Monday, November 28, 2022

Where The Blue Sky Begins By Katie Powner

Where the Blue Sky Begins
by Katie Power
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764240393

I read Katie's first book The Sowing Season a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Somehow I missed reading A Flicker of Light (which will have to be rectified). I was excited to learn I had won this book, but I also signed up to review it. I'm so thrilled I did!

Summary:

Sometimes the hardest road of all is the road home.

When confident and handsome Eric Larson is sent to a rural Montana town to work in the local branch of his uncle's financial company, he's determined to exceed everyone's expectations, earn a promotion, and be back in Seattle by the end of summer. Yet nothing could prepare him for the lessons this small town has in store.

At forty-six years old, eccentric and outspoken Eunice Parker has come to accept her terminal illness and has given herself one final goal: seek forgiveness from everyone on her bucket list before her time runs out. But it will take more courage than she can muster on her own.

After an accident pushes Eric and Eunice together, the unlikely pair is forced to spend more time with each other than either would like, which challenges their deepest prejudices and beliefs. As summer draws to a close, neither Eric nor Eunice is where they thought they would be, but they both wrestle with the same important question: 
What matters most when the end is near?

My Review:

If you're looking for a contemporary women's fiction author, look no further! Where the Blue Sky Begins was incredibly well written and I became very connected to the characters. If you ever wonder what a character would be like if they're taken out of the city where they've lived all of their lives and dumped in a podunk town where everyone knows each others' business, then you'll see it in all of it's glory in this story.

Eric was a fun to get to know throughout this story. You could feel his "pain" as he adjusts to this new town. So many cringe-worthy moments including his run-in with Eunice. The two of them are quite the pair to say the least. Eunice forces Eric to help her complete her "forgiveness" list.

Speaking of Eunice, while I wish we could've known what she was like before her illness, we do get a glimpse of it as she seeks forgiveness from the handful of people on her list. As a caregiver I could understand her struggles of wanting to do things she no longer can because I see the same thing in my clients. 

I think the author really captured the essence of a small town as well. Even the simplest of changes can have a big impact on the townspeople's lives. You also see how close knit they are, especially when it comes to taking care of each other.

You truly can't help but become emotionally connected to both Eunice and Eric. Their intertwined stories forces you to reflect on resentment, grudges, and forgiveness. In the midst of the pain in watching Eunice decline, there are many hilarious moments. I think most, if not all, of the tabs I added to my book are the scenes that cracked me up. I also never expected to think a Polish hen would be a great side character!

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.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Sundown By Susan May Warren

SUNDOWN
by Susan May Warren
Publisher: Revell
Series: Sky King Ranch
ISBN: 9780800739843

Susan May Warren is the Queen of suspense! This series has been epic and I have love all three stories. I was sent the book for review from the publisher. If you haven't read this series, get to is ASAP!

Summary:

He doesn't trust her . . . but he can't let her go it alone

Former Delta Operative Colt Kingston knows when someone is lying. He may not know the truth, but he sure doesn't trust Tae, the mysterious woman his family rescued from an Alaskan blizzard. Behind those beautiful blue eyes, Colt can tell there is a troubled--and smart--woman.

A few of her stories prove true--they found the crashed plane and the dead body inside. Still, her tale of survival seems too incredible to believe . . . until the thugs she claims to be hunting her across Alaska show up and threaten Sky King Ranch. Now Tae must disappear, along with her secrets.

Colt will have to track her down and earn her trust before it's too late. It'll take the entire family to save the world from disaster. 

The epic conclusion to Susan May Warren's Sky King Ranch trilogy.

My Review:

First of all, why does this series have to be OVER?! Imagine me whining like a child.

There was SO much to love about Sundown! First, the best part is that we get all three of the brothers in this story. The ladies as well! They all make an incredible force to be reckoned with.

Suspense in the name of the game from beginning to end. Of course, that's to be expected with any SMW story. For Tae, danger seems to follow her everywhere. Good thing Colt is committed to keeping her as safe as possible. Colt always heads into danger without counting the cost thought.

It's so great to watch Colt, Ranger, and Dodge use their various skill sets to get jobs done! They're a trio you don't want to be on the bad side of!

The way the story unfolds, it's understandable that the brothers don't quite believe Tae's story of why she's being hunted. But, when you look at the world around us, is it really so far-fetched? The writing of this story makes you realize how "easy" it could be for a world disaster to happen. Good thing there are people like Tae in the world who battle disaster the way only people like her can.

The suspense in the story had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Just when we come up for breath the author takes us back into the crazy. I appreciate the author's strong faith thread throughout the story. Seeing the characters wrestle with their past in regards to God is a theme that will speak to many of us.

While I'm sad this story is coming to an end, I can see where some new characters may show up in a future series. Here's to hoping!

About the Author:

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly 90 novels with more than 1.5 million books sold, including the Global Search and Rescue and the Montana Rescue series, as well as Sunrise and Sunburst. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers' Choice Awards, Susan makes her home in Minnesota. Find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook @SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @SusanMayWarren.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Christmas On King Street By Ashley Clark

Christmas on King Street (Novella)
by Ashley Clark
Publisher: Independent
Series: Heirloom Secrets 
ISBN: 979-8359363440

I was so pleased when Ashley reached out to me and asked me to review her Christmas novella. I have loved her Heirloom Secrets series! She sent me this book for review. 

Summary:

This Christmas, her music box holds the key to a wartime secret.

Alice's flower shop is in trouble and her boyfriend has yet to propose. She's weary and disillusioned, so when her boyfriend suggests a trip to visit family and friends in Charleston, South Carolina, she's eager to go. But a discovery at her friend's vintage store reveals a decades-old music box with a secret that may just help Alice find what she needs this Christmas.

In 1942, witty Kit and a handsome soldier start a whirlwind romance at a USO dance. But when war takes him away and tests their love, all Kit wants for Christmas is to see him again. Her story becomes more complicated with the mysterious appearance of a music box on her doorstep, and their romance takes a turn she never expected...

My Review:

It was nice to get back to Alice and Sullivan after reading book three in the Heirloom Secrets series. While this happens in winter, it's not really Christmas-y except for the time of year.

I enjoyed the historical time period with Kit and James. You can feel the chemistry between them when they meet at a USO dance. Like Kit, I felt like swooning! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them in their short time together. Kit is full of life and James is the kind of man who finds the ONE woman he'll always love and you just want to sigh!

Alice and Sullivan are having a difficult time, but when she finds a music box, they're able to work together to find out its history. Once again, I adored Millie in this story. She's so cute! It was fun to have Peter and Harper in the story as well. 

The story of the music box was a little confusing and I think if the story had been a chapter or two longer it might've been fleshed out a bit better. There was a part of the historical storyline that I wasn't quite comfortable with, although it was explained.

I would give the story a 3.5 if we could give half stars! If you haven't read this whole series I would suggest reading the other stories first so you know the characters.

About the Author:

Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses as an adjunct. She's an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Authentically, Izzy By Pepper Basham

Authentically, Izzy
by Pepper Basham
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0840714985

I have never met a Pepper Basham book I didn't thoroughly enjoy. She has such an incredible gift of writing in historical fiction as well as contemporary fiction. When she asked me to read her book with her launch team, I was thrilled! She sent me her ARC ebook for review.

Summary:

Dear Reader, My name is Isabelle Louisa Edgewood—Izzy, for short. I live by blue-tinted mountains, where I find contentment in fresh air and books. Oh, and coffee and tea, of course. And occasionally in being accosted by the love of my family. (You’ll understand my verb choice in the phrase later.) I dream of opening my own bookstore, but my life, particularly my romantic history, has not been the stuff of fairy tales. Which is probably why my pregnant, misled, matchmaking cousin—who, really, is more like my sister—signed me up for an online dating community.

The trouble is . . . it worked. I’ve met my book-quoting Mr. Right, and our correspondence has been almost too good to be true. But Brodie lives across an ocean. And just the other day, a perfectly nice author and professor named Eli came into the library where I work and asked me out for a coffee. I feel a rom-com movie with a foreboding disaster nipping at my heels.

But I’ve played it safe for a long time. Maybe it’s time for me to be as brave as my favorite literary heroines. Maybe it’s time to take the adventures from the page to real life. Wish me luck.

Authentically,

Izzy


My Review:

I don't even know where to start with this utterly delightful story! Is there any genre Pepper Basham CAN'T write in and do it in a fantastical way? I would have to say, "No!"

Authentically, Izzy is written as an epistolary, but do NOT let that deter you. The author does it in a way that is contemporary and hilarious. I'll be honest with you here. I reached out to Pepper and asked her to write my review because SHE'S the author and I will NOT do this story justice. I've actually never read an epistolary before (although I have watched a movie that we all know ;) )

I literally felt like I was part of the emails and text messages between Izzy and her cousins. Heck, I even felt like one of the cousins being in on the conversations. This story was hilarious, romantic, and just all around sweet. From the relationship of the cousins to Brodie and his family, this has everything one could want in a romance.

The story was a quick read, even at over 400 pages, because I got so lost in the story I couldn't stop myself from reading it. I can't even tell you how many times I laughed out loud! Izzy was absolutely delightful. With the loss of her parents, but being blessed by living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, you'd think she is on solid ground. I think that's the case (except for her love life) until her cousin, Josephine puts her on a dating website. The hilarity that ensues as she drags her other two cousins, Luke and Penelope through her emotional highs and lows was fabulous!

And let's talk about Brodie, shall we? There's not much I could say negatively about this fella. He has an accent, his family owns bookstores, he can quote from books Izzy loves and ones she hasn't read, and he likes her! Too bad he lives in a country an ocean away and she would have to fly there to meet his family!

I have SO much anticipation for the rest of this series!! They'll definitely become keepers.

About the Author:

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance “peppered” with grace and humor. Writing both historical and contemporary novels, she loves to incorporate her native Appalachian culture and/or her unabashed adoration of the UK into her stories. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC, where she is the wife of a fantastic pastor, mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus. You can learn more about Pepper and her books on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com; Facebook: @pepperbasham; Instagram: @pepperbasham; Twitter: @pepperbasham; BookBub: @pepperbasham.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Holy Pals PJs & Discount Code + WIN!

Before my daughter was married with a baby it never crossed my mind to have matching family pajamas. They, on the other hand, absolutely love it! Of course, now I want in on the fun! So when I found out about a partnership with Holy Pals thanks to FrontGate Media I snagged up a pair for review. The matching family pajamas are the perfect way to keep the focus on Christ for Christmas (especially at bedtime).



For families to have matching pajamas for Christmas they have:

CHRISTMAS CLASSIC NATIVITY PJS makes a fun and cozy gift to give, designed with a classic French illustrative style; very peaceful and calming.  

JOY TO THE WORLD CHRISTMAS PJS shows Baby Jesus so joyful in His mother's arms, as the angels praise and celebrate around them.

    AWAY IN A MANGER CHRISTMAS PJS illustrations include Jesus in a manger, the three kings, Joseph and Mary journeying from Nazareth and the most adorable angels!

    STARRY NIGHT PJS bring you back to the peaceful night of Christ's birth.

    With each of the pajama sets there's a small label that has been stitched on the right arm of all their pajamas with the Bible passage the pajama as a reminder to the child and the parents if they’d like to look up the story and read together. I can guarantee that my granddaughter would want the Bible story told every time she were to wear them. They have the most adorable prints that will appeal to kids.

    For every day pajamas Holy Pals also has various Bible story prints (ex. Easter, Palm Sunday, Esther, Noah, Daniel, David & Goliath, Jonah, Adam & Eve). 

    I went with the Christmas Classic Nativity PJs! Because of my height and weight I'm a Medium in pretty much everything, but as Holy Pals states, they fit snuggly on women and children, but for men they're loose fitting. After receiving my pajamas, I would highly recommend sizing up to a Large if you're 5'8 or taller.

    They're 100% premium grade cotton, chosen for its coziness and softness. Because they're 100% cotton, they shrunk about an inch with my first wash in cold and on low in the dryer. That's the other reason to size up for women. After washing them, they were even softer than when I received them in the mail.

    I would be remiss if I didn't mention they have POCKETS!! I think all pajamas should have them.


    Here is a CODE for a 10% off of your order! Be sure to use MIMI10 when you check out.

    They also have an amazing mission!

    Our Mission
    • Give children the opportunity to draw near to Christ, and to help parents teach their children about their faith.
    • To shine a light on child-focused charities in need of support, raising awareness of their worthy causes and supporting them alongside our customers.
    Every pajama sale supports the Littlest Lamb Orphanage, a privately funded orphanage in Egypt. They have built a home for orphaned and at-risk children who have lost parents to death, imprisonment, or abandonment. The Littlest Lamb provides these children with everything they need to thrive – shelter, food, clothing, education and most importantly A FAMILY that loves them.


    Now you have the chance to win a pair of Holy Pals pajamas!! Be sure to enter HERE!

    Sunday, November 13, 2022

    His Delightful Lady Delia

    His Delightful Lady Delia
    by Grace Hitchcock
    Publisher: Bethany House
    Series: American Royalty
    ISBN: 9780764237997

    I was incredibly excited about reading the last book in this series and thrilled to know that Kit finally was getting his story. I was thankful to be on Grace's launch team for the book. She sent me the book for review. 

    Summary:

    Behind the curtain, she must put on the performance of a lifetime . . . while love and risk take center stage.

    Delia Vittoria's mother has lost her voice at last. After five years of being her diva mother's understudy, it is time for Delia to assume her place as the lead soprano onstage behind the Academy of Music's faded velvet curtain. And she is all that stands between the Academy and its greatest threat--the nouveaux riches' lavish new Metropolitan Opera House.

    Kit Quincy never misses opening night, but when his sister begs him to help get her husband out of an Italian opera star's arms, Kit accidentally confronts the younger Lady Vittoria instead. When he meets the stunning young diva again, he attempts to make amends, but then finds himself pulled into a society matron's plot to win the great opera war. To draw attention to Delia Vittoria as the Academy's new soprano star, Kit is convinced to act as both Delia's patron and the enigmatic phantom who once haunted the Academy years ago. But when a second phantom appears, more than Delia's rising career is threatened.

    My Review:

    A fun conclusion to a delightful series!

    From book one I just fell in love with Kit. I think all of us did! He was such a great character I was glad he got his own story and HEA in His Delightful Lady Delia.

    Delia has had quite a life starting with her father leaving her at a young age and her mother lording her prima donna title over her. I had nothing but compassion for Delia from the start. There were so many endearing things about her and I really just enjoyed how the author wrote her character.

    Then there's Kit! He's not your average swoony hero. He's a bit on the mature side and I was HERE for it! I usually have a hard time with large age gaps with love interested, but for the first time I years I was FINALLY convinced that this age gap could work.

    Can we all stand and applaud authors who don't create eye rolling misunderstandings just to extend a story. I deeply appreciate authors who allow their characters to be straight forward and not play silly games. Don't get me wrong, there were a couple of misunderstandings, but ones that made sense, not for the sake of adding more words to the count. To me, that's the sign of an author who is gifted!

    She also writes great villains. I couldn't stand Delia's mother or the maestro. They were just awful to Delia. Thank goodness Kit counteracts all of their vile ways. I do want to give a shout out to Millie, who is quite the schemer, and to Ramsey who is a good friend and dependable. He and Millie add that extra touch that gave the story some extra fun!

    Of course, I love the faith that's threaded through the story. With Hester in Delia's life since birth, she's able to pour Truth into her. Just don't daydream next to Hester in church. Kit's reminders to Delia as well play a strong role in their relationship, which I was thankful to read!

    There was a bit of chaos at the end that had me blinking my eyes trying to keep things straight. I was a bit confused at one part because I wasn't quite sure what was going on, but other than that, the entire story was enjoyable.

    I'm sad this series is over as I fell in love with the characters, but I'm glad we had some good conclusions!

    About the Author:

    Grace Hitchcock (www.gracehitchcock.com) is the award-winning author of multiple historical novels and novellas. She holds a master's degree in creative writing and a bachelor of arts in English with a minor in history. Grace lives in the New Orleans area with her husband, Dakota, and their sons and daughter.

    Saturday, November 12, 2022

    Quest Of Fire: Desperation By Brett Armstrong

    Desperation JustRead Blog Tour 

    Welcome to the Blog Tour for Quest of Fire: Desperation by Brett Armstrong, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! I received the ebook to help facilitate this review.

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    Quest of Fire: Desperation Title: Quest of Fire: Desperation 
    Series: Quest of Fire #4 
    Author: Brett Armstrong 
    Publisher: Expanse Books 
    Release Date: September 13, 2022 
    Genre: Christian, Epic Fantasy

    Guarding his nation’s last hope, a teen must escape enemy lands.

    While Anargen, Caeserus, and Bertinand are held captive in Stormridge, the war to restore Ecthelowall’s Commonwealth has been waged for months. Their friend Terrillian is on its frontline and hopes are high.

    For Barons Fenwrest and Sornfold the fight is too close to their children, whose union represents the only viable challenge to the Monarchists claim to Ecthelowall’s ancient throne. Enter Thomas Fenwrest, an orphan and page to Sir Hurstwell, who is captain of Baron Fenwrest’s guard. The pair must escort the teens to Castle Yerst expecting boredom to be their only danger. Everything quickly spirals out of control when the Monarchists somehow deliver a devastating blow to the Restoration army and Thomas and Sir Hurstwell face the increasingly difficult task of keeping their charges alive. Ancient sorcery and bitter grudges combine to ensnare them. As desperation sets in for the Restoration and Thomas, to where will they turn for hope?

    PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound

    My Review:

    So, this story took a bit of getting into like the previous one. I think it would've been a good idea for me to read the ending of book 3 before starting book 4 to get an idea of what I was walking into with this next story. Unlike the previous book, this one doesn't switch between time periods until the epilogue. I was a bit disappointed (just a personal note) that we didn't get a "new era" time period. lol

    We get to know Thomas, a teen who no longer has the hope of ascending the throne, but his simpering cousin is next in line. As they try to escort Delia and Mia to safety everything goes awry. If you like non-stop action that involves swords and armor, this story is definitely for you.

    As Mia and Thomas work out their personal differences, they start to work very well together. Terrillian, from the previous story shows up on the scene and really does a great job of leading them.

    The faith element throughout this story is fantastic! I love that when the characters rely on the High King we see His power! It reminds the reader over and over that choosing to walk in the light and with the Light is the best choice, but it IS a choice. I think for young adults who might be reading this story will be bolstered in their faith!

    Book Excerpt:

    Standing in the servants’ corridor within Port Valence’s keep, Thomas understood why he hadn’t been able to get a bearing on the structure’s location. Beyond his mystical poisoning—the nature of which he was still skeptical about—there was no spotting it from where he’d been. The keep wasn’t at the highest point like many other fortified cities. Instead, the soaring cliffs and solidarity of Ecthelowall’s ancient claims to the lands around Port Valence had led its defensive architects to focus on repelling invaders from the sea. As such, its castle and keep were built wrapped in the arms of its harbor. The sea breaking against its stalwart grey stones, dozens of feet below the castle, made one of the most unique, impressive fortifications Thomas had ever seen. And the most disheartening. Môrmawr Castle, as it was named, boasted two towers loaded with ballista, two more with modern mortars, and cannons lining its curtain wall. All of which deterred invaders from the sea. But the slopes worked against Môrmawr when attacked from land. If the defenses at the city’s gate fell, the invaders would have the high ground and almost certainly overthrow the castle in less than a day. 

    Knowing the tenuous position they were in made being stuck here, “where he belonged,” all the more painful. Hurstwell had given him an apologetic look when he’d been ushered out of the main hall after delivering Mia. He had earned a place at the tables where the strategy for winning the day was discussed. When he presented Mia to the group, Delia had rushed over, kissed him on the cheek, and declared him a hero. It was at that moment Mia decided to unceremoniously skewer him by revealing she had rescued him more so than the other way around.

    Thomas bet that would spawn some boisterous jokes at his expense from those in the room later. And if not among them, then certainly among the other watchmen and guards with whom he’d have to share shifts at watch.

    Pity no one kept court like in the old days. He was shaping up to be a prime apprentice for the court jester. “With my luck as it’s been, Gregor will become Monarch, and that’s exactly what I’ll be. His court jester.”

    A pang of guilt hit him. It wasn’t right to speak that way, particularly not this moment. Not when Gregor was as still as the grave, and the Mayor of Valence’s physicians had already exhausted their craft to no avail.

    Had his father not bankrupted his family by investing so heavily in the merchant fleet that was destroyed in reprisals for Ecthelowall’s privateering, Thomas might be the one engaged to Delia. Part of him ached with longing at that notion. Another part he couldn’t ignore found that unthinkable. He chalked that up to feeling like he had betrayed Mark’s memory with the thought.

    Sighing, he produced the spiritsword Terrillian had given him. It was a long sword and a little broader than any swords he had practiced with. Because of the war, he wasn’t even accorded a dagger for his duties. Then again, he was never assigned any task for which Hurstwell wasn’t present. Hurstwell could be aptly called Armed-well. It was good to be entrusted with something valuable like this. Even if, in his hands, its silvery surfaces didn’t quite gleam the way they did in Terrillian’s hands. Nor did the inscriptions glow white hot and issue flames that enwrapped the blade. He traced some of the words inscribed on it, repeating them softly to himself as he did. Midway through “I fear no danger, for the Hight King is with me,” he felt something sting his finger and he yelped. His eyes widened. There were ruddy hues shimmering within the lettering on the spiritsword that gave off heat. 

    He wanted to drop it. He couldn’t bear to drop it. Then everything went black.

    Black, but not dark, because he could see clearly. At first, he was alone in a wide clearing, reminiscent of Primrose Glade. In the distance was an indistinct shape against the horizon. It was bitter cold, though without wind or any sign of winter. “Where am I?”

    A sound like thunder boomed, resounding as though he were in a cave instead of a tableland. To Thomas’s wonder, he understood the thunder as words. He found his legs obeying almost on their own, and he walked until he saw the shape of a tower. It had at its top a light that burned low. All around, the fading embers of the tower’s light high above cast a preternatural auburn pall upon the area all around its base. It set his nerves on edge, but even at the periphery of the light’s touch, he knew it accorded precious warmth. But the thunder spoke again, and he knew he could not enter the light’s enclosure.

    As the light faded, its circle of radiance retracted. It was then Thomas noticed something stirring. Looking through the light cast by the tower, he could see ... things. Monstrous things, hideous and numerous, such as he had never dared encounter in his most horrific nightmares. These creatures were edging towards the tower as its luminous dominion diminished. Thomas shifted his position and realized that it was only through the tower’s light that he could see the encroaching army. The hairs on his neck stood on end. Though he could not see them, he was also surrounded by a fiendish horde. 

    Thomas began swaying. The terror had slipped inch by icy inch into his bones, and he thought for sure he would drop dead from fright. But the thunder boomed and pulled his attention back to the tower. Somehow its light had faltered so much since he last looked that no aura of protective light now existed. Instead, four figures of light stood on each side in defense of the tower.

    All at once a feral cry, wicked and wild, went up from all around, and all the terrible creatures once hidden were revealed. They converged on the tower and its sentinels. Some beasts clambered up the sides of the protectors; others smashed into them and the tower, over and over. Sounds of stone cracking began to mix with gleeful revelry expressed by the creatures in growls and hisses and voices disgustingly sweet and disastrously acerbic. Desperation seized Thomas’s heart. Somehow, he knew if the tower fell, all would be lost. And Thomas stood watching the end of all good, completely incapable of staying the ruinous tide.

    The thunder boomed louder than before. Pulling not only his eyes but the eyes of all those against the tower to it. Above the tower, a vortical storm of lightning streaked clouds   glowered on the assembled enemies below, and with a sound like a rushing waterfall or dam breaking forth, the storm alit with fire and burst forth onto tower, setting the tower’s beacon ablaze with a flash of light and heat so powerful it blew Thomas off of his feet. Thomas closed his eyes, certain the splendor alone would kill him.

    Instead, the heat faded with a suddenness that left him frigid. He dared not open his eyes again until the salty scent of the sea and the tepid balminess of Port Valence edged into his senses and bid him to chance it. Looking around, all was the same as before, except the perspective was off. It took a moment to realize the one thing different about the room was that he was lying on the rough stone floor, curled up tight.

    What had he just seen? Was it an after-effect of his poisoning?

    A thought that did not feel as though it had originated with him pressed fiercely into his consciousness. The one part of him not curled in fear was an outstretched arm. In its hand clenched the spiritsword. Warmth radiated from it, and he had the distinct impression it had told him what he’d just experienced was a vision. 

    The term vision tangled in conjured imaginings of the Oracles of Tislatna and other mythical fancies along with charlatan soothsayers. But no, this was different. How he knew it to be different was as mysterious as the vision itself. 

    A sudden sound shattered the stillness of his inward thoughts. It was followed by another and another like it. A faint tremor ran through the stones of the hall. Canon fire.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Brett Armstrong

    Brett Armstrong, author of the prize-winning novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio, started writing stories at age nine, penning a tale of revenge and ambition set in the last days of the Aztec Empire. Twenty years later, he still tells stories enriched by his Christian faith and a master’s degree in creative writing. His goal with every work is to be like a brush in the Master artist’s hand and his hope is the finished composition always reflects the design God had in mind. He writes to engage, immerse, and entertain with deep, thoughtful stories. Continually busy at work with one or more new novels to come, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and playing with his beautiful wife and son. Brett’s book The Gathering Dark is a 2020 Selah Awards Finalist in the Speculative Fiction category.

    Connect with Brett by visiting brettarmstrong.net to follow him on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


    TOUR GIVEAWAY

    (2) winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift card, a copy of Quest of Fire: Desperation, a digital map of the western Lowlands, a digital copy of a limited-release short story about a character in Desperation, and Quest of Fire's theme music.

    Quest of Fire: Desperation JustRead Giveaway

    Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight November 8, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on November 15, 2022. 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.

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    Wednesday, November 9, 2022

    The Premonition At Withers Farm By Jaime Jo Wright

    The Premonition at Withers Farm
    by Jaime Jo Wright
    Publisher: Bethany House
    ISBN: 9780764238338

    I'm always a fan of Jaime Jo's writing and I preordered this book as soon as I had a chance! The publisher also sent me a copy so I'll have to give one away as well!

    Summary:

    The voices of the past cannot stay silent forever.

    In 1910 Michigan, Perliett Van Hilton is a self-proclaimed rural healer, leaving the local doctor convinced she practices quackery. It doesn't help that her mother is a spiritualist who regularly offers her services to connect the living with their dearly departed. But when Perliett is targeted by a superstitious killer, she must rely on both the local doctor and an intriguing newcomer for assistance.

    In the present day, Molly Wasziak's life has not gone the way she dreamed. Facing depression after several miscarriages, Molly is adapting to her husband's purchase of a peculiar old farm. A search for a family tree pulls Molly deep into a century-old murder case and a web of deception, all made more mysterious by the disturbing shadows and sounds inside the farmhouse.

    Perliett fights for her life, and Molly seeks renewed purpose for hers as she uncovers the records of the dead. Will their voices be heard, or will time forever silence their truths?

    My Review:

    This author's theme song should be, "Oops I did it again" because she's once again knocked it out of the ballpark with The Premonition at Withers Farm!

    I always go into her stories wondering how she's going to make the creepy/other worldly parts work with the faith of her characters (if they have it). HOW is she going to explain the mysterious things that happen and will it make sense? She does both expertly!

    Am I just a little afraid before I start her stories? Yes, yes I am. Does she creep me out? Yes, she certainly does. And I LOVE it!! I can't get enough of her writing because no one in the Christian writing world writes these kinds of stories!!

    From the start I love Perliett and her spunk. She's torn between her father's quiet faith and her mother's... spiritualism. This makes such an interesting storyline. Her mother's connection to reaching out to the spirit world of the dead will make the hair on your arms stand up, but will also make you question if it's true. If you know Scripture, then you know the spiritual world exists. But, it's also not to be trifled with. When people are killed and her mother tries to communicate with them. things go from bad to worse.

    Molly, in the current time period has just bought the creepiest house I can imagine. No sooner do she and her husband move into the house and he finds a girl murdered. And Molly is not only seeing ghosts, she's hearing them, too. Holy smokes, talk about ominous experiences. Through Molly's story, the author touches on depression, post party depression, and miscarriages. She handles those topics admirably.

    I'll tell you that I pretty much suspected everyone! There was one point where I guessed who it might be (in the current time period), but in the historical time period...what the... that was shocking AND disturbing. lol There was also a spot where the author gives this HUGE cliffhanger and moves from one time period to another and I just had a dropped jaw! hahahahaha She knows how to keep the suspense rolling. I was very close to cheating just to get answers, but I refrained because the story was just so good I didn't want to ruin it.

    Of course, the author reminds us via the characters that there is a spiritual world, but God is the only one to control it. There's incredible danger to those who use it outside of His will. We see that throughout Scripture when it comes to people who do things outside of God's will. Jaime Jo is gifted in showing us faith in all of her stories.

    About the Author:

    Jaime Jo Wright (www.jaimewrightbooks.com) is the author of six novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap'n Hook; and their littles, Peter Pan and CoCo. To learn more, visit www.jaimewrightbooks.com.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2022

    The Hidden Prince By Tessa Afshar

    The Hidden Prince
    by Tessa Afshar
    Publisher: Tyndale
    ISBN: 978-1-4964-5822-3

    Being a HUGE fan of Tessa Afshar's, when the opportunity arose to review her newest release, The Hidden Prince, I was all in! The author sent me her book as part of her launch team.

    Summary:

    From the bestselling author of Jewel of the Nile comes the thrilling tale of a woman who feels she has no future but soon discovers the fate of nations may rest in her hands.

    The beloved daughter of Jewish captives in Babylon, Keren is sold into Daniel’s household to help her family survive. She becomes Daniel’s most trusted scribe, while taking lessons and swordsmanship training alongside Daniel’s sons and their best friend, Jared.

    But after a tragic accident changes the course of her life, Keren finds herself in a foreign country, charged with a mysterious task: teaching a shepherd boy how to become a lord. When she overhears whispers that hint at his true identity, she realizes she must protect him from the schemes of a bloodthirsty king.

    Jared cannot forgive Keren. Still, he finds himself traveling over mountains to fetch her back to the safety of home. When he discovers the secret identity of Keren’s pupil, Jared knows he must help protect him. Love battles bitterness as they flee from the king’s agents, trying to save the boy who could one day deliver their people from captivity.

    My Review:

    If you love being whisked away into a story, The Hidden Prince is the book for you!

    This historical fiction story set in Biblical times was fantastic! I honestly can't get enough of this author's writing. There are so many layers to the story that have deep truths about God as well as our human nature. I thoroughly enjoyed the Biblical people who appear in the story to keep that thread of her writing, but the historical part really grabbed my attention.

    We meet Keren as she begins to serve as a scribe for Daniel. An element I really enjoyed in this story was the humor. Keren wasn't one for domestic chores so as she tried to find her place in his home, it was no surprise she became his scribe. As the story progresses, you witness how God's plan unfolds in her life and the lives of the other main characters. How, even when we can't see what's ahead He can! I love how we experience this as readers through the characters lives.

    We also get to know Jared, who ends up learning next to Keren. Their story is unexpected and is an incredible example of God bringing beauty from ashes. Through both of them, readers are reminded that God sees the end results of the various circumstances that happen in our lives as well as our own choices.

    The shepherd boy Keren tutors is a kick in the pants. I think there were a couple opportunities with his storyline where he could've been taught, in a broader view, of the danger of some of his choices. Aside from that, his straightforward honesty adds levity to some of the seriousness of the story. You can see something great lays before him.

    Forgiveness and redemption are powerfully part of this story. Also to imagine, in a fictional sense, everything that "needed" to transpire to impact the future of the Jews who were captive in Babylon was eye opening. While we're going through different experiences and moments in our lives, some may have an impact on future generations that we're unaware of. Seeing that so clearly in this fictional story was a great reminder of how we should try to live our lives and to trust the Lord when it seems impossible. 

    About the Author:

    Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel Daughter of Rome was a Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestseller. Thief of Corinth was an Inspy Award finalist, and Land of Silence won an Inspy Award and was voted by Library Journal as one of the top five Christian fiction titles of 2016. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious Christy Award in the historical romance category, and Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the ECPA Christian Book Award in the fiction category. Tessa also recently released her first Bible study and DVD called The Way Home: God's Invitation to New Beginnings, based on the book of Ruth.

    Tessa was born to a nominally Muslim family in the Middle East and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a master of divinity from Yale University, where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She worked in women's and prayer ministries for nearly twenty years before becoming a full-time writer. Tessa speaks regularly at national women's events. She is a devoted wife, mediocre tomato grower, and chocolate connoisseur. Visit her website at tessaafshar.com.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2022

    The God Shot By Tara-Leigh Cobble

    The God Shot
    by Tara-Leigh Cobble
    Publisher: Bethany House
    ISBN: 9780764240331

    This year I finally gave reading through the Bible in a year with The Bible Recap with Tara-Leigh Cobble and it's been an incredible reading plan. One of the things I appreciate going through it is The God Shot at the end of each reading. So, when I saw a book of God Shots I was excited to review it.

    Summary:

    See a Clearer Picture of Who God Really Is

    Scripture is meant to reveal God to us, but sometimes it's hard for us to see Him there. What if all you needed was a new lens?

    We often look to the Bible for advice on how to live, but when that becomes our focus, it's easy to miss the point of Scripture: to reveal God and His character to us. What does He want to tell us about Himself? 

    He describes Himself as the God of peace. The God who protects. The God of joy. These are truths we can lean on every day of our lives, but we miss the beautiful attributes of God when we look for only ourselves in our Bibles.

    In this 100-day devotional, trusted Bible teacher Tara-Leigh Cobble explores powerful sections from each book of the New Testament. Each day's reading points toward a name or attribute of God from that passage. These snapshots are dense with theological truth, helping you grow in the truth of His character and rest in His goodness and kindness.

    My Review:

    Having done The Bible Recap with Tara Leigh-Cobble, when I saw she had a new book out, The God Shot, I was looking forward to checking this one out. It didn't disappoint. Just like when you do The Bible Recap, and at the end the author gives her God Shot, this new devotion covers 100 of them through the New Testament.

    I always appreciate how she takes a small section of the Bible, breaks it down even more, and gives us a God Shot for each day. The author does an incredible job of breaking down God's attributes through each section of Scripture that she covers. She has a gift of making Jesus "relatable" in that we can see His human side in a new way. I think she is able to see a piece of God's character I would've never caught!

    Her questions at the end of each God Shot help me to dig deeper into myself and consider how I can deepen my relationship and knowledge of God. Tara-Leigh Cobble is so good at encouraging us to learn more about Him. You can't help but walk away from the end of each day contemplative and reflective of that. 

    About the Author:

    Tara-Leigh Cobble's (www.taraleighcobble.com) is the creator and host of the daily The Bible Recap podcast, which has garnered over 160 million downloads. She is also the founder of D-Group, an international network of more than 300 discipleship and Bible study groups that meet each week, and the host of a daily radio feature called The God Shot. Tara-Leigh lives in Dallas, Texas.

    Monday, October 31, 2022

    Body Of Evidence By Irene Hannon

    Body of Evidence
    by Irene Hannon
    Publisher: Revell
    Series: Triple Threat
    ISBN: 9780800736194

    After getting to know Cate and Even in the previous two stories, I couldn't wait to read Grace's! These sisters have been great to get to know and the suspense in all three book have been fantastic. The publisher sent me the book for review. 

    Summary:

    The dead don't give up their secrets easily

    Forensic pathologist Grace Reilly has seen her share of unusual deaths in rural Missouri. But when she begins to notice a curious pattern in autopsies of older residents whose demises appear to be natural, she takes her concerns to Sheriff Nate Cox.

    Nate is skeptical about the link Grace is seeing between the deaths, as well as her suspicions of foul play. But her persistence is compelling. And once they join forces to investigate, danger follows close behind. Because exposing the truth could destroy several lives--including Grace's.

    Queen of inspirational romantic suspense Irene Hannon closes out her bestselling Triple Threat series with this gripping tale of secrets revealed and romance sparked.

    My Review:

    Want a shocker of a story of a suspense story? Here it is! lol

    I liked getting to know the youngest of the Riley sisters in Body of Evidence. Grace was a sweet character even if she is a forensic pathologist. lol There was some very descriptive scenes in here so if you have a queasy constitution, proceed with caution. HA! I really liked her as a character. She sank her teeth into the mystery of the deaths of two people and ran with it.

    Then there's Nate. He's the new Sheriff in town. Their paths cross immediately and he's immediately smitten, although, he's got a girlfriend. Nate and Grace start to realize there "might" be something fishy going on and as we watch the story unfold, it's just a matter of time before we hope they start putting the pieces together.

    I thought Nate and Grace were a bit overzealous in their thoughts of each other so early on, but that's probably a personal issue I have in stories in general. (shrugs) 

    The story was quite the nail biter. It was definitely creepy. And there was NO way I would've figured it out until almost the very end. And I had quite the shocked face once it was revealed. I may have, kind of, chuckled when it all came to light because... well, just wow. I can't say why! hahaha

    And let's just say the epilogue will have you fanning yourself. ;)

    About the Author:

    Irene Hannon is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than 60 contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. In addition to her many other honors, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of RWA's elite Hall of Fame and has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.

    Saturday, October 29, 2022

    Merry Ex-Mas By Courtney Walsh

    Merry Ex-Mas
    by Courtney Walsh
    Publisher: Independently Published
    ASIN: B0BGD31R93

    Courtney Walsh does such a great job with romance and this Christmas-y rom-com will give you all of the holiday feels! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read this clean romance as we head towards the end of the year. I was sent the ARC ebook for review.

    Summary:

    I haven’t been home for Christmas in eight years.

    But that’s about to change. This year, I’m traveling to my small hometown to convince my producer to make me the permanent host of Good Day Denver.

    The plan: Charm viewers by sharing my favorite family Christmas traditions, and in turn, get the likes, clicks and shares to land the job.

    Not the plan: Running into my ex-boyfriend.

    In my house.

    For Christmas.

    But here he is, a guest of my mother, who apparently had more trouble letting go of Max Weber than I did.

    Unfortunately, he is as handsome and charming and talented and annoying and frustrating and flirty as ever.

    Even more unfortunately, he seems to have a plan of his own—to convince me to give him a second chance.

    Which is not happening.

    There’s just one problem—my viewers love him. More than that, they love us. Me and Max. My ex.

    The boy who broke my heart.

    The boy I now have to fake flirt with to win over the hearts of my viewers.

    But it’s not their hearts I’m worried about. . . it’s mine.

    Merry Ex-Mas is a sweet, small town, second chance romance with a dash of not-so-fake flirting, a tiny bit of enemies to lovers and just enough forced proximity to make things sizzle.

    My Review:

    If you're looking for a Christmas story that gives alllll of the Hallmark vibes, look no further than this one! This clean, second-chance romance will light up your days like a Christmas tree as you read it.

    I liked Marin. She's a go-getter and has her sights set on being the next host of the tv show she works on. Things don't go "right" for poor Marin from the get-go. The moment her mom opens the front door to their home, it all spirals out of control. When her ex, Max, steps into view, everything we imagine could go wrong, does.

    Max is pretty amusing and plays up every moment he's with Marin. He gives her a hard time, in a sweet way, meanwhile she's NOT amused. As readers we also can't escape the fact that he's cover model worthy! You know how this will all play out, right? hahahaha

    Since Marin & Max's families live in "Podunk" USA they do allll of the small town Christmas-y things. Max is constantly thrown into the mix and the audience loves it. There are some scenes that had me laughing out loud! I could just seem them unfolding in my imagination.

    Of course, they have to deal with their breakup so that there can be some healing. Unfortunately, it's like ripping off a band-aid more than once. So rough to see, but true to form that forgiveness isn't always simple or easy. 

    Now, I have to say I had a slight issue with Marin's mom who was a bit manipulative in the beginning & did a wee little lying - albeit with a good heart and the best of intentions. This is just a personal pet peeve of mine. I "get" where she was coming from, but it still bothered me. lol It was a bit ironic towards, then, end when she brings up Marin's sneakiness with her viewers. cough cough hello kettle. ;)

    If you're looking for a feel-good, "home for the holidays" where things go awry, then you'll want to get your hands on this story! it'll absolutely put a smile on your face and I guarantee laughter!

    *I received the ARC ebook for review. This is my personal opinion.

    About the Author:

    Courtney Walsh is a novelist, theatre director, and playwright. She writes small town romance and women's fiction while juggling the performing arts studio and youth theatre she owns and runs with her husband. Her debut, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists. Her novel, Just Let Go, won the Carol Award in 2019 and Just One Kiss was a 2020 Christy Award Finalist.

    A creative at heart, Courtney has also written two craft books and several full-length musicals. She lives in Illinois with her husband and three children and a sometimes naughty Bernedoodle named Luna.

    Visit her online at www.courtneywalshwrites.com.

     
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