Giver of Wonders Blog Tour, Review, and #Giveaway

Hey y’all! I have a new book that NEEDS to go on your MUST read list. Giver of Wonders by Roseanna M. White. Until this book, I had not read any of her writing. I’ve wanted to. I’ve heard good things and I have several of her books on my To Be Read list. Giver of Wonders was an incredible introduction to her writing for me! I will definitely be reading more by her. Check out the synopsis of the book, some thoughts from the author, and then I’ll share my thoughts about this book. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end.

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Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

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A miracle once saved her life ~ will another give her a future?

Cyprus was little more than a child when a fall left her paralyzed…and when the boy known as the wonder-worker healed her. Ever since, she has wondered why the Lord spared her, what he has in store for her. But her pagan father thinks she was spared solely so she could be introduced to the wealthy wonder-worker, Nikolaos.

Nikolaos has never questioned that his call in life is to dedicate himself to the church and to God. Never, that is, until he and his cousin Petros meet the compelling Cyprus Visibullis. For years he struggles with the feelings she inspires…and with the sure knowledge that Petros loves her too.

Petros knows he will never be good enough for Cyprus’s father to consider him as a match for his favorite daughter not as long as Nikolaos is there. But when tragedy strikes the Visibullis family, he will do anything to save his beloved. Unfortunately, his beloved is determined to do anything to save her sisters ~ even at the cost of herself.

As the festival of lights bathes their Greek city in beauty, Cyprus, Petros, and Nikolaos celebrate the miracle of their Savior s birth together one last time. And in remembrance of their Lord’s greatest gift, one of them will make the ultimate sacrifice for the others…and a centuries-long tradition will be born.

About the Author

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Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two small children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels…to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Guest Post from Roseanna White

I was fed up with Christmas.

Or, no. I was fed up with the Christmas the world kept shoving at me. The one that was all about presentes. I’d always enjoyed gift giving and receiving, but I began to wonder: What was it I really valued—my Savior . . . or the stuff? We all say the right thing when this question is brought up. But we also all talk about “giving people Christmas” who can’t afford it. About how disappointed our kids might be if they wake to few packages under the tree. And you know, that belies our claims that it’s all about Jesus, doesn’t it?

And of course, when one thinks of gifts at Christmas, a jolly old elf springs to mind. So I started thinking that if I wanted my kids to understand the meaning of Christmas, it might be time to pull the plug on the embodiment of the commercialism: Santa Claus.

But I’m a historical novelist, and I believe in looking at the real history before making decisions. So one morning before our homeschool day began, I sat down and did some online research about Saint Nicholas. About the traditions he began that persist to this day. Who was he, before the Victorians turned him into the figure we know today as Santa?

I read. And I was awed.

Within fifteen minutes, I realized that St. Nick wasn’t the problem with Christmas. This was a man who was committed, above all, to honoring Jesus. Who believed in giving anonymously, so that all the glory went to God. Who performed miracles. Who healed and shepherded a flock under persecution.

St. Nicholas was a man who deserves my honor and respect. Who should be my inspiration for what Christmas is really about, not my scapegoat.

Nicholas gave generously—and in secret. It wasn’t until after his death that the stories started making their rounds about the many times he quietly gave of his wealth. But for centuries afterward, whenever someone wanted to give a gift anonymously, they would sign it from St. Nicholas—it was like saying, “This is because God loves you.”

Why are we giving? Is it to give God glory . . . or to please ourselves and our families? Would you still give if you got no credit for it? If no one even knew it was from you?

That day I read about St. Nicholas, I also decided I’d write a book with him as one of the main characters. A novel that brings one of our traditions—gifts coming down chimneys, stockings stuffed with goodies—to life. And so, we have Giver of Wonders.

Is it a Christmas story? It is. But not like the others out there. Is it about Santa Claus? It is, but not the version you see all over your TV. Is it about giving? It is. But not about presents wrapped and put under the tree. It’s about sacrifice. And it’s about Jesus. And it’s about what He really asks of us, and what He really did for us. And what we’re willing to give for love of Him.

Because that, my friends, is Christmas.

My Thoughts on Giver of Wonders

Giver of Wonders captured my attention and drew me into the stories of each of the three main characters from the very start. Immediately within meeting Cyrpus, Petros, and Nik, I felt that I knew them. Ms. White was quick to show their commonalities, the things that drew them together as well as some of their very distinguishing characteristics such as Cyprus’s rashness and impatience, Petros’ joy and humor in life, and Nik’s solid calling. And she demonstrated rather than tell. The side characters are equally well done. I felt as though I were taken back to that very time as I read. It was such a thought provoking thing to really consider what life might have been like for Christians then, to see them as real people and not just as faceless members of history. The true natures and characters of the players in the story are revealed through the struggles they face. There are characters that made me stop and say, “I want to trust God like that.” And yet others that made me see that I would not want to follow the path they had chosen. I couldn’t help but think, “Who am I in this story?” Someone in this story is probably going through the feelings you yourself are having or have had at some point and I think you will identify with the characters on multiple levels.

I love it when the author makes me FEEL every emotion, every detail as I read and that is, without a doubt, accomplished in this book. You will feel what the characters feel—their devastation, desperation, anger, determination, joy, their struggles with their faith as God works to draw them near and strengthen them. Cyprus’ own struggle with wondering about God’s purpose for her struck close to home. How often do we feel like Cyprus—unsure of the Lord’s purpose for us, unsure if what we are doing has “enough” purpose or is noble or good enough, feeling like there must be something greater to be done and that what we are doing maybe isn’t enough?

Every aspect of this book drew me in, from the characters to the emotions to the setting to the spot on truths exhibited. It’s hard to even describe how wonderfully done this book is and the impact it had on me as I read. It is filled to overflowing with rich, Biblical truths woven into the story. It’s as if it’s really many stories, many aspects all incredibly painted into an intricate masterpiece. It’s not just a story of faith or romance or struggle or hope or truth. It’s all those threads interwoven to make a beautiful yet strong piece.

It’s the story:
~of those times in our lives when we face hardship that God has allowed for His ultimate will and glory to be accomplished. You know—those circumstances where you wonder, “God, what are You doing here? What good could possibly ever come from this?” But then, He does something magnificent. He makes the ugly, the broken in our lives beautiful through the very hardship that seemed at one time like it might be impossible to overcome.

~of sacrifice, of loving others above yourself.

~of surrender, of letting go, of giving yourself up to His plan as He guides, of knowing that He will provide, of obedience in the midst of trial and struggle and adversity.

~of seeking God’s will above your own, of trusting Him to come through for you.

~of when He is truly your only hope and you must rely on Him as you never have before.

~of how He speaks to us, guides us, uses us to minister to others.

~of choosing to forgive and to love even when you’ve been hurt, of not allowing hurt and bitterness to fester and hinder.

~of overcoming through the work and power of the Holy One, of allowing Him to guide you in each step taken, of learning to hear His voice.

~that demonstrates the mighty hand of God at work even long ago to put into action things that would answer the needs you would have in the future.

“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” ~Isaiah 25:1

Giver of Wonders is an engaging and thought provoking book. It’s one of those books that I feel like I will need to read many times in order to soak up the many depths and layers and richness and truths in it. In it, you’ll find a book that will cause you to stop and wonder over the Giver of Wonders and the beautiful Biblical truths woven in will resonate as you read. Every inch of this book points to the Giver of Wonders and the precious work of His hands that He does for us, in us, and through us. I am thankful and blessed to have had the chance to read this book.

P.S.-I highly recommend checking out the Author’s Note at the end of the book.

Blog Stops

December 6: Neverending Stories

December 6: Blossoms and Blessings

December 7: Moments Dipped in Ink

December 7: A Greater Yes

December 8: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

December 8: Book by Book

December 9: Stuff & Nonsense

December 9: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

December 10: Blogging With Carol

December 10: Giveaway Lady

December 11: New Horizon Reviews

December 11: A Simple Life, really?!

December 12: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

December 12: Genesis 5020

December 13: Daysong Reflections

December 13: Inklings and Notions

December 14: A Reader’s Brain

December 14: Pause for Tales

December 15: Redeemed Hope Dweller

December 15: simple harvest reads

December 16: Baker Kella

December 16: For The Love of Books

December 17: Bibliophile Reviews

December 17: Reader’s Cozy Corner

December 18: Henry Happens

December 18: Bigreadersite

December 19: History, Hope, Laughter & Happily-ever-after

December 19: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a stocking full of wonder! Click on the stocking below to enter. Be sure to comment on this blog post to claim nine extra entries in the giveaway!

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

A Royal Christmas Wedding #Review and #Giveaway

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To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book

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Genre: Christian Romance/Christmas

Release Date: October 18, 2016

Book Format: Paperback & Ebook

Avery Truitt aches for true love—the kind she once shared with Prince Colin. Can she dare to hope for happily ever after, or is a fairy-tale ending beyond reach?

College volleyball star Avery Truitt has not seen her former flame, Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom, since he suddenly pushed her away five years ago. But now, the sadness of losing her father and the joy of her sister Susanna’s pregnancy have brought Avery back to Brighton just in time for Cathedral City’s enchanting Christmas season.

Avery knows she can’t avoid seeing Colin—now the Kingdom’s most eligible bachelor—whether or not her heart is ready to relive the pain. But seeing him again might bring her the closure she needs after all this time.

When Colin finds himself at the center of a centuries-old Brighton tradition, he must decide whether to follow the path laid out before him or follow his heart to the only woman for whom he would ring the Pembroke Chapel Bell.

Can Colin convince Avery to meet him at the chapel on Christmas morning—as tradition dictates—or will Avery run back to her St. Simons home and pursue a coaching career as planned?

In the fourth installment of the Royal Wedding Series, New York Times bestselling novelist, Rachel Hauck, weaves a charming story of holiday romance as two broken hearts seek the love they once knew.

About the Author

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Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling, and award-winning author.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.

She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.

Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Guest Post from Rachel Hauck

I don’t think we can ever get enough of royals or Christmas, do you? The two just seem to go together.

The Bible tells us eternity is written on our hearts. (Ecc. 3:11) I wonder if it’s also written on our hearts to be princesses in a grand, beautiful, perfect kingdom.

That being said, welcome to The Royal Christmas Wedding blog tour. My deepest thanks to all the bloggers, reviewers, and readers for hosting and visiting this tour. I’m excited to share this story with you all.

The hero and heroine, Prince Colin and Avery Truitt, first met in Once Upon A Prince at King Nathaniel’s coronation.

I hadn’t planned to write a spinoff story with the two of them. In fact, I didn’t even know Prince Colin existed until Avery walked into the abbey for the coronation and glanced across the sanctuary into his eyes.

Here’s his introduction:

Lean, aristocratic with an outdoorsman ruddiness, he nearly made Susanna swoon when he winked at Avery.

I liked Colin immediately. So did Avery. As well as a lot of you.

When my publisher asked me to write their story, it would be two years before the book would release. Plenty of time, right?

But “time crunch” is the name of the game with most writers. Between life, rewrites, edits, and promotional activity, we often find ourselves hurrying toward a deadline. Well, at least I do.

In the fall of 2015 I was writing The Wedding Shop and A Royal Christmas Wedding at the same time.

I’d also dealt with a physical issue that left me shaky. Could I write two books in five months? Did I want to even make the attempt?

If I said no, publication dates would be pushed out, causing a year delay on A Royal Christmas Wedding. And I knew that was something I did not want to do.

Publishing is a long game. Books are contracted and due 12 to 18, even 24 months, before release dates. Time must be carved out for rewrites and editing, marketing and promotion. Review copies go out at least five months in advance.

So I agreed to write both books. I told my editor, “Diamonds come from pressure.”

Coming up with Avery and Prince Colin’s story wasn’t as easy as I’d planned. Since they met in Once Upon A Prince as teenagers, I struggled with how to advance their age and relationship, and how to present them as the book opened.

Where had their relationship gone “between the books?”

When I came up with the idea of the Pembroke Chapel bell, the story magic began to happen. One of the things I love in the royal wedding books is the fairytale aspect. Looking for something out of the ordinary.

Even though my writing time was tight, writing Avery and Colin’s story was a joy. Once again I wish I could visit Brighton, eat a puff, and royal watch for the Strattons!

I hope you found a few sweet spots in the story, all wrapped in Christmas holiday cheer, and enjoyed your time with me in Brighton Kingdom.

Merry Christmas!

My Thoughts on A Royal Christmas Wedding

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck makes for a wonderful Christmas time read! I’ve enjoyed each of her books that I’ve read and this is another great one. I appreciate the richness of her stories and how deep they go, with all of it pointing back to the One who loves us, who takes care of all, who has the power to redeem and to give purpose to us. There are always layers to her stories and I love how she develops them. A Royal Christmas Wedding is filled with that richness and development.

Ms. Hauck does an incredible job of making the characters of A Royal Christmas Wedding relatable and engaging. The characters are complex and well developed. They are not perfect and they have their own struggles to walk through. Avery and Colin both captured my attention and held it. Each of them had a battle to face in order to reach a place where they could be together again. This book is truly the story of one woman’s journey in letting go and trusting God for His best as well as the story of one man’s journey in learning the voice of God, obeying, and becoming the man God wants Him to be.

I love the idea of the old time traditions of Brighton that are mentioned in this book and the richness Ms. Hauck adds to Brighton’s history as well as to the story overall. There is a scene in which two characters are discussing the tradition that the book is all about. They are talking about how it is the groom’s job to prepare the wedding, the reception, and the honeymoon for his bride. I absolutely loved the symbolism here. It made me think of how Christ is doing that for His bride, the church; of how He is taking care of everything, taking on the burden, and the bride simply has to accept the invitation and enter in to the relationship with Him.

Ms. Hauck’s writing gently and genuinely works to turn your heart to the true answer as you read and I loved just how she did so in A Royal Christmas Wedding. It is definitely a book worth checking out!

Blog Stops

December 8: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
December 8: New Horizon Reviews
December 8: inklings and notions
December 9: Reading Is My SuperPower
December 9: Redeemed Hope Dweller
December 9: Book by Book
December 10: His Grace is Sufficient
December 10: Blossoms and Blessings
December 10: Pause for Tales
December 11: Quiet Quilter
December 11: Ashley’s Bookshelf
December 11: Reviewing Novels Online
December 12: Bibliophile Reviews
December 12: Lights in a Dark World
December 12: Splashes of Joy
December 13: Moments Dipped in Ink
December 13: Neverending Stories
December 13: Through the Open Window
December 14: The Power of Words
December 14: Counting Pinecones
December 14: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
December 15: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses
December 15: Genesis 5020
December 15: CTF Devourer
December 16: Lighthouse Academy
December 16: God’s Little Bookworm
December 16: Christian Bookaholic
December 17: Smiling Book Reviews
December 17: God is Love
December 17: A Simple Life, really?!
December 18: A Holland Reads
December 18: The Scribbler
December 18: Faith * Love * Books
December 19: By The Book
December 19: Karen Sue Hadley
December 19: Southern Chelle
December 20: Faithfully Bookish
December 20: Books. Books. And More Books
December 20: A Baker’s Perspective
December 21: ASC Book Reviews
December 21: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card plus a copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding and a copy of The Wedding Shop. Click the graphic below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!

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

Garden of Her Heart Blog Tour, Review, and #Giveaway

Y’all, today I have the incredible privilege of participating in a blog tour for Shanna Hatfield’s Garden of Her Heart, an amazing book that is the start of her new series, Hearts of the War. Shanna was the guest of my first Author Spotlight several months ago. If you’d like to get to know her a little better, feel free to check out my fun interview with her here.

I love Shanna’s writing, and Garden of Her Heart is no exception. Take a look at the special tour post below that includes a quick interview with Miko, the heroine of Garden of Her Heart, and an excerpt from the book. Then check out my review of the book (basically why I think you should take the time to read this book) and a GIVEAWAY!

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USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield joins us with her latest release, a sweet World War II romance.break-2

Thank you for hosting me today, Julie. It’s such a pleasure to be here on your blog. I thought it might be fun for you and your readers to meet Miko Nishimura from  Garden of Her Heart.

Thank you for joining us, Miko!

Miko: Hello. Thank you for welcoming me here today.

Can you tell us a little about how you ended up as a fugitive in the land of your birth? 

Miko: I was out of town, visiting my best friend, when the order came down for all Japanese Americans in our area to report to an assembly center. My parents couldn’t find my friend’s number, and by the time they got in touch with me, it was nearing the  deadline to report. After some difficulty procuring a bus ticket, I finally started home to Portland. But the bus driver took exception to my presence on the bus. I ended up walking about twenty miles to my grandparents’ farm. By the time I arrived, my family had already left for the assembly center and I found a wounded soldier at the back step, about to lose his battle to survive. I couldn’t leave him, so I stayed. Because I failed to report, I became a fugitive.

What do you think of the soldier? 

Miko: He’s um… (blushes) very handsome, and tall. He seems kind and gentle. From what I’ve observed, he is intelligent and has a sense of humor.

He sounds pretty dreamy.

Miko: He is.

If you could share one piece of advice with people, what would it be?

Miko: Be kind. I can’t think of any one thing that could change so much of what is wrong in the world if more people would just be kind.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers today? 

Miko: An invitation to read Garden of Her Heart. It’s a romance, but it’s also a story of hope and faith and courage – even in the face of great adversity.

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Can forbidden love blossom

   amid the constraints of war?

The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese-Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.

After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.

A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.

Don’t miss out on this beautiful happy ever after. Get your copy today!

Available on:

   

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Excerpt:

Dazed and drained, Miko came to her senses as she reached a road she recognized in the predawn light. It led to a farm owned by one of her grandparents’ neighbors. If she cut through their pasture, it would save her a few miles of walking.

She pushed down the wires of the fence and stepped over it, then reached back for her suitcase. The barbed wire caught her coat. Miko jerked it away from the snag and rolled her eyes in frustration when the fabric ripped.

Sudden anger, at herself for her own arrogance and stupidity as well as the circumstances that left her walking through the woods in the rain at night, fueled her steps. Indignation lent her spent body strength as she hurried across the pasture. A few cows tossed uninterested glances her direction, but none moved her way.

Relieved when she reached the far end of the pasture, she hurried over the fence and along the edge of the trees that circled the vast acres her grandparents owned.

The first fingers of dawn stretched across the drab sky as she stepped from the trees and swallowed back a sob at the sight of her grandparents’ produce stand. As long as Miko could remember, her family had sold produce from the red-painted structure filled with shelves and bins to hold every type of vegetable and fruit the fertile soil would grow.

A hundred yards behind the produce stand, a white picket fence surrounded the cheery yellow bungalow home her grandparents had built in the mid-1920s. With a wide porch and a plethora of flowers surrounding all four sides, the house appeared welcoming. Beyond the yard, a barn and large storage building, along with a collection of outbuildings, alluded to a prosperous farm.

With a prayer to find her family waiting inside for her, she raced up the front steps of the porch and tried the door. The knob rattled but didn’t turn, locked from the inside. Miko set down her suitcase and rushed around to the back door. In her haste, she tripped over the body of a man as he sprawled across the back step.

Unconscious, the uniformed soldier shuddered against the chill in the air, his clothes every bit as wet as hers. At least his jerky tremors assured her he wasn’t dead.

Panicked, she pounded on the door. “It’s Miko! Open the door! Please!” Fist banging against the wood, she called out to her grandparents, willing them to be there.

All remained eerily silent in the house. Single-minded in her efforts to enter the dwelling, Miko stepped over the man and lifted a brick from the border edging the flowerbed. With a spare key in her hand, she jammed it in the lock and pushed the door open, rushing inside.

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shanna-3USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple | Audible

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Newsletter | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

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My Review:

From the first sentence, I was drawn into the story and Miko’s plight. Shanna doesn’t shy away from the reality of the ridicule the Japanese Americans faced during World War II while still keeping the story hopeful. Her vivid descriptions of the people, places, and situations in the book will take you back in time to a bygone era and make you feel like you’re there. Every scene, every moment is filled with the poignant emotions of the time. You can tell that Shanna did her research down to the minutest detail, and it shows in the way the story pulls you into the very essence and atmosphere of the time.

The love story of the book is one of the most touching ones I’ve read. Each scene, each step, each stage of their friendship turned love story captured my attention and my heart. I felt deeply the heartrending, bittersweet moments that passed between Rock and Miko as they struggled to figure out what to do about her situation and about her family’s farm. I loved watching their relationship change and grow, made strong even in the challenges and adversities they faced together. The gentle moments of their slowly building love are so moving and perfect, though Miko is resistant to letting herself give in to her feelings out of fear for what Rock would face for choosing to be with her. Rock’s caring restraint as he holds himself in check to prove his love for Miko is real and steadfast and as he patiently waits for Miko to come to him when she’s ready is precious. Their romance is heart meltingly tender and unforgettable. All of Shanna’s romances have sweet, tender moments, but to me, Garden of Her heart is the tenderest of her sweet romances and I felt it to my core.

The supporting characters of the novel are more than worth a mention. Each of them truly brings a needed element to the story in his or her own way. Learning about and getting to know Miko’s family accentuates the richness of her ancestry and heritage. Checking in with them throughout the book allows for us to get a glimpse into the conditions and struggles they faced while also showing us their courage and strength. The family on the neighboring land adds their own element of help and charm to the story in so many different ways. I can’t wait for you to meet the delightfully precocious character of Petey. His engaging personality and vibrant chatter are, in my opinion, an essential part of giving the novel some moments of humor and extra warmth. Pastor Clark is indispensable as a stand in father/uncle type figure for both Miko and Rock. Even the villain of the story plays his role perfectly in adding some surprising twists and turns to the story and efficiently creeping me out.

Garden of Her Heart will evoke in you an array of emotions—from anxiousness, to anger, to frustration, to heartache, to joy, to hope and so many more. The characters latched onto my heart and did not let go. There was just something about them and about their story that held me captive and I didn’t want the story to end. It was a wonderfully satisfying ending while still giving the feeling that it was really just the beginning of a lasting and epic love story. I would not object at all to catching up with this family of characters in an epilogue or novella. It is well worth the read.

Shanna dedicates Garden of Her Heartto those who face adversity with courage, strength, and hope” and that is a perfect summation of the characters in this story. Her preface as well as her note at the end are sincere and heartfelt additions to the story. I highly recommend making sure you read them both.

Take a chance on this great book and let it invite you in as a front row guest to the unfolding of the beginning of an enduring love story.

Now for a GIVEAWAY! Click on the graphic below to enter for a chance to win one Kindle version of Garden of Her Heart.

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Healing of the Heart #Review and #Giveaway

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Click here to purchase your copy.

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 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.

The Cautious Maiden & #Giveaways

I had planned to post my review for The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall on November 4th, but I decided to post early so y’all would have plenty of time to enter Ms. Crandall’s fun giveaways (links below)! Before I share my thoughts on The Cautious Maiden, let me take a minute and introduce you to the amazing author behind the book!

71xnmguh8yl-_ux250_Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter and The Cautious Maiden which released October 4th, 2016.
Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two little ones and serves with her husband in a premarital mentorship program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and an associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter. She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

Now for more info on her latest book, The Cautious Maiden!

51rmy4yc8rlViolet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents’ New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks but when Violet’s own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries. In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance&, Vance Everstone.
As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU.
With danger stalking her and a new fiancé who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust, and who to leave behind.

My thoughts about the book:  The Cautious Maiden is a wonderful addition to Dawn Crandall’s Everstone Chronicles. You’ll find sweet romance, swoon worthy moments, intrigue, a little danger, redemption, hope, and more!

There’s more to Vance Everstone than meets the eye. While he’s still flawed (as we all are), he’s done some soul searching and changing as we get the pleasure of finding in this book. He continues to grow and change throughout the book. It was rewarding to see Vance finding redemption and finally being set free and changed from the past and looking forward to the future. Violet and Vance face a variety of obstacles in their relationship, sometimes from outside sources and sometimes from themselves and we get to go along for the ride through Ms. Crandall’s unique writing style. I would definitely recommend checking out this fourth book of the Everstone Chronicles. And I’m hoping there’s more coming in this series or at least a spin off of the series as there are some characters who haven’t yet gotten their happy ending. 🙂

Time for some giveaways!

For a chance to win a copy of The Cautious Maiden, check out this giveaway on Goodreads.

Click on the photo below to enter Ms. Crandall’s Rafflecopter giveaway!

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**I received this book free of charge from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions in this review are my own.

 

The Everstone Chronicles and a Giveaway

I have had the privilege of getting to read and review The Everstone Chronicles by Dawn Crandall and I’d like to share my thoughts with you about each of the books in the series today. While the books do connect, each of the books can easily be read as a stand alone.

The Hesitant Heiress is the first book in the series.

51txzn8mvwlAfter being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy in her hometown of Seattle, Washington, disappearing before her very eyes. Now, the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: Marry within the year to inherit the immense fortune of her estranged grandmother. Amaryllis reluctantly moves in to her aunt’s Boston home and rubs shoulders with fashionable society. Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself quickly falling in love with the most unlikely of men–Nathan Everstone, the envy of every eligible female, whose father has haunted her dreams for the decade following her mother’s tragic death. However, Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems…and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

My Thoughts:
This book captured my attention from the very first page. Ms. Crandall did a wonderful job of immediately engaging me and even my emotions on behalf of the heroine, Amaryllis. She weaves an interesting, intriguing story that had me unwilling to put the book down until I found out some answers and saw some resolution.

I do have to admit I was a little confused toward the beginning, trying to figure out what was going on and what the truth was about the past, and I wanted things to unfold a little faster than they did.

While my attention was quickly captured by the situation the Amaryllis finds herself in at the beginning of the book, it wasn’t long before I began to get a little frustrated with her. As the book progressed, I realized that things were probably not as they appeared to her, but she was very stubborn in refusing to see events and people any differently than she had. Amaryllis was so insistent that every man is inconsistent and I think she viewed God that way as well. She thought she trusted Him, but she didn’t really.

While she had a tendency to be extremely honest with others about what she saw in them and their situations, she was not so with herself. She was blinded to the truth for so much of the book and that became more than a little frustrating after a while, especially when she had opportunity to find out more about the past, but would not, as if she were in denial, refusing to see the past in any way other than how she currently viewed it.

Even though Amaryllis’ stubborn refusal to see the truth became exasperating, Nathan’s sweetness and his obvious care for her made up a little for that exasperation. I loved Nathan and his character and I was a little disappointed that it took Amaryllis so long to let go of grudges from the past that were not even based on full truth so that she could finally see him for the godly, sweet man that he was. She wasted a lot of time running from her past and her problems instead of facing them. And while that was incredibly irritating, I can see how we often do the same thing in our own lives. Hopefully, we won’t be quite as long in coming to see the truth as it took Amaryllis. The more I read, the more thankful I became for Nathan and his willingness to love her in spite of how she treated him. Through that willingness and consistency, he eventually won her over. The resolution and ending finally came and helped make up for all the rough bumps in getting there.

 

The second book is The Bound Heart.

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One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn–Meredyth can’t deny that what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves, and accept that God’s plan for her life includes redemption…and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book and getting to know better some of the characters I was introduced to in the first book. Watching Meredyth’s story, her past, and her thought process about what she must deserve because of it unfold was a little heartbreaking and more than a little realistic. How often do we view ourselves as she did, knowing we must deserve one thing for our actions when God just wants to offer us His precious grace and redemption? I loved getting to see God break through to Meredyth, showing her the healing and hope He has in store for her. So often, we try, as Meredyth did, to do things to earn right standing with God, to somehow right our wrongs when really the only way to do so is to admit them and let God heal them, let Him cover our sins with the pure blood of His perfect Son.

Lawry was a wonderful character and one of my favorite things about this book was seeing Meredyth’s eyes slowly open to him, his love for her, and her own love for him. His steadfast love for Meredyth was precious and swoon worthy.

Ms.Crandall did an excellent job of engaging me as the reader in Merdyth’s journey in discovering God’s forgiveness, truly being able to accept it, and finally being able to forgive herself so that she could be set free for the life God has for her. I love how Ms. Crandall tells her stories in first person. She so very accurately captures the way we, especially as women, often view ourselves and the people around us. She shows how our doubts, hurts, and insecurities can affect our thought processes and the way we view others all while still managing to convey to the reader things about other characters that the heroine may not see so accurately.

 

Next we have The Captive Imposter.

51wau6tcxslFor her own protection following the murder of her brother Will, hotel heiress Estella Everstone assumes the alias of Elle Stoneburner and takes a job as companion to an elderly widow. Never did she imagine that her position would lead her back to her beloved Everston, a picturesque resort property tucked away in the rugged mountains of Maine. Living below her station in a guise of anonymity has its struggles, but her spirits are buoyed by a newfound friendship with the hotel manager, Dexter Blakeley. And his distaste for the spoiled socialites who frequent his hotel causes her to take a close look at her own priorities and past lifestyle. When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer of employment she can’t refuse. As the two interact and open up to each other, Estella feels a growing attraction to Dexter; and increasing discomfort over concealing her identity. Yet, in spite of the false pretense she’s putting forth, she’s never felt freer to be herself than in his presence. But will he still love her when he learns the truth about who she is?

My Thoughts:
In this, the third book of the The Everstone Chronicles, we find yet more mystery as we encounter Dexter Blakely and his family. Discovering more about the Blakely family and their connections with the Everstone family is an intriguing part of this novel. Each of the books in Ms. Crandall’s series has allowed us a view into the lives of the Everstones, their history, their flaws, and their good sides. Getting to know more about them in each book is a great draw of the series.

Estella has spent a long time pining after someone, who, in my opinion, quite frankly doesn’t deserve her and hasn’t treated her well. Just like Estella, many of us have, at some point in our lives, tried to force something to be that was not meant to be—maybe a relationship or a job among other things. Finally, here in this novel, we get to see Estella truly let go of something not meant to be, something that God knows is not best for her and then watch as He orchestrates His beautiful best for her.

I believe that Estella and Dexter’s developing relationship is one of my favorites of the series. Again, we find a steadfast character in the hero who makes you fall in love with him right along with the heroine. In spite of the false name and position Estella has to use for protection, she’s actually able to more freely be herself than she would as Estella Everstone, enabling Dexter to get to know the real her without personal prejudice potentially getting in the way. Their sweet friendship that grows into love will melt your heart as you join them on their journey.

 

The Cautious Maiden, the fourth book in The Everstone Chronicles, just released at the beginning of October and is well worth the read! I will be sharing my thoughts on The Cautious Maiden as a part of Dawn Crandall’s blog tour on Friday, November 4! I hope you’ll come back and join us then for my full review of it as well as a giveaway.

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**I received the books in this series free of charge from the publisher. All opinions in these reviews are my own.

If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, but you’d like to start, click  below for the chance to win a Kindle version the first book in the series, The Hesitant Heiress.

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