Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Dating Charade | Book Review

My Review

This was not at all what I judged it to be… which means I was pleasantly surprised. I love comedy, but I’m not the biggest romance fan, so yes, I realize when I sign up to read a rom-com, I might get more romance than I bargained for. But this was totally not the case. There was a lot of heart-wrenching depth to this story as foster care was a very big thread woven throughout the story.

The Dating Charade is a hilarious yet deep read. I cannot even count the times I actually laughed out loud while reading it. It was just the read I needed.

The romance was actually not the main focal point of the story, which I personally liked. It was there and it was something the characters were concerned about, but there really weren’t many uncomfortable scenes. Okay, there was one, but it wasn’t between the two MCs… yeah, it was really an unnecessary scene in my eyes, [spoiler] as it involved Jett interrupted while in the bathroom and the whole scene was basically him undressed and seen by another woman [end of spoiler]. Yeah, that scene could have totally, totally been left out, as it showed the chaos, but I think a much more G-rated situation could have occurred. Besides that, I don’t remember anything specifically, but then I will openly confess that I was more involved in the kids’ stories than in their romance.

The spiritual content really wasn’t deep at all. I guess they did pray, but it was more of a flippant, “Okay, God, I need You” (which I don’t have anything at all wrong with—it’s just when that is basically all the spiritual content). Oh, and there was a church service, but it was more the before/after service than the actual service that was honed in on.

Definitely a 4.5 star-book in my books. ;) I’ll probably find time to reread it.

*I received this book from the author and happily provided my honest review*

About the Book

Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.
But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.
No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?
Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.
Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

 Melissa Ferguson lives in Bristol, Tennessee, where she is an adjunct professor at King University and pens books that make her laugh and grow. She used to have hobbies like running and backpacking the Appalachian Trail outside her door. Now she and her husband are outnumbered, and her hobbies include diaper changes, chasing toddlers in parking lots, and admiring the Appalachian Trail out her minivan window while singing “Winnie the Pooh.” She survives by Jesus, rom coms, and roughly two espresso shots a day. The Dating Charade is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

Read an excerpt of The Dating Charade here.

Blog Stops

Genesis 5020, December 16
Kat’s Corner Books, December 17
Robin’s Nest, December 17
EmpowerMoms, December 17
All-of-a-kind Mom, December 18
For Him and my Family, December 18
Carla Loves to Read, December 19
CarpeDiem, December 19
Cultivating Us, December 19
Quiet Quilter, December 20
SusanLovesBooks, December 21
Texas Book-aholic, December 22
A Reader’s Brain, December 23
janicesbookreviews, December 23
Emily Yager, December 24
Vicky Sluiter, December 24
Hallie Reads, December 25
Remembrancy, December 25
Just the Write Escape, December 26
Simple Harvest Reads, December 26 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Pause for Tales , December 27
As He Leads is Joy, December 28
A Rup Life, December 28
Batya’s Bits, December 29
With a Joyful Noise, December 29
Inklings and notions, December 29

Thursday, December 26, 2019

God's Hostage | Book Review

About the Book
The incredible true story of one man's imprisonment for the gospel; his brokenness, God's faithfulness and his eventual freedom.

In 1993, Andrew Brunson was asked to travel to Turkey, the largest unevangelised country in the world, to serve as a missionary. Though hesitant because of the daunting and dangerous task that lay ahead, Andrew and his wife, Norine, believed this was God's plan for them.

What followed was a string of threats and attacks,but also successes in starting new churches in a place where many people had never met a Christian. As their work with refugees from Syria, including Kurds, gained attention and suspicion, Andrew and Norine acknowledged the threat but accepted the risk, determining to stay unless God told them to leave.

In 2016, they were arrested. Though the State eventually released Norine, who remained in Turkey, Andrew was imprisoned. Accused of being a spy and being among the plotters of the attempted coup, he became a political pawn whose story soon became known around the world.

This is Andrew's remarkable story of his imprisonment and journey of faith.

Purchase on Amazon.

My Review
This was... a little different than I’d expected. I’ve read several books on imprisoned Christians. This one was very open and honest about discouragement, fear, disappointment, depression, and doubts—and I found that to be very good. Because so often, we hold Christians who go through difficulties on a pedestal, as if they’re “super Christians” or something like that. You definitely don’t get that disillusionment with “God’s Hostage.”

Because it’s a true story, I hesitate to voice anything that would sound critical, because I don’t know what I would do in this situation and I don’t want to appear as a know-it-all or judgmental. Overall, I guess there just felt to be an imbalance. For instance, about 2/3 of the book was about his struggles and only the last 1/3 about his victory (which was still peppered with his doubts and struggles). At one point, he admitted that though he had doubted God and accused Him, he had asked forgiveness and regularly prayed for hours. But the focus was on the loneliness and depression, not on his communion with God unless it benefitted the prison situation. Because of this imbalance, when I think of the book as a whole, I think more of his depression than of his victory. I’m choosing to dwell on the small tidbits of positive lessons he learned—like the small mention of not dwelling on himself, but on others (mentioned for only about a page). It felt like when he finally surrendered to God’s will in his life and imprisonment, the story skipped through months and didn’t dwell on the positive like it had on the negative.

There is the whole situation of him considering suicide and turning to meds rather than to God that will cause some readers to not agree with his methods.

That being said, it was a very interesting read. Different from many of the imprisoned Christian books I’d previously read because Andrew Brunson wasn’t tortured, but often held in isolation. Because it’s an American Christian who was held, it brings it a little closer to home than stories of other imprisoned Christians who were held in their own nations.

*I received this book from the publisher and happily provided my honest review*

Monday, December 23, 2019

Darling Hedgehog | Book Review

About the Book
Book: Darling Hedgehog Goes Down A Foxhole
Author: Auralee Arkinsly
Genre: Early reader chapter book
Release Date: September 13, 2019
Darling Hedgehog learns about the animal nature of things in high humor and carefree, cute, and winning episodes. This childhood story reads a bit like Aesop’s Fables or a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, for children 4-8 or preschool and kindergarten, as a read-to-me picture book, and first grade and second grade as a chapter book.
Pictures similar to the Mercy Watson series are characterized and painted in full-color, though the pages are set up like a chapter book.
This book helps to train children in natural wisdom, analysis, and discernment. It helps to balance the teachings of acceptance of everyone and friendliness to all. There may be good purposes for everyone to exist under heaven, yet all purposes may not be good for a child. So, beware, be discrete, and flee from crafty foxes especially when they are holding your parents in the pantry.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review
The art in this book is whimsical and cute—it has a very nostalgic feel to it. And I know that the pink tutu and bow would be exactly what my little niece would “ooh” and “ahh” over.

In a very creative way, the author provided facts about hedgehogs (their eating habits and prickly protection). I found that very well done.

As for the story itself, Darling was a cute little hedgehog with a sweet personality. The message of the story was kind of conflicting to me, though. In short, it seemed like a book about friendship—but more along the lines that you can’t be friends with just anyone. I guess the author wanted to warn kids about stranger danger? I guess it just seemed strange because, while the fox was dangerous because she was going to eat smaller animals, Darling herself had already eaten “smaller animals.” But this is probably me overthinking it.

I realize that I’m probably being too critical for a children’s book theme. It was cute and there isn’t anything really wrong with it.

*I received this book from Celebrate Lit and happily provided my honest review*

About the Author

Auralee Arkinsly writes in good humor about serious subjects because kids of all ages can learn a lot from laughing. She is a strong believer in right and wrong but knows that getting onto the right path can mean falling down a slippery slope. She reckons if she can save some from the bumps and bruises, then she has done her job. 

More from Auralee

I’m so excited to launch my children’s book, Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole with the Celebrate Lit crew!  You are a river of hope for a new author.
So, here’s the story behind the story.
My friend and fellow author, Kathy Joy, left me a small hedgehog in a tutu as a going away gift on her guest bed after she had been visiting. I put it on the windowsill in my bedroom, and every morning, I would see it when I awoke.
I don’t know if you can relate to this experience, but I often wake up from a good night’s sleep with the gift of a problem being solved.  Sometimes, I wake up with a creative idea.  Well, one day, I awoke to find that I had the beginnings of a child’s story about where the hedgehog found her tutu.
Initially, it was a simple story about Darling Hedgehog finding a foxy friend who helps Darling find her calling.
I wrote out the story and then asked a talented neighborhood girl if she would like to draw the pictures for the tall tale. Having seen a lot of Julia’s sketches as she grew up, I thought that she might like to know what it felt like to earn money from her talents and at the same time, learn about the process of creating a book with an author to propose to a publishing company.
She agreed. Julia was in ninth grade. She was at the age where she was beginning to think about high school jobs and even to make plans for college and a career.
The same day we wrote out our contract, Julia sent me her first image of what she imagined Darling to look like. It clearly was not a mistake to hire this young artist!
When I awoke another morning, I believed God had given me another bit of advice. I needed to do better research on the nature of hedgehogs and foxes, their habitats and characteristics. The outcome caused the story to take a turn towards intrigue.  It became a fable. It became an action-adventure animal story. It became better.
A librarian encouraged us to continue with it no longer as a picture book for very small children but as an early reader chapter book for second graders learning about similes.
I hope that we can teach children to notice facts and objective truth as they are being trained for life. So, I’ve accepted that my child’s fantasy had to grow some legs of gravity and wisdom.  I’ve trusted my editors and beta readers that this is true, but I’m not above being told off.

Blog Stops

A Diva’s Heart, December 11
For Him and My Family, December 12
Older & Smarter?, December 13
Emily Yager, December 13
Just the Write Escape, December 14
Blogging With Carol, December 14
Bigreadersite, December 15
janicesbookreviews, December 15
Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 16
A Reader’s Brain, December 17
Remembrancy, December 19
Inklings and notions, December 19
Lighthouse Academy, December 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)
Live.Love.Read., December 20
Sara Jane Jacobs, December 21
Maureen’s Musings, December 23
With a Joyful Noise, December 23
Texas Book-aholic, December 24


To celebrate her tour, Auralee is giving away the grand prize of a set of Darling Hedgehog greeting cards!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns about Heaven | Book Review

This is the third "Stories Behind..." book I have on my bookshelf, but the first I actually sat down to read the whole way through (the others I hit the songs I was interested in). It was very interesting. I expected it to be more of a historical approach, covering the biographies of the composers and the history of the individual songs. Instead, some of the songs had more of a devotional lean.

Some of the songs I was familiar with the composers, but I enjoyed learning about so many more! In some ways, it felt like the author "Christianized" a few of the composers who maybe didn't live a godly lifestyle, but the song they wrote is popularized in Christian circles.

A few times, things also seemed a bit ecumenical or extrabiblical (especially since it's dealing with songs about heaven). They were just small thoughts sprinkled throughout the book, but enough to where I was going, "Okay, the Bible doesn't exactly say this..." (but then and again, a few of the songs that were covered in this book are songs I don't particularly care for, because their words don't line up exactly with Scripture). This wasn't for the entirety of the book, just portions of it.

I think I would have preferred if the book had stuck more to the basic facts instead of presenting each song with a glorified story, but I realize this is just me as a history nerd.

*I received this book from the publishers and provided my honest review*

Purchase on Amazon

Monday, December 16, 2019

In the Cradle Lies | Book Review and Giveaway

On a solo ski vacation in Canyon Mines, Colorado, Tucker has a love-hate relationship with his wealth, spending indiscriminately while skiing fearlessly and preparing to conquer the overgrown slope of Hidden Run, a dangerous run not attempted in decades. As genealogist Jillian tries to uncover enough of Tucker’s family tree to understand his charming nature but reckless resolve, Jillian’s equally charming father, Nolan, cajoles Tucker into giving him ski lessons to get him talking about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s life in St. Louis in the 1930s.
On the surface, Tucker’s family’s history seems too perfect. The secret may lie in the sealed envelope Tucker carries with him at all times—even on the ski slope. When no one can find Tucker to tell him the fiancée he never mentioned turned up in Canyon Mines, they realize he must be off attempting to ski Hidden Run alone in a snowstorm. And they may be too late.
In the Cradle Lies is the second book in the Tree of Life series by Olivia Newport. You’ll want to return to the lovely Colorado mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that will inspire you to connect with your own family histories and unique faith journeys.
Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Wow, wow, wow. I don’t give five stars freely or often (well, more like 4.5 stars, explained later), but I do feel like this book deserves it. Many of the books I’ve read this year have been fast-paced suspense that rely on nail-biting situations to pull the tension. This book is slower-paced, but it is dripping with rich backstory and family history—the fascination of it all requires a slower pace and somehow weaves incredible tension throughout almost the entire book.

Jillian is a genealogist, her father Nolan a lawyer, and their Canyon Mines friends shop and inn owners. It’s really an idyllic town with good Christmas vibes (even though it is not a Christmas story). Though overall it was a serious story, there were a couple of times I actually laughed at Jillian and her dad’s back-and-forth.

And then there is Tucker. Brash, rich, likeable, and unpredictable Tucker with a family history is woven creatively through the entire story—pieces of information leaked out in just the perfect amount to make you want to keep reading until everything clicks into one detailed picture. Not a beautiful picture, but a realistic, mind-boggling picture.

I could go on and on about the storyline, but I really don’t want to give absolutely any spoilers. You have to experience the whole story—and backstory—for yourself.

I realized after I finished and loved this book that there really isn’t romance. There is some sideline romance, but nothing too sticky or unacceptable. Without giving spoilers, I really admired how the whole romance situation was handled.

The weakest points in this book for me would be the spiritual plot and then Nolan’s and Patrick’s story. It wasn’t that Nolan’s and Patrick’s story was especially weak, I just think it could have been… maybe written where I could more easily identify with their family struggles (as it was, I had to make myself realize how impactful the reason of their argument was). And the spiritual plot… John 8:32 was the backbone of the book, but it was kind of used out of context. Not once did it mention the reason for this freedom is about Jesus Christ and His salvation setting you free. Rather, she used the angle that knowing the truth about your family will set you free. I do think there is some truth in that, but that is not what the Scripture is implying at all. And, as that was the general spiritual emphasis woven in the book, it was a little weak. The characters went to church, mentioned praying and the Holy Spirit leading, but honestly, the story could have stood up well with this removed. So, because of the lack of spiritual depth, it’s more of a 4.5 read for me.

Now for all of the other books to come out…!

*I received this book from Celebrate Lit and happily provided my honest review*

About the Author
Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twenty something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of Pikes Peak.


To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a free copy of In the Cradle Lies!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

More from Olivia

True confession. I live in Colorado and don’t ski.
In the Cradle Lies includes several references to “How can you live in the Colorado mountains and not ski?” Jillian, a main character in the Tree of Life series, has lived in the mountain town of Canyon Mines since she was two, and by the time she was eight she knew she didn’t want to ski.
I grew up in Illinois, and while my high school had a ski club and somehow found places to ski (I’m not sure where; um, not exactly mountain territory), I was sure I would break something. Arriving in Colorado in my forties did not persuade me to take up skiing at that age. I live at the base of Pikes Peak, not in the mountains like Jillian. I do love the views!
But one of the fun things about being a writer is learning a lot about things you know little about. Enter Google and YouTube. And more YouTube. And … you get the drift.
Some quick facts about Colorado skiing to help get you in the mood for In the Cradle Lies:
  • Colorado typically leads the country in “skier days”—days of skiing purchased in ski areas. Actually, most people in the state don’t ski. By a large margin. Like 90 percent. (So I feel better and so does Jillian.)
  • People visiting the state to ski or snowboard are important to our economy. (So thank you!)
  • Colorado has hosted about 175 ski areas since it became a state in 1876. Today, we have only about 30 operating resorts—so there are lots of dormant, lost, and hidden runs like the one in my story.
I hope you’ll check out In the Cradle Lies—and find out why Tucker came from St. Louis to Canyon Mines to ski an abandoned run that put his life at risk.

Blog Stops

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 3
Daysong Reflections, December 4
Genesis 5020, December 5
Godly Book Reviews, December 5
Pause for Tales, December 7
Mary Hake, December 8
Betti Mace, December 9
Bigreadersite, December 9
Hallie Reads, December 10
Spoken from the Heart, December 11
Older & Smarter?, December 12
Texas Book-aholic , December 13
Blogging With Carol, December 13
janicesbookreviews, December 14
A Reader’s Brain, December 16
With a Joyful Noise, December 16
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...