Monday, March 27, 2017

Murder for the Time Being


I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew mysteries, and ever since then I have enjoyed a nice, suspenseful novel. Joanie Bruce's book Murder for the Time Being doesn't disappoint. It's fast-paced but easy to read. A bank robbery, an attempted kidnapping, a near-death experience... all of these add up to draw the reader in and keep them on the edge of their seat as they read this book. The characters, Lexi and Drew especially, are well-developed and likeable. The tension between the two crackles off the page even as they try to push down those feelings.

I'd highly recommend this book for anyone who likes romance, suspense, and plot lines that include the realization that God is in control even if we can't see how.


About the Book

Book: Murder for the Time Being
Author: Joanie Bruce
Genre: Christian Suspense/Romance
Release Date: November 29, 2016
“You’ll pay for this. I’ll get you both.”
Computer expert Lexi Wynn is frightened. Someone is after her, but she doesn’t know why. Is it because of her past or because she was thrust into a deadly bank robbery and might identify the ones responsible? Escaping a failed kidnapping attempt and not sure who to trust, she hopes her specialized skills with computers might flush out the name of the killer. When a tall, dark, and handsome stranger rams into her truck with the hearse he’s driving and puts his life in danger to save hers, can she ignore the attraction she feels for him to concentrate on the killers? Or is God the only one who can save her now?
Drew Sheffield is irritated when a cute lady stops abruptly in front of him and he plows into the back of her pickup. After their initial confrontation, flashbacks of honeysuckle and sassy green eyes linger in his thoughts. When Lexi is threatened, he steps in to help the feisty young woman, in spite of agonizing over a past relationship.
Can Lexi and Drew forget the tragedies of the past and embrace the feelings between them or will ghostly memories snub out the promise of a future together?

About the Author

Joanie has a strong passion for reading, and her love for books with nail-biting suspense, inspires her to write contemporary suspense books. Thankful that God has given her the ability to write from her home in the country, she strives to use that opportunity to honor Him in all of her writing. Joanie and her husband, Ben, live in a country home near Madison, Georgia, right in the middle of a pasture full of beef cows. There they raised and homeschooled their three children. She enjoys cooking, taking long walks, painting oil portraits, and caring for their home in the country.

Guest Post from Joanie Bruce
Have you ever been devastated by a certain event in your life, and later it turned out to the best thing that ever happened to you? That’s what happened to Lexi Wyn in this book, “Murder for the Time Being.” Something unthinkable happened to her family, but in the end, it changes Lexi’s life forever and introduces her to the love of her life.
In this story, both Lexi and Drew have things in their past that discourage them from seeking a lasting relationship. However, God has a plan for them both, and through His Divine engineering, they are thrown together in circumstances that nurture a growing appreciation and affection for each other.
This book was fun to write because I anchored the story in my sweet little town of Madison, Georgia. I wasn’t raised in Madison, but I’ve called it home for much longer than any other place I’ve ever lived. While growing up in the big city of Memphis, Tennessee, I had definite plans for my future. All I ever wanted was to “marry a country boy and live in the country.” The Lord heard the desires of my heart and gave me what I wanted … a country boy, born and raised here in Morgan County on a dairy farm.
After we married, I adopted Madison as my home, and I love it so much that I wanted to feature some of the fun spots in Madison as the backdrops for the scenes in my books. I hope when you read through the pages of my book, you will get an idea of what a sweet little town Madison is and enjoy reading about Lexi and Drew and how they let God guide them in discovering that murder CAN be “for the Time Being.”

Blog Stops

March 15: autism mom
March 17: A Greater Yes
March 18: Radiant Light
March 20: Karen Sue Hadley
March 24: Pause for Tales
March 24: 2014 and Beyond!
March 26: Carpe Diem

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Joanie is giving away a Kindle Fire!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b291

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Buried Secrets: A Review and A Giveaway

If you've read my blog much in the last couple of years, you've noticed that I really like Amish fiction. I've loved to read it for a while, but got away from it, and since I've been reviewing, I'm remembering why I enjoy it so much.

This book is the second book in the Sisters & Friends series, but can be read as a stand-alone (although I recommend reading the first in the series, Change of Heart!). This story offers a little heartache, a little redemption, the excitement of babies... just about anything you could ask for.

Emma has amnesia regarding an event that occurred when she wasn't making good decisions. She has moved in with her sister to help as she prepares to have twins. She becomes acquainted with the next door neighbor, Samuel, and begins to fall in love with him...

But just like it always will for each of us, her past comes to haunt her, and she must face the ugliness and decide how to move forward.

These characters are well-developed, and you truly feel for them. The book is well-written and easy to read. I'd highly recommend it!!!


About the Book

Book: Buried Secrets
Author: Rachel J. Good
Genre: Amish Romance
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Overcome the past and any other obstacles that stand in the way of the future God has planned for you.
Three years after the accident that almost claimed her life, Emma Esh has recovered physically but has no memory of the year before the accident. When she moves to a new community to help her sister Lydia and brother-in-law, Caleb, prepare for the birth of twins, she falls for their neighbor Samuel.
But the twins’ premature birth, a visit from the Englischer Emma once dated, and the sudden return of her memory threaten Emma’s romance. After the secrets of her past are revealed, will love be able to overcome all obstacles?

About the Author


Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She is the author of several Amish series in print or forthcoming – Sisters & Friends series, Love & Promises series, and two books in the Hearts of Amish Country series – as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Books and the contemporary novella, Angels Unaware, part of the Hope Chapel series. Rachel also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. She loves reading (of course!), traveling, and spending time with her five children and three grandchildren. Visit her at her website, Facebook, author page, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. You also can sign up for her quarterly newsletter here.

Guest post by Rachel Good:
Readers who have read Change of Heart, the first book in the Sisters & Friends series, will remember Emma as the wild teen who defied her family. Her older sister, Lydia, tried to prevent Emma from making mistakes during Rumschpringe, the Amish running-around time. Throughout most of the story, Lydia and Emma were at odds with each other, but in the end, the family needed to forgive Emma and show her God’s love.

In Book 2, Buried Secrets, Emma has no memory of her rebellion, so she’s devastated when she finally does remember. Then she must confront her past, learn to forgive herself, and also ask for and accept God’s forgiveness. Sometimes when we’ve done things we’re ashamed of, we struggle to believe that God can forgive what we’ve done. But God’s mercy has no limits. Emma needs to open her heart to that truth. As she does, she discovers an important lesson: Some mistakes in the past can never be undone, but God can forgive anything.

Authors often write about themes that are close to their hearts, and I’m no exception. Many times, after I write a novel, I look back and see how God directed me to tell a story containing lessons I needed to learn. In Change of Heart, Lydia discovers that judging other people or suggesting ways they can improve their lives can be a form of self-righteousness. God used my young daughter to point that out to me, but it’s a lesson that bears repeating. And as I finished the novel, I clearly saw it as a reminder not only to Lydia, but also to me.

Emma’s story also blessed me by reminding me how deep and wide God’s love is for each of us. No matter how we’ve failed, He never stops loving us, and His forgiveness is only a prayer away.

I also hope to remind readers that “all things work together for good for those that love God.” So often we expect hardship when we do God’s will, but He has promised to give us the desires of our hearts. Lydia learned in Change of Heart that God’s will was so much better than anything she could have planned, and Emma, too, comes to realize that, by trusting God to direct her life, she is blessed many times over.

Has God ever given you a desire of your heart? To enter the giveaway, share one of God’s blessings in your life. And let’s rejoice together at the many wonderful things He has done for each of us.

Book Excerpt

Emma concentrated on the plants beside her. Gardening soothed her, made her feel whole again. The spring sunshine warmed the ground and sent comforting rays through her cloak as she bent over the soft, moist earth. She lifted a seedling from its pot and inhaled the savory tomato-y aroma. Then she pinched off the lower leaves, set it in the hole, and gently bent the stem before covering it with soil.

Whoosh. A heavy weight slammed her backwards, smashing her head against the ground. Gasping, desperate to suck some air into her crushed lungs, Emma opened her eyes to find a furry face inches from her own. A huge mouth opened, revealing pointy white teeth. Then a wet pink tongue scraped across her cheek.

“Bolt,” a deep male voice commanded. “Off.”

A handsome stranger, black bangs hanging in front of his eyes, bent over her, his hand outstretched. “Ach, I’m so sorry. She slipped out the door again.” He clamped his other hand on the Irish setter’s collar and pulled the dog off Emma, leaving muddy paw prints across her skirt.

Still dazed, Emma lay where she’d fallen, gazing up at him, unsure whether the rapid pattering of her pulse was from her recent fright or from looking into the greenest eyes she’d ever seen.

“Are you all right?” Worry crinkled his brow.

“I–I’ll be fine.” Ignoring the hand he’d extended, she tried to sit.

The stranger dropped to one knee beside her. “Don’t get up if you’re hurt. Is there someone I can fetch?”

“I don’t need help.” Heat flooded Emma’s cheeks when her words came out sharply. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “Please forgive me.” Then pinching her lips together, she steeled herself to sit without assistance.

“There’s nothing to forgive. I’m the one who let my dog escape.” The words were barely out of his mouth when the Irish setter twisted free and bounded off, crushing the rows of seedlings Emma had just planted.

“Oh, no!” The stranger dashed off after the dog, swerving to avoid the tomato plants the setter had crushed. Gasping for air, he made a desperate tackle, landing a few feet beyond the garden, the dog wriggling under him. With a firm grip on the Irish setter’s collar, he stood, the front of his shirt, galluses, and black pants splattered with dog hair and dirt.

Emma suppressed the urge to giggle at his sheepish expression, the clod of mud clinging to his forehead, and the panting dog struggling to jerk free of his hold.

He pinched his lips together as he studied the mess. “I’m so sorry. Let me put Bolt in the house. Then I’ll help clean up.”

“Bolt?” Had he called the dog that earlier? Emma had been too distracted to pay attention. Now she couldn’t hold in her mirth.

Rather than taking offense, the stranger glanced down with a rueful expression, then joined in her laughter. “Jah,” he said between hearty chuckles. “Short for Lightning Bolt. She zigs and zags so fast I can’t catch her sometimes.” He waved a hand toward the disaster in the garden. “Like she did here. And now look at me.”

Emma did, and her laughter ended in a sharp intake of breath. And then his eyes met hers, and she stopped breathing altogether.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading Buried Secrets as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Rachel

Blog Stops

March 9: autism mom
March 13: Bigreadersite
March 15: Carpe Diem
March 16: Splashes of Joy
March 20: A Greater Yes
March 22: Karen Sue Hadley

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a full box of Whoopie Pies freshly baked for you from a bakery in Amish country, along with copies of Angels Unaware, the brand new Amish Words and Proverbs Coloring Book and Amish Quilts Coloring Book #1 (Large Print Edition), an autographed copy of Change of Heart, and an Amish cookbook!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b160

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What I Read in February

1. The Cat That Went Bump in the Night- This was a free book on Amazon Kindle, and I wouldn't have considered it except it does have a cat on its cover, and that's one of the categories for the Popsugar Reading Challenge I'm participating in. So...
it was a nice, quick, read. It involved a paranormal cat, a man with a dead end job looking for a way out, and his involvement with a paranormal investigator. It was an "okay" book. I probably wouldn't read it again... but if you like short novels involving paranormal events, this would be up your alley. It is the first book in a trilogy.


2. Before Bethlehem- This is a book that I have had on my Kindle for a couple of years. It was another free read, and I had made a note to download and read it back in December... but y'all know me and how some books get pushed to the back. This was a good storyline. It told the story of Joseph and Mary... how they came to be espoused... and the story of her pregnancy. The author presented a version of the story I was not familiar with... that Joseph already had James and the other children, and was a widower.  The author also focused on Roman rule, and how it influenced the lives of all who lived during that time frame. I enjoyed this novelization of the Christmas story, but encourage those who read it to delve into Scripture and compare the two.


3. Peach Cobbler Murder- This is another Hannah Swenson novel. In this one, Swenson's bakery comes under attack by a new business in town... until the owner is found dead. I love these novels because they are funny, the characters are well-developed, and they are easy to read. I have several more of these left, and I'm glad!


4. The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade- This book is set in central Kentucky, just outside of Frankfort, in fictional Goose Creek. It involves a new vet in town, a couple fighting over whether they really want to renovate a house to make a bed and breakfast, and a stand-off over the painting of the town water tower. Complete with a drugstore with a soda shop, this is small town living at it's finest, and I highly recommend this book! This is the first in a series, and I'm currently reading the second.
 


5. Never Forget- This is a book I reviewed for Celebrate Lit in January, but I just finished it up this month. It's a great read, with fabulous characters and a gripping storyline. I'd highly recommend!! (See link for full review).

6. Still Life- This is a book I got free from Netgalley. It tells the story of  Gillian Marchenko, a pastor's wife who finds herself in the dredges of depression. Beautifully written and candid, Marchenko offers hope for anyone who finds themselves lost. She describes the guilt and shame she felt as a Christian mother and a wife. This book is a true eye-opener to anyone who may struggle with not feeling good enough. Marchenko lays her life bear on the page and allows the reader to see that through faith, God, and good Christian counselors, as well as antidepressants, life lived through the battle is still life.  Another book I'd highly recommend!

7. Grace- This is another book I got from Netgalley. This book is set up like a daily devotional, with over 200 entries focusing on grace. Each entry has a Bible scripture, along with a short story or encouraging word. Alcorn offers a good Biblical basis about grace- what it is, what it isn't, and how we all have been offered grace. In addition, he encourages us to offer grace to each other. Because I reviewed this book on netgalley, I didn't use it as a daily devotional, but I can see the benefits of doing so and would recommend it for someone who would like to start or end their day with a little of God's Word.

8. Surround Me- This is another book I reviewed for Celebrate Lit, back in December, but I just finished it in February. This book is set in pre-Revolutionary War Charlestown, and I loved it!!! See the link for complete review.

9. Angels Unaware- Yet another book I reviewed for Celebrate Lit. This book was a delightful read, and a true reminder that God puts people in our lives for particular purposes.

10. Lists to Love By for Busy Wives- This was another book I got from Netgalley. Written by a husband and wife, the authors provide lists focusing on how to better love your spouse. Each short chapter includes reflective questions to help the reader focus on ways she could do better. I enjoyed it and found the content to be somewhat helpful, even if a lot of it is common sense. There's also a version for Busy Husbands. We can all love a little better!

I'm currently reading about 30 books.  Y'all!!! How did that happen??? Books keep looking good so I start them... and I'm reading some for review... and some for Bible study...
Here's what's on my short list- Hidden Figures, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, The Infinite Sea, The Story Keeper, Three Moons over Sedona, Independent Study, The Broken Way and The Broken Way study guide, The Underground Railroad, Lucky Us, Sweet Olive, Cherry Cheesecake Murder, Zip it, and The Women of Easter...


2017 Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge
A book recommended by a librarian
A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long- Girl on the Train
A book of letters
An audiobook
A book by a person of color
A book with one of the four seasons in the title
A book that is a story within a story
A book with multiple authors
An espionage thriller
A book with a cat on the cover- The Cat That Went Bump in the Night
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read
A book by or about a person who has a disability- Tough as They Come
A book involving travel
A book with a subtitle
A book that's published in 2017
A book involving a mythical creature
A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
A book about food
A book with career advice
A book from a nonhuman perspective
A steampunk novel
A book with a red spine
A book seet in the wilderness
A book you loved as a child
A book by an author from a country you've never visited
A book with a title that's a character's name- Dearest Dorothy...
A novel set during wartime
A book with an unreliable narrator
A book with pictures
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
A book about an interesting woman
A book set in two different time periods
A book with a month or day of the week in the title
A book set in a hotel
A book written by someone you admire
A book that's becoming a movie in 2017
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
The first book in a series you haven't read before- The Illegal Most Famous Parade in Goose Creek
A book you bought on a trip



Advanced
A book recommended by an author you love
A bestseller from 2016- Hillbilly Elegy
A book with a family member term in the title
A book that takes place over a character's life span
A book about an immigrant or refugee
A book from a genre/subgenre you've never heard of
A book with an eccentric character
A book that's more than 800 pages
A book you got from a used book sale
A book that's been mentioned in another book
A book about a difficult topic
A book based on mythology    

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What I Learned Winter Edition (January/February 2017)

1. George Washington was a victim of bloodletting?
So one night Wallace and I were watching Pawn Stars on DVR and one of the trivia questions at commercial break was about which famous American died of bloodletting. Bloodletting was a common medical practice, where blood was literally drained from the human body, though to release toxins and cure illnesses. It was used for nearly everything! According to the show, he had 9 pints of blood removed from a throat infection shortly before he died.  9 pints!!!

2. I love word origins. When I make time to look up words as I'm reading my Bible, I'm always amazed at the meaning behind the original words. One day, I was reading the Scripture about a crooked and perverse generation (forgive me for not jotting down the reference). It has the same root word, skolios, as our scoliosis... a "crooked" (S-shaped) curvature of the spine.

3. Another word origin... barn burner- I was watching a ballgame one night on ESPN and the commentators called it a barn burner, and that got me wondering why people called close games that. Basketball used to be placed in structures resembling a barn, maybe, and when they were on fire making baskets??? Or perhaps it just got so hot physically from the crowds and intensity of the game? The term actually comes from from the New York Democratic party,  as the barn-burners was one of two competing factions. It was thought to first be used in the sense of an athletic competition over a game of bridge.

4. Apparently they don't send out drivers license renewal forms.  I didn't realize this until Wallace and I were working on our tax paperwork. My license was... expired. And this makes twice it's happened. Needless to say, I wrote "check license" on the back page of my planner where I write things to do in the coming year... so it will be transferred over. Lord knows I don't want to have to take the drivers test again! Even though...

5. Driving isn't all that  hard, really...
I hate driving n traffic. I hate driving in weather.  But... Garth Brooks is Garth Brooks, and we had tickets, and by golly, we were going. So drive I did... to Cincy and back... I just wouldn't drive over Shoulderblade Hill. I even backed the car into the parking space, y'all, which is a major accomplishment for me, even with a back up cam! And it was worth it, because...

6. Garth Brooks is just as good the third time you see him on a tour.  We started off with him in Lexington, joined him in the middle in Louisville, and wound down in Cincy. Trisha Yearwood joined him in Lexington and Cincy. The last ttrip Caleb joined me and we had a great time. I love, love, love Garth Brooks and am amazed I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday morning but can remember words from songs 20+ years ago...



7. Winning District is just as fun the fourth time around.  Love my Ladycats!  This year wasn't the best season as far as wins and losses, but I've seen them grow so much on and off the court, and I am so extremely proud of them. And to top it off, Lauren Green had a picture of Caleb cutting the net with Wallace when he was two or three... and it was priceless to compare then and now.

8. When we think we are blessing others, really it's us getting the blessing...  My life as a coach's wife has taught me so much.  For as much as we have given to those we've been associated with, I've received ten fold.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hanging up the Whistle

The summer before my Senior year one of the greatest men I ever knew gave me some advice.


We were at the city pool at a church pool party, and I was complaining about being bored.


He told me to enjoy my time, every minute, because it flew by, and that those were the best days of my life.


Dr. Todd was wrong, though. As good as my Senior year was, it wasn't the best days of my life.


I'm slowly coming to the realization that the best days of my life are right now.


This moment.


It's taken me a while to realize it... and time really does fly.


And if you blink... well, you've missed it.


And who wants to miss out...


Miss out on middle schoolers whose uniforms were mismatched and whose shorts were so big they had to be doubleknotted? Of tournaments played when we walked in the gym and the other coach said, "I'll take it easy on you" and we went on to win the whole shebang? Of mean little boys trying to act like men?


Miss out on sleepovers at the Bates house when we won freshman districts... when I stayed at Mom's because there was literally no room in our single wide. Popcorn and movies and Papa John's, stories of time outs and laughter and a coach who may or may not have acted as mature as the players?


And then... somehow... it all changed.


"I don't know how to coach girls. You yell at them and they cry... and there is so much drama!"


But there was also big sisters for Caleb. Hugs and laughter.  Thinking we needed to whip a couple of boyfriends who were treating our girls mean.


Cries of "Don't wake the Bull" and Wallace sleeping on the floor of the bus and "Bates, make him quit touching me!!!" 


Memories of a little boy, glasses brand new, peering down at the middle of the gym floor  and saying, "Mommy, why is Daddy in the middle of the floor?" (Because that's where he always is. He doesn't believe in a coach's box). Of cars lined up all the way down a bleacher and  of little legs hurrying down the steps and sprinting across the floor so he could be in the middle of the huddle to say "1-2-3 team!"


Memories of slip n slides in college dorms and firetrucks and net cutting. Memories of looking in the stands to see girls writing Caleb's spelling words.  Too many memories to put into words... so I'll just share a few glimpses...






 

 

 

 




 

 










Almost my entire married life I've been a coach's wife. I've often said it's part of my calling. Over the years, I'd like to think we have both mellowed out. I have a whole lot more Jesus than I did when we started, although there have been times when I could  have used more! I've truly been blessed to have gotten to know hundreds of kids... kids who have gone on to become teachers, physical therapists, nurses, social workers, doctors... kids who have had kids of their own and are raising them with a love for the game... kids who impact our society in a positive way on a daily basis.


Coaching is a labor of love. Being a coach's wife, I'd like to think, is even more so... but it's been my honor to do so. I love high school sports... if you go back through my archives you'll see I write about them often. There's a beauty to the game at this age... it's often pure heart and soul. My love won't change, because it's something that has been passed down throughout generations... from my Papaw to my Mom to me.


In closing, as my last post as a coach's wife (for this season  of life... who knows what a few years will bring... we've done this break thing and it only lasted a couple of years, but we ARE getting older... but I'll NEVER SAY NEVER because the last time I did we ended up right back in a gym...)


To MY kids... my Owls and Lady Owls and Lady Tigers and Lady Cats...


Thank  you for sharing your lives with us. Thank you for loving Caleb. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for tolerating Wallace.


Thank you for smiles and hugs and sometimes tears. Thank you for these memories that I will hold dear in my heart... when Wallace and I are old, sitting at home on our front porch watching the sunset (ok... that will NEVER happen. Wallace can't sit still!) we'll be talking of you. Laughing at memories of practices and games and things you said and did...


Thank you for giving me hope... being around teenagers, while at times full of drama and totally exasperating... also keeps us young.


To all those other kids... kids like Savannah Noe, Natalie Watterson and Hannah Cash from Lee Co., Katie Moore and Shelby Sparks from Leslie, Maci Gibson from Owsley, Whitney Creech from Jenkins, Kayla Rankin from Perry Central, Kristin Waugh from Knott, Lydia, Edith, Haley, and Desiree from Wolfe, Haley Badarack from Riverside... (and, of course, my Kendall Marie... whose Dad has inspired my thinking so much over the last 20 years since he said those words to me as you and Kami and the gang were in the kiddy section...)




too many to name over the years...


Thank you for allowing me to enjoy watching you play basketball. Though I may have cheered against you in tournaments, I will always remember your grace, finesse, hustle, and heart... and you (along with MY GIRLS) just cemented my love for the sport.


Thank you to all of our media who cover the Ladycats with due diligence.


Thank you to  our fans, the parents who have shared your kids with us, the band and the cheerleaders...


And to steal from one of my favorite authors, Thank you, God, for these you have given me for this season. May they be as blessed as they have made me feel. 



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What I Read in January and Thoughts on Reading Challenges

This year I set a lofty goal of reading 130 books.

I don't think I need to tell you that this is a goal that I do not mind working toward achieving.

I do, however, recognize that at times I'd like to live in a virtual world, and have been making a real effort to PUT THE BOOK/KINDLE UP... but there's just sometimes I really need to read a good book.

In January, I read 12 books. Some of them were great, some were ok. Some I already blogged about, and I'll share the links for those reviews. Most of these (or maybe all of them) I had started before the year had ended, but I finished them in January. 

1. Tough as They Come- Loved this book. Absolutely loved it. Click on the title for my review.



2. A Bee in Her Bonnet- I reviewed all three of the books in this series way back in 2016, but didn't entirely finish the books. Here's the link to my review for those. I finally finished the last couple of chapters of A Bee In Her Bonnet and if you're a fan of lighthearted reading, this is a series for you. I'm finishing up the third book right now. 



3. The Couple Next Door- This was a selection for my sister's book club, and though it's been a few months since I've actually attended (Because: Basketball season), I always try to read their recommendations. (I may just be late finishing them). This book was awesome. Suspenseful. And I was totally surprised at the end. The couple's newborn baby goes missing, and of course they are the primary suspects because they've left her at home alone. What follows is harassment by the police, compounding the depression she's already feeling. He's desperate for money but doesn't want her to know, and add in the controlling, rich and powerful in-laws... and you've got a recipe for a who dun it that will leave you shaking your head. Highly recommend this read!!



4. Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado- I actually finished the book part of this before Christmas, but found that it had questions in the back that I had to answer (Remember I'm the kind that has to finish reading ALL the book!) I really liked this book. Lucado is a great writer, and he brought home points of the Nativity story to make them apply to my real-life, over 2000 years later. Great read for Christmas time!



5. The Angel's Story by Max Lucado-  This is a fictional book that came as a bonus at the end of Because of Bethelehem (and I have to read ALL the book!) It is a story that tells of the battle that may have went on in Heaven before Jesus is born. It tells the story of the angel who delivered the news to Mary, and Joseph, and then how they protected Jesus as they prepared for  his birth. Great read when we think of the spiritual warfare that may be going on and we aren't even aware!



6. Sewn with Joy- This was the third installment of Tricia Goyer's Pinecraft Pie Shoppe series, and my only regret is that there isn't more!  This series follows an Amish family in Florida, with each book focusing on a different sister. The characters are great, and this last one was especially captivating, as it combined Hollywood with Amish living. Highly recommend!



7. The Wedding Shop- I love this author. I love this series. Seriously.
I reviewed this book all the way back in September, but put the last couple of chapters on hold as I worked my way through other books to review. Lovely read. A poignant story of redemption, following two generations... if you've not read a Rachel Hauck book,  you're missing out. Start with the first of this series (even though this one can be read stand alone).



8. Breathe by Priscilla Shirer- This is a 5 session Bible study about the Sabbath. I started it way back in the first part of 2016, then got distracted and busy (I know, ironic!) but it is beautifully written. The video sessions (not mandatory) were filmed in Freedom Hall in Louisville. I did enjoy looking at the Sabbath and how we can simplify, and I'm hoping I'll take this message into the rest of this year and beyond.



9. Hillbilly Elegy- This book is a must read. Based in my hometown, it brought tears to my eyes and really made me think about life. For more, read- My Take on Hillbilly Elegy: A Call to Action



10. Wait and See by Wendy Pope- I was in a small group for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible studies, and didn't finish this one on schedule, but it was worth the wait =) Seriously, Pope writes about disappointments, feeling stuck, and wondering if God even cares in this book. She brings in Scripture to show that He is always with us, even when we don't see Him, and her digging deeper components with Psalm and David get you in the Scripture. She gives real-life accounts of people who have been forced to wait, and encourages the reader to look into their own individual waits.



11. The Color of Memory- This is a part of a series I've been reading for over a year. The series focuses on family, hope, and how we are all connected. This book follows the story of a heart transplant recipient who longs to meet the family of the man who made it possible to live. It's a beautiful story of the ultimate gift- life- and how we can benefit others even after we pass on.



12. Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet- This book was a delightful read. Katie heads back to Partonville after her aunt passes away, bringing along her teenage son, Josh. There they meet a cast of characters led by Dorothy. Dorothy is struggling with a decision, Katie is struggling with life, and surprisingly the two find just what they need through their new friendship. This is a the first book in a series and I downloaded the second book as soon as this one was finished.


*ON CHALLENGES-
I challenge myself to read. I recently read a blog post by somebody explaining why they didn't do challenges. Basically, they said it put a lot of pressure on them and took the fun out of reading. I can see how that would be true, so even though I've challenged myself to read a certain number of books this year, and signed up for the Goodreads Ultimate Popsugar Challenge, I'm not going to let it take the fun out of my reading. Instead, I'm seeing it as a way to read new books that I otherwise wouldn't have read, and get some great suggestions from the Goodreads community. I'll update my read list each month.



2017 Popsugar Ultimate Reading ChallengeA book recommended by a librarian
A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long
A book of letters
An audiobook
A book by a person of color
A book with one of the four seasons in the title
A book that is a story within a story
A book with multiple authors
An espionage thriller
A book with a cat on the cover
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read
A book by or about a person who has a disability- Tough as They Come
A book involving travel
A book with a subtitle
A book that's published in 2017
A book involving a mythical creature
A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
A book about food
A book with career advice
A book from a nonhuman perspective
A steampunk novel
A book with a red spine
A book seet in the wilderness
A book you loved as a child
A book by an author from a country you've never visited
A book with a title that's a character's name- Dearest Dorothy...
A novel set during wartime
A book with an unreliable narrator
A book with pictures
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
A book about an interesting woman
A book set in two different time periods
A book with a month or day of the week in the title
A book set in a hotel
A book written by someone you admire
A book that's becoming a movie in 2017
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
The first book in a series you haven't read before
A book you bought on a trip



Advanced
A book recommended by an author you love
A bestseller from 2016- Hillbilly Elegy
A book with a family member term in the title
A book that takes place over a character's life span
A book about an immigrant or refugee
A book from a genre/subgenre you've never heard of
A book with an eccentric character
A book that's more than 800 pages
A book you got from a used book sale
A book that's been mentioned in another book
A book about a difficult topic
A book based on mythology    

Monday, February 6, 2017

Angels Unaware: A Review and a Giveaway


You just never know what somebody is going through. Your next door neighbor who may not be friendly? She may be battling some kind of deep-rooted insecurity.

That's exactly what happens to Mark... his initial efforts to get to know his next-door neighbor Jasmine are pushed aside, and he's unable to get over the fence she seems to have built around herself. Gradually, though, Jasmine starts to give in and goes to church with him. At church, she meets Jesus at the altar and sees a change in her everyday life. She struggles with forgiveness, and Mark is there to help her...

but he has his own deep-rooted issues, and he can't forgive himself. Tragedy hit him hard, and leaves him reluctant to love again.

This story is a story of redemption, forgiveness, and grace at it's finest. The characters are likeable and mid-way through the novella I wished that I could give them a hug and encourage them. Learning to forgive ourselves and moving on is one of the most difficult things we can learn to do, but this story shows God's love and how we can sometimes overlook it because it comes in the form of humans... angels unaware.

I highly recommend  this book!!

About the Book


Book: Angels Unaware
Author: Rachel J. Good
Genre: Inspirational Romance; novella


Release Date: November 22
Sometimes God sends angels into our lives…


Chocolate chip cookies are the perfect way to make friends. At least, Mark Daniels thinks they are. He hopes to forget his painful past and start over in new neighborhood. Everyone is warm and welcoming—everyone that is, but the dragon lady next door. She rebuffs all overtures of friendship and declines Mark’s invitations to church.


Jasmine Avery doesn’t trust men, especially not handsome ones who come bearing gifts. She’s been badly hurt and has walled herself off from love. Reluctantly, she agrees to attend church with Mark on Easter Sunday, not realizing how it will change her life and her future. But soon after she discovers the secret to a happy life, her whole world turns upside-down. Will these unexpected changes prove Mark can’t be trusted either? Or can she and Mark overcome their past heartbreaks to forge a new life together?


About the Author


Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness.She is also the author of the Sisters & Friends Amish series and the Amish Quilts Coloring Book. A former teacher and librarian, she has more than 2300 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming under several pen names. Rachel also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. She loves reading (of course!), traveling, and spending time with her five children and three grandchildren.


Guest Post from Rachel J. Good

One of the important lessons in ANGELS UNAWARE is looking beyond the surface, seeing with new eyes. In the story, Mark has many opportunities to do this. When he first approaches Jasmine with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, she’s unwelcoming and prickly:

The door opened a crack. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Mark turned. The woman’s narrowed eyes and belligerent stance made him quake. He took a step back. “I…um…here…” He held out the plate of cookies.
“What’s that?”
Mark took a deep breath and regained his composure. He smiled and started his usual spiel. “Hi, I’m Mark Daniels, and I just moved into the neighborhood—”
“I know.” She didn’t sound too pleased. “That’s not what I asked. What’s that in your hands?”
“Oh, these? I baked chocolate chip cookies and thought I’d share some with you.”
“Do you know what sugar does to your system?” she demanded. “I never touch sugar.”
That explained why she was so thin. So much for cookies then. Mark wracked his brain for another offering. “A meal perhaps? I make great spaghetti and meatballs.”
She drew back. “A meat eater? It figures.”
Oh, terrific. Mark cringed at the acid in her tone. He’d just offered a meat dish to a vegetarian. So much for his diplomacy mission.

After a start like that, many people would have given up. But Mark feels led to share God’s love with this neighbor, and he tries again and again. Eventually he discovers she’s hiding some deep personal pain. His persistence brings unexpected rewards to both of them.

I wanted to write this story because we usually avoid people who criticize us or hurt our feelings. Yet, often those who are unkind are actually aching inside. And they need God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, because only God can heal their pain and suffering.

After God touches Jasmine’s heart, Mark can see her softer, kinder side. And she’s proof of that saying, “An angel resides in every heart.”

Could your grouchy neighbor or critical boss be an angel in disguise? Maybe these annoying people have been sent into our lives to help build our character or to teach us a lesson. The Bible warns us to be hospitable to everyone, because we never know when we’ll come upon an angel “unawares.”

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Heb. 13:2 KJV

Each person you meet has been sent into your life for a reason. Sometimes these angels come into our lives in unlikely disguises. We don’t always realize their purpose until much later. Looking back, though, we can see God’s hand in the encounters.

Other times, we discover – like Mark did – that we’re supposed to be angels to those who are unkind to us. We may be the only ones who have ever touched their lives with God’s light.

Who in your life needs God’s love? Can you be an angel to that person?


Blog Stops

January 25: autism mom
January 27: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 28: A Greater Yes
January 29: Carpe Diem
January 30: Petra’s Hope
February 1: Christian Bookaholic
February 2: Karen Sue Hadley
February 3: Quiet Quilter
February 4: Daysong Reflections

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away:
Grand Prize:
  • Angel bookmark
  • Battenberg lace angel pin
  • Trio of jade angels
  • Prayer angel with a “Worry” poem to remind you to pray about your problems
  • ANGELS UNAWARE ebook
  • Newest AMISH QUILTS COLORING BOOK (large print edition)
2nd – 4th Prize:
One copy of the ANGELS UNAWARE ebook
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!
https://promosimple.com/ps/af23