Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Once Upon An Irish Summer By Lisa T. Bergren & Instagram Giveaway!

Once Upon An Irish Summer
by Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: Stonewater Books
ISBN: 978-0988547667

I was excited to be invited to participate in the blog tour for Lisa's newest book! Thankfully you don't have to read the other books in the series to jump right into this one!

Summary:

You Can’t Embrace Your Future Until You Deal With Your Past…

Fiona Burke has long been obsessed with Ireland’s famed, sixteenth-century pirate queen, Grace O’Malley. Now that she’s on the final stretch of earning her PhD in history, all she needs to do is finish her dissertation—with Grace O’Malley as her subject—then return home to Boston to defend it. Once that’s done she can compete for a highly coveted history professor position.

Fiona arrives in western Ireland aiming to interview the locals and find additional folklore to flesh out her work. But when she encounters Grace’s distant relative—the handsome, commanding Rory O’Malley—she gets seriously distracted. Rory shares her passion for history and Ireland, and cares for his grandfather and great-uncle in a winsome way. Unfortunately he also carries wounds beyond his injured leg…wounds that threaten to dismantle every little bit of a relationship that he and Fiona begin to build.

As a famed TV host becomes intrigued with Fiona—as well as convinced she should do guest appearances on his show—Rory starts to figure out that he might be as interested in his own personal romantic future as he is in Ireland’s epic past. But can he take the steps toward the healing he needs before it’s too late? It all remains to be seen…Once Upon an Irish Summer.





My Review:

This was a really fun story to read! I didn't realize how ready I was to travel to Ireland until I read Once Upon An Irish Summer. Also, it helps to have recently realized that my DNA is 69% Irish! I feel like after reading this story I'm going to need to brush up on my Irish brogue.

I really enjoyed Fiona's character. I actually felt like the way she carried herself was much more than your "average" 24 yr old. On the other hand, she did seem to act her age in that she  seemed to think she could handle anything or anyone who came her way. Ah, don't we all remember how "smart" we were in our early 20s? lol I loved her passion for Grace O'Malley and now I have an itch to learn more about the bonney lass. Ok, Grace probably would NOT care to be called that seeing how she was a pirate, but again, working on my Irish.

Then there's Rory. His character was very interesting to me. It's a strange thing, but for some reason I only ever think about American soldiers having PTSD, not others from other countries. His entire storyline, along with his grandda and great uncle, was a great addition. And I mean that aside from the romance side of things!

And hello, yes there's some romance. You can understand that neither of them wants to have any feelings towards the other because Fiona is only there for the summer and Rory as well. Of course that's what makes the whole process of them getting to know each other more fun!

There are a lot of twists and turns, which I wasn't expecting, throughout the story! Fiona's hunt to learn more from the locals was incredibly intriguing. Adding in the tv host added an extra element that made me wonder if this was going to become more of a suspense novel than a romance one.

Now, I do want to mention that there's an instance of "language" used that came as rather a surprise considering this is Christian fiction. I do think a different turn of phrase could've been used in place of what the author used, so I felt it important to let you know. The word is slang for "tough guy".

I have a GIVEAWAY happening on my Instagram! Please head there to win a book of your choice from Lisa!

ADVANCE PRAISE:

"Lisa Bergen has penned an immersive read laced with intelligence and
steeped in the myths of Ireland. Transportive and warm, Once Upon an Irish
Summer is a thoughtful escapist romance featuring a clever, relatable heroine,
an unforgettable hero and intercepted by the history of legendary pirate queen
Grace O’Malley. With just enough vulnerability to loan it a deft human touch
and backed by impressive research, this is a treatise on quiet heroism and finding
home in lush, new places."Rachel McMillan, author of Dream, Plan, Go and The London Restoration

"Lisa Bergren took me on a glorious trip to Ireland...and I didn’t want to come
home! Wonderful characters, a beautifully painted setting, and an intriguing
mystery were only the beginning. But it was the romance simmering between
Fiona and Rory that truly stole my heart and made me turn the last page with a
contented sigh. Highly recommended."
Deborah Raney, author of the Chandler Sisters Novels and A Nest of Sparrows

Ireland comes alive – the history, the scenery, the people – in this delightful contemporary romance from Lisa T. Bergren. Rory’s vulnerability and Fiona’s tenacity had me celebrating every gentle step and stumble in their blossoming love story, all while enjoying the historical mystery they hope to solve.” --Rel Mollet, RelzReviewz.com

About the Author:

Lisa T. Bergren is Tim's wife, Olivia, Emma and Jack's mom, and an explorer of people, places and stories in many genres. She's written over 60 books and sold over 3 million of them, with the help of some good publishing people and readers like you. You can find more about her at www.LisaTawnBergren.com.


WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS


Don't miss Lisa's Facebook LIVE party on Friday, July 17th!

ONCE UPON AN IRISH SUMMER REVIEW BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

June 15 All of a Kind Mom
June 17 Relz Reviewz
June 19 Among the Reads
June 22 Fiction Aficionado
June 24 Woven by Words
June 26 The Green Mockingbird
June 29 Books, Life, and Christ
July 1 Hallie Reads
July 3 Christian Chick’s Thoughts
July 6 Bringing Up Books
July 8 Christian Bookshelf Reviews
July 10 The Writer’s Soul

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Being Known By Robin Jones Gunn

Being Known
by Robin Jones Gunn
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 9780735290778

I got this book from NetGalley thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah. I should've tried reading book 1 first, just to have some context to who the characters were in general. I don't think having not read it affected the overall basis of the book.

Summary:

What does it mean to be truly known? In a marriage, in a friendship, or by a loving God?
 

After her mom passed away, Jennalyn was in the midst of moving, adjusting to life with a new baby, and helping her husband, Joel, work toward his dream job. At the time, she thought she’d processed her mother’s death, but only now that Jennalyn has two small children, a lovely new home, and a husband who is always working does she feel the full impact of what she has lost.
 
Even among her sweet circle of friends, the Haven Makers, grief silently overwhelms Jennalyn, until an unexpected encounter allows her to express herself in ways she hasn’t fully been able to with her husband. Even though Christy, Sierra, Emily, and Tess provide a soft place to land in times of tension, Jennalyn remains guarded, especially when Tess reveals she is tangled emotionally in a relationship that was thorny from the start.
 
Will the two women open up and remain honest with the others in their Haven Makers group? Or will their hesitation to truly be known, faults and all, keep them from holding on to the friendships that have been the sweetest gift during this season of life?

My Review:

I had to play a bit of catch up since I hadn't read book 1 yet! The writing was easy to get involved in. The author creates friendships that are relatable and honestly, exemplify the kinds of godly ones we should have. I felt like I was reading a story with real friends because of the way it's written. This book really exemplifies contemporary women's fiction in my opinion.

Jennalyn and her friends have an incredible bond. It's not perfect, but it's special. These are the kinds of relationships I think many of us strive for. The most important aspect overall for me was the truth they shared with each other. If one seemed to be making difficult decisions, the other ladies were able to lovingly share their thoughts.

I think in all 5 of the women's lives the reader is able to relate to them in various ways. I remember being a young mom at home with a couple of kids feeling like I was doing everything on my own. Jennalyn felt it in a stronger way with the loss of her mom and her husband working so much. It was so easy to see how she (or anyone really) could be lured into a sense of "ok" with someone of the opposite sex. I appreciated the storyline of Tess as well because being emotionally involved with someone can be just as destructive as being physically involved with them. It's an important topic to discuss.

I also liked that Christy's husband, Todd, is involved in encouraging Joel with a marriage retreat and further along in the story to being a good listener when needed. Sometimes men don't get any credit for the strength their friendships are to one another. 

Throughout the story, I loved how the Haven Makers built each other up and made wonderful memories together. These kinds of relationships are so vital to our day to day lives. The faith thread that works its way through the story is an important aspect of their friendships and marriages. It comes through in their words of the year, which I thought was a neat addition and something many people do in this day and age. Who needs a resolution when you can have a word to cling to that goes along with the Word of God?

I'm looking forward to going back to book 1 to get to know the ladies from the start and then the next book in the series! Anyone as impatient as me for future books? lol

About the Author:

Robin Jones Gunn has written over 100 books with sales of over 6 million copies sold worldwide. She and her husband have two grown children and live in Hawai'i. 

Her best-selling Father Christmas novels have been made into 3 Hallmark Movies. Get a behind the scenes look in her book, "How My Book Became a Movie".

Robin's best-selling, award winning novels include the Christy Miller series for teens as well as the Sierra Jensen and Katie Weldon series. The characters in these series continue in Christy & Todd: The College Years, The Married Years, The Baby Years and in The Haven Makers series. More details at www.ChristyMiller.com 

Friday, June 12, 2020

We Go On By Regina Walker

We Go On
by Regina Walker
Self Published
ASIN: B087F2GQDN

I learned recently that a good way to work with an author who you've never read, but would like to have you review their book, is to just read a couple of chapters. That's what I did when Regina reached out to me, and those first few chapters did me in enough for me to ask for the whole book to review!

I want to warn my readers that this book covers the topic of suicide and grief.

Summary:

Life has been comfortable for the Miller family. Liz and Josh have devoted their lives to raising their two sons. Their oldest son, Colby, reached adulthood and set out on his own. A few hard knocks sent him back to live with Mom and Dad, until life got to be too much, that is. As Liz and Josh grapple with the hole in their hearts left by Colby’s early departure from this world, they find themselves at odds with one another and with their faith.

Will they remember that Jesus is enough in the middle of this dark storm? Will they see through their own pain and help each other and their teenage son, Tyler, learn to live despite the grief?

My Review:

As a book reviewer, and as someone who has lived a not so easy life, I find it important to be willing to read books that cover topics that don't always make us comfortable. Suicide is one of those topics. I don't recall ever reading a book that specifically deals fully with that topic, and honestly, I was more than a bit hesitant to accept reading We Go On, initially. As I said above though, after I read the first few chapters, I HAD to read the rest. The writing was so compelling, so gripping, so raw, so real I couldn't say, "No," simply because it's a hard topic.

Regina Walker handles the subject of suicide in a way that completely gutted me. As a mom of older kids, I was able to understand Liz's grief. Well, as much as anyone who hasn't lost a child to suicide that is. I could easily see myself reacting exactly as she did. I found myself completely relating to her depth of loss and heartache. She's a mom whose life has been completely dedicated to her kids. She's basically me on paper.

I appreciated how Regina doesn't tiptoe over how everyone reacts differently in a family to grief. I've heard of marriages disintigrating over suicide and through this story, I could completely understand that as the story of how Liz and Josh process the loss of Colby. And then there's Tyler, their youngest son, who is left in the wake of his brother's death. It's all so heart wrenching.

One of the pieces I could relate to was how therapeutic horses can be. When my world seemed to crash around me, my horse, Winston, gave me a safe place to grieve. I could go out to the barn, call him to me, and lean against him just to cry. I felt that so deeply with Dusty. You'll learn more about Dusty throughout this story.

And yes, this is a difficult topic, but I'm telling you, this is a story not to be missed. My emotions ran the gamut from despair for their loss, to anger, to hope. No, this isn't easy, but suicide is real and families go through it daily. The stigma that goes along with suicide only remains as long as we aren't willing to discuss it. In this story, while there's a heavy weight about it, as you walk along the path with the characters, you make it to the end - not with all of the answers or with everyone singing kumbya,  I hope you will give Regina's book a try.

About the Author:

Regina Walker was born in the beautiful state of Colorado. She moved to Oklahoma in her late teen years, where she has resided ever since. She likes to curl up on the couch and binge-watch crime shows with her hard-working husband. When she's not wrestling with a writing project, she can be found wrangling their children, riding their horses, or tending the garden. Along with finding horses on their small farm, chickens, dogs, and cats can be found at nearly every turn.
Regina crafts compelling characters facing some of life's hardest challenges. Her heart's desire is to always point toward Jesus through the way her characters face challenges, relationships, and adversity.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

What Momma Left Behind By Cindy K. Sproles

What Momma Left Behind
by Cindy K. Sproles
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800737047

With today's book I'm being introduced to a new-to-me author. Thanks to Revell for the opportunity to stretch my reading wings.

Summary:

In the face of overwhelming obstacles, she'll need courage, grit, and a tender heart

Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Worie's mother has been secretly feeding several of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain. But when tragedy strikes, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.

Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers--one greedy and the other a drunkard--Worie must fight to save her home and the children now in her begrudging care. Along the way, she discovers the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma's children.

My Review:

Let me start off by saying What Momma Left Behind is very different than really any book I've read before. It is written with the talk of the Appalachian people in the 1800s. It's a very uneducated talk by the world's standards, even back then, but there are phrases of wisdom throughout the story that catch you and make you want to figure out a way to use them in your daily life (which would be an impossibility lol).

Worie is an incredible character. She's seventeen years old, but 2 things... 1) I think back in the 1800s kids grew up quicker and 2) I think living in the mountains like she did back then they took on a lot more responsibility at a younger age.

The legacy that's left behind for her is a hard, but beautiful one, and she picks up the mantle with a fierce determination. I saw a bit of myself in Worie. A gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do and we'll fight for it with as much gusto as we can muster.

Of course caring for the orphans isn't the even the hardest part of the story. Her brother, Calvin, is such a villainous character. He's definitely in the top 10 of characters I want to throat punch for treating his family the way he did. HA!

I appreciated how all of the supporting characters were written. They made the entire story feel cohesive and gave depth to life on the Mountain. I especially appreciated Ely and Bess who shared comfort, wisdom, and their home when needed. It seemed everyone who lived on Sourwood Mountain was willing to take care of each other.

About the Author:

Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. An author, storyteller, and popular speaker, Cindy teaches at writers conferences across the country and directs the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. Editor of ChristianDevotions.us and managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, Cindy has a BA in business and journalism and lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her family.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Way Home: God's Invitation To New Beginnings By Tessa Afshar

The Way Home: God's Invitation to New Beginnings
by Tessa Afshar
Publisher: Moody
ISBN: 978-0-8024-1983-5

I was so thankful to be chosen to participate on the launch team for Tessa's study on the book of Ruth. I was given access to a .pdf version of the study in exchange for my review. Grateful to Moody Publishers for granting me that access.

Summary:


Enter the Story of Ruth Like Never Before through This 6-Week Bible Study

Ruth was a vulnerable, widowed woman starting over in a foreign land. While Naomi was returning to community, Ruth was setting herself up to be the odd one out her whole life. What gave her the strength to do it? Could it be that she sensed all along that her journey away from Moab was a journey toward home?

The story of Ruth is a remarkable tale of bravery, calling, and God's provision, and it will come to life in new ways as you dig deep in this 6-week Bible study. Tessa Afshar, author of award-winning biblical and historical fiction, teaches you how to study the text, discern meaning, pray through it, and live it out. She'll show you how to draw on the same strength and courage that Ruth did and accept God's invitation to new beginnings in your own life.
This Bible study also includes optional teaching videos that can be purchased separately to enrich your study.

My Review:

I was looking forward to doing the Bible study of The Way Home after I read Tessa's book "Daughter of Rome" and found out she was doing this study on Ruth. I've always loved the book of Ruth as it shows such a beautiful example of God's great love for us. Diving in, in a deeper way, was something I was looking forward to.



While I knew I was going to learn more about God, I didn't realize how starkly I was going to see myself in relation to many of the people we study in The Way Home. It reminded me over and over again how desperately I need God! It's somewhat hard to put into words how much I learned about God through this study as well. His care for us, His protection, His love, etc are shown over and over again. I also saw myself sadly, in the many examples of people she used in her teachings. Whew, how often is it difficult to see how much we haven't changed from the times in the Bible?



Often times I felt like Tessa was speaking directly to me as she guided and directed our study. I appreciated her straightforwardness and her encouragement. Through God's word and Tessa's prompts, over and over again I felt such a strong and palpable need for more of Him.

The amount of time Tessa took to research the Scriptures and bring everything together in a wonderfully cohesive study makes me thankful to her all the more! I was able to make connections I'd never seen or fully understood before. One of the pieces that really gave me insight to Ruth was to where Moabites and Ammorites came from! I don't know how I didn't make this connection in the past and have a better understanding of where Ruth's heritage came from.



I also really took to heart taking in the word study that Tessa does throughout The Way Home. Dabaq, hesed, gilbowr, and go'el are just some of the words we dive into during this study. Honestly, there's just so much depth to this study, I can't recommend it enough.

The end of the study has a fantastic section of recipes from Old Testament times. Along with the paperback study, Tessa also has a set of teaching videos that go along with it. The last part of the book has a section that goes along with the video to answer questions as you follow along.



While I realize this is a study intended for women, by the time I was halfway through the study I realized it was something I wanted my boys, my husband, and I to go through together. Usually I'm not one to redo a Bible study. I'm one and done, but this one, I'm happy to go through it again. And hopefully we'll be able to do it with our women's small group at church! They can count me in for a 3rd time around!

About the Author:

TESSA AFSHAR is the award-winning author of many biblical and inspirational historical fiction books, including Harvest of Gold which won a Christy Award and In the Field of Grace, a biblical fiction on the life of Ruth. Born in the Middle East, Tessa spent her teen years in England and later moved to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale, where she was co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She served in women and prayer ministry for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

 
Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.