Sunday, November 22, 2020

Artza: Artisanal Gift Box From Israel

I was pleasantly surprised when the ladies from Artza reached out to me about their subscription box! I was thrilled for a couple of reasons. 1) I'd never heard of them before (for shame!) and 2) I love learning about unique subscription boxes! They offered to send me their Nazareth box for me to check out.


Ok, this may sound strange, but the first thing I noticed about the box was the light, but distinguishable fragrance that came with the Artza box. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it smelled so good! I also loved the beautiful design of the box.

Before I get to what's inside the  box, let me tell you a bit about how the subscription works. You get a box once each quarter. There are two different subscription boxes: Basic and Premium. The difference (aside from the price) is that you receive 1-2 extra items with each box of the Premium. Also, with your first order you receive the Nazareth box for free!

BONUS: Get 15% off using MIMI15 at checkout!!

So, let's talk about what came in my Nazareth box, shall we?


When you open the box there is a sheath of cards and a large photo of Nazareth. Seriously, it's so gorgeous! The cards include 2 postcards, an explanation card about Artza, a recipe card, and 3 cards detailing the artisans.


The first item once you break through the paper is a beautiful wall hanging to bless the home. I plan on hanging mine so it's seen right when you first walk into our home. Gives me a reason to decorate our entryway! It's also well crafted, not some thin, flimsy fabric. I love the detail in the stitching and the beads on the bottom.

Then there are all of the little goodies!


There's a wooden cross. I'm going to guess it's olive wood? There wasn't anything detailing where it's from or what it was made from, but I love how smooth it is. It's already found a spot on my bookshelf.


I know I probably shouldn't have a favorite, but the Tereza Organic Soap smells so incredible! I want it bottle the scent so I can take it everywhere. lol I can see why the card says "to freshen up in the morning or relax before bed." The scent is calming. Heck, I may just put it next to my bed.


Now, my husband is super excited about the Shakshuka Blend seasoning. I mean, I'm excited too because I get to eat whatever he makes, but the recipe that comes with it looks absolutely delish! The blend smells INCREDIBLE! I have to say, I've become a huge fan of Middle Eastern food the past couple years so I can't wait to try it. I also like that this is a chunky blend because it'll add a terrific texture to the meal! If I ever go to Israel, I'm definitely going to want to visit The Spice Road Farm because all of the items they sell probably smell and taste amazing!


My husband has been a tea drinker for years, but I've only jumped on the bandwagon the past year or so. The Shalva Tea that is included in the box comes in a gorgeous container. I like that the writing on the container is in both Hebrew and English. I love that they don't call what the tea comes in as "tea bags" but as "tea pillows". Ha! This will be fantastic with the cold weather moving in.


Next is a lovely, blue ceramic heart from Susan's House. At Susan's House they have a workshop for at risk teens to help them "find their place in society through artistic expression, personal investment, and creative initiatives." What a great way to get the message out there about an important organization! Now, to find a spot to hang the ornament so I can remember to pray for the ministry!


If you can't tell, I'm ALL about the food! There's an Israeli family boutique called Ptora and what they added to the Artza box is an Apple, Pomegranate, & Honey Spread. Mmmmmm doesn't that sound delicious?! Well, I can guarantee that it does taste scrumptious! It won't last long in this house. I'll have to hide it from the rest of the family. HA!


Lastly there's a 3 in 1 family card came called Reveal Israel. My first thought was that this would be a fun game for little kids, but looking into it more, I have a feeling all of us will be learning a LOT more! I think during the holidays we'll have plenty of time to break out the cards and try all 3 games.

Be sure to check out Artza's boxes. They make perfect gifts for the holidays! I think they'd be fantastic for homeschoolers as well. Think of all the things the family can learn from these items from the Holy Land!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Nothing Short Of Wondrous By Regina Scott

Nothing Short of Wondrous
by Regina Scott
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800736408

I'm not afraid to admit this... I judge a book by it's cover. Which is EXACTLY why I wanted to review this book from Revell! I mean, it's gorgeous, right? Not only that, I wanted to read this series anyhow, and since this was book 2, I knew I had to get to book 1 first. So, they sent me the book for review.

Summary:

It is 1886, and the government has given the US Cavalry control of Yellowstone. For widowed hotelier Kate Tremaine, the change is a welcome one. She knows every inch of her wilderness home like the back of her hand and wants to see it protected from poachers and vandals.

Refused a guide by Congress, Lieutenant William Prescott must enlist Kate's aid to help him navigate the sprawling park and track down the troublemakers. But a secret from his past makes him wary of the tender feelings the capable and comely widow raises in him. As they work together to protect the park and stand firm through injustice and tragedy, they may just find that two wounded hearts can share one powerful love when God is in control.

My Review:

When I found out I was going to be on the team reviewing this book, I figured I needed to read A Distance Too Grand first, but turns out they're stand alone books. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to book one on audiobook so I had a feeling I was going to like Nothing Short of Wondrous as well.

Let me tell you, I certainly was right! What a delightful story. I'm sure I've never read any books situated in Yosemite or any National Park outside of this series. I also learned new things thanks for Regina's story. I had no idea the calvary spent any time in the Park and was clueless as to how many geysers there are/were! Kate just kept pointing them out all over the place! The way Kate views all of the nature around her and her son, Danny, reminded me of how much I love the nature God created. I love that she sees herself tending to what He's made.

Speaking of Kate, I really liked her character, especially at the beginning because she brooks no nonsense from people who overstep their bounds or mess with the National Parks. She's on a mission to keep it all well tended and no one is going to get in her way! Kate is independent and a single mom, both things I can relate to.

And of course, along comes Will. I love it when men see the positive side of independent women! We're a tough lot. lol Of course, Will comes with some hefty baggage. It's easy to understand why he doesn't feel like he can get close to Kate or anyone outside of his regiment. Through Kate's eyes it's easy to appreciate how hard of a worker he is.

Their chemistry is palpable, but life is never easy, especially in this rough and dangerous terrain as well as treacherous weather. Not only that, they're dealing with poachers and hotel guests who don't understand the concept of not ruining the creation around them.

Ok, this is totally an aside, but when the author put Lieutenant Will and Private Smith together I automatically thought of Will Smith. HA! That has nothing to do with my review other than it made me chuckle. Speaking of Smith... he's a fella who keeps you guessing as to whether he's a good guy or not!

I'm already looking forward to book three in the series because I lived in Washington for so many years! It'll be fun to journey back in time and to such a beautiful state.

About the Author:

Regina Scott is the author of more than 45 works of warm, witty historical romance, including A Distance Too Grand. Her writing has won praise from Booklist and Library Journal, and she was twice awarded the prestigious RT Book Reviews best book of the year in her category. A devotee of history, she has learned to fence, driven four-in-hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research. She and her husband of 30 years live south of Tacoma, Washington, on the way to Mt. Rainier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Things We Didn't Say By Amy Lynn Green

Things We Didn't Say
by Amy Lynn Green
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764237164

Well, as soon as I learned that Amy Lynn Green had written a book I was incredibly excited! Having "known" her for years through Bethany House, I couldn't wait to read Things We Didn't Say. I was able to read the book through NetGalley!

Summary:

Ironside Lake, Minnesota 
January 1944

Headstrong and determined, linguistics student Johanna Berglund has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind. But when the only way to her intended future is through undertaking a translator position at a nearby camp for German POWs, she reluctantly accepts.

Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy Minnesota town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they're not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her close friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her a second chance.

As Johanna interacts with the prisoners and censors their letters home, she begins to see them in a more sympathetic light, but advocating for better treatment makes her enemies in the community. The longer Johanna wages her home-front battle, the more the lines between compassion and treason become blurred--and she must decide where her heart truly lies.

My Review:

From Mimi to Amy
Delivered via Bethany House & Woven by Words

November 9, 2020
Dear Amy,

All is well here in Maryland. Missing Minnesota as most of my social media posts might allude to. I was so glad to be home for the first snowfall of the year though. It'll carry me through until I can get back in January. I have to admit, I'm glad that the weather stays in the 70s here in Maryland during November. I get to wear shorts and t-shirts here longer than I ever did in MN.

I have to tell you, I just finished "Things We Didn't Say" and was blown away! Are you sure this was your first novel? it certainly didn't feel like it. Have I ever mentioned I've never read an epistolary novel before. I have watched the movie "The Potato Peel Society of Guernsey" but I haven't read a book created by all letters!

Having not read a book that was based on written letters, I wasn't sure if it would appeal to me or if it would keep my interest. Well, I was hooked the moment I started reading! I was so nervous for Joanna Berglund right from the get-go. Can I tell you that I had no idea we had POW camps in Minnesota?! I didn't grow up there so maybe my kids learned about it since they did.

I really enjoyed the getting a feel for the relationship Jo has with the people in her life through her letters. Of course, being the romantic that I am, I enjoyed Peter's letter exchanges the most. Interesting that I say that now because I think in the 40s I probably wouldn't have had the same response.1  

Jo going back to Ironside Lake when her dreams lay far away at Oxford really made me feel compelled to be angry for her... basically being coerced into going home. I would imagine tensions were high, especially in such a small town. We know how those small towns are and Ironside Lake definitely lived up to the reputation.

I love Jo's spirited exchanges with Peter and Olive. She's witty and abrupt, something I ADORE in characters. Not everyone appreciates those parts that make up Joanna. Good thing she's resolved not to care in the least. HA!

The work she did with the POWs was wonderful and kudos for people who do that in real life as well. I'm sure she represents a unique group of people. It was "easy" to see them through her eyes. Too bad others didn't follow suit.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot I can say to the rest of the story because I don't want to give too much away. Hopefully I haven't already. If so, please be sure to let me know so I can make amends! I hope this isn't the last we hear from you and that we'll have many books to look forward to! I'll be reading them to be sure.

PS The anonymous donor really surprised me!
1It's always hard to know how one would respond in a different time. I've often thought of this when I read books that are set during the Civil War or Regency era.

About the Author:

Amy Lynn Green (www.amygreenbooks.com) is a publicist by day and a freelance writer on nights and weekends. She was the 2014 winner of the Family Fiction short story contest, and her articles have been featured in Crosswalk, Focus on the Family magazines, and other faith-based publications over the past 10 years. This is her first novel.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Soul Raging By Ronie Kendig

Soul Raging
by Ronie Kendig
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764231896

I'm FINALLY on a Ronie Kendig launch team! Cue the confetti! I was so excited to finally partner with her and the rest of the team to help launch this book! She sent me the book for review.

Summary:

As Prophecies in the Book of the Wars Unfold, the Only Hope Is Uniting with the Enemy.

Leif Metcalfe is done waiting for answers and seizes control, a move that comes with a high price and a deadly risk: teaming up with the enemy. He can only pray what he uncovers will heal the wounds he's inflicted on those he loves. 

Iskra Todorova refuses to believe Leif is irrevocably lost, despite evidence to the contrary. While trying to protect her daughter and track down Leif before it's too late, Iskra wonders if a member of the evil organization ArC has been in their midst since the beginning. 

Torn apart by injuries and opposing views about Leif's treachery, team Reaper hunts one of their own. The only thing they agree on is not stopping but starting the final battle prophesied in the Book of the Wars.

My Review:

Show of hands for people who are adrenaline junkies! If you are, then Soul Raging is the perfect conclusion to this trilogy. It literally picks up in Taiwan after Leif has put Cell in a choke hold until he passes out. From there, the chase is on.

Let me start off by saying this story will have your head spinning. Who is telling the truth? Where are different team members taking off to? Who is trustworthy?

Honest to goodness, I should've checked my heart rate on my Fitbit while I was reading this. hahaha It probably would've spiked quite a few times!

Ok, so, how to talk about the story without giving away anything.

Ronie once again has us rushing around the world with the characters and it's a race against time. The team has GOT to find Lief before ArC or anyone else does! Not only that, with Leif possibly being part of the Neiothen, the team is torn as to what to do about him. To say it's a hot mess is putting it mildly!

We also learn a lot more about Mercy in this story! Let's just say there are a lot of twists and turns. Oh my gosh, there were points in which I thought she was the only sane person left on the team. That poor gal! Not only does she try to keep the team glued together, her past catches up with her.

Iskra is a character who has definitely grown on me since book 1. She's evolved and instead of just being an assassin, she's learned (in a very short time) how to work - kind of sorta, for the most part, maybe a little - with a team. Ok, that might be a stretch, but she does understand Leif, as much as she can when she's questioning if he's turned or not. What she goes through in the story as well is enough to cause a person to chew all of her nails off!

Now, I'll be honest here. I felt like I should've been in a control room or the very least have a pin board with a map of the globe and pictures of all of the characters so I could keep track of who was where. Then magnets with the names of all of the characters so I could keep track of who I was trusting, who was trusting who, who was on which team, etc. There were so many twists and turns my brain was on overload. I can tell you, I'd never want to be on a special team. hahaha I wouldn't know which way was up! That was the great part though because there was just no way to know how things would turn out.

Would Leif be activated and just take out all of his "friends"? Would Andres be able to help him figure things out and if he did, what was his purpose behind the "help"?

Soul Raging had my pulse spiked pretty much throughout the whole story. It truly doesn't let up until the end!

I am sad that the series has come to the end. I'm not ready to say goodbye to all of these strong and mostly likable characters! I can't wait to see what Ronie has up her sleeve for her next series!

About the Author:

Ronie Kendig (www.roniekendig.com) is the bestselling, award-winning author of over 20 novels. She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her hunky hero are adventuring on the East Coast with their grown children, a retired military working dog, VVolt N629, and Benning the Stealth Golden. Ronie's degree in psychology has helped her pen novels with intense, raw characters.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Red Canary By Rachel Scott McDaniel

The Red Canary Takeover Tour

Welcome to the Takeover Tour for The Red Canary by Rachel Scott McDaniel, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Red Canary
Title: THE RED CANARY 
Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel 
Publisher: Smitten Historical Romance 
Release Date: November 10, 2020 
Genre: Christian Historical Romance 

Music sparks her world, but can love ignite her heart? 

In 1928, soot from the local mills and music from speakeasies linger in the Pittsburgh air. When the manager of The Kelly Club is found dead, nightclub singer Vera Pembroke is thrust into peril. As the only witness to the crime, she’s sentenced to hide away in the Allegheny Forest with a stuffy police sergeant as her guardian. 

Sergeant Mick Dinelo harbors a burning hatred for Pittsburgh’s underworld after the devastation it left on his life—and heart. He should be out exposing the culpable gangsters rather than tending to the impetuous woman who defies his every effort to keep her safe. 

Mick and Vera must set aside their differences to solve the murder that someone wants to keep buried beneath the soot of Steel City. 


My Review:

First, let's start with a contented sigh, shall we?

The Red Canary was such a fantastic book. I don't even know where to start. I'm pretty sure I've never read anything like it, which to say was incredibly refreshing. I'd also say I want to devour everything roaring 20s, but I don't know if anyone could capture it quite the way Rachel did. I mean, I was transported and it was fantastic! I read this in under 24 hours!

Readers are immediately drawn into the story as they meet Vera at the speakeasy. Something shady is going on and the nail biting begins. She's pretty witty and her lines are quite the zingers when she speaks to people. 

Ok, as an aside here, can we talk about how authors try to use "lingo" from a certain time period? I really believe the author has to understand the flow of a story to be able to incorporate the style in a manner that doesn't turn off the reader. Rachel did it beautifully! I didn't twitch once. It was entirely believable! Listen, if it's not done well I have issues not making a book dnf.

Back to Vera... She's a gal who ends up on the run with a "square" of a police officer. She's had a rough past and to be quite honest, her future isn't looking bright either.

Then there's good ol' Mick. This guy has been through the wringer and isn't interested in babysitting a canary, especially if he has to give up his vacation! I felt for him, but also, he was a bit judgy when it came to Vera. Of course, she certainly didn't make it easy for him.

One of the support characters, Pops, is such a terrific character! I have to say, towards the end he does something that surprises me and makes me laugh and "what the..." out loud! There are other people, too, like Lacey, who you just want to go sit with and enjoy a bit of teaberry with. Of course, there are the jerks of the story, too. Can't have a good book without them.

The flow of the story was great and it kept my attention from start to finish. Just when you get settled in and breathe a bit easier, something happens and it once again propels the story forward. I'll admit I didn't want the story to end because it was just so enjoyable!

Now I have the long wait before Rachel's next book comes out. Guess I better get my hands on Above the Fold to read in the meantime.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rachel scott mcdaniel

Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. She currently enjoys life in Ohio with her husband and two kids. Visit her at rachelmcdaniel.net

CONNECT WITH RACHEL: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive an autographed copy of The Red Canary and a custom book cozy!

The Red Canary JustRead Takeover Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight November 12, 2020 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on November 19, 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.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


 

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours 

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Sowing Season By Katie Powner

The Sowing Season
by Katie Powner
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764237591

Here I am, trying out another new-to-me author! I love getting emails to review books from Bethany House, especially Amy Lokkesmoe's insights as to why they chose a book. It really helps me decide if I want to review a book. Clearly I was convinced to try it out so they sent me the book for review.

Summary:

Can an unlikely friendship give them the courage to start again?

Forced to sell the dairy farm he's worked his entire life to make successful, Gerrit Laninga, now sixty-three, doesn't know what to do with himself. He sacrificed everything for his cows--his time, his health, his family--with nothing to show for it but bitterness, regret, and two grown children who want nothing to do with him.

Fifteen-year-old Rae Walters is stricken with panic every time she climbs behind the wheel. But any failure, including not passing her driver's test, jeopardizes The Plan--the detailed blueprint for high school and beyond that has her following in her lawyer father's footsteps. Though she's always been committed to The Plan, now that the pressure to succeed is building, doubts about whether she has what it takes begin to haunt her. What was supposed to unite her family in purpose could end up tearing it apart.

As their paths cross and a friendship begins to form, Gerrit's and Rae's lives change in unexpected ways. Will they discover what really matters in life and together learn it's never too late for a second chance?

My Review:

So, I'll be honest, the first few chapters I was a little "huh" about The Sowing Season. At first thought, it seemed kind of slow, but what I realized was, the reader is just given the chance to really get to understand the main characters. It's a shift from diving head first into a story, we're given the chance to savor it. Funny enough, in contemporary women's fiction is, the two main characters are an old man and a teenage girl.

Let's chat about those characters. Gerrit is basically Grumpy Old Men incarnate. lol I'll tell you something, I really loved this crabby old fella. Also the many things he'd been through that we learn about throughout the story really made me defensive for him. I wanted to get in people's faces for him. I'm telling you, Gerrit is a very compelling character. When you hear what he's been through, you (or at least I) understand his bitterness.

Then there's Rae. I think we all have known or know someone like her. A teenager who is driven to succeed to almost an unhealthy level. Not only drive by herself, but driven by parents. I honestly can't imagine having that much pressure at that young of an age. I'd say I more relate to Taylor, a girl at Community Hope who Rae tries to help in an after school program, than Rae.

I wasn't sure how Gerrit and Rae's paths would cross, but when they do, it's very poignant. Where he finds Rae is crucial to the story and to Gerrit's life. One of the fun parts of this story is Mr. Whiskers, Rae's cat. He is her constant companion. Unfortunately, Mr. Whiskars and "Berie" don't get along very well. Actually, no one really gets along with Bernie. HA!

While there are some light and endearing parts to this story, there are also the deep topics covered. Who ever thinks about the toll being a farmer takes on their family? Then there are the kids who are part of the after school program. A couple of those kids have rough home lives. When all of these people converge, lives are changed!

This is a very wonderful story. I had a sense of rightness when I finished this book. Looking forward to more stories by this author.

About the Author:

Katie Powner (www.katiepowner.com) is an award-winning author who lives in rural Montana where cows still outnumber people. She is a two-time OCW Cascade Award and ACFW First Impressions Award winner. Katie is a biological and adoptive mother of three and foster mother to many more. She and her husband have been in youth ministry for over a decade.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Reach Out, Gather In By Karen Ehman

Reach Out, Gather In
by Karen Ehman
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764237959

As soon as I saw this book I knew I needed to check it out. When we were building our house I knew that I wanted to be able to open our home to friends, family, and to be able to serve people God brought into our lives. When I saw this book available for review, I requested they send it for me to check out.

Summary:

Do you long for a life of purpose and adventure? It's simple. 
Open your heart. Open your home. 

So, you'd love to use your home to connect with others. However, you fear you don't have the time or the ability. What if you could discover the secret to having both?

In Reach Out, Gather In, bestselling author Karen Ehman leads you on a 40-day journey that will enable you to put your good intentions into action. This book--part devotional, part practical handbook--will equip you with the tools and ideas for feeding both the bodies and the souls of those whom God has placed in your path. 
On this guided journey, Karen will share:

· The biblical "why" for practicing hospitality
· Creative and practical ideas to encourage family, friends, co-workers, and strangers
· Tips and tricks for getting your house guest-ready in a snap 
· Fabulous no-fail recipes, clutter-busting strategies, and clever traditions
· Real-life stories and biblical examples that will inspire you to love others well

Reach Out, Gather In includes space for you to journal your own 40-day experience of opening your heart and home to others, discovering a life of purpose and adventure along the way.

My Review:

Reach Out, Gather In is such an encouraging book for people who want to open their hearts and home to others. I have to admit, the thought of being an all out hostess gives me a bit of anxiety. My friends... they're the ones who have homes that are beautifully designed and are neat & tidy. Me? Not so much. My home seems to be in a constant state of disarray. I mean, when people come over we certainly tidy up, but I'll probably never have a home that could be shown in a magazine. I mean, I have 120 aloe plants in one of my windows. hahahaha

So, this is where Reach Out, Gather In comes in handy, especially for people like me. I know in essence that my heart of opening our home is what matters most when we look at the bottom line. I appreciate that Karen Ehman starts off with explaining what hospitality is and isn't. She speaks straight to what I mention above. Thank goodness for that, but that's a hard pill to swallow when you have a skewed idea of what a home "needs" to look like when practicing hospitality. I appreciate that she directs us to the back of the book where she has memory verses for us to memorize for particular topics.

At the end of each day there's a spot to "Ponder and Pray". We're given the opportunity to answer several questions that have to do with the day's topic. Can I just say, day 4 "Clutter-Busting Basics" is for people like me? lol A previous boss who also used to be an organizer called people like me "surface abusers", meaning that if there's a surface with an available space I'm sure to put something (or somethings) on it.

I appreciate that this book isn't just about hosting people in your home. It's about the how we reach out to others. When we first moved into our neighborhood, we were some of the first people here so we made it a point to be neighborly, even if people were just looking at the homes that were built or the land. 

And can I just mention all of the recipes in the book?! I wasn't expect to find so many... or well, any at all. Each section ends with a set of recipes that can make showing hospitality easy! Lots of things to be grateful for in this book with its wisdom and instruction.

What I realized before I even finished the book is that this book is more than just about hospital and hosting people in you home. It's about touching the lives of the people you come in contact with, including - and starting with - your family. How you love on each of these people will leave a lasting affect. So, whether you just want to know simple ideas on how to reach out to others with the love of Christ or if you want to gather them into your home and your heart, don't pass up this book.

About the Author:

Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author with Proverbs 31 Ministries as well as a writer for Encouragement for Today, an online devotional that reaches more than four million women daily. She has authored fifteen books, including Keep It Shut and Settle My Soul. You can connect with Karen at www.karenehman.com, where she helps women live their priorities and love their lives.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Apprentice By Kristen Young

About the Book

Apprentice

Author: Kristen Young

Genre: Christian Science Fiction

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Publisher: Enclave

Summary:

The Love Collective is everywhere.
It sees everything.
Be not afraid.

Apprentice Flick remembers everything, except the first five years of her life. And for as long as she can remember, Flick has wanted to enter the Elite Academy—home to the best, brightest, and most loyal members of the Love Collective government.

Flick’s uncanny memory might get her there, too … even if it is the very thing that marks her as a freak. But frightening hallucinations start intruding into her days and threaten to bring down all she has worked so hard to accomplish. Why is she being hijacked by a stranger’s nightmare over and over again?

Moving to the Elite Academy could give Flick the future she’s always wanted. But her search for truth may lead to a danger she cannot escape.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review:

I just got done talking to my 17yr old son about the fact that he would LOVE Apprentice! It reminds me of The Hunger Games, The Giver, Maze Runner, and Divergent all rolled up in one. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it considering it's really a young adult genre book.

I became invested almost immediately. I actually wasn't sure if Kerr Flick was a boy or a girl initially. lol I actually thought she was a boy because of the name and there really wasn't much to go on. In fact, when she was being bullied by her dorm mates, I thought they were calling her (who I though was a him) a "girl" to treat him badly. Nope, turns out Flick is a girl. HA!

Anyhow, you get pulled along as they end their training in the Nursery. With the testing that's around the corner, tensions are high. What really struck me during the time we're getting to know Flick and those around her, is the fact that the Love Collective is constantly pushing "love", yet how Flick is treated is dealt with (actually NOT dealt with at all) nothing close to that. It's almost like even the instructors have disdain for her.

I could see how many could be intimidated by her. Not only does she have the amazing memory, but she's wicked smart as well. But you can tell there's something off. Something isn't quite right with all of this Love Collective business.

As Flick advances through her training things start to get weird. When she's with the next group of people in a new dorm, there's a sense of relief because she's no longer the freak, but have no fear, things don't stay that way for long. Like, maybe for a page or two. hahahaha I mean, I wasn't kidding when I said this book is like all 4 of those movies wrapped up in one book.

The ONLY problem in reading this book is that it's the first book, which, yay me, I'm reading in order, but boooo because now I wait. And I already feel like it's going to be an exceedingly long period of time before I can read book 2. HA! I mean, even if it were to come out next month I'd still feel like I was too impatient for it. So trust me, if you have a young adult or even if you're an old adult like me, but enjoy sci-fi's trust me and read this book!

About the Author

Kristen Young is an Aussie children’s and youth worker who always has a notebook on hand to catch ideas for her fiction and non-fiction. She loves hanging out with her family, watching movies with subtitles, and chocolate.

 

More from Kristen

An interview with Kristen Young

 

Q: How long have you been writing?

I was the kid who used to create little booklets and puzzle magazines for the family. So writing is something that I’ve been doing for a long time. It wasn’t quite publication-worthy back then, but it was fun. I had to practice a little more before people outside my family wanted to see it.

Q: Where do you write?

Anywhere I have access to a laptop or a pen. I have a desk at home where most of the writing happens, but I usually carry a notebook in my bag in case inspiration hits when I’m out. People think I’m a little eccentric when I’m madly scribbling in the middle of the supermarket. But I have to get that scene idea down before I forget!

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

Distractions. For me, writing preparation is a little like building a house of cards — that process of getting my thoughts in order and working out the story direction. Distractions are like the gust of wind that knocks the whole construction over. I usually wear noise-cancelling headphones to try and keep me focused on the process.

Q: Where’s your favourite story setting?

I’m still looking for that wardrobe with a door to Narnia.

Q: What’s the first book that made you cry?

I’m not sure if I can share that without giving spoilers! But I’d have to say Charlotte’s Web. When I read that as a child, it had me wrecked for ages.

Q: Have you read anything that totally changed your idea of the way fiction could be written?

There are a couple of books that totally changed my view of fiction. The first was Margaret Atwood’s novel The Blind Assassin. I was totally captivated by the way she mixed newspaper articles and other media with the narrative sections. It was mind-blowing at the time.

Jasper Fforde’s series that started with The Eyre Affair was also pretty amazing. It took a whole pile of literary references and completely messed with them. It was enormous fun.

Q: So why set something in a world called the “Love Collective”?

I like words, and I’m fascinated by the way people often play with them, or even weaponise them. I kind of wanted to explore this word ‘love’ and what it means. In English, we have this one word to refer to so many different kinds of concepts. I wanted to write an exciting story, so it seemed right to have this concept as a backdrop behind the action, where you’re asking, “What does this mean?”

Q: Your main character never forgets anything. Is she like you?

No way. I think Flick’s memory is a bit of wish fulfilment from me. It was so hard writing her, because I forget so many details! In some ways forgetting is protective. But in other ways I’d love to have her memory.

Q: What can we expect in the rest of the Collective Underground Trilogy?

I can’t tell you the whole story, that would ruin the fun. But in the first book, Flick’s world has started really small, and she’s going to broaden her horizons. She’ll get to explore more of this Love Collective. There also might be some more danger, too. Or more love. We’ll see…

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 1

Blogging With Carol, November 1

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 2

Texas Book-aholic, November 3

Inklings and notions, November 4

April Hayman, Author, November 4

For Him and My Family, November 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 6

deb’s Book Review, November 6

Worthy2Read, November 7

Woven by Words, November 7

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 8

Emily Yager, November 9

Artistic Nobody, November 9 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 10

Simple Harvest Reads, November 11 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 11

Adventures of A Travelers Wife, November 12

Through the Fire Blogs, November 12

Splashes of Joy, November 13

Inside the Wong Mind, November 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kristen is giving away the grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/102f1/apprentice-celebration-tour-giveaway

Friday, November 6, 2020

The Kissing Tree By Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese

The Kissing Tree
by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764236129

Ok, I'm going to be honest here. I sometimes get twitchy when it comes to novellas. They are such a hit or miss for me. BUT when you have these four authors combined in one book, how could I resist joining Nicole Deese's launch team?! She sent me the book as part of the team. Whew, I wasn't disappointed!

Summary:

In this Texas-sized romance novella collection, courting couples, decades apart, leave a permanent mark of their love by carving their initials into the same oak's bark.  

Regina Jennings - "Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts"
When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is put on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?

Karen Witemeyer - "Inn for a Surprise"
Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise. 

Amanda Dykes - "From Roots to Sky"
WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they've shared be enough to give their future flight?

Nicole Deese - "Heartwood"
Abby Brookshire's world is turned upside down when the historic tree she's strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she's been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?

My Review:

I'm going to say from the gate that this collection of novellas in The Kissing Tree exceeded my expectations! I was honestly surprised at how invested I became in the characters. By the time I reached novella three I was wondering about the characters from novellas one and two. And truth be told, I got a bit emotional as I began in the third one! By novella four, I wanted to carve initials into the tree!

We're introduced to the kissing tree in book one with Bella and Adam. I have to admit, one of my favorite tropes is when the characters have known each other in younger years. This story really sets us up for becoming fond of the story surrounding the tree, and let me tell you, Regina certainly does that! I became invested in the lives of those who are in the town and the tree.

The entire length of the book, you're given the chance to reflect on life in general. How it goes on around you, how it changes over the years, and really what your own legacy will be. I found myself very introspective while reading each novella.

Book two had me giggling so much! I've been a long time Karen Witemeyer fan and this might be one of my favorites! And a novella no less. Go figure. While I'm not typically a fan of people falling for each other "too soon", if it's well written, it works like a charm and it certainly did this time. Pheobe has met her match with Barnabas. Oh my goodness, the ways he refers to the Inn are hysterical! Probably my favorite part of this whole story!

Now, if you're into nostalgia, Amanda Dykes' story is for you! This one is on the deeper side and will pluck at your heartstrings! I loved how she weaves the letter and drawings from Luke and Danny into Hannah's world. I love it when I can see myself in a character, and I can definitely see a bit of me in Hannah. This story is sure to give you all the warm fuzzy feelings.

And lastly we have Nicole Deese's story. This one was a difficult one for me because I wasn't ready to leave the legacy of the kissing tree behind. I'd grown so fond of it I grew a bit teary eyed as I started her story. I'm pitiful. I know! This last book has two people coming back together to work together (hopefully) to save the kissing tree. Griffin and Abby are opposite sides of the same coin. I love how Nicole describes that what they do for careers may seem to work against each other, but actually work in tandem. As a gardener (would-be landscaper) I can actually appreciate what they both do. There's definitely humor in the story as well as pain and loss. Actually a lot of loss, and for more than just the main characters. It was a good, heartfelt ending to a wonderful collection of stories. I could honestly handle a lot more just like this one!

About the Authors:

Voted #1 Reader's Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer(www.karenwitemeyer.com) offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.

Regina Jennings (www.reginajennings.com) is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She's the winner of the National Readers' Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang Newsand at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

Amanda Dykes (www.amandadykes.com) is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She's a former English teacher and the author of Set the Stars Alight and Whose Waves These Are, an INSPY award winner and a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, as well as three novellas.

Nicole Deese's (www.nicoledeese.com) eight humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled novels include the 2017 Carol Award-winning A Season to Love. Her 2018 release, A New Shade of Summer, was a finalist in the RITA Awards, Carol Awards, and INSPY Awards. Both of these books are from her bestselling Love in Lenoxseries. When she's not working on her next contemporary romance, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior.

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