Healing of the Heart #Review and #Giveaway

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healingoftheheart1-194x300About the Book:
When Ruby McCoy and her mother arrive in Fairplay and promptly move into the biggest mansion around, they are the talk of the town. But while Mrs. McCoy worries about ribbons, trunks, and wallpaper, Ruby rolls up her sleeves. Since the hanging of her notorious gangster father five years ago, Ruby, hiding under an assumed name, is on a mission to right her father’s wrongs. She is determined to spend every penny of her inherited “blood money” helping those who paid the price for her father’s crimes. But she didn’t plan on falling in love.
Sheriff Rex Truett doesn’t trust Ruby and doesn’t care who knows it. The keeper of Fairplay’s law and order makes it his business to find out why a stranger—especially a beautiful, rich, female stranger—would set up businesses, donate to schools, hire workmen to rebuild houses, and provide access to the best medical care. But when a cholera epidemic sweeps through the city, he is forced to reconsider.

loreeloughhsff1-204x300About the Author:
A prolific writer, Loree Lough has 108 books, 68 short stories, and more than 2,500 articles in print. Her novels have earned dozens of industry and Reader’s Choice awards. A frequent guest speaker for writers’ organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, corporations, and college and high school writing programs, Loree and her husband, Larry, divide their time between a home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains.
Her books have over 3700 ratings on Goodreads with the first two books in The Secrets of Sterling Street series, Currency of the Heartand Guardians of the Heart receiving multiple four and five star reviews on book review and retail sites.

My Thoughts on Healing of the Heart:
Healing of the Heart by Loree Lough deals with some issues that can be very true to our lives. For example, Ruby, the main character struggles with blaming herself for the actions of her criminal father and spends years of her life trying to atone for his evil deeds. We can often be drawn into that place in our lives where we blame ourselves for something over which we have no control, and at times, for someone else’s actions. Ruby also battles with the decisions she’s made and the subterfuge she’s engaged in in an attempt to right her father’s wrongs and not let anyone know her connection to him. The author works to show us just how hard it is for Ruby to overcome these things and to believe good about herself even when she has people constantly trying to tell her about all the good they see in her. The author also addresses how an attitude of vengeance can affect your life through the character Rex. I really wanted to see both characters freed from those struggles.

While the author does deal with these issues, I felt like they could have been better developed and done in such away that better showed the progression of the characters out of those thought processes and beliefs. As it is, the characters seem to struggle with those things right up until the very end with not much sign of them changing their thought patterns and so it made the “change” difficult to believe. I struggled a little to relate to the characters and there were several instances in which they and their actions and thought processes were somewhat frustrating to me.

I also spent a good deal of the book wondering if I was missing something regarding different events and aspects in the story. Information was often delivered in such a way that I was surprised by it and wondering when it had happened. Not enough detail was given to explain many of those situations in a satisfactory manner. At times, the format made things hard to follow (I may have had an unedited version which could have contributed to that and the final version may flow better).

The book also deals with a small cholera outbreak in the town of FairPlay, and I have to say, that though there were some things about the book I didn’t care for, I was impressed by what seemed to me to be a pretty realistic portrayal of the outbreak and the depths of care needed to help those affected overcome it and prevent the further spread of it.

While this book is not one of my favorites, some of the things that were an issue for me may not be an issue for a different reader. Please take a look at some of the other blog stops (listed below) for other readers’ thoughts on Healing of the Heart.

 

Blog Stops:
November 22: Bibliophile Reviews
November 22: Jeanette’s Thoughts
November 23: Neverending Stories
November 23: Lane Hill House
November 24: Reviewing Novels Online
November 24: Christian Bookaholic
November 25: Christian Author: A.M. Heath
November 25: Redeemed Hope Dweller
November 26: A Simple Life, really?!
November 26: Moments Dipped in Ink
November 27: inklings and notions
November 27: Splashes of Joy
November 28: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 28: Daysong Reflections
November 29: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot
November 29: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
November 30: Bigreadersite
November 30: Singing Librarian Books
December 1: Pause for Tales
December 1: Smiling Book Reviews
December 2: A Greater Yes
December 2: Genesis 5020
December 3: Reader’s cozy corner
December 4: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses
December 4: Karen Sue Hadley
December 5: A Baker’s Perspective
December 5: Rhonda’s Doings

 

Giveaway:
In honor of her tour, Loree is giving away her books: Secrets on Sterling Street series, Prevailing Love (3 in 1), Pricilla Hires a Husband, Lone Wolf, and Emma’s Orphans, a KJVER Study Bible, and an Abba pillar candle in a wicker basket! Click the photo below to enter; be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine bonus entries for this giveaway!

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**I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

 

The Real Struggle

We just recently started Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study with the ladies at our church and the timing has been perfect—it has served as a much needed reminder at this time when everyone is panicking over and bemoaning the election. People claiming one candidate or the other is the answer we need and the other is the devil incarnate. Arguing amongst family and friends on which candidate is or isn’t the answer to our country’s problems. Unkind, thoughtless things spewing out of mouths toward anyone who doesn’t agree or who is struggling with their decision and hasn’t made up his/her mind yet. Attacks on character because of who one is voting for or not voting for. Huge division is taking place in our country because of this, even among Christians, especially among Christians when we’re the ones that ought to be the light in the midst of all this, not taking sides against one another.

So, the reminder I needed from the Armor of God Study? Our battle is NOT against flesh and blood.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12, NASB

We battle not against flesh and blood, but how many of us have been acting like we believe that this election season? How many of us haven’t lashed out at someone as if they are our enemy?

We won’t win this battle with physical weapons, with hurling unkind words at each other, with putting each other down, with degrading each other. Our real enemy is behind the scenes—quite possibly gleefully enjoying the attitudes we’ve exhibited this year, the terrible things we’ve spoken to or about each other, the freaking out like God’s not in control, letting fear or anger make our decisions for us when the reality is our God is bigger. Our God has greater power, greater resources, greater everything than the enemy.

We will only win the battle we are facing through God, through His power, through recognizing our true enemy and changing our tactics to fighting him through prayer, through spiritual warfare. What we’re doing now, what we’ve been doing—that’s only going to cause more division, more problems, more hate to be spewed. We win this battle on our knees, truly trusting in and relying on God and His power, not some person. This is a reminder for myself, for me to remember where my focus really needs to be, that I need to rely solely on God for the answers this country needs. No man or woman is the answer our country needs.

I’m writing this as a reminder to myself not to forget where my hope lies, where my trust needs to be, and who the real enemy is.

I realized as I was processing all this that I can say that I am actually thankful for this crazy election season! Why? Because it’s served as a teaching tool in reminding me where my trust really needs to lie. It’s served in taking me another step further in trusting God, in remembering who is really in control and setting my sight on Him. It’s bringing me to a place of trusting Him in a different way than I have before. I’ve seen how often I may say I trust in God where our country is concerned, but then I don’t actually act like it. I’ve seen how I’ve treated others poorly because of my own opinion in the past or because I haven’t really trusted God and I’ve acted out of fear or anger towards people when the Bible is clear on who my true enemy is. I know I will probably still struggle with this at times, but without the struggles, my faith wouldn’t change and wouldn’t have an opportunity to grow deeper.

Not only is our battle not against flesh and blood, but we, as Christians, ought to be the ones pointing to God as the answer, the ones not freaking out or panicking, but rather realizing God is almighty and nothing happens that He is unaware of, nothing causes Him to panic or worry. I recently saw a Facebook post by Steven Curtis Chapman that served as yet another reminder of who God is and what this is really all about. I’ll share it here with you because I think what he writes in the post and what he says in the video is worth the read and listen.

For some reason unknown to my not tech savvy self, it’s only showing the video here and not what he wrote to go with it. If you click on the Facebook icon in the bottom right corner of the video, it will take you to the whole post where you can read what he wrote. It’s worth the read.

The Promise of Rayne and #Giveaways

Y’all, The Promise of Rayne was absolutely fantastic—so much so that I have had a hard time putting into words just how amazing it is and just how much I enjoyed it. So many thoughts going through my head about all the things I love about this book and it’s so hard to narrow it down to share with you, especially without revealing any spoilers! I want you to know that this book is most definitely worth your time! Check out the synopsis below and what thoughts of mine I have finally been able to gather to share with you.

51a2e2hclhlRayne Shelby has spent her entire life trying to earn the approval of her high-powered family, with the hope of one day managing her late grandfather’s prestigious Idaho lodge. But when she makes a mistake that puts her future in jeopardy, she faces an impossible choice: defy her family or deny her dream. The only way to fix the mess she’s created is to enlist the help of her neighbor, Levi, the apprentice of her family’s greatest enemy. And if Rayne gets caught crossing the divided property lines, the consequences will be irreparable.
Levi Harding has never forgotten the August night he shared with Rayne when they were teens—or the way she later rejected him. Despite his warring instincts, he can’t ignore her plea for help or the spark that’s ignited between them. But now, as wildfires bear down on their town and family secrets are revealed, their newfound alliance might just go up in smoke.

I’ve read all but one of Nicole Deese’s books and loved each of them so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to be an Advance Reader for her latest book The Promise of Rayne. And Ms. Deese did NOT disappoint in delivering a dynamic work of art! While I have immensely enjoyed each of her books that I’ve read, The Promise of Rayne just might be my favorite of hers.

When I read books as an Advance Reader, I tend to read slowly and watch carefully as I read for things that stick out to me, things from the book I might want to share with others. I often highlight those things or do a screen capture of them (I read most ebooks on my phone). Well, with The Promise of Rayne, y’all, I think I might have highlighted/screen captured just about the whole book! There are just so many things I love about this book—so many sweet scenes, emotionally charged moments, thought provoking and wise quotes—that I don’t even know where to begin to pick what to share with you. Had I a physical copy of this book, it would be lovingly dog eared with all its goodness to be had.

In The Promise of Rayne, as is also in life, you’ll discover that things are not always as they seem. There’s more to her family story than Rayne knows, but no one’s talking. Desperate for the approval of her family and to finally feel like she belongs with them, Rayne’s more than a little afraid to pursue any niggling she has that something isn’t right because there will be repercussions if she steps out of line with what the head of the family insists upon. She’s been conditioned to not fight back, to not tip the boat. For a good part of her life, Rayne has been pushed to the shadows by her own family like some unwanted Cinderella. She’s been made to feel less than, weak, naive, and insignificant just like the enemy so often wants us to feel so we won’t be bold enough to rock the boat, to make a change or a difference.

Enter Levi who knows more than he can share and is beginning to care enough about Rayne Shelby that he knows she deserves the truth and to be set free from the hurtful treatment of her family. Levi’s presence in Rayne’s life begins to draw her out as he attempts to show her how sees her and just how wonderful he sees she is. Their meeting again is the catalyst that begins a painful, but necessary and hopeful change in Rayne’s life where there will be battles she’ll have to fight and boundaries she’ll have to cross to get to the truth. Over the course of the book, Rayne slowly (but not too slowly, thank goodness!) grows stronger and bolder, letting what she’s truly passionate about come to the front more often instead of squishing it down to meet some family expectation of her fulfilling a cookie cutter role.

I love authors who write in such a way that you walk the journey with the characters rather than just watch as it happens and Ms. Deese’s writing brings that element to the table. You will feel Rayne’s distress and Levi’s frustration as he longs for her to see herself as he sees her and to know the truth. You’ll be waiting with Levi for that last thread of power that Rayne’s family holds over her to break and for her to step out and stand up; to fight for herself, her dream, her true family vision and legacy, and her relationship with Levi. You’ll feel their hurts and their struggles with them, but you’ll also get to feel the elation of the hopeful moments and the freedom that comes in the end. While there are painful circumstances, betrayal, and deception that must be faced, there’s an equal amount of hope and joy waiting to be embraced on the other side.

In The Promise of Rayne, you will find a well written masterpiece with just the right amount of tension, emotionally charged and bittersweet moments, and swoon worthy scenes. The witty banter between Rayne and Levi, as they first cautiously approach each other and then begin to lower their guards as they get to know and care for each other, is perfection. You will fall in love with them as they are falling in love with each other. You will feel every kind of emotion under the sun as you read this book—it runs the gamut of emotions in a good way. You’ll also find some wonderfully precious moments of true and unconditional love, forgiveness, and patience.

I encourage you to read this book that is so rich with truths as well as the angst and imperfection we face in our lives and the beauty God makes from those ashes. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll find powerful words, a powerful story, and a powerful ending that is really a beginning—a new beginning of a life no longer fraught with lies and deception, but filled with truth and light.

You can purchase this incredible book on Amazon.

Ways you can connect with the talented author of this incredible book, Ms. Nicole Deese:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Amazon

All of Ms. Deese’s books are available on Amazon, and if you participate in the Kindle Unlimited program, good news for you—all of her books are currently a part of that program!

And last, but by no means least, for a chance to win The Promise of Rayne and some other awesome goodies (like a Kindle Fire!), click on the graphic below!

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Oh, wait! One more thing! For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, read The Promise of Rayne and come back here and comment on this blog post and tell us what you thought of the book! I obviously loved it and I would love the opportunity to discuss it with y’all. Share your favorite quotes, favorite scenes, or what you enjoyed most about the book. Everyone who comments with their thoughts on the book by November 30th will get their name added to the drawing. Please make sure you leave your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win.

**I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.