Monday, September 26, 2016

The Wedding Shop: A Review and A Giveaway!

 My Review:

This is the third book in Hauck's Wedding Celebration series, and I can honestly say all three are worth the read. The books are stand-alone reads, but I highly recommend picking up all three books.
 
In this book, Haley returns to Heart's Bend to open an abandoned wedding shop. Much like the shop, she has faced disappointments in life, and this is an opportunity for her to find herself. The story follows the original owner of the store and is written over a nearly 100 year time span, covering the shop in its glory and Haley's drive to see it returned to that position.
 
Like all of Hauck's books, the storyline offers hope and focuses on God's purpose for our lives. Without preaching to her readers, Hauck lets the Gospel shine through her words. Her characters are well-developed and likeable, and you long for things to work out for them.
 
I did receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for Celebration Lit. I'd give this book 5 stars. A fun, lighthearted read that offers hope!

About the Book

 

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.
It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.
More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.
When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.
As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

About the Author

 

Rachel Hauck is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Her book Once Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist.
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at rachelhauck.com, Facebook: rachelhauck, and Twitter: @RachelHauck


Guest Post from Rachel Hauck
Hey everyone! I’m so excited to share The Wedding Shop with you. This book is one of my favorites.
While all books are my “babies,” this one found a special place in my heart.
This standalone novel is part of the Wedding Collection – The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel – and it came to life when I discovered the story of Cora Scott, a 1930s wedding shop owner.
At 30, she’s an old maid, but the best “bride’s maid” in fictional Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. But she’s in love with a charismatic, charming river boat captain.
The contemporary heroine, Haley Morgan, is a retired Air Force captain returning to Heart’s Bend to restart her life. She’s recovering from a broken heart. The handsome, dynamic, charming man she loved was nothing but trouble.
Returning home, Haley is set on keeping a childhood promise she made with her best friend—to open the old wedding shop.
The shop is legend in Heart’s Bend. Haley grew up with stories of Miss Cora and the shop, hearing the town’s mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers reminiscing about their “day in the shop,” walking down the grand staircase in their wedding gown.
But in 2016, the shop is dilapidated, neglected and in need of more money than Haley possesses.
While writing this story, I had to ask a lot of questions. Why reopen the old shop? Why not just open a new one?
Haley was a combat veteran, deployed to Afghanistan twice, why would she want to open a wedding shop?
I also investigate the meaning of the shop to the town? To Cora? To Haley?
As I developed the backstory for the characters, the shop and the town, Cora’s came to life. She fascinated me. I admired this fictional woman. She exuded ingenuity, courage, and deep, deep devotion.
On the other hand, Haley was a bit of a mystery but from the start, she saw value in something no one else did.
What if we all saw value in people or places others wanted to reject?
Isn’t that what Jesus does for us?
The heroes of the book, Birch and Cole, are just stellar guys. Princes among men. I love writing about slightly wounded but strong and tender men.
The theme of family and community populates the story. Also, how misconceptions and preconceived ideas often ruin relationships.
Booklist gave The Wedding Shop a Starred Review and called it, “Spellbinding.”
There’s a lot of fun drama in this book! I hope you enjoy spending time with Cora and Haley, the men they love and the shop they bring to life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Connect with me at www.rachelhauck.com.

Blog Stops

September 13: A Holland Reads
September 14: Giveaway Lady
September 14: Daysong Reflections
September 15: Bibliophile Reviews
September 16: Bigreadersite
September 16: The Scribbler
September 17: Books,Dreams,Life
September 17: ASC Book Reviews
September 18: Book Babble
September 18: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 19: Pause for Tales
September 19: Book by Book
September 20: The Power of Words
September 20: Lighthouse Academy
September 21: Proverbial Reads
September 21: Splashes of Joy
September 22: Faithfully Bookish
September 23: Tell Tale Book Reviews
September 24: Quiet Quilter
September 25: For The Love of Books

Giveaway

 


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away her Wedding Collection Series! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a366

Sunday, September 25, 2016

#NoticeTheNecessary

I'm thrilled that I've been selected for the launch team for Karen Ehman's latest book, Listen, Love, Repeat (published by Zondervan and available for pre-order and set to release November 15).

This past week, we were reading in Chapter 4 we were talking about "necessary people", and were asked to identify those people in our lives and share a picture on Instagram, either of that person, or a picture symbolizing that person.

I shared a picture of my Mom, because she is more than necessary to me and so many other people around us.

But I've been thinking of other necessary people, and I want to give a shoutout to some of them...

Like the M&O department at the college where I work. They are forever unlocking doors for me, or packing books for me, or setting up the gym for displays for me. They are a great group of guys (and gal- Thanks, Sherri!)  and I couldn't do what I do without them!

And Shannon and Kena in academics. They are forever answering questions for me, e-scanning documents for me, helping me with scheduling, and allowing me to gripe when my day gets too hard.  And Brad and our IT guys, who keep this technologically challenged teacher able to minimally function. Pinky and Lesa and Ann and Bryan who help me when I'm not sure about advising and Leanna and Leanne in the business office who let me use their microwave and make sure I know how to complete forms.

Necessary people like the cashier at Walmart whose name I don't know but who always has a smile on her face as she scans my items, even when I have forgotten something and have to run to the back of the store to pick up toilet paper.

And the staff at McDonalds- Sarah and Miranda and Katelyn and Taylor and all of the others who I don't know personally. These guys make sure Caleb's chicken nuggets are cooked to perfection and call me beautiful when I go through the drive-thru and also exchange my drink for a Diet Coke when I may or may not have said Dr. Pepper accidentally.

Necessary people like teachers who go to work early and stay late and grade papers sitting in front of their TVs at night, but loan kids whose Moms never go to the ATM quarters for lunch.

People like my mailman, who just happens to be my cousin, who knew we were going on vacation and arranged for our mail to be stopped without us going into the post office.

Necessary people like the manager at Wendy's the other night, who kept bringing out chicken sandwiches and cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets even though I'm pretty sure he brought out more than what we paid for. He kept a smile on his face and was courteous to a dining room of stinky football players.

And necessary people like Baretta, who works Caleb in at the last minute to get his hair cut, even though it's after football practice (and that can't be pleasant).

The lady who cleans the church and the man who mows the grass...

Cooks and janitors and bus drivers...

See, whatever it is you do, you have an eternal impact. Your job matters and you are necessary to somebody, even if you don't think so. Often, you're one of the only people with that skill set, and we need you!

So, thank you for whatever it is you do for this world... keep on doing it!
And know His grace is sufficient even when you feel like it's too hard and no one cares.

I see you... and so does He!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One More Day: A Review

Carrie would give anything for just one more day.



What would she do differently?


One more day with her toddler... but that's impossible.


Or is it? Because, here he is... and then he is gone.


The heartbreak that follows as she is plunged into a murder investigation and past experiences that haunt her leave her reeling as she tries to make it through just one more day...


I enjoyed this book. Part supernatural, part thriller, my heart  hurt for Carrie. At times it was a little hard to follow, though, because I wasn't sure who some of the characters were. Would recommend it for anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers.


I did receive a free copy of this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review and am posting this review on their website. This book is available through

Amazon. I receive no compensation through Amazon for using the link with their book information.
Professional Reader

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"When I Was..." and other Parenting Fails

This afternoon I turned into THAT mom. 

Actually two days in a row made me feel like THAT mom. 

Yesterday I turned around and told Caleb and his girlfriend that "the younger generation didn't know how to effectively communicate..."

And today I found myself saying, "When I was in 7th grade..."

(Yes.  I.  Did.  And I also walked 10 miles uphill both ways in the snow to get to school.  Y'all!!! Where did that even come from???)

And as I made that statement, I immediately realized that when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I WOULD HAVE REACTED IN THE SAME WAY THAT CALEB DID.

Anyway, I've really been thinking a lot about parenting lately. I've been seeing posts on the internet about helicopter parents and how we let our kids by with way too much. I shared a post on facebook about uncoachable kids which led to a debate between some members of my family, and the conversation inevitably turned to parenting, and how often the parents may be more of the problem than the player.

I may or may not have been guilty of making the comment, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

It's just true. We behave how we see others behave...

which is why I'm kind of glad Caleb doesn't sit with me at most football games.

He'd be getting flags right and left for back-talking refs because "CAN'T YOU SEE THAT WAS A HORSECOLLAR???" and " IF I KNOW IT''S HOLDING IT'S PRETTY DAGGONE OBVIOUS!"
and also, "YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME" more times than I can count.

And here's the thing. It's a fine line that parents have to tight-walk. We want our kids to be instilled with confidence, and to us, they are the absolute best at everything they do... except they aren't.

I would have loved to have been an Olympic gymnast, but there was one problem.

I couldn't hardly do a round-off.  I always landed kind of sideways.

I want Caleb to be involved in a lot of things, and I encourage him to pursue whatever activities interest him, and I may occasionally encourage him to pursue things that he isn't really interested in.

But like I told him the other night, I know he won't be THE BEST at everything he does, and that's ok.

I know I sound like a parent making excuses, but sometimes you learn more from NOT being the best. In fact, I'd almost wager that you ALWAYS learn more when you aren't the best, because you're having to work that much  harder.

But y'all.  Letting our kids fail is hard.

Sometimes I feel heartless.

A lot of times I make excuses for why I need to jump in there and save Caleb.

And a lot of times we end up yelling at each other because THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE and THE FAMILY TREE HIT HIM IN THE HEAD  and SCREAMING IS MY MODE OF COMMUNICATION (note the capital letters used for emphasis.)

How can we support our kids and give them confidence when they are falling on their face?

Maybe by love.

Acceptance when they fall.

And for Heaven's sake, stop the screaming.

I'm no perfect parent, y'all.  Caleb may or may not have worn dirty socks to football practice last week (although I did pick them up and sniff them and they didn't smell too bad, so they were probably clean, right?) and as I attested earlier, I did point out the flaws of his generation while making my generation seem like we have it together.

Except I'm pretty sure Caleb knows we don't.

And that part about how kids learn what they see?

Well, maybe that's how we teach them how to fail. By letting them see what big messes we are but also pointing them to grace...

by giving them grace. By giving others grace. Even referees deserve grace, y'all!! (And I'm not knocking refs. I wouldn't be one if you paid me a million dollars!)

And the best part?

His grace is sufficient... for any mess. For every mess. And it's sufficient to get me through these teenage years...

because He loves Caleb way more than I could ever imagine.

And He loves me that much, too.

So His grace is sufficient to help Caleb survive this hot mess of a Mama.

May he always know just how blessed I consider myself to be his mama...




Thursday, September 15, 2016

Write 31 Days

2016- It's all about purpose.

Yet I find myself being called to something.

Still focusing on my purpose.

Still focusing on being purposeful.

In this world of negativity, though, I find myself being called to something higher.

Something that challenges me.

Something that changes my persepctive.

Gratitude and contentment.

I'll be writing about it all October.

Because I need to be more purposeful...

Join me on this journey?


Monday, September 12, 2016

Hope in My Heart: A Review and A Giveaway Link

I
 
 

My Review: I don't usually like short stories. If I'm going to read a story line, I want it to be detailed. However, when this was offered by Celebrate Lit, I decided to review it because it seemed like a good storyline. I enjoyed this book, even though I was left wanting more. The characters were likeable and the book was a quick read. The storylines in the three short stories were varied and did offer hope in the resolution for their characters. I'd recommend this book.

My only complaint is that I think there could have been more than three stories. One short story had several different storylines that I felt could have been expanded into individual stories. I also wanted to find out more about the characters lives; they almost ended too soon... which could be why I don't like short stories.
 
Overall, though, an enjoyable read.
I did receive a free copy of this book through Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Book:


Hope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope.
In “Love Unexpected,” a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.
Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, “The Best Gift.” Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister’s wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.
In “Peace and Love,” three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents’ divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

About the Author


Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling and is especially delighted to have released her first book, an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, in Sept. 2013. When Alexis is not working on her next book or chasing down the next big story for the newspaper where she works as a freelance reporter, she can be found listening to songs by her most admired musicians, enjoying the food in cafes/restaurants, shopping at her favorite malls and spending quality time with loved ones (family and friends).

Guest Post from Alexis Goring

It’s an honor to have my first published book, Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, going on a blog tour with Celebrate Lit!
I met Sandra, founder of Celebrate Lit, through Facebook when she asked me to be one of the book reviewers for her company. At the moment, I was in grad school pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing so I didn’t have time to write a review. But I enjoyed reading my fellow bloggers’ reviews of the books featured by a blog tour hosted by Celebrate Lit. Imagine how delighted I was to be afforded the opportunity to participate in one of these tours not as a blogger but as a featured author!
I’m guessing that you’d like to know a little bit about me as an author. So, here’s my (real-life) story: I’m an East Coast girl with a love for writing, photography, good food and music that inspires hope in my heart. Most people think that I’m either from New York, California or an “exotic island”. They are right about the island heritage, because my dad is from the Caribbean. I love making connections with people and learning from their life stories. I believe in finding the good in everything and showing God’s love to the world. I have a heart for the hurting and hungry. I want to help people discover their true worth and realize their true identity—they are loved and belong to the Creator of the Universe. I believe that I achieve that goal to an extent, through my Christian lifestyle blog, “God is Love.”
As an author, my goal is to warm the hearts of my readers, bring a smile to their face and point them to the One who loves them with all of His Heart. I am talking about God. He’s amazing! I’m so grateful to Him for giving me the gift of writing and showing me ways to share my writing and His love with the world! I love that He made a way for me to publish my first book and is making a way for me to publish my next ones.
Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories was originally published by Crossbooks (former imprint of B&H Publishing Group) in Sept. 2013. However, after Crossbooks closed, my book was re-branded by WestBow Press (a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan) and re-released in Nov. 2015. It’s available for purchase on Amazon.com and a few other book retailer sites online. Initially, it was on the shelves at Barnes & Noble (my favorite bookstore) but since being re-branded, it’s only available online.


Giveaway!!!!
To celebrate her tour, Alexis is giving away seven eBook copies of her book Hope in My Heart! Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a2fc

Blog Stops

September 2: Faithfully Bookish
September 3: Bukwurmzzz
September 3: The Power of Words
September 4: Mary Hake
September 5: cherylbbookblog
September 8: Southern Chelle
September 10: Karen’s Krayons
September 13: Carpe Diem

Saturday, September 10, 2016

On Football...

To say I'm disillusioned right now would be an understatement.

It's a Saturday night, and usually that means that I'm in a football state of mind.

Y'all. I love sports.

I love high school sports.

I love college sports.

I love the NFL, especially my Steelers...

but tonight I'm shaking my head, just a little.

My football Bobcats are 0-3.

My UK Wildcats are 0-2.

The top 2 draft picks for my fantasy football league team with Wallace are out for injuries.

And I'm holding my breath for Monday night.

And I know in the grand scheme of things a winning football season isn't something to worry about... in fact, football in general isn't that big of a deal.

Except it is.

Because the way I see it, football is kind of reflective of our society.

Football has adapted in response to our society.

In Breathitt County, 20 years ago we had won our first state championship and were on our way to another one. Our population was a little larger than it is now, and our school system was in better financial shape.  And our community was behind our boys in blue.

All of our community.

There were signs galore and every business had "Go Cats" on their billboard.

The only color to wear on Friday night was blue.

Fast forward 20 years, and no, we aren't winning...

but those kids also don't get much support. There aren't signs in the community and the money has all dried up.

It's almost like some people enjoy seeing others fail.

I'm not writing this saying that I am giving up on our Bobcats, because y'all know that I've been a true fan ALL MY LIFE and I've been right there in the bad times as well as the good.

What I am saying is that there is a sense of hopelessness in our community, and it plays out on the field. Negativity breeds negativity, and if all kids hear is the negative, well, that will translate to picked passes or missed blocks or for a quarterback on the other team rushing for four or five touchdowns.

And before you think I'm pointing fingers at the coaching staff, let me assure you that I'm not.  (God forbid.  Nobody knows the life of a coach and his wife and his kids. I may question calls, but that's just my nature. Best not say anything negative about the coaches around me.)

Now I know that not everybody in Breathitt Co. cares about football, and that's ok. What concerns me is that I think there is a large group of people who don't care about anything.

Complete apathy.... but for some reason, those are the people who choose to complain.

One of my favorite quotes is "The person rocking the boat isn't the one rowing." 

I love Eastern Kentucky, but I am afraid for it.

I wish I had the answer.

I wish I could create jobs and stop the drug problem and keep families together.

Those are all large problems that outweigh any problems our sports programs may face, and there isn't one single thing that I can do about them on my own.

What I can do, though, is offer future generations some hope.

It's why you'll never see me give up on a player.

They may be missing a block on the field... but I have no idea what they are going home to.

And even if I know they are going home to a mom and dad who fully supports them, I also know that being a teenage is tough, and you can't ever have enough support.

But then there's the fine line of coddling our kids, which is easy to do. It's easy to make excuses for them and to allow them to pretend that they are greater than they are... because everybody's kid is the best.

Right?

Which brings me to the other reason I'm disillusioned. See, my philosophy on football is that it is a character building game. It teaches teamwork and discipline and it's hard.

But I'm sad to say that in this game that I love, character is becoming questionable.

I understand everyone has the right to their own opinion, and our nation is far from perfect.

And I understand that oppression is real and that racial tensions are real and that even 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement there are still very large gaps.

But this whole not standing for the National Anthem really gets me.

And the fact that the NFL is just letting it go really leaves me shaking my head.

And again, that's  completely from my perspective... but I know a lot of soldiers from all races and religions died so that Old Glory can be waved and The Star-Spangled Banner can be played.

Again, I wish I knew the answer for that. I wish I knew how everyone could be treated fairly and feel loved and respected.

I guess all I can do is my small part, and treat everyone the way I'd like to be treated.

Keep being a cheerleader, and pray for better things.

His grace is sufficient, even when football leaves me shaking my head.