we get that satisfying conclusion of promise, hope, and all the squishy, swoon-worthy romance.

Overall, this collection of novellas is sweet, charming, well-developed, romantic, and expressive of the many different facets of love stemming from the One who loves us enough and first.

You can purchase your copy of To Have and to Hold HERE 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

When fun-loving glamour girl Quintessa Beaumont learns the Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, determined to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. No-nonsense and hoping to make admiral, Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills to fight German U-boats. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. For her part, Tess works hard to prove her worth in the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Boston--both to her commanding officers and to the man with whom she is smitten. When Dan is assigned to a new escort carrier at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he's torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help Tess root out a possible spy on shore. The Germans put up quite a fight, but he wages a deeper battle within his heart. Could Tess be the one for him?

My Thoughts:

In the final conclusion to the Waves of Freedom Series, Ms. Sundin offers another historical romance mystery that

I think I said this before when I reviewed Anchor in the Storm (book 2 in the series >> review HERE) that I love this era. The patriotism. The pride. The honor. It's also the era that my grandparents lived and this story brought my familial history alive.

The Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services) offered women a chance to serve their country and my grandmother was one of those women!! So reading this story made me feel a little like I was reading her story and so it was hard for me not to love it immediately.

Ms. Sundin does an incredible job offering characters with depth and personality it's impossible not to believe they don't actually exist. I loved the way Tess and Dan were flawed and the authentic way in which their character develops over the course of the story. There were times when emotional outbursts seemed implausible but what I appreciated is the way those outbursts were remedied through the dialogue of another character-thus bringing honest introspection giving the reactions validity.

I loved the relationship the cast of characters bring to the story. Aside from the brilliant main characters there are several secondary characters who are charming and complex enough to have their own story one day. And I hope they do!

Ms. Sundin delivers information about a season our country faced with honor, integrity, and due-diligence. I love her ability to enlighten me with new information and she doesn't disappoint whether it's with the water battles taking place on the Atlantic or the secretive mystery involving a resistance group. Ms. Sundin does a brilliant job making history come alive.

And ohhhh, the love. The romance in this story is one for the ages. Ms. Sundin took Dan and Tess's story and brought the kind of swoon-worthy love that you know will last a lifetime (even fictionally). Emotionally raw and authentic to the very end-it made my heart very happy.

If you're a fan of Sarah Sundin's historic novels then you will LOVE this one too. While this story is the end of a series it can be read individually-though I highly recommend reading the entire series because they're beautiful, and worthy of your time.

***I received a copy of When Tides Turn from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You can purchase your copy HERE

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