Posted in Christian Fiction, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Inspirational, Suspense

Dead Fall (2021)

About the Book

Book: Dead Fall

SeriesThe Quantico Files #2

Author: Nancy Mehl

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Genre: Christian Mystery and Suspense

After facing the demons from her past, Alex Donovan is ready to move on and focus on her career at the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). When renowned profiler and BAU co-founder John Davis is found dead in his hotel room, the FBI is called in to work on the strangest case they’ve ever faced. How do you find a killer who murders his victims without touching them?

When it becomes clear that the killer is targeting agents in Alex’s unit, they are ordered into lockdown, sheltered in the dorms at Quantico. Alex bunks with a controversial agent, Kaely Quinn, who has returned after being dismissed three years earlier. As they work together, Alex discovers in Kaely the role model she’s never had, despite being warned away.

As Alex questions who she wants to become, things get personal when the brilliant killer strikes close to home. Now Alex will do anything to find the killer–even at the risk of her own life.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Hold on to your seats when you read this book! Dead Fall by Nancy Mehl is a novel that grips readers from page one and doesn’t let up until page done. There is so much to love about this book. First, this story is seriously fast-paced. When you decide to read this book, make sure you set aside a good chunk of time cause you are not going to want to be disturbed. The suspense is crazy good — it kept me turning pages well into the night. Mehl has a gift for ending her chapters at the exact moment you don’t want them to end. LOL! The characters are also fantastic First, the villain is especially villainous. He is one of the scariest villains I’ve ever read, and how he “kills” his victims is pretty eccentric. Not only is the villain well crafted, but Mehl’s protagonists are pretty stellar, too. I have actually been anticipating this book since I read the first story in the Quantico Files series because Mehl includes Kaely Quinn from her Kaely Quinn Profiler series. Kaely is one of my most favorite characters ever so I was SUPER excited to see how she would fit in with Alex and her BAU team members. She fit in great and I love how she becomes a sort-of mentor to Alex. I appreciate how respectful and considerate Kaely is of Alex’s trauma, and how she clearly wants to help Alex but also respects her boundaries. One of the reasons I like this story so much is because the focus is more on a female, good-friends relationship rather than on a romantic relationship. You don’t see those relationship types get much development in a Romantic Suspense. It was refreshing to read something unique and unlike what’s typical of the genre. I also really appreciate the many topics discussed in this book. The discussion on finding our value in God and not in other humans is my favorite talking point. As someone who has gotten caught up in caring about what others thought about me, this reminder of where my value comes from resonated deeply.

Dead Fall is another home run by Nancy Mehl. If you are a fan of Suspense novels, then this is definitely the book for you. Purchase yourself a copy today so you don’t miss out on a gripping who-done-it!

I received a copy of this novel in paperback form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, in order to review. I also purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on November 4, 2021, in order to review. I also received an eBook copy via NetGalley to review. In no way has any of this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Inspirational

Riverbend Gap (2021)

About the Book

Book: Riverbend Gap

Author: Denise Hunter

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October 19, 2021

She came in search of the family she’d always wanted—and found the kind of love she’d never dared to imagine.

When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard.

She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite his best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them.

As they grow closer, Katie shares the secrets of her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either of them could have imagined. Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff’s office. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Denise Hunter writes the BEST stories. Riverbend Gap is FANTASTIC. I loved every second with this story and I am so sad my time with these characters is over. This story is so engaging I read it well past my bedtime. It is an unputdownable book! If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of the love-triangle trope. Riverbend Gap is a love-triangle story, BUT it works so well. It’s a testament to Hunter’s masterful storytelling skills. In fact, I don’t think this story would work as well if it didn’t have the love triangle. The love-triangle in this story lends to the perfect blend of angst and tension between the protagonists, Katie and Cooper. I love how respectful Katie and Cooper work to be towards the third character in their triangle. They do everything in their power to refrain from feeling the chemistry and love towards one another in order to not hurt the feelings of someone else. This restraint, this romantic tension, is what kept me turning pages well into the night. I needed to know how Katie and Cooper would get to their happily ever after.

I loved two things about this story. Well, I loved more than two things, but for the sake of this review, I will limit myself to only two. First, I love that this story revolves around unique family blends. There is Katie who was part of a loving and nurturing foster family. Then there is Cooper who grew up in a step-family situation. What I LOVE about this is that both childhoods illustrate healthy love and respect and nurturing relationships. The stereotype that blended families and foster families are somehow less than or filled with violence has always bugged me. I come from a blended family and my step-dad was the BEST father a girl could have ever wanted. So I do take it personally when step-families are shown as being less than or ugly. In Riverbend Gap, Hunter does an excellent job of illustrating just how blessed a child can be in families that look different or are structured uniquely than what is typical.

The second aspect to this story that I loved is the discussion on blessing. There is a moment in this story where Cooper is having a man-to-man with his stepfather and Cooper tells his stepfather that he knows God blessed him in the family department. Yeah, Cooper would have loved it if his biological father never ran out on him, his brother, and his mother, BUT he recognizes that God used that bad and turned it into good because it brought Cooper’s stepfather and sister into his life. God turned a broken situation into one that could become something that produced a beautiful family. If this isn’t a blessing, I don’t know what it. Not only does this remind me of my own blessings where God brought my stepfather, stepsister, and stepbrother into my life, but it also reminded me of Genesis 50:20 — “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” There are so many “bad” moments in life that God uses to turn to good, to abundant blessings. The issue is one of perspective. Are we looking back and recognizing all of God’s blessings in our lives? Or are we choosing to only see the bad? What a great set of questions for us all to consider today.

Riverbend Gap is another home run by Denise Hunter. I loved this book so much and HIGHLY recommend it. Make sure to put this book on your To-Be-Read list and grab a copy as soon as it releases on the 19th. You will not want to miss this story!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Inspirational, TBR Challenge

Before I Called You Mine (2020)

About the Book

Book: Before I Called You Mine

Author: Nicole Deese

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Lit

Release Date: March 31, 2020

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there’s only one match she’s committed to now–the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency’s requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Though she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

With an impossible decision looming, Lauren might very well find herself choosing between the two deepest desires of her heart . . . even if saying yes to one means letting go of the other.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

I do not have adequate words to do this book justice. Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Desse is absolutely amazing. I loved every minute with Lauren and Joshua and I am so sad my time with these characters is over. I can say with great sincerity, this is a story I will never forget.

There is SO much to love and appreciate about this story, but here are my top-three reasons this book should be read immediately (if you haven’t read it yet):

  • Lauren and Joshua’s relationship — I love everything about these two characters and their path to love. How they meet is super cute and super hilarious. Joshua is an excellent hero and I love how instantly attracted he is to Lauren. I love how he truly sees who she is right from the very beginning. Because of her standing with the international adoption agency, Lauren is not able to date. Joshua accepts and respects this, so he and Lauren become good friends. I’m talking really good friends. This may actually be my favorite aspect to their relationship. Yes, the chemistry between the two is fierce, but the foundation they create as friends is everything. It’s what gets them through some really tough moments and eventually allows them to get to their happily ever after. Lauren and Joshua’s relationship makes my heart so, so happy.
  • Motherhood (in God’s time) — Being a mom is hard. I mean really hard. The mom-guilt, the sleepless nights, the worry and anxiety, the constant second-guessing — and that’s just the emotional aspect. There’s also the physical aspect — working a full-time job all day then coming home to make dinner, checking homework, chauffeuring to practices, doctor appointments, and/or school events, and the whole bedtime routine. A 24-hour day can sometimes feel endless. But, it is all 100% worth it. I have wanted to be a mom since I was four-years old. It took me a long time to be a mom, and I often struggled in the waiting. There were many nights where I wrestled with God begging Him to make my dreams come true. Years would go by and still no husband and still no baby. I got to the point where I was ready to give up. Clearly, God didn’t want me to be a mom. Wouldn’t you know it, when I stopped trying to force the matter God put my husband into my life and then my daughter came several years later. What I appreciated, perhaps the most, about this story is Lauren’s impatience. I appreciate this because her impatience is SO relatable. Lauren wants to be a mom but it’s just not working out. The men she has been on dates with are NOT husband material. It’s been years and years of awful first dates that lead to nowhere. So, she applies for international adoption thinking that maybe she is meant to be a single mom, but even that is taking forever and seems to lead to a whole lot of nothing. In all the waiting — the constant waiting — Lauren sees moms everywhere and it hurts. Why can’t she have her dreams? Lauren wrestles with God (and His timing) and gets to a point where she kind of wants to give up. And then life happens BIG time and she has to make hard choices. What Lauren goes through is SO realistic it makes her a very life-like character who is super easy to root for and love. And, Lauren’s story proves that God’s timing truly is perfect.
  • Fangirling over a popular education guru — So this may be something only teachers get, but Lauren’s adoration for Joshua’s father (the educational guru) made me laugh out loud. There are several real-life education gurus I would love to meet, specifically Kelly Gallagher. How this man has informed my teaching over the years is incalculable. I know for a fact that if I ever met him I would be tongue tied. I know cause I got to meet two of my FAVORITE poets — Billy Collins and Seamus Heaney — and it was like my mouth and brain stopped functioning. Anyway, I love how passionate a teacher Lauren is because of the strong teachers who came before her. I love how Deese illustrates the good-heartedness and nerdiness of teachers. It was fun to see a representation of myself and so many teachers I know and love through Lauren’s character.

I’m sorry it took me so long to get to this book, but I am seriously glad I did finally read this lovely story. Before I Called You Mine is an exceptional story that made me laugh and cry and cheer. I’m leaving this story filled with heartwarming hope. If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend you do ASAP. Before I Called You Mine is a story you will not want to miss.

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishing, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational, Suspense

Come Back to Me (2021)

About the Book

Book: Come Back to Me

Series: Waters of Time #1

Author: Jody Hedlund

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Time Travel, Inspirational

The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.

That’s exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father’s quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He’s left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he’s crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.

William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian’s rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund is your guide down the twisting waters of time to a volatile era of superstition, revolts, and chivalry in this suspenseful story.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

When I pick up a Jody Hedlund novel, I know I’m not going to be disappointed. I do admit a little hesitancy when I first picked up Come Back to Me because I am not a sci-fi, fantasy, speculative-fiction kind of gal. These books are not the genres I gravitate to. But, I love Hedlund’s novels so I took a chance, and, boy, am I glad I did. Come Back to Me is a truly unique and highly satisfying read. This book has everything: a contemporary setting, current medical issues, time travel, suspense, and steamy romance. The characters are great, but my most favorite aspect to this story is how the modern heroine deals in the historical time setting.

I have always believed that God is incapable of making a mistake. So, if you were born in the 1380s it’s because He meant for you to be alive in the late 1300s. When I was in high school, I remember girls in history class saying things like, “I was born in the wrong time period. I wish I had been born in the 1400s.” I always found that desire to be odd because, again, God doesn’t make mistakes. So I would ask these girls why they felt this way and they would always respond that it was because of the clothes. They wanted to live in a time period because of the medieval clothing style. I’m not going to lie, I always felt sad for these girls. To feel like they were born “at the wrong time” because of clothes?! I would be blown away by this answer because in my mind, I saw all the ways life was REALLY difficult to be a female in the medieval age — very little power or control over her own life, her inherent vulnerability because she had no power or control, her monthly period, her inability to bathe whenever she wanted, massive disease, etc. Personally, I really appreciate my shower, my current clothes, my ability to make the money I need to pay bills, and my ability to make decisions for myself. What I love in Come Back to Me is how Hedlund illustrates Marian’s initial arrogance when she first arrives back in time to 1381 England. Before she left her time period, Marian utilizes the internet to do a basic search on Canterbury, England in 1381. She learns that there was a Peasant Revolt that ended very badly for the peasants. Cool, that’s the extent of her prep. She’s got this! Then she ends up in 1381 Canterbury and she is immediately schooled in just how ignorant she truly is about the medieval age. Her immediate lack of protection as a single, beautiful woman is apparent within minutes of “landing” in 1381. Then, there’s issues with money, control over her own life, abuse, clothing, food, assumptions made against her, her speech, etc. It really stood out to me this dichotomy between Marian’s modern assumptions of history versus her actual reality once she became a part of that time period. I also really liked how Marian grows as a woman during her time in the medieval setting. I appreciate how she assesses her truth — yes, there are things about the modern era that make life really comfortable, but there is a lot about the medieval time that allows life to be all the more full and vibrant. Marian’s assessment of herself made me consider my time period, the things I have that make me comfortable, how I interact with my loved ones today, and the things I can learn from history to make my relationships better today.

There is no way to adequately review this book. Come Back to Me needs to be experienced. I loved the highly engaging plot, the uniquely relatable characters, and the many excellent themes discussed. Come Back to Me is a great read and I highly recommend it. If you love suspense, romance, history, and/or time travel then you will absolutely love this story!

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on June 12, 2021, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

Make You Feel My Love (2021)

About the Book

BookMake You Feel My Love

Author: Robin Lee Hatcher

Release Date: July 13, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational

A century apart, two women start new lives—and two unlikely love stories prove powerful enough to conquer fear.

In 1895, Cora Anderson jumps on a cross-country train to escape New York society and her domineering father. She leaves with only some spare clothing, jewelry that once belonged to her grandmother, her cherished violin, and hopes for an uncertain future. The tiny town of Chickadee Creek is idyllic and welcoming, but it’s only a matter of time before Cora’s new friends discover the secrets of her past.

More than a hundred years later, Chelsea Spencer is fleeing a dangerous situation of her own when her great aunt’s antique shop in Chickadee Creek becomes the perfect haven. At the same time, up-and-coming Hollywood star Liam Chandler has returned to the town of his ancestors to grieve some painful family losses and ponder the direction of his career.

When Chelsea discovers a beautiful violin among her aunt’s antiques, she begins to wonder about its origins. In this heartwarming Idaho town, one precious instrument will connect Liam and Chelsea to each other and to loves long forgotten. There, the captivating history tells them the stories of how to walk by faith and live in God’s perfect freedom.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Robin Lee Hatcher has done it again. Make You Feel My Love is a wonderful story. It’s one I didn’t want to end. The writing is beautiful. The transitions between the contemporary story and the historical story work very well, and I found that when I came to the end of each chapter I desperately needed to turn the page to discover what was coming next. In addition to the flawless writing, I love the characters. This story focuses on four unique characters — Preston and Cora, and Liam and Chelsea. Preston and Cora’s story tells about the foundation of the Chandler family line that eventually leads to Liam and his brother, Jacob. I don’t want to accidentally let slip how Preston and Cora come together as a couple, but let me say, it is Cora’s bravery and courage to do what she did in the late 1800s as a single woman that had me glued to my chair refusing to do anything but read this story. Cora is outstanding and I cheered for her the whole time. I actually wish I had a pinch of her bravery. Liam and Chelsea’s story is the modern-era story and I was hooked from page 1. Chelsea, who is running from a real-life terror, ends up seeking refuge at her great-aunt’s home in Chickadee Creek, Idaho. It is here in Chickadee Creek that she meets, and slowly falls for, Liam Chandler. Liam is in Chickadee Creek trying to come to grips with the loss of his beloved brother, Jacob. As their friendship grows and the trust between them blossoms, both Liam and Chelsea find themselves falling for each other hard. What I appreciate the most about their journey to love is how they both make clear right from the start that their relationship with God matters the most. God will be their center or no-go. Personally, I think being equally yoked may be the most important aspect to a couple’s relationship so I really, really love this. I also really love how Liam and Chelsea force themselves to push past the hard emotions that they would normally hide in order to be 100% honest and open with one another. There is so much to like about their relationship, but it’s their reliance on God and their drive to be honest and open with each other that makes Liam and Chelsea’s relationship spectacular. And, if this isn’t enough reason to love this book, the many thought-provoking and self-reflective topics set this novel up as way more than just a sweet Romance tale.

Make You Feel My Love by Robin Lee Hatcher is a spectacular novel that I highly, highly recommend. If you love Contemporary Romances, if you love Historical Romances, and if you love stories that make you think and self-reflect, then definitely add Make You Feel My Love to your TBR list today. You will definitely want to read this beautiful story!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Giveaways, Inspirational

Summertime Lilies (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Summertime Lilies

Author: LM Karen

Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Release date: Jan 30, 2021

A sweet and sentimental contemporary romance with a uniquely witty voice.

There are three things you should know about Brittany Masters:

  1. She’s a single mom and a nurse manager at the local cancer clinic.
  2. She has big plans for a quiet summer.
  3. She’s convinced that fudge pops are the answer to almost all of life’s most important questions.

A new neighbor, Matt, making friends with her son while simultaneously pursuing her blow plans for a predictable summer right out of the water. A chance meeting at the cancer clinic where she works renews a connection with an old friend and gives her the perspective she’s been missing. From quiet nights on her front porch swing in Matt’s company to long talks in the clinic with her old/new friend, Brittany’s summer is anything but routine.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

LM Karen writes contemporary Christian fiction romance. As a longtime lover of words, she can generally be found behind her laptop or with a book in her hand. A graduate of Toccoa Falls College, her heart is in the mountains. She eventually made use of the voices in her head by putting them on the page.

More from LM Karen

I am not artistic. I’m not someone who can look at a space, or an item and see it’s potential. If you give me white space, I will have no idea what to fill it with. Even if I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, there is no way I could make it look like the picture in my head. My stick figures have always been lop-sided.

What I am pretty good at is making up stories in my head. At restaurants I enjoy observing other customers and giving them stories. In the grocery store I consider what a post-apocalyptic shopping experience might look like. On my drive home I might imagine the lives of the occupants in any given house I pass.

It became a hobby when I slowly began to write these stories down. If I considered a particularly interesting character the natural progression was to wonder what their story was. What started as a hobby quickly evolved into an obsession. Oftentimes, I consider myself a citizen of the world in my head more than reality (which has its pros and cons). I spent a lot of time quietly working on my stories, trying to become a better writer and honing my craft.

As an avid reader from a young age, I can’t count the characters that have influenced my life and the stories that have touched my heart. My deepest hope is to use my predilection for make believe to touch someone else’s life. That maybe a young girl would be positively influenced by one of my characters.

My Thoughts

There is A LOT to love about Summertime Lilies by LM Karen. I’m so, so glad I volunteered to read for this tour. This book is one of my new favorites of the year! I love how engaging this story is right from the very beginning. Pages flew by and I hated when I had to put the book down. I really love the characters in this story. I appreciate how strong, determined, and fierce Brittany is. She is a selfless mother, a dedicated nurse, and an all-around amazing person. She is definitely someone I would want to be close friends with. Matt is a wonderful hero. He is kind, compassionate, and self-sacrificing. He listens to Brittany and really pays attention to the small, important details. And, his interactions with Brittany’s son, Grady, are so sweet and heartwarming. Matt is a great guy, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s really nice on the eyes, too! What I love the most about this book is its discussion on God making beauty out of ashes. Life can really knock us around and sometimes things happen that are just so ugly, so painful, and so devastating that they can nearly break us. But God. God, if we let Him, can take our bad and turn it into good. Nothing is impossible with God. Brittany is one such example of a woman who allows God to turn a traumatic event into a blessing. I love how Brittany could have used her experience as an excuse to be angry and cold towards others and to give up on life, but she doesn’t. She is no one’s victim. She takes life one day at a time and strives to always bring her best. Brittany is a great example of a strong, independent, God-fearing woman … and I love her character!

This is another novel I could gush on and on about, but I won’t. Instead, I will end this review by saying that Summertime Lilies is a must-read. I enjoyed every minute of this story and I am sad my time with these characters is over. If you are a fan of well-written, highly engaging Contemporary Romances then definitely check out Summertime Lilies by LM Karen today. You won’t be disappointed that you did!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, LM Karen, via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, LM is giving away the grand prize package of a signed paperback copy of Summertime Lilies and a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 2

Vicky Sluiter, June 2

The Write Escape, June 3

She Lives To Read, June 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 4

Inklings and notions, June 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, June 6

Batya’s Bits, June 6

Texas Book-aholic, June 7

For Him and My Family, June 8

Genesis 5020, June 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 9

deb’s Book Review, June 10

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, June 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 11

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 12

Kayem Reads, June 12

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 13

Wishful Endings, June 14

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 14

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 15

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Inspirational

The Shell Collector (2021)

About the Book

Book: The Shell Collector

Author: Nancy Naigle

Release Date: May 11, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Lit, Inspirational, Beach Read

The Shell Collector is a beautiful story full of love, loss, and second chances.”–#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber

From USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle, The Shell Collector is a touching novel of a friendship that crosses generations, and learning how even the smallest gifts can change a life for good.

Two years after her husband’s death, Amanda Whittier has two children to raise alone, an abandoned dream of starting a business, and a fixer-upper cottage by the sea. She has no room in her life for anything else and little interest in moving on after losing the man she loved.

Paul Grant is a relative newcomer to the area, and his work with former military dogs needing rehabilitation has been good for the town. Though he loved once before, he’s convinced he’s not suited for romance and is determined to find meaning–alone–through his work and role in the community.

Widowed Maeve Lindsay was born and raised on Whelk’s Island. Spirited, kind, and a little mischievous, she pours her life into the town. But she carries a secret that shapes her every move.

Together, these three souls find encouragement in the most mysterious places and discover a love that’s bigger than their pain, healing their wounded hearts in ways none of them could have hoped for or expected.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle is an outstanding story. I’ve never read a book by Naigle before, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. What I got were all the feels. I cried quite a few times so make sure you have a box of Kleenex when you read this one. I also laughed, hoped, self-reflected, and felt so inspired. So, what did I love about this story? First, the setting is magical. I want SO badly to move to Whelk’s Island. I experienced the beach as if I was there with the characters. The feel of the sand under my feet, the sound of the waves crashing onshore, the heat of a humid morning, and the sudden onset of a summer storm — I experienced it all and it was glorious. Now I need a beach getaway myself. Second, I adore the characters in this story. Maeve is my favorite character. She is the beautiful and wise grandma everyone should have in her life. I love her zeal for life, her loyalty to her hometown and community, and her innate ability to help others through their tough times. What a wonderful example of a Titus 2 woman! Amanda and Peter are good as heroine and hero. I appreciate that they already had an established and deep friendship before this story begins as it allows for their somewhat quick romance to be more realistic and believable. My favorite aspect of their relationship is how much they want to help each other and their ability to consider each other’s needs before their own. It’s a great illustration of a solid relationship. The final thing I loved about this novel is how it got me to self-reflect on my own feelings of grief. Both Maeve and Amanda have grief issues they deal with in this story. I LOVE how they become strong towers of support for one another. It’s such a beautiful picture of that deep friendship discussed in Proverbs 18:24b: “There is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” And, this is actually a theme explored quite a bit — the fact that sometimes “family” is created by the friends you surround yourself with rather than by the people you share DNA with. Maeve’s and Amanda’s dynamics as best friends reminded me of my relationship with my best friend, Lara. Lara was always there for me, always gave it to me straight, and never let me get away with anything. She made me a better woman, mother, and friend. I will always love her for her Titus 2 illustration to me. Lara was the Maeve to my Amanda. We should all be fortunate to have a Maeve in our lives.

There is so much to love about The Shell Collector. Honestly, I hardly covered a thing in this review. This book must be experienced and my words can’t do it justice. Purchase yourself a copy today! You won’t be disappointed that you did.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, WaterBrook Press, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Giveaways, Inspirational

To Save a King (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  To Save A King

Series: True Blue Royal #2

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Christian Royal Romance

Release date: May 8, 2021

A modern-day fairytale of rescue and hope from NYT bestselling author Rachel Hauck

Growing up in small town Hearts Bend, Tennessee, Gemma Stone had big dreams. So she headed to Hollywood to make her mark in the world. But dreams have a way of becoming nightmares. When she returns home twelve years later, she’s limping through life and harboring a dark secret. Running a rescue ranch and raising her friends’ orphaned daughter is her sole mission now. All the while she’s well aware these defenseless ones are also rescuing her.

HRH Crown Prince John has learned a royal title cannot shield him from heartbreak. He had the perfect life as heir to the revered House of Blue, the royal dynasty of Lauchtenland, and married the love of his life. Then tragedy changed everything. Is there any way to be saved from a life of grief?

When he finds himself in Hearts Bend on a mission for his mother, Queen Catherine, he catches up with a good friend–country music great Buck Mathews. He has no intention of joining the 4th of July fun until he’s cajoled into a three-legged race with the beautiful Gemma Stone. The disastrous race leads to a quick friendship. They are easy and comfortable around one another because love is absolutely not an option.

John desperately wants to hold onto the memories of his wife while Gemma refuses to trust her heart to any man. Even a prince. When trouble in Lauchtenland calls the prince home, he realizes how much Gemma has rescued him, saved him and restored his hope for his role as future king.

For Gemma, falling in love with the prince must be quenched. If it weren’t for her past, she’d give him her heart in a second. How could she risk bringing her shame to the House of Blue and the world stage? However, she’s not the only one who can rescue and heal the wound. If she saved Prince John, why can’t he save her? And when he tries, will she have the courage to say yes to the best role of her life?

Another compelling royal story by the master of princely tales!

Susan May Warren, USA Today bestselling, RITA award-winning novelist

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie. Three more of her titles are under film contract.

Rachel was awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews. A retired member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Executive Board, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

In the real world, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically. A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day. She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

More from Rachel

One of the biggest challenges in a series is keeping the reader interested. Even more of a challenge is writing in a trope like royals.

I never set out to write a second royal series. With five stories in The Royal Wedding Series, I thought I’d explored the topic to my satisfactions.

Yet when readers asked for more, and when I found myself in a season to produce my own stories, another royal series seemed like the perfect fit.

But can I be honest? Really honest? Come close. I’ll tell you a secret. Closer…

Royals can be a bit boring. At least to write. You laugh but I’m serious.

What do we really know of their day to day lives? They attend national functions, patron charities, represent the nation on walkabouts around the world. They are ambassadors with no real political agenda. They champion causes.

But what exactly do they do with their days? What are the inner workings of palace life? What are the real expectations? Do they call the queen “her majesty” when talking among themselves? When talking to her? Are they as formal as it seems on television?

Yet royals are the most documented people in history. So there is a lot to glean from when I make up my worlds.

But at the end of it all, they key for me in writing royal characters is to make them real, everyday people. The prince is the kind of chap you want to chat with over tea. The heroine is the sort of girl you’d love to see become a princess. Maybe even see a bit of yourself in her.

In To Save A King, Crown Prince John is trying to emerge for a year of grief. Gemma Stone is desperate to escape her past.

Gemma’s story has some what of an edge to it. In her attempt to achieve her goals, she walked a path she never thought she’d walk when she was a girl growing up in Hearts Bend, Tennessee. And it proved her undoing.

While we may have never faced a past like Gemma’s, we can all relate to personal betrayal of our values from gossip to immorality. I hope Gemma’s story reminds us the nearness of love and forgiveness.

On a lighter side, I recently learned British society has moved away from chap and bloke, replacing it with the American term “guy.” Isn’t that funny. Louise Lee, my narrator, said it was funny to read those words in To Love A Prince since they were more her parents’ generation. Ah, the signs of a more global society.

Well, I didn’t care if they have gone out of style for young people. I used them anyway. I like them. Maybe we should adopt “chap” and “bloke” over here. What do you say, guys?

I hope you enjoy To Save a King, book two in the True Blue Royal series and find your heart cheering on broken, wounded characters to a happily ever after worthy of a prince and princess.

My Thoughts

I would like to address a point that Rachel Hauck brings up in her guest post: “Royals can be a bit boring.” First, I laughed out loud at that. It’s so true. Real-life, modern-day royals are pretty mundane all things considered. Second, it made me stop and consider all of Rachel Hauck’s Royal novels that I have read and I have realized that I’ve NEVER been bored reading her books. In fact, To Save a King, Hauck’s latest release, may be my favorite of all the Hauck books I’ve read to date. This book is SOOOOOOOOO good. It’s highly engaging and totally unputdownable. It’s a book I read well past my bedtime. LOL! To Save a King is captivating and magical, and it’s lovely and super-romantic. The characters are fantastic. John is a very swoon-worthy royal who is not boring at all. I love his immediate draw to Gemma and I adore how he sees her as his best friend. That really warmed my heart. Gemma is a magnificent character. She is my favorite in this story. Her story is heartbreaking, but it’s her self-loathing that’s the most painful. I wanted so badly to break through into the story-world just so I could give Gemma a hug. And, as with all Hauck novels I’ve read, To Save a King has a wonderful, inspirational message that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. There is so much to love about this beautiful redemption story. To Save a King is another home run by Rachel Hauck and I highly, highly recommend this modern-day magical fairy tale.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Rachel Hauck, via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize of a Kindle Fire!
*May be different than one pictured.

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 8

Godly Book Reviews, May 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 8

Britt Reads Fiction, May 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 9

Blogging With Carol, May 9

Worthy2Read, May 9

For Him and My Family, May 10

Genesis 5020, May 10

The Book Chic Blog, May 10

CarpeDiem, May 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 11

Hebrews 12 Endurance, May 11

Splashes of Joy, May 11

Cultivating Us, May 11

Texas Book-aholic, May 12

Just Writing, May 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 12

Kayem Reads, May 12

Blossoms and Blessings, May 13

Betti Mace, May 13

Inklings and notions, May 13

deb’s Book Review, May 14

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, May 14

Inside the Wong Mind, May 14

Moments, May 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 15

Rachael’s Inkwell, May 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 15

Connect in Fiction, May 15

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 16

Kathleen’s Blog, May 16

Remembrancy, May 16

Mary Hake, May 16

Where Faith and Books Meet, May 17

She Lives To Read, May 17

Wishful Endings, May 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 18

Back Porch Reads, May 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, May 18

Livin’ Lit, May 18

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 19

Simple Harvest Reads, May 19 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Bizwings Blog, May 19

Mamma Loves Books, May 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 20

By The Book, May 20

The Sacred Line, May 20

Daysong Reflections, May 20

Through the fire blogs, May 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 21

Artistic Nobody, May 21 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Posted in Christian Fiction, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Inspirational

The Menu (2020)

About the Book

Book: The Menu

Author: Steven Manchester

Release Date: June 16, 2020

Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Blessed with a high emotional IQ, Phinn Reed enters the world with the promise of finding his soul mate. With heaven’s memories erased, his romantic quest teaches him that the heart often sees clearer than the eyes—and that not everyone has ordered the same items from The Menu. Evidence that love stories come in many different forms, The Menu is a spiritual journey involving more than just a man and a woman; it is a modern-day tale that reaches far beyond the boundaries of reason.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

If I had to describe this novel in one word that word would be “unique.” When I started this read I really had no idea what I was getting into as this is the first story I’ve read by this author. I am really glad I took the time to read this unique story as it is one that will stick with me long after the final page has been read. I have to admit that I did not care for the main character, Phinn, for about the first 40% of the story. I found him to be SO immature and self-centered and whiny, and I struggled with him as a “hero.” But then he meets Maddie and the story changes, Phinn changes. And that’s when I realized what the author was doing — his plot mimics life. Looking back on my life, I see that it wasn’t until I met my husband, my “one,” that I grew up and became an actual adult. Before my husband, I was pretty self-centered and often entered relationships that basically served my needs. If you asked me at the time, I would have been grossly offended by this assessment — of course, I was mature, of course, I cared about the well-being of others — but through the lens of time, I can see me for who I actually was — pretty self-focused. And the same goes for Phinn. Once he meets his soul mate, it’s like his immaturity goes by the wayside. He is a new man. His thoughts change, his actions change, his relationship with God changes. Without really knowing it or recognizing it, Phinn gets rid of childish, selfish ways and becomes a true selfless adult. I loved this illustration of immaturity to maturity, it really got me thinking and reflecting on my own past. And this is what I loved the most about this novel — this book got me thinking and reflecting and crying and laughing and all the other feels. I love when a book wheedles its way into my heart as The Menu did! Bottom line, The Menu is a gem of a story and I am SO happy I read this book. If you are in the mood for a well-written, highly engaging, unique Contemporary Christian story then I highly recommend The Menu.

***Note about the book*** The Menu is a Christian Fiction story, but it is very REAL. The characters are constant works in progress and they make real-life mistakes and they have real-life things hit them. Some of the real-life included in this story — language, abortion, cancer, marital relations, childbirth, and death. Nothing in this story is crude or disrespectful. But, this unique story is definitely not a stereotypical Christian Fiction narrative.

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on February 23, 2021, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Inspirational, TBR Challenge

Still the One (2021)

About the Book

Book: Still the One

Series: Deep Haven Collection #1

Author: Rachel D. Russell

Release Date: January 12, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

It’s never too late to finish a love story…

Cole Barrett, former Army Ranger, has a new mission objective. Sell his grandfather’s house and put Deep Haven, a place that holds too many hurts, in his rearview mirror as fast as possible. Recently divorced, single, and unattached, Cole just wants a new life as a US Marshal. One where he can forget the past and start new.

Unfortunately, there’s a tenant in the garage apartment who’s refusing to move. Even worse? It’s his childhood crush, Megan Carter, and her son.

Wedding planner and single mom Megan Carter loves Deep Haven. To her, it’s the place where she makes dreams come true—at least, everyone else’s. Her big dream is to purchase the Black Spruce Bed & Breakfast to turn it into a premier event venue and, if she can stay booked for enough weddings over winter, she’ll have the needed funds to buy the inn, move out of Grandpa Barrett’s garage apartment, and finally give her nine-year-old son, Josh, the life he deserves. She just needs four thousand dollars in the next thirty days.

Still, she’s oh, so close…until Cole Barrett returns to Deep Haven. Even if he’s not back to fulfill a silly childhood promise to marry her, but she never expected him to evict her! The last thing she needs is more expenses. Or for another man to walk into her heart…and break it.

When a blizzard strikes Deep Haven, and Megan is overrun with wedding catastrophes, it takes a former Ranger to step in and help. Besides, the more he comes to her rescue, the sooner she’ll be able to move out…and he can move on. And that’s what they both want, right?

Return to Deep Haven with this magical tale about the one who got away…and came back.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

I devoured Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family series in nanoseconds many years ago and have often missed the characters and charming town of Deep Haven. When I heard about the Deep Haven Collection series and that the Christiansens were making cameo appearances I knew I had to get my hands on this new series. I’m so glad I read Still the One by Rachel D. Russell. It was so much fun revisiting Deep Haven and seeing so many familiar characters again. I love how wonderfully and seamlessly integrated these familiar characters are within the narrative of Still the One. To me, it made the story all the more fun and engaging.

Still the One is a great read for so many reasons. The plot is engaging and I turned pages well into the night. Thank goodness it was my spring break last week and I could stay up so late! I LOVED the characters. Megan is a wonderfully endearing heroine. My heart hurt a bit for her and I really related to her soul struggle. And, I love what a great mom she is to her young son. She is so sacrificial and present — a true testament to motherhood! Cole is a good hero. He did frustrate me a little with his knee-jerk reactions when it came to his relationships with others. He’s such an organized, focused, thoughtful man, and he does have a heart the size of Texas, but when it comes to emotions at the first supposed sign of potential heartache he’s gone and leaves those he’s with in the lurch. I do appreciate his character growth over the course of the story as he does address this run-away tendency. My favorite aspect of this lovely story is the discussion on forgiveness. Many Christian novels deal with the topic of forgiveness, but this novel feels unique in that it acknowledges the anger, the injustice, caused when the person who should do the apologizing can’t. How do we get to that point of true forgiveness when the party who hurt us can’t ever validate our hurts and feelings? It’s a great question that had me thinking on things for sure. I appreciate Darek’s comment that, “Forgiveness isn’t about justice. It’s about freedom.” Brilliant! Forgiveness isn’t about the bad guy getting his comeuppance. It’s about the hurt person letting go of the hurt and anger and the frustration, and accepting that God has it all under control. There is true freedom in releasing all that negative and giving it over to the One who can actually do something about it. This was a great reminder I didn’t even know I needed!

I had a blast reading Still the One and very much look forward to the next installment in this series. If you are in the mood for a delightful, well-written, highly engaging Contemporary Romance then I highly recommend Still the One by Rachel D. Russell. I loved every minute of this story and I think you will too!

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on January 11, 2021, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.