Wednesday, March 28, 2018
This was a very enjoyable story about four very different ladies from the Bucklin family. Another Bucklin family reunion is coming up and there's plenty of family drama to go around. The chapters alternated between the women as we were shown what's happening in each of their lives and how they feel about it! Shay's in her late 30's, a career woman who just hasn't met the right guy, much to her family's chagrin. She's feeling bored in her job but not sure what else is out there. Her high school crush shows up acting interested in her, which throws her for a loop. She's ready for some excitement and a change. Her sister-in-law. Puddin', has a secret she's keeping from everyone and she worries her husband will be upset if he found out; she also worries she's not getting everything done she should and that she's neglecting her youngest son. Shay's much younger twin cousins are arguing, especially when one makes an impulsive and huge life decision and we get Sally's side of the story. The fourth lady is Missy and she's having marital problems; she feels like her husband doesn't listen to her and takes her for granted.
I really liked Shay and could relate to her the best. I enjoyed seeing the transitions she made throughout the book. Her faith was very important to her and she tried to keep a level head when dealing with two potential love interests. Puddin' was entertaining; it seemed like her life was hectic, what with her secret and a toddler to manage. Missy's story I liked the least. Both she and I got frustrated with her husband as he seemed almost mean sometimes and really clueless the others. I thought it seemed like these wives needed to communicate with their husbands, spell things out for them rather than assume they knew what they were thinking. Sally, the twin, was arguing with her sister about their business, their home and this was before her sister went and made a huge life decision with discussing it with her first. I loved how the family was close to each other and the southern feel of the story. Faith in God and prayer were discussed among the different ladies, especially Shay. I really enjoyed this story and want to see where the next one takes this wonderful family!
I received this book free from Litfuse Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
Monday, March 26, 2018
Fascinating! 'Angels to the Rescue: Inspirational Real-Life Stories from an ER Doctor' - by Robert Lesslie, MD
About the book:
Angels Are God’s First Responders
From bestselling author Robert Lesslie (over 400,000 books sold) comes an all-new collection of thrilling inspiration from the emergency room. Join first responders and ER doctors as they encounter life-or-death situations, putting their training and beliefs to the test. Be uplifted as you meet real-life angels, such as
- Elton, a daring highway patrolman who risks it all to prevent disaster
- James, the orthopedic tech with a God-given talent for mending hearts
- Shep, a principled fire captain whose most important lesson spares one of his own
- Denton, the tireless paramedic who rescues an injured man…from a hospital
- Maybelle, a faithful nursery volunteer who makes a life-saving diagnosis
This was a fascinating book with many wonderful true stories! I liked how the stories focused on a variety of people, from firefighters to police officers to doctors and even a nursery volunteer! Some of the stories were miracles, others a diagnosis in the nick of time or even about the power of forgiveness. I especially liked the story about a boy who was getting sicker and the doctors couldn't figure out what was going on. It ended up being a crazy kind of problem and a God thing for how it was figured out. The same goes for a man who had a heart attack at a rest stop and how just the right people were around to help and especially the story of the young woman who tried to kill herself. That one was the most amazing of all. It was also fascinating to learn the story of the elderly Vietnam war veteran and what he endured in Vietnam who then came to the rescue of another war veteran in a wheelchair who was being beaten and how it was because of what he survived years ago and the lessons he learned. Some of the stories had some humor; some brought tears to my eyes. They were all wonderful and got my blood pumping from all of the excitement! I highly recommend it if you like true stories and need a reminder that God is here and working.
I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Meet the author
Bestselling author Dr. Robert Lesslie is a physician with more than 30 years of experience in fast-paced, intense ER environments. He is now the co-owner and medical director of two urgent-care facilities. He has written many books (including Angels in the ER—over 200,000 copies sold) as well as newspaper and magazine columns and human-interest...Read More >
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Monday, March 19, 2018
About the book:
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.
A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.
Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.
This was such a wonderful story. I loved seeing Roman's transformation throughout the story. I liked how the author would take us back to different times in Roman's and Grace's pasts to show what they went through and to explain what they're like today. It was really eye-opening to see. It also made me pretty angry to see how they were treated, though. It was also interesting to learn about graffiti artists and how they operate. The cover is from part of an actual graffiti painting on a building but much larger. The spiritual message was wonderful, as I've come to expect with Francine Rivers' books. The gospel was presented in a very natural way. Grace lives out her faith and he sees something different about her yet she still struggles with temptation and trying to do and say the right thing. I liked Grace a lot and admired her strength; she was very easy to like. Roman was a little harder but as I saw how difficult his childhood was, it was easier to understand the choices he made and the way he treated people, though it didn't make it right. It also made the changes that much more amazing. The secondary characters were also wonderful, from Grace's friends, especially Shanice, to Roman's old teacher, Jasper, and the couple who ran the boys' ranch. There were some great romantic moments and some pretty exciting situations, too. There were a couple of very cool supernatural elements in the story; I won't say more than that because I don't want to ruin the surprise! There was also a cool twist. I did wish there was some closure on a few things that we don't get definitively answered. I can't say enough good things about this story. I highly recommend it for everyone!
I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
1st Chapter here
Q & A with Francine Rivers!
⦁ You often say that each of your novels is prompted by a faith-related question. What question inspired The Masterpiece? Were there particular Scripture verses or stories that guided your writing of this novel?
The question that came up for me was whether two people from severely dysfunctional backgrounds could have a healthy relationship. Grace and Roman both come from abusive childhood experiences and developed different coping mechanisms to survive. The past often intrudes and sometimes blocks people from moving forward, but we are all ultimately responsible for the choices we make. Each of us must decide who Jesus is. That choice decides where we spend eternity. It also makes a difference in our life in the here and now. When abuse occurs, a child’s view of God is twisted. That raises other questions. What might need to happen to open the door to the true God and faith in Him? What if someone grows up knowing nothing of God other than as a curse? I had questions enough for several books, and wallowed around in the mire through several drafts. Hence, so did my characters. Grace and Roman are each on different journeys. What brings them together and what keeps them apart? I was well into the project before I knew which Scripture God was showing me: Ephesians 2:10—“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” This is the heart of the book.
⦁ What kind of research did you do for this novel? Did any findings particularly surprise you?
Most of my research had to do with the patterns and psychology of victims of abuse. It wasn’t pleasant reading. It’s heart-wrenching. I didn’t want to misrepresent survivors of abuse. I talked with a friend who is a strong Christian, highly educated, and a certified family counselor. She suggested I present my characters to a group of counselors who meet once a week. When we all gathered, I explained my dilemma and presented my “case studies.” One gentleman cried and said he’d worked with young men exactly like Roman Velasco. Grace’s emotional trauma and means of coping are also common.
I also needed to learn about graffiti artists. I started with online searches and then met a young man who had been a gang tagger in the Bay Area. We talked about his motivations, experiences, and the dangers he faced, not the least of which was leaving the gang. I found a website with terms and definitions regarding graffiti. I also read some books about the young man’s idol, Banksy. No one knows the identity of Banksy, but his work is known around the world. I liked the mystery element and employed it.
The surprise came after the book was written and I had the opportunity to meet Cameron Moberg, a Christian graffiti artist in San Francisco. He does work around the world, as well. He reaffirmed what I saw happening in Roman Velasco’s life. Cameron’s art is also on the cover of The Masterpiece. Many of his works are of spectacular, imagined birds. How could I not see God chuckling at how He brings things together?
⦁ Your novels look deeply into characters’ motivations and emotions. What do you hope readers will learn from delving into the inner thoughts of the characters in The Masterpiece?
Sometimes the hardest-hearted person you know is the most broken inside. All too often, we judge by the outward appearance, but God knows the heart. Also, even when we don’t see God at work, He is working. Never give up on anyone. Just keep praying and walking the walk. You never really know what’s going on inside someone. The blessing is you may witness the creation of a new God-ordained masterpiece.
⦁ The main characters of The Masterpiece, edgy artist Roman Velasco and his new personal assistant, single mom Grace Moore, might not receive a warm welcome in every church across the country. What do you want readers to see in these characters—and in themselves—as they read?
Never judge by outward appearances. It takes courage for people to come into a new church—or enter a church for the first time. Christians are, after all, “aliens,” very different from the world—or should be. Visitors and newcomers may look different than we do. They may come from different places. If people seem unapproachable, offer a smile and nod of greeting. Give them space. Give them time. Extend courtesy and welcome to all. And when the door opens, talk with them about Jesus—not just inside the walls of a church, but anywhere.
⦁ Roman Velasco is unlike any other male character you’ve written. What was most challenging about crafting the character of a rebel graffiti artist? Why did you choose this character?
I thought the hardest part in writing about Bobby Ray Dean/the Bird/Roman Velasco was going to be learning about the art form, challenges in doing it and getting away with it, terms and materials. But the real challenge was figuring out what drove this boy/man to paint graffiti—and the kind of graffiti pieces he did.
We have crews in town that go out and buff (cover) graffiti as soon as possible. Many times, graffiti is a territorial marker, a challenge, evidence of war going on in your community. I wanted Bobby Ray Dean to have other motivations which evolve as he grows up and into the persona of Roman Velasco. He feels illegitimate as the Bird, but strives for legitimacy through Roman Velasco. The graffiti and the canvas work he does show the war going on inside him. It takes God to bring the two sides together and blend the mediums into a new, unique art quest and passion.
⦁ Did memories of your writing career “before Christ” inspire how you wrote the art career of Roman Velasco?
In some ways, yes. Before I became a Christian, I wrote steamy historical romances in the general market. Those books and the years of working on them taught me a lot about the craft of writing. When I gave my life to Christ, God used all that training for His good purpose when I began writing Redeeming Love. Certain elements stayed the same: the setting—early California history—and a passionate love story. The difference was the focus of the novel. It was all about how high, deep, and wide God’s love is for each of us. Jesus was a central “character” in the story, whispering to Michael, who strove to live out his faith in front of Angel, a broken child of God whose soul had been deeply damaged by the abuse of others. Brokenness, healing, and redemption are consistent themes in my work.
⦁ The names of your characters often carry special significance—can you tell us how you have gone about naming characters in the past and, without giving too much away, tell us a little about how you chose the names of the characters in The Masterpiece?
Grace’s full name tells her life story. I admit there is no great spiritual meaning to Roman’s names. I liked the sound of Bobby Ray Dean. His initials—BRD—and where he did his graffiti work created the second name: the Bird. And secondary characters in the story came up with the name Roman Velasco. They were joking about it, but Bobby Ray takes on the name and uses it to launch a new life.
⦁ What does The Masterpiece have in common with your other novels? How is it unique?
Every story I’ve written contains a love story. This book has that in common with all my others. However, in other stories, I’ve had one main character be strong in faith. The difference in this novel, both people are broken and struggling. Grace is the Christian, but she has fallen several times, and suffered greatly for it. Her faith is an uphill, arduous climb. Roman adds to that battle. They both come from traumatic childhood experiences that have shaped their lives. The strong Christian voices in this story come from secondary characters.
⦁ What do you hope your readers come to know about God through this story?
I want readers to know that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you’ve done, when you accept Jesus, God will make you into His masterpiece.
About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers has published numerous novels—all bestsellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for many honors and in 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for inspirational fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Francine’s novels have been translated into over 30 different languages, and she enjoys bestseller status in many foreign countries. She and her husband, Rick, enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
About the book:
Insecurity. As women, we all struggle with it. Our skinny jeans mock us. Our age-defying serums with flecks of gold refuse to erase our crow's feet. Our social media feeds taunt us with everyone else's picture-perfect lives. If you've ever felt uninteresting, unlovable, or unattractive, you're ready for Lincee Ray's particular brand of hilarious (and hard-hitting) self-reflection.
Like a trustworthy friend, she shows us that the fastest way to happiness is to embrace ourselves in all our imperfection and trust that God knew what He was doing when He made us. From maneuvering the muffin top to navigating the sketchy waters of singleness to walking the judgmental halls of the workplace, Lincee's laugh-out-loud look at real life reveals many of the key truths she's learned about her identity:
Yoga pants are your friend, Jesus sees you, and green-bean diets are never the answer.
This book is hilarious! I pretty much read it with a smile on my face, when I wasn't laughing out loud! There are some serious moments, such as when she talks about a really hard time in her life but, for the most part, she looks at life with tongue in cheek and a quick wit. There are some seriously crazy moments that have happened in her life and make for great and hilarious stories. She's sharing these so we don't have to endure the same situations, such as speed dating and online dating, to name a couple. She talks about her relationship with Jesus and how all the hard things she had to go through were worth it if that's what it took for her to turn to and depend on Him. She also talks frankly about her insecurities growing up and after being rejected and the lies she believed for a while about who and what she was. It's so important to fill our minds with the truth of Scripture and focus on who God says we are, rather than who the world says we are. I could relate to some of her feelings about singleness, as I think probably all women can. I love all of the TV and movie references. I could relate to a lot of them, except I haven't seen one episode of the Bachelor! I, of course, know what it is as I haven't been living under a rock and found her descriptions pretty funny. I think my very favorite part were the online dating stories she collected from friends. They were truly horrifying/hilarious and I can't believe people actually act that way! I highly recommend this book if you like true stories, need encouragement or need some humor in your life! You won't be disappointed!
I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.
Lincee RayLincee Ray is an accidental blogging superstar who now writes for Entertainment Weekly and the Associated Press. An active speaker, she can be found at her popular website www.ihategreenbeans.com, where she makes it clear that she believes it's...
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Sunday, March 11, 2018
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Friday, March 9, 2018
Loved It! 'Hearts Entwined' - by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings and Melissa Jagears
About the book:
Hearts EntwinedFour Historical Romance Novellas of Love (With a Twist of Humor)
The ways of love can be complex. Sometimes a relationship full of unexpected twists and unlikely turns leads to a bond that's strong and secure. Join Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears for novellas that follow the winding path of romance in stories that celebrate a love that lasts forever.
The Love KnotWhen Claire Nevin's troubled younger sibling sends her an unexpected package by rail, the gift and the man who delivers it--an unexpected face from the past--threaten to upend Claire's life forever. Fighting to hold on to all she has built, will she lose what matters most?
The Tangled Ties That BindConnor Kincaid returns home determined to win the hand of the woman he was too young for when he left. But Maggie is training to be a doctor in a distant town, while Connor's about to settle on a ranch. Will either be willing to give up their dream? Or will they both have to give up the love of a lifetime?
Bound and DeterminedAs punishment for his recklessness, Private Bradley Willis is sent on an errand to help a retired cavalry officer move a herd across Indian Territory. No one told him the herd would be camels instead of cattle, nor that the officer's headstrong daughter, Ambrosia Herald, would seem to be trying to undermine the whole enterprise. He's definitely been saddled with more than he's bargained for.
Tied and TrueWealthy Marianne Lister is in love with business assistant Calvin Hochstetler, but he can't see past the difference in their social status. When Marianne takes a job to prove that she is prepared for a life of hard work alongside the man of her dreams, will it be enough to convince Calvin to risk it all for love?
These were all wonderful stories by very talented writers! They also were all a part of a different series each author has but they worked just fine as stand-alone's because I'm not caught up on each of these series' and I didn't have any trouble enjoying them! There was variety to the type of love stories here, some being couples who knew each other some time ago, one set were friends and one just met. A couple of the stories were quite a bit more humorous than the others and all had a good amount of action. All of the main characters seemed to be Christians, with some being more outspoken about their faith, praying for help and comfort. There were a lot of cute romantic moments! I liked how some of the characters really sacrificed for each other and put each other first. The history was interesting, such as learning about the different social classes and what life would have been like for a woman doctor. I loved the independence of these women! They were all strong and determined to make it in a man's world. Women are truly blessed to live in this time, especially if you live in the USA, Great Britain, etc, and to have the opportunities we have now. I highly recommend this book!
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Karen WitemeyerWinner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three...
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Mary ConnealyMary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas,...
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Regina JenningsRegina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She's the winner of the National Readers' Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award....
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Melissa JagearsCarol Award-winning author Melissa Jagears is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian historical romance into the wee hours of the night. She's the author of the Unexpected Brides series, the Teaville Moral Society series, and Love by the Letter, a...
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Monday, March 5, 2018
About the book:
"Not today. I will not worry today."
Phoebe Starbuck has always taken care of her father--worrying enough for both of them, as he chases one whim after another. Now, for the first time, she's doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, she takes two gifts from her father, but desires only one: her great-grandmother's journal. The second gift? A "minder" in the form of cooper Matthew Macy, a man she loathes.
Phoebe soon discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary's journal and finds a secret that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially the captain and the cooper.
Sail away with expert navigator Suzanne Woods Fisher, who confidently explores the sometimes treacherous shores of Quaker life on the storied Nantucket Island.
It took me a little bit to really get into this story but it ended up being hard to put down! There were a few twists that surprised me and I kept wondering how it was going to all work out. It was fascinating learning about the history of Nantucket Island in two different time periods. This is one of my favorite plot strategies! The older time period here was told through journal entries so we get the innermost thoughts of Mary Coffin Starbuck, a true historical figure, though the journal was a work of fiction. I liked Phoebe and Mary; they were both strong, independent women and outspoken. Phoebe, though, seemed more pushy and stubborn, even when people warned her about her choice of husband. I really liked her idea to travel with her husband and have an adventure. I could understand not wanting to be separated for years, especially after just marrying. Apparently, whaling voyages could take years. She was a Quaker, so religion and faith were very much a part of her life, though she could be single-minded about what she wanted to do instead of praying about it first. Matthew struggled with the Quaker faith more, seeing the hypocrisy of people and the rules and wanting no part of them, especially after his father died. He didn't understand the personal relationship with God. I was amazed how the Quakers were persecuted, some even being hanged for being heretics by the Puritans! It was also interesting to learn in the historical notes about the addiction to opium many people had, including one of the characters in the story. It was taken for many ailments and found in different products and people didn't even realize they were addicted. I also really enjoyed seeing what a trial was like in the 1700's. It will be interesting to see where the story goes next and what impact the rest of the journal will have for future generations. I can hardly wait! I highly recommend this book if you like historical fiction!
I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.
Suzanne Woods FisherSuzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Phoebe's Light, Minding the Light, the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop's Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as...
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