Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: "Tokens of Promise" by Teresa Pollard



Inspired by The Bible, Genesis 38, "Tokens of Promise" is an imagination of the love story of Judah and Tamar.
“Beware, Prince of Hebron, her witching ways are strong.” Ben Qara’s evil words still rang in his ears. Judah is sure he was bewitched by the beautiful Tamar. She is all he can think about. But no, it must not be. He will not break his vow to Yah. He already has a wife, and he will have only one. Tamar must marry Er.
Rescued from disgrace by the handsome Judah, Tamar is already in love with the kind stranger. She eagerly followed Emi’s advice on how to win him. It almost worked. He’d promised. If only his servant hadn’t come at that moment, she’d be his wife now instead of going home with him to be his daughter-in-law. Why had her father agreed to this? Surely he could see her destiny was with Judah?

When I agreed to review "Tokens of Promise" I only knew that it was a fictionalization of the story of Judah and Tamar from Genesis 38. I did not know about the notation that said "We recommend that this fictional story be reserved for readers aged 18+, due to the non-graphic inclusion of sexual themes." I'm not sure that I would have read it then. The story is a different take on the story of Tamar and Judah that it was God's will from the start for Judah to marry Tamar and that Judah had followed human reasoning when he gave her to Er instead. When both Er and Onan died, it was then up to Tamar and Shelah to orchestrate the marriage of Tamar to Judah instead of Tamar just taking the fulfillment of the levirate marriage into her own hands to get an heir through Judah instead of Shelah. The book also says that Judah was tricked into marriage instead of what the Bible says where it says that Judah saw a Canaanite woman and took her as his wife. The author's note at the end of the book was interesting learning why she portrayed Er's sin the way she did based on Talmud tradition. The book was well written, but I was not comfortable to all the references to "he came in to her" , "he felt his seed release inside of her", "he came so close to coming in to her that she felt him touch her leg", "I shall plant my seed in her as the Canaanites do where it can never bear seed"...."in the manner of men (with men)". They weren't graphically described, but it was more than I like to have in the books I read. 

"Tokens of Promise" is available in paperback:
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: HopeSprings Books (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1938708148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938708145
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3120 KB
  • Print Length: 249 pages
  • Publisher: HopeSprings Books (June 2, 2013)
  • Publication Date: June 2, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D5YVN90

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Book Review, Tour, and Giveaway: "A Change of Heart" by Rachel J. Good



Lydia Esh feels like she needs to look after her younger sister Emma and make sure she doesn't do something she shouldn't. This causes Lydia to follow her sister to parties and puts her reputation and job as a schoolteacher on the line. She finds a co-conspirator to separate Emma from her boyfriend in Caleb Miller, who is just as desirous of getting Emma away from his brother as Lydia is.  Lydia is not prepared for the strange sensations she feels whenever Caleb is around, but she can't fall in love with an Englischer when she plans on staying true to her faith and joining the church.

"Change of Heart" is the first book in the "Sisters and Friends" series by Rachel J. Good. This book was a roller coaster of emotions. I stayed up too late reading on more than one occasion and other times, I'd planned on reading for a short time and the book just drew me in and captured my attention. I truly did not know what was going to happen until the very end of the book and it kept me on my seat waiting to find out. The characters' growth through the book is a reminder that everyone has space for improvement. I am eagerly waiting for the next book in the series. I would recommend this book to those who like Amish romances.

About the Author

Rachel photo webRachel J. Good, inspirational author, writes life-changing, heartfelt novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She is the author of Amish romances in the Sisters & Friends series. She grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her novels. A former teacher and librarian, she completed her MA from Vermont College while raising five children. She is presently an MFA student in Writing and Illustration at Hollins University. In addition to having more than 2200 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming under several pseudonyms, she also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. To buy the Amish Quilts Coloring Book: http://amzn.to/1T35q5p  
Visit Rachel at:

Guest Post from Rachel J. Good

Hi, I’m Rachel J. Good, inspirational author of heartfelt tales of faith, hope, and forgiveness.
I’m excited to launch the first book in my Sisters & Friends Amish series, Change of Heart. Although I’ve been writing for many years and have about 30 books out now, this is my first inspirational novel. I’m busy editing book 2, Buried Secrets, and writing book 3, Gift from Above. And I’m planning the next three books in the series.
I’ve been asked how I came to write Amish novels. For that, I have to credit my agent Mary Sue Seymour, who suggested it to me. I loved the idea because I’d lived near Lancaster, PA, and had always been interested in the Amish. Although Mary Sue went to heaven a few months ago, just before the book launched, I feel her presence in my life as I write. She believed in me as a writer and encouraged me to work on this novel, which she quickly sold.
Lydia’s story in Change of Heart has several connections with my real life. The first is that I’m the oldest in my family and have two sisters, and so does Lydia. We both feel responsible our younger sisters. Lydia’s younger sister, Emma, gets in trouble during Rumschpringe. (And no, her wild sister doesn’t resemble either of my two younger sisters.)
The second connection with my life is the spiritual lesson Lydia learns in the book. I wanted Lydia’s journey to be not only a struggle between faith and love, but also a personal inner journey from self-righteousness to seeing with God’s loving eyes.
Oftentimes, goodness and spirituality can be a source of pride, and it can also be used to justify being judgmental. Lydia’s sister Emma points this out to her, but in my case, it was my young daughter who piped up, when I was complaining about someone at church, and said, “She sounds just like you, Mommy.” Ouch!
That day I came face to face with the truth that often what I criticize most in another person is often a flaw or a sin I’m overlooking in myself. As Matthew 7:3 (NIV) says: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” I wanted Lydia’s story to reflect that truth.
The Amish try to avoid the sin of hochmut (pride), but Lydia, without realizing it, is secretly proud of her own spirituality. It often saddens me that, as Christians, we spend more time criticizing others outside the faith or with different lifestyles or beliefs, but very little time examining our own unloving and judgmental behavior. I’d like to see us become more like Jesus, who ate with the “publicans and sinners,” and showed love to everyone, instead of condemning them.
Lydia is also forced to choose between staying in her faith or leaving it for love. I, too, faced a similar challenge many years ago, so I wrote those scenes from my heart. I hope Lydia’s story touches hearts, and that readers come away reassured that although we can’t always see the larger picture, God can, and He’s working out a wonderful plan for us. Our present circumstances might seem dark, but He knows the final results. We need to trust Him even during the challenging times, because “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).
Blog Stops
July 15: Bigreadersite
July 18: Bukwurmzzz
July 22: Quiet Quilter
July 24: A Greater Yes
July 24: Carpe Diem
July 27: cherylbbookblog

Giveaway

ChangeofHeartGrandPrize
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away lots of fun prizes, including copies of her books and even a box of Whoopie Pies from Bird-in-Hand Bakery. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9ed1
"Change of Heart" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Sisters and Friends (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (May 3, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629987433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1629987439
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2078 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (May 3, 2016)
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017QL5IMU


I received a free copy of this book to give my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Review, Tour, and Giveaway: "Dance and Be Glad" by Melissa Wardwell


Mike Emerson wants to settle down, but his professional life is a little hectic and he hasn't found the right woman. He thought he may have with Emma Daniels, but when she got back together with her ex-husband, he ended up standing up for Ryan Daniels in the wedding. He wasn't expecting to walk in with his old girlfriend from high school, Jillian Matthews.

Jillian Matthews is a widow with a 9 yr old daughter. She has been putting her daughter and her needs before her own for so long she isn't sure she knows what she wants any more. When she encounters Mike Emerson, she finds herself being drawn to him like when she was in high school. How is she to know what she is feeling is God given or just loneliness?

"Dance and Be Glad" follows "What God Brings Together" and "A Christmas Wedding". It actually overlaps the very end of "A Christmas Wedding" and the first part is before the epilogue of "What God Brings Together" (Which takes place completely after the events of "A Christmas Wedding"). The books are so tied together that I would recommend reading them in order (possibly waiting on the epilogue of "What God Brings Together" until after reading "A Christmas Wedding"). I liked the characters and getting to follow the people we had meet previously. I saw several stories that I'm sure are waiting to be written. I enjoyed seeing Mike progress from not having a clue about how to be a parent, to being secure in his new role as Emily's guardian/parent. The relationships felt real and natural. Being from Michigan, I loved all the references to things here and it felt so natural for the characters to order a "pitcher of pop" at the pizzeria or to wear a blue and yellow U of M shirt. And the snowstorms....One of my favorite lines in the book was "It seemed that Michigan weather couldn't make up its mind on what to do".  I have personally said something just like that! I stayed up too late to read, I laughed, I cried. I look forward to the other books planned for this series.

About the Author
Head shotI am an independently published author of Christian romance.
I wear many hats from one day to the next. I am a devoted wife, basketball and dance mother, teacher, taxi service, friend, caregiver, daughter, sister, and now, published author. Seeing all that is enough to make my head spin. But more importantly, I am the Daughter of the Most High King.
I was raised in and still reside in a little farm town in Mid- Michigan called Corunna. It’s quiet and simple, just the way I like it. If I can’t live out in the country among the corn fields and trees then living in this small town works for me.  My husband and I have been together since high school and have 3 children, all of whom we homeschool. It has been quite the journey, but I couldn’t ask for a better life.
I decided to give writing a try because I needed something to occupy my down time, but after reading my first draft of my first book, What God Brings Together, I then understood that God had a much bigger plan.  God does not give His children a desire just so that it can go to waste. I never anticipated the journey God would put me on through writing, but I am excited to see what He has in mind for the future.
I have always felt a call to reach out to women and mothers, to encourage them in their lives. So naturally, all my stories revolve around women who are mothers: single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.
My greatest hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life. Lord, knows we have earned it.

Guest Post from Melissa Wardwell

When I wrote the first book in this series, “What God Brings Together”, it wasn’t supposed to become a series. It has seemed to have a mind of its own and is spiraling into other books.
You met Dr. Michael Emerson in the first book as the third wheel to Emma and Ryan’s crazy triangle. As soon as I finished it and read through it one last time, Mike’s character begged to have his own story. I felt bad giving such a nice guy a sad ending. So an idea formed for a story focused on him but it took me a while to decide on who his other half would be. I was sitting in front of the dance studio two of my kids attend, and it hit me. A Dance teacher and studio owner. From there the story went out of control- in a good way. The dance studio is the actual studio my kids dance at, and much of the descriptions of the location are the same as the space. The town is even the real town this studio is in. It is such a quiet place and I love it.
I live in the area this series takes place. The county has a funny name as it is a Native American name – Shiawassee. It is nothing but small towns and farm land. New Lothrop, the main location for this story, has a population of approx. 600. I spend many hours there because of dance and I have grown to love the quiet little farm town.
I like to bring light to actual business in some of my work, so when I chose to write in Infinity Dance Company I had to include the location. There is also a neat little coffee shop that I talk about in this book that is also an actual coffee shop.
I am all about promoting local business, so if I can plug a cool business in my books, I will.
You will see a bit more of another character from the first book, Tiffany, and you’ll get some insight into her story as well but you won’t get the full picture until the release of “I Know the Plans” which is set to come out no later than next spring – hopefully. I also introduce a new character in “Dance and Be Glad” whose story is heartbreaking but you won’t know much more until book four “Redeemed Through Grace” comes out in 2018.
“Dance and Be Glad” is about finding joy in the middle of uncertainty and the scary moments in life. We can let the sudden changes bring us down or we can look at them as an opportunity to learn something new. I have witnessed a lot of tragedy and sudden losses in my personal life to learn that God still has me in His hands even when I feel like my world is crumbling. My prayer is that each reader can have a similar revelation.

Blog Stops

July 13: Carpe Diem
July 14: Sue Stinnett
July 15: KarensKrayons
July 17: Petra’s Hope
July 17: Splashes of Joy
 July 24: Quiet Quilter

Giveaway

DanceandbeGladGrandPrize
To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away a wonderful package that includes a hand-crafted necklace. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9ec0

"Dance and Be Glad" is available in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3072 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Melissa Wardwell; 1 edition (June 28, 2016)
  • Publication Date: June 28, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01HQIVF1G


I received a free copy of this book in order to review it and give my honest opinion for the Celebrate Lit book tour. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review: "Starlight Serenade" by Debra E. Marvin


Clara Longworth and her brother Henry are on their way to Hollywood for a fresh start when their bus breaks down. They end up in Flagstaff, Arizona and Clara fills in for the entertainment for a nightclub. When she ends up being involved in a plot to blackmail a government official, she isn't so sure of her fresh start.

Julian Dyson is hoping to win the approval of his bosses back home in London by entertaining the government men for a few days. When one of them is blackmailed under his watch, he is sure that his opportunity for advancement is out. 

Julian teams up with Clara to make sure he doesn't loose his job. He already knows that showgirls are trouble, but why does he want nothing more than to spend time in Clara's company? 

This is the first book I've read by Debra E. Marvin and I loved her writing. I discovered that I own another book she's written, so it is getting bumped up the To Be Read pile! Julian and Clara were realistic and developed. I enjoyed reading about Henry, also. Clara has a nice little spiritual journey story arc. Besides the romance aspect of the story, there is also the mystery and suspense of who is doing the blackmailing. It was fun to not have figured it out before it was revealed in the book. All the historical details and culture of the 1930's setting were amazing and fun to read. I also really liked the astronomy terms at the beginning of each chapter and that they tied into the story. 

"Starlight Serenade" is available in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3670 KB
  • Print Length: 106 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications (June 19, 2016)
  • Publication Date: June 19, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01HBVTKYW


I received a free copy of this book to review. A positive review was not required and all thoughts and opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Book Review, Tour, and Giveaway: "Escaping Reality" by Rachel Skatvold



Addison Lewis needs a break from her real life being in the spotlight, so she heads to Montana to escape reality. When she ends up stranded at Hart Ranch, she discovers things about herself she didn't know and starts to feel things toward the handsome cowboy who rescued her that she doesn't expect.

Logan Hart knows that Addie is trouble from the moment he rescued her in the rain storm. He is caught off guard when he starts feeling things he hasn't in a long time.

Can God heal their broken hearts and lead them together?

I liked Logan and Addie and I really liked Gramps. He was so open and got people to think things through. There are several sub-plots going on throughout the book with Ava and Dylan, with Belle, with Mrs. Hart, and with the future of the ranch. It didn't seem crowded, but filled out the details well. The characters "gulp" a lot. I found it sort of odd to have that word used so much. I did like Addie's spiritual story arc. I found the book to be easy to read and I found myself wanting to visit Hart Ranch. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

About the Author
rachelskatvoldRachel Skatvold is an inspirational author and stay-at-home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing inspirational romance, devotions, encouraging blogs. Rachel has just finished her first series, the Riley Family Legacy Novellas and is now working on her first full length novel, Enduring the Flames. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons.

Guest Post from Rachel Skatvold

Have you ever needed to escape?
Every year my husband and I plan our summer vacation several months in advance. We hardly ever plan anything lavish or expensive. Most of the time we just hook up our camper, load our kids and family dog in the truck and head to a state park for our “escape.” Some of our most treasured family times have been enjoyed without television, electronics or other luxuries. It’s refreshing to leave the noise of the city for a while and enjoy a nice walk in the woods or a quiet night roasting marshmallows over a campfire. It gives us time to rest and appreciate the simple blessings that God has given us.
If someone ever needed to escape, it’s Addison Lewis. From the outside it seemed like she had it all; fame, fortune and a handsome and successful fiancĂ©. However, when her dreams of a happy future come crashing down Addison flees her home in LA and ends up stranded at a dude ranch in the Montana wilderness. There she meets a handsome young rancher named Logan and his family. Will the Hart family’s faith and simple ways help Addison discover God’s true purpose for her life?
Escaping Reality is inspired by Mathew 11:28 which says, “…Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” This theme verse is prevalent throughout the story because Addison is searching for a refuge that will provide peace and rest from her stressful lifestyle. However, in the end she discovers that the peace and rest she’s looking for is not a physical destination but a condition of the heart.
Addison and Logan’s story was one of my favorites to write because of Addie’s spunky personality (not to mention her tendency to fall into mud puddles) and Logan’s courage during hard times. This story might make you laugh out loud and shed a few tears but most of all I hope it inspires you to recognize and appreciate God’s simple blessings. Happy reading, friends and I hope you enjoy reading Escaping Reality.

Blog Stops

July 8: Bukwurmzzz
July 17: Carpe Diem

Giveaway

Escapingrealitygrandprize
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away an autographed copy of her book along with a $10 Amazon gift card. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9e0a.
"Escaping Reality" is available in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3575 KB
  • Print Length: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Rachel Skatvold; 1 edition (June 30, 2016)
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01DT7D5S4


I received a free copy of this book in order for me to give an honest review and participate in the book tour with Celebrate Lit. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Review: "A Love to Treasure" by Kimberly Rose Johnson



Nicole Davis has come to Sunriver, Oregon to follow the clues her grandma left and fulfill her last wish. She finds herself attracted to Mark Stone, but he is headed back to Portland at the end of the summer and she doesn't do big cities.

Mark is in Sunriver for the summer to reevaluate his life in law enforcement. When a rash of burglaries pulls him back into detective work, he has to figure out if his judgement is clouded by his attraction to Nicole.

Having read Kimberly Johnson's Wildflower B & B Romance series, I was excited to read her new Sunriver series. I liked this story and meeting the characters. I found myself wondering why different characters were a part of the story and if they were involved in the mystery of the burglaries or just setting up future stories. I did figure out almost right away what the "end game" of Grams' scavenger hunt and what the clue was that stumped Nicole, but didn't solve the mystery of the burglaries until it started to be revealed in the story. The story was easy to read and flowed well. It was nice to have the focus on following God.

"A Love to Treasure" is available in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2553 KB
  • Print Length: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (June 30, 2016)
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01DYF75U0

I recieved a free copy of this book for me to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Month in Review: June

I'm getting behind on blog posts. I need to do some from the beginning of May! I also have slaked off on doing the backlogged book reviews. I'm hoping to do better on that in July!

  • Backlogged reviews 0
  • Days exercised 29
  • Bible read 29
  • Clay dolls sculpted 0
  • Hats knit 0
  • Words written 104
  • Cross bookmarks tatted 2