Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир, что отдал Сына Своего Единородного, дабы всякий верующий в Него, не погиб, но имел хизнь вечную.
While I receive many books in exchange for review, I am never required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my very own.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Review: A Gem of Truth by Kimberley Woodhouse

Escaping her shattered past is much more difficult than she imagined.

Julia Schultz has a reputation for being a storyteller, or as others see it, a liar. But with her dark and painful past, stories are all that have kept her company throughout her life. Longing for a fresh start and a second chance to earn real trust, Julia takes a job as a Harvey Girl at the El Tovar Hotel, where she's challenged to be her true self.

Learning the trade of a master jeweler is hard work, but Christopher Miller takes pride in running his family's small shop and earning the respect of the people around him. But when he discovers that he has six weeks to buy his building from his landlord before it is sold, he must find a way to save his grandfather's legacy.

United by the discovery of a legendary treasure, Chris and Julia find hope in each other. But when Julia's past catches up with her, doubt creeps into Chris's heart. Can he really trust her and her stories? 

At first, I was having a hard time getting into this one, but I soon realized I was not liking reading on my phone because I was in a mood. (Sometimes you just need to be able to hold it, am I right?) As soon as I got the print copy, I was able to devour it like it out to be devoured. The characters in this book are very dear to me, and it's so hard to explain. Ruth is my absolute favorite and I was going to pitch a fit if she didn't get done right by, but no worries. No fits here! I'll be honest here. Ever since coming back for the school year, I've been feeling so dry and shallow inside. This book touched me and I think healed me more than I ever expected or anticipated. I was in tears for most of the last hundred pages. I identified with Julia's struggles (well... not so much the lying... but the rest) and there were so many things that I wanted to happen in this book that absolutely did! I love it more than book one and I'm moving it to my favorites shelf post-haste. Happy Release Day to the book that was a balm to my heart just when I needed it most.

While I did receive a review copy, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you read it yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Have a lovely day!


Sunday, August 14, 2022

Review: The Bride of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep

Detective Jackson Forge can hardly wait to marry the street-sly swindler who’s turned his life upside down. Kit Turner is equally excited to wed the handsome detective, and what better way to show her love than providing him with a gift any man of the law would love? She determines to bring to justice the men who years ago maimed his brother—despite Jackson’s warning to leave the past in the past. As she digs into the mystery of what happened, she unwittingly tumbles into her own history and endangers her future happiness with Jackson. 

There are books and characters that grab your heart and just stick with you for ages. Jackson and Kit and Graybone and Frankie are just those sorts of characters. I loved seeing the relationships forge new paths and grow deeper in this second installment from this series (which I hope and pray continues for many more books. Two is not enough. I'll be satisfied with no fewer than ten...) While the incorrigible Kit is running around solving mysteries and keeping her ex-crew out of scrapes, Jackson is chasing even more mysteries, and they just can't get on the same page. The characters grow so much during this stunning show of London's squirmiest places, and the story is sure to capture you and take you back in time in the most intriguing way possible. The unique style here is captivating and if you love a fun mystery with plenty of romantic notions and hijinks, or if you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes and other detective stories, you'll love Blackfriars Lane and the folks who live there, although I beg of you to read book one first, so that you can enjoy the interactions between characters to the fullest. Pre-order this novel soon! You won't be disappointed. I've read it straight through with hardly a break for air, so you must know it's a keeper.


I was sent a free copy of this book to review, but of course, the opinions are my own.


Friday, August 5, 2022

CelebrateLit Tour: Review: The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella

 

About the Book

Book: The Wonderland Trials

Author: Sara Ella

Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy / Alice in Wonderland retelling

Release date: July 12, 2022

Solve the clues. Face your fears. Survive the Trials.

All Alice Liddell wants is to escape her Normal life in Oxford and find the parents who abandoned her ten years ago. But she gets more than she bargained for when her older sister Charlotte is arrested for having the infamous Wonder Gene—the key to unlocking the curious Wonderland Reality.

Soon, Alice receives a rather cryptic invitation to play for Team Heart in this year’s annual—and often deadly—Wonderland Trials. Now she has less than twenty-four hours to find her way into Wonderland where nothing is impossible . . . or what it seems.

The stakes are raised when she discovers players go missing during the Trials each year. Will she and her team solve the clues and find the missing players? Or will betrayal and distrust win, leaving Alice alone in a world of her own? Follow the White Rabbit into this topsy-turvy fantasy where players become prey, a sip of the wrong tea might as well be poison, and a queen’s ways do not always lead one where they ought to go.

 

Okay, full disclosure, I am fully obsessed with this book. I mean, like top five of 2022 obsessed. Made an entire set of Alice in Wonderland earrings for myself obsessed. The storytelling in this book is masterful. Dystopia is not my usual genre at all, but this book. It makes me glad to teach high school English this year, because we are definitely using this for a novel study. Not only is the main character incredibly written to the point where I just want to drink some tea with her (well, maybe she can have coffee...) but the worldbuilding is beyond fascinating. I want to just live in this book and reread it again and again and soak in every detail and layer of the story. The inability to know whom to trust keeps you guessing all throughout the story, and that last twist was just a knife to the heart! I also loved the way that Sara Ella incorporated so many elements of the original is her own unique way, as well as slipping in Easter eggs from the animated film just to delight our souls. This book is everything you could ever want from an Alice retelling, and I cannot wait for that sequel to drop, because there is some serious Jabberwock battling to see!

Yes, this book was sent to me for review, but I promise as always this is my honest opinion. Read to the end for a giveaway opportunity, and make sure to leave a comment here!

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle. Now she spends her days homeschooling her three Jedi in training, braving the Arizona summers, and reminding her superhero husband that it’s almost Christmas (even if it’s only January). When she’s not writing, Sara might be found behind her camera lens or planning her next adventure in the great wide somewhere. She is a Hufflepuff who finds joy in the simplicity of sipping a lavender white mocha and singing Disney tunes in the car. Sara is the author of the Unblemished trilogy and Coral, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid that focuses on mental health. Her latest journey into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feels like coming full circle after her time spent chasing the White Rabbit around Walt Disney World. Sara loves fairy tales and Jesus, and she still believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.” Connect with her online at SaraElla.com or find her on Instagram at @saraellawrites.

 

More from Sara

Welcome to Wonderland!

When I started this journey down the rabbit hole, I had no idea where it would lead me. From switching publishers to signing a book contract during a pandemic, this writing journey has certainly been an adventure for the books!

As with every story I write, life handed me a few trials along the way with this one. I didn’t know how it would end until a few weeks before deadline. With that time crunch came an epiphany that altered a good portion of the plot—an idea that had me scrambling to rewrite entire scenes right up until the final hours before I turned the story in to my editor. It was difficult, but the book is better for it—I am better for it.

It could be said that an author shapes the story, but I personally believe it’s equally true that the story shapes the author. Every book I have written has changed me in some way. With The Wonderland Trials, I can pinpoint three takeaways that helped me grow in ways I never expected.

I learned to not take life so seriously.

We all have to do the adulting thing. We have bills to pay and homes to clean and deadlines to meet. But in the midst of all that chaos and craziness is a time to laugh. To play. To make a mess on the living room floor building Legos with my toddler or take a walk to the park.

I found myself often rushing through time with friends because I had to write or work or check more boxes off my task list. But feeling stressed and cutting friend and family time short didn’t accomplish anything. It didn’t get my book written faster. I’m not saying to put things off that need to be done—it’s important to be responsible. I am saying I learned that I have to balance work and play, and most importantly, I need to be present for those in my life.

It’s not only okay to sit back and relax now and again, it’s necessary. I need to let go of the constant to-do list and invest my time in things that bring me joy. That way, when it’s time to sit down and pound the keys, I’m filled and inspired, rather than tired and anxious.

I learned to see the beauty in found family.

They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. I disagree. As a girl who was raised by a stepdad who has loved me unconditionally as his own from the time I was two, I think there is something truly special about family that you find and make your own.

There have been times I’ve felt jealous of my friends who still have their biological parents around. I lost my mom in 2012 and my birth dad in 2020. I have maybe a handful of blood relatives left. I love them to bits, and I’m so grateful for them! But my family extends beyond the boundaries of blood. When I really think about it, I have family coming out of my ears and then some.

I have besties who became my soul sisters and women who stepped in as moms and grandmas. I have big brothers who would protect me with their lives and nieces and nephews I get to spoil on holidays and birthdays. As Alice says in The Wonderland Trials, “​​Sometimes family isn’t the one you’re born with. It’s the one you find. Or the ones who find you.”

I learned to believe in the impossible.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the pessimist in my family. I try to see every worst-case scenario when making a decision. I ask all the what-ifs in the book. I’m like MJ in the Spider-Man movies— “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed.”

My husband, on the other hand, has the faith of a child. When I’m lacking in faith, he’s there to remind me of all God can do. And God almost always surprises me with how He goes about doing those things. In a world with drive-thrus, mobile bank deposits, food deliveries, and every other form of instant service we can think of, the call to be patient and wait on the Lord is often forgotten.

I want answers now. I want my family member to be healed now. I want the baby we’ve been waiting over a year to adopt now. God can do the impossible, right? So why doesn’t He hurry up and do it already?

Because God is not a vending machine. And just because He chooses not to perform the miracle I want when and how I want it, that doesn’t mean he isn’t working. In fact, it’s the waiting period when God tends to do His best work on me.

More often than not, I am the impossible one, the impossible heart that needs changing. The stubborn clay that needs molding. The cracked tea cup that needs to be fixed and filled with rivers of gold. What I see as impossible to fix or change, God sees as an opportunity to help me grow. So I’ll keep believing in the impossible. After all, God took me, an impossibly helpless sinner, and made me into something new.

 

Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts and for giving this little book a chance. Happy reading, Wonders! The impossible awaits!

 

Sincerely,

Sara Ella


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a signed Limited Edition Hardcover of The Wonderland Trials, $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, and $15 Starbucks Gift Card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/2038e/the-wonderland-trials-celebration-tour-giveaway

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 30

A Reader’s Brain, July 31

For Him and My Family, July 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 1

Texas Book-aholic, August 2

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 3

Inklings and notions, August 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 4

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Live. Love. Read., August 5 (You are here!)

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 8

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

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 10

Melissa’s Bookshelf, August 10

Wishful Endings, August 11

Blogging With Carol, August 12

Rebecca Tews, August 12

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

CelebrateLit Tour: Review: The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham

About the Book

Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart? 


I have to say, there's nothing like Pepper's books to put me right in the mountains. From the stunning descriptions of the gorgeous views, to the accents and phrases that sound just like home to my spirit, Pepper captures the heart of the mountains in a way that most others can't. Book one in this story, Laurel's Dream, was one of my absolute favorites when I read it, for these very reasons, and of course book two lives up to the hype. I wish I had reread book one to remind myself how much I loved all the characters. As it is, Jeb and Cora have the best story. I love how well they understand each other as they read each other's minds sometimes when it comes to their warfront backgrounds. Sam and Caroline, Jonathan and Laurel, and all the other characters from the mountains of North Carolina wheedle their way into your heart and pretty soon once you're reading you forget that you aren't right there with them. There's really nothing that can take me back in time like this series. Highly recommend, especially if the mountain folk have a special corner of your heart. 

I received a copy of this book for review, but of course, all the opinions are my honest own. I hope you enjoy this blog tour (see a list of all the stops at the bottom of the post.) Let me know in the comments if you've read this one yet, are hoping to, or how much you love Pepper's stories!

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

 

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountains started in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

 

The main story in The Heart of the Mountains is about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.

 

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.

 

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

 

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/20389/the-heart-of-the-mountains-celebration-tour-giveaway


Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2 (You are here!)

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10