Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Berenstain Bears Collection

Who doesn't LOVE The Berenstain Bears, right?! They are a rite of childhood, at least in my family. I'm excited to bring to you a collection of their books at various levels thanks to Zonderkidz! They sent all four of these books for me to review, and one of those books I'll be giving to my daughter for my FIRST grand baby!!


by Jan & Mike Berenstain
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310769583

Summary:

Take a beautiful nature walk through Bear Country with the beloved Berenstain Bear family. Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear savor the great outdoors and greet all their animal friends. From a family of ducks nestled amongst the cattails to Mrs. Rabbit in a cabbage patch, you'll enjoy the great outdoors and say "hi" to many different animal friends.

My Review:

There are SO many things to love about this book. First, it starts off with a scripture. Throughout the book, the family sees how God provides different for a variety of animals. I also appreciate that they help children understand that you don't have to be inside of a building to be at "church".

Visually, the pages are wonderful! Many different sceneries from the garden to the forest to the swamp and more! Can I just say that the heron is my favorite? Each of the animals are identified in the story by bold colored words! It helps the animal names stick out for children to be able to identify something different as they're being read to.

This is going to be the first book I give my unborn grand baby! I can't wait to give it to my daughter.

by Mike Berenstain
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310763727

Summary:

In The Berenstain Bears Honesty Counts the Bear family is headed out for the annual cub campout and are especially excited about the canoe race down Rapid River. Who will win the big race and ribbons? The competition between Brother and Sister’s team and Too-Tall’s gang is fierce. But when Too-Tall and his gang decide that winning is the most important thing—even more important than telling the truth—Preacher Brown makes sure the cubs remember just how important honesty is!

My Review:

I appreciate stories that we can read to our children and grandchildren that gives them life lessons on a level they can relate to and understand. I love the expressions on all of the bear faces on the cover of the book. They're each having a different reaction to a lie being told.

The story is one that will be exciting to preschool and elementary age children. There's excitement for the competition and adventure as the bears compete against each other in the canoe race! The illustrations are fun and I think will be engaging for children. They can imagine the thrill of the ride both canoes take.

Of course, there's the lesson in being honest after being caught in dishonesty. The illustrations help show how the other bear team uses a short cut to beat Sister's team and their reaction to learning the truth. I'm thankful that scripture is brought in to teach Too-Tall's team the value of being honest.

by Stan, Jan, and Mike Berenstain
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310768067

Summary:

Is it ever the right time to follow the wrong crowd?

Something’s up with Brother Bear. He’s talking tough, he’s walking tough, and he has a new hobby: shooting hoops with Too-Tall and his trouble-making team. And basketball isn’t the only new pastime Brother takes up when he falls in the wrong crowd.

Find out what happens when Brother Bear must decide whether to follow the crowd or stay true to himself.

My Review:

Whew, Brother Bear certainly gets tangled up with the wrong crowd in this story! It's pretty intense for little ones to read, but in a way that they can see how making choices to hand out with the wrong people just isn't worth it.

First, I like the relational pieces of this whole story. First, we see how Brother Bear's choices impact his relationship with Sister. I thought it was so sweet that she was incredibly concerned about the fact that something had changed with Brother and that change wasn't a good one. She made it her business to find out what was going on. Second was his relationship with his friend, Fred. It was a really good example of how we can bring our friends into a situation that isn't good for them either. And lastly, his relationship with the guys in Too-Tall's gang. It caused some division within their group as Too-Tall was using Brother.

The writing is such that a young reader will be able to read the story and understand what they're reading. The words aren't too "big". The font though is a great size for elementary age children. I appreciate that there are illustrations throughout the story because as we know, kids at this age are still enjoying pictures. The chapters are short enough to give them easy stopping points as they read through either on their own or with someone else.

It teaches a great lesson on how the choices we make not only effect us, but everyone around us.

by Stan, jan, and Mike Berenstain
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310768043

Summary:

Save the birds! Save the trees! That’s what the cubs are saying around Bear Country. If Squire Grizzly gets his way and cuts down the trees in Birder’s Woods, the yellow popinjays will have nowhere to rest. They could disappear forever. It’s up to the cubs to save this important part of nature before it’s too late!

My Review:

Like the previous book, this is an early reader chapter book, but I found it a bit different than the first one. The font is a bit smaller, the words are a bit harder along with phrases like "lower on the bell curve of intelligence" which I'm guessing most younger children won't comprehend. lol 

There is a strong message of conservation in this story and I think it's important for children to know that even at a young age they can make a different. It's also for them to understand how important the world around them is.

The relationships of different bear families in Bear Country become strained and the debate as to whether or not a housing development should be built or if the natural land should remain, especially since a yellow popinjay has been spotted and it was supposed to be extinct.

I was surprised at how tense the storyline was. There were strong opinions on both sides of the issue. I would say this is a story that should illicit a good conversation between your child and yourself. Issues that effect our world are ones that should be discussed and worked through using this story as a great basis to start.

About the Authors:

Stan and Jan Berenstain were already successful cartoonists for magazines and adult humor books when they began writing children's books. The first story starring the bear family, The Big Honey Hunt, appeared in 1962. Since then, more than 370 Berenstain Bears books have been published, and more than 300 million copies have been sold. What began as an idea sparked by their young sons' love of reading has become over the years arguably the best-selling children's book series ever.

Since their inception, the Berenstain Bears stories have expanded to include picture books, beginning readers, and chapter books--even a hit TV show on PBS. Writing and illustrating the books has become a Berenstain family affair. Mike joined with his parents as a creative team in the late 1980s. The Bear family has expanded over the years as well. Sister Bear arrived in 1974, and baby Honey joined the family in 2000. 

Though Stan died in 2005 and Jan in 2012, Mike continues to create the delightful Bear adventures from his studio in Pennsylvania.

www.berenstainbears.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Following The Evidence By Lynn Shannon


Following the Evidence Blog Blitz 
Welcome to the Blog Blitz & Giveaway for Following the Evidence by Lynn Shannon, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Following the Evidence
Title: Following the Evidence 
Author: Lynn Shannon 
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense 
Release Date: July 7, 2020 
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense

Bringing a tracking dog to town 
put her in a killer’s sights

Inheriting a ranch is a fresh start for Emma Pierce, her baby and her search-and-rescue dog—until someone tries to kill her. But Sheriff Reed Atkinson won’t let anyone hurt his first love…especially when they uncover a connection to his vanished sister.

Can Reed solve both cases before he loses his sister and the woman he’s falling for all over again?

 



                                    

                                   ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Lynn Shannon
 
Lynn Shannon writes novels that combine intriguing mysteries with heartfelt romance. Raised in Texas, she believes pecans and Blue Bell ice cream are must-haves for every household. Lynn lives with her husband, two children, an extremely spoiled dog, and a turtle who hibernates half the year. You can find her online at www.lynnshannon.com.

CONNECT WITH LYNN: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram   


 
                                                                    TOUR GIVEAWAY
(1) winner will receive a copy of Following the Evidence and a $20 Amazon gift card!

Following the Evidence JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight July 8, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 15, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

 

                                            Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
cropped-justread-logo.png
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Don't Keep Silent By Elizabeth Goddard

Don't Keep Silent
by Elizabeth Goddard
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800729868

I was so thankful to have the privilege of being on Elizabeth's launch team! I was sent the book to be able to participate. Can I just say I'm sad this is the end of the trilogy? I've enjoyed these trips to Wyoming. 

Summary:

Justice comes easy for these two. But forgiveness? That's another matter altogether.
Investigative reporter Rae Burke will do anything to find her missing sister-in-law, even if it means facing Liam McKade, a man who almost lost his life saving hers. A former DEA agent, Liam thought he could find peace at his Wyoming ranch, but he doesn't feel at home anywhere anymore. When the reporter who blew his cover on an important investigation inserts herself back into his life, he's less than thrilled. But Rae's keen investigative skills have led her down the right path--and directly into the dragon's mouth--leaving Liam no choice but to protect her. 

As the danger increases, the past they both tried to flee catches up to them, along with the feelings they once had for each other . . .

My Review:

Don't you love when a book's storyline has you on the edge of your seat? That's exactly how it was for me with Don't Keep Silent !

The prologue of this story sets the reader up for chapter after chapter of what feels like a wild goose chase! Rae has to find her sister-in-law, but WHERE is she?! I had to keep myself in check to not turn to the end of the story to figure out what the heck was going on with her. Was she dead or alive?!

I really enjoyed getting to know Rae and Liam better - to finally understand why Liam was so cut off from his brothers. Enter, Rae, who had a part of that puzzle. Their "reunion" basically had me saying to myself, "uh oh!" Liam, of course, couldn't help his natural instinct to help even if he doesn't want to.

The path to figuring out who took Rae's sister-in-law was a long and winding one. Trying to deduce who was involved and how was frustrating... for me AND the characters. lol Yes, I was questioning nearly everyone who entered the story!

As you read through Don't Keep Silent you can get the sense of what it's like to live in Jackon Hole, which was an amazing aspect of the story. You can almost feel the isolation of the outlying cabins, riding snowmobiles in the back country, and what it must be like to ski down a mountainside!

There's a lot of action throughout the entire story! Liam and Rae have constantly got to watch their backs! People are trying to keep them from getting any closer to figuring out what's going on in this vacation town along with what's happened to Zoey. Being run off the road, bumped off the ski trail, or being kidnapped, it seems like someone is willing to do whatever it takes to not let them find any answers!

Don't miss out on book 3 of the Uncommon Justice series!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Goddard has sold over one million books and is the award-winning author of more than 40 romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery The Camera Never Lies--a 2011 Carol Award winner. She is a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense finalist for her Mountain Cove series--BuriedBackfire, and Deception--and a Carol Award finalist for Submerged. When she's not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry. For more information about her books, visit her website at www.ElizabethGoddard.com.

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.

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Mosaic Of Wings By Kimberly Duffy

A Mosaic of Wings
by Kimberly Duffy
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764235634

I was already following Kimberly Duffy on Instagram, seeing her gorgeous cover being posted all over the place. I honestly didn't care what the story was about. I just knew that if it was offered for review, I was going to jump on it. It was, and I did!

Summary:

Nora Shipley has one goal--to carry on the legacy of her late father by taking over the scientific journal he started. To that end, she's fought to be taken seriously among her male classmates and graduate as valedictorian of Cornell's entomology program. When pressures to settle down rise to a fever pitch, she impulsively joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field and win a scholarship.

But India holds several surprises--she is impressed not only by the beauty of its natural wonders, but also by the gentle nature she discovers in the rival classmate who accompanied her, Owen Epps. Instead of exploring, however, she is forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her. During the many quiet days, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will. 

In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices--between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she's always thought she wanted and the man she's come to love.

My Review:

If you follow me on social media, you'll know my love for butterflies. That was the biggest draw for me with A Mosaic of Wings. Now that I've finished it, there was just so much to love (and easily dislike) about this story! Cockroaches...dislike! Nora would say the same thing. Lucious...yep, dislike!

Goodness gracious I enjoyed Nora's character. I was able to see a bit of myself in her in that I'm rather stubborn and don't always think before I act or speak. She also makes choices in India that I probably would've made myself as well. Nora absolutely challenges the status quo and in science that's a lot of status quo! Thankfully she finds that Owen is willing to come alongside her to help her to forge ahead.

Owen is an interesting fella. I would've loved to know more about his story other than the basics we learn thought A Mosaic of Wings. His relationship with his family and expectations of his future make me want to know more about his history. He's a great balance for Nora.

One of the elements I appreciated about the writing of the characters in this story was the one track mind thinking of the men. I could see how they'd all consider the culture of India as opposed to any travesties that might occur to the people they come in contact with. Of course the women come through with flying colors...all except Nora's mother. Lydia was a difficult character to have any compassion for.

I also loved the imagery that Kimberly Duffy offers us of India. It "almost" makes me want to go to the jungle as well to do some exploring. I could imagine the trees, butterflies, and other array of flora and fauna they experienced. The underlying story of the choices Nora makes is what keeps it moving. And honestly, it doesn't seem like most of the choices she makes are good ones. Oftentimes it seems like she doesn't have much of a choice, but occasionally (ahem...climbing trees) she should've just listened to the people around her. Again, I can relate to her!

I can't wait for my milkweed to bring the monarchs to our yard, but even now I want to know more about the other butterflies Nora talked about. And, I want to find someone to talk to who's as fascinated by them as I am! :)


About the Author:

Kimberly Duffy (www.kimberlyduffy.com) is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she's not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. She loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. He doesn't mind.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Heart Of A Hero By Susan May Warren & Giveaway

The Heart of a Hero Blog + Review Tour 
Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for The Heart of a Hero by Susan May Warren, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! I received this book for review!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Heart of a Hero by Susan May Warren Title: The Heart of a Hero
Series: Global Search and Rescue #2
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Revell
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Jake Silver may not be able to put the memories of his time as a sniper and Navy SEAL behind him, but at least he can put his skills to use as a part of the Jones Inc. rescue team. Saving the life of pediatric heart surgeon Dr.

Aria Sinclair on Denali helped too. But now he can't get her out of his head. Aria has dedicated her life to helping children born with defective hearts. After all, she was one of those children. Driven to succeed, she lives a lonely, stressful life. One she would have lost on Denali if it hadn't been for Jake. Jake is exciting and handsome, but he's also dangerous, and she's already lost one person she loves. She can't bear it again.

It's not until she finds herself trapped in the middle of a Category 4 hurricane that she can admit she needs Jake desperately. With their very survival in the balance, can they hope for a second chance at life . . . and love? 

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleBook Depository | Christianbook  

My Review:

Is there anything Susan May Warren can't write about with incredible detail? The Heart of a Hero starts off right where The Way of the Brave ended. I was REALLY looking forward to book 2 throughout book 1. HA!

First, let's start with Jake. Do we, the readers, think it's possible for Jake to avoid near death experiences... ever? I mean, the story kicks off with one. lol For Pete's sake SMW, give the guy a break! This guy runs into danger without hesitation, which he sees as a bad thing, but he's the guy who has saved countless lives doing just that!


Then there's Aria. All she wants is a vacation. Well, doesn't want it, but agrees to it. But why should visiting the Florida Keys be any more more relaxing than Denali? Catastrophe seems to follow her everywhere, BUT she's got the skills people need right where she's at. Looks like she and Jake make an excellent pair.

This story invites us to meet Mimi who refuses to leave Key West along with her granddaughter Yola. Oh my gosh, Mimi is a hoot! Not just that, but she effuses wisdom. Yola is no nonsense and isn't leaving Mimi's side. We are also introduced to Angel who seems to be wandering aimlessly in life. You'll have to read the story to find out a few other characters who show up during the hurricane.


Meanwhile, when all of this is going on, we've got Ham scouring the globe to figure out what happened to Royal and any information about what happened to bring his daughter, Aggie into his life. This is a tormented guy who has no answers!

We also get a better glimpse into Jake's family and his sisters! There is a LOT going on with all of them and dare I hope they might get a spin off series? At least a couple? Selah and Ellie perhaps?! We also learn more about Jake's sister Hannah. I'm going to leave it at that because everything is explained in the story.

One of my favorite parts of Susan's stories is that she infuses Minnesota into them. Places I've been. She has a scene at the Mall of America. In a memory we visit the Minnesota State Fair (where you can get practically anything on a stick). The story starts out with Jake and Aggie on Lake Minnetonka and her description of steering and riding in a catamaran are so precise. I would swear that anything the author describes in any of her books, she has either gone above and beyond in her research or she has experienced them all and is an expert. Yes, her writing is that detailed that I feel like I'm getting a lesson on mountain climbing, sailing on a catamaran or weathering a hurricane.


Heck, even when Ham was in Russia I looked up the location on Google Maps just to see where he was! lol I didn't want to admit this, but I even wanted to search all of the places on Denali from The Way of the Brave because I became so fascinated by the story!

Oh, Susan May Warren, may you never stop writing and may I never stop reading your books! The relationships she creates in her stories leave me wanting more. The peril she imagines on the page leave my heart racing. And most importantly, the seamless way she infuses the truths of who God is and how the characters need Him in their lives make me reflect on my relationship with the Savior.

Impatiently waiting for book 3... and I can't wait to see where her next adventure takes us!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan May Warren 

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy and RITA award-winning novelist of over sixty-five novels. An eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: The Story Equation. She is also the founder of MyBookTherapy.com, and Novel.Academy, a school for aspiring novelists.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card and a heart-shaped hematite necklace!

The Heart of a Hero JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight June 1, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on June 8, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
cropped-justread-logo.png
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

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