Posted in Author Interview, blog tour, Books, Give-aways, Questions/answers, reading, Writing

“All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri -Spotlight, give-away, and Author Interview!

Release Tour banner - All Our Empty Places

I am so delighted to be sharing about this newest book in the A Time of Grace series by the lovely Alicia G. Ruggieri! I had read the first book in this series, “The Fragrance of Geraniums” just earlier this year and was immediately drawn in. And so when I heard that “All Our Empty Places” had a release date, I couldn’t have been more thrilled! You most likely have already seen my review of this lovely book, and thus you can see just how much I adored it. :) So, now it is my utmost pleasure to share about this book with you, along with an interview with the author! And don’t forget that giveaway. :)

 

 

 

Book cover - All Our Empty Places

In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.

Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.
However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.
Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.
Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author photo - Alicia G. Ruggieri

Alicia G. Ruggieri writes Christ-centered fiction that speaks of redemption. She received her B.A. in Communications and History from Rhode Island College and lives with her husband and their emotionally-disturbed pug on the New England coast.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AliciaGRuggieri

Blog: http://www.abrighterdestiny.blogspot.com

Twitter: @aliciaruggieri

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/AliciaGRuggieri

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/aliciagruggieri

PURCHASE LINKS (And I, Raechel, do suggest this.. ;) Hehe!) :

All Our Empty Places (A Time of Grace, Book 2) – http://amzn.com/B014JVJYCK

The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, Book 1) – ON SALE for $0.99 through October 31, 2015 – http://amzn.com/B00P4PB7W6

THE GIVEAWAY:

Release Tour - giveaway

One winner will receive – a signed softcover of All Our Empty Places; a mug with 2 Corinthians 12:9 inscribed on it; Caramel Apple Biscotti; and Harvest Spice Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate mix. (Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview!

Welcome, Alicia! I am delighted to host you on my blog. :) Your books have made such an impact on my life and deeply echo in my heart. Congratulations on this newest release!

I’m glad to be here, Raechel. Your blog has been an encouragement to me since the first day I came across it.

Thank you so much for saying that, Alicia! That really blessed me. :)

  1. When did you first begin writing, and knew that it was ‘for you’?

I’ve always written something or other for as long as I can remember. The first “story” I can recall was a sequel to The Little Mermaid (before there was a sequel!) when I was probably five years old. My mom and some of my school teachers really encouraged me to keep writing as I grew up, and I’m so thankful for that. My writing now is just a continuation of that, as God opens doors.

  1. How did you get the inspiration for A Time of Grace series?

Well, the A Time of Grace series branched out of The Fragrance of Geraniums, which is now book 1 in the series. I’d had the idea for many years for a book that somehow involved an upstairs room full of the scent of geraniums – which is a spicy, almost-bitter fragrance. And that idea came from a real-life room in an elderly woman’s house that I visited as a child. The woman had brought me upstairs to her library room so that she could water her geraniums. The room made such an impression on my childhood self; I’ve always known that a story hid there, somehow, amongst the fragrance of geraniums.

Now I’m going on to writing a trilogy – called A Time of Grace collectively – both because there was positive reader feedback for The Fragrance of Geraniums… and also because I felt that the story wasn’t finished for Paulie, Grace, Sam, Sarah, and the rest of the Chetham, Rhode Island folks. My prayer is that the trilogy helps people to see that God truly can and does bring beauty out of our brokenness – that He wants us empty so that He can fill us with Himself.

How cool. I love when stories come about that way. :)

  1. Having read “All Our Empty Places”, I am curious – do we get to hear anymore from Ben in the third book?

Oh, Ben, Ben! Yes, you will hear a lot more from Ben in book three. I shouldn’t have favorite characters any more than a mother should have favorite children, but *if* I did, Ben would certainly be a contestant. Book three will also hold the conclusion (for now) of Grace and Paulie’s story, as well as bits and pieces of other characters that I’ve grown to love. So there’s a lot ahead in book three.

Oh yay!! Book three sounds so exciting and I can barely wait. :)

  1. Do you have a character that you relate best to in this series?

This is a little hard to answer because I don’t know if I could write a character that I couldn’t relate to in some way. Yes, even Charlie from Fragrance, terrible as that sounds. As John Proctor says in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, I know how black my own sins are! So I can usually relate to a character’s struggles in one way or another.

But I can definitely relate strongly to Sarah and Grace in All Our Empty Places – not to their particular struggles but to the general idea – that we as believers have to find our sufficiency in Christ alone. It’s so easy for me to try to make it through the days, through my life, in my own strength, in my own power. I’m so thankful for the Lord God bringing my focus back to Him and making me realize that I can only find my power to overcome through in Him.

I agree with that; there’s a little piece of us that goes into every character – no matter how ‘bad’ the character may be. And amen! I am also thankful that our Lord brings us back to Him over and over. <3

  1. And lastly, would you mind sharing one instance where you’ve experienced God’s great grace in your life?

The longer I live, the more I realize how much I’m dependent on God’s great grace in every single little area of my life. As Francois Mauriac says, “All is grace.”

But there is one circumstance that potently showed God’s great grace to me. A number of years ago, my family went through a time of extreme personal difficulty – a time of severe spiritual testing in many ways. God upheld us when we cried out to Him – He was our Rock “in a weary land,” as the hymn-writer says. He gave us the grace to step forward in faith, to stake our all on Him, individually and as a family. As a result of staking our all on Him, there was tremendous loss in this world, but there was also tremendous gain spiritually. The circumstances of receiving that grace still sadden me to think of, but I testify to you that our God does indeed give “grace and glory.” (Psalm 84:11) He will be a shield to those who trust in Him. So we need not be afraid to, as Jim Elliot says, “give what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.”

Wow, thank you for sharing that. The hardest times usually reaps the most grace!

Thank you again so much, Alicia for doing this! I pray your books get into the hands of many!!

Thanks for having me, Raechel. It’s been a joy! 

 

And readers, I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Be sure to enter the giveaway and check out all of Alicia’s books – they are remarkable!! (If you like medieval type setting, check out her book “The House of Mercy” – I adored that one too!).

And be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this blog tour!

 

ALL OUR Empty PLACES

Release Tour Schedule

 

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

 

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 (release day)

Ready to be Offered

Rachel Rossano’s Words

Letters from Annie Douglass Lima

 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

Seasons of Humility

 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2015

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections

Christian Author A.M. Heath

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2015

With A Joyful Noise

The Overactive Imagination

Iola’s Christian Reads

A Writer’s Heart

 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2015

Tour wrap-up @ A Brighter Destiny

 

 

Congratulations on the new release, and may many read it! :)

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews, Books, Reviews

Book Review: “All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri

So the book I am about to review is a very special one! It’s the newest release of Alicia’s and it is a truly beautiful masterpiece! The release date is September 29th, and there’s a blog tour scheduled for the days up ahead. You’ll see another post from me regarding this lovely book with more information on its release and giveaway! But for now, here is my review…

 

“All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri

Book Two in A Time of Grace Trilogy ( Book one – “The Fragrance of Geraniums”)

Review copy source: The author

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

The sequel to THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS (A Time of Grace, Book One)

In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.

Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.

However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.

Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.

Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.

My Thoughts:

Oh my, what a terrifically splendid book this is! I truly loved it. It was beautiful, and heart-rending. In a good way, mind you. :)

I just loved it. I loved the characters – being reunited with them after finishing “The Fragrance of Geraniums” was absolutely delightful. Alicia Ruggieri writes in such a realistic way that you can’t help but think of the characters as real people. They have real beauty and real struggles. They are, in full, delightful. When beginning “All Our Empty Places”, I was of course, overjoyed, but also curious to see how I’d like it since it focused more on Sarah, the mother. As a young adult, I relate best with Grace, but I couldn’t have been any more thrilled with watching Sarah’s journey than I was while reading this book! What I loved was how it was a struggle – it was gritty. Sarah didn’t experience a ‘everything is all better now that I know Christ’ transformation – it was so much more than that. Of course her life WAS better having Christ as her Savior, but there are still bumps along the road. We are all so broken. And I LOVE the verse used in the end: “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

The overall theme of this book – that God is our sufficiency – was astounding and deeply touching. Just the morning that I finished reading “All Our Empty Places”, I read the verse that says we are complete in Christ – I thought it resounded beautifully with this book. By ourselves, we are nothing but shattered pieces. But with Christ, we are beautiful pieces of art – even in our brokenness. He takes our brokenness and makes us beautiful. <3

And don’t even get me started on Grace and Paulie!!! Book Three cannot come soon enough for me. :) Watching their relationship shift and grow was spectacular, and the result in the end…I won’t give anything away, but let me tell you it was…wow! So God-filled. He is our focus. It gave me shivers. And tears. There were plenty of real tears while reading this lovely book. :)

I don’t have any complaints for this book…there were some rather frustrating parts (haha!) but they added the depth and circumstances that was necessary, same with some tense scenes. And as a whole, the book was all the better for each instance.

The two books in this lovely series (as well as Alicia’s “House of Mercy”) sit in my heart so dearly. They always minister to me, and bless me especially in the way that they are all for God’s glory. I encourage everyone to check out her books – you won’t be left feeling empty! :)

 

*I received a complimentary ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

Posted in blog tour, Books

Novella Spotlight – “Peace Be Still” by Amanda Tero

Amanda Tero is releasing a new short story! Join Keith as he faces crashing waves and turmoil to learn the peace that God can give. This novella looks and sounds fantastic, and I am excited for Amanda on this release! Read further for information and a giveaway!

Back Cover Blurb:
Twelve-year-old Keith is left in charge of the lighthouse
and his two younger siblings while his
dad goes out in the storm to help a ship in distress.
 
As the long night passes with waves pounding against the
lighthouse, fear threatens to engulf him.
 
Can Keith stay awake and keep the lights burning?
Will he worry away the night, or will he find comfort and
peace in trusting God’s promises?
A short story. 2,600+ words.
Read for Free!
Sign up for Amanda’s newsletter here and get an eBook copy of “Peace,
Be Still” free!
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a PRINT copy of “Peace, Be Still” and the “Be Still” faith building block (from Par la Grace)
Be Still - Faith building block

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About Amanda

Amanda
Tero is a homeschool graduate whose desire is to provide God-honoring
reading material that challenges the readers to consider their walk with God.
She has currently published several short stories which can be found on
Amazon on her website.

 

 

 

 

Other Blogs Participating in the release:

September 18, 2015

Faith – faithblum.wordpress.com

Rebekah – www.readytobeoffered.com

Alicia – http://www.abrighterdestiny.blogspot.com/

Janell – thewindowfriend.wordpress.com

Raechel – https://godspeculiartreasurerae.wordpress.com/

 

September 19, 2015

Kenzi – http://honeyrockhills.com/

Lauren Lotter – www.heritageliterature.com/my-blog

Posted in 1940's, Book reviews, Fiction Guild, Spiritual beliefs

Fiction Guild Book Review: “The Girl from the Train” by Irma Joubert

“The Girl from the Train” by Irma Joubert

Review copy source: Fiction Guild

Releases November 3rd, 2015

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

My Thoughts:

 

This book had an interesting concept, and the plot was definitely interesting. I liked the writing style for the most part, but there was a lot of political-ness that I didn’t quite understand. It was kind of slow for me to get through, especially in the beginning/middle. The end started to speed up a bit, and was more able to capture my attention, but it still didn’t ‘fill me’.
I’ll start with what I liked; there were definitely parts in this book that I enjoyed. I liked the characters – Gretjie and Jakob were very likeable characters! Gretjie’s father was explaining to her how we grow in trials, it was really cool because he used the refining of silver as an example, and he said that God refines us – He knows how long to leave us in the fire, until He can see His image in us. The book explained it way better, but it really was an amazing scene!
While I didn’t hate this book, I did have some concerns:
The romance was…hard to ingest. At times it seemed lovely, but I think it caused more of a stumbling block than a dreamy-romance kind of thing for me. I don’t read a ton of romances, but I don’t mind some romance in books, as long as it is God-centered and clean. The purpose of romance in books should always be to keep God center stage and point back to Him. Keeping it innocent. And I just personally didn’t feel like that occurred much in “The Girl on the Train” – at least for me. Oh it was an interesting romance, to be sure – not the typical story. But after I finished the book, I just didn’t feel…I don’t know; “right”? This book was not building me up in the faith, and for that reason I couldn’t love it.
The romance in itself was probably typical of many books, but it leaves a girl wanting – yearning for what isn’t. I also didn’t care for the kissing. That is an age-old complaint for me in books – kissing before marriage. I know there are many views on this, but for my personal convictions I feel kissing should be saved for marriage. We are to keep ourselves for our spouses, and I think that means saving our kisses too. In the world today, kisses are just nothing. They are casual, they are used often. But they are sacred.
And I want books to encourage that – to encourage romance even after marriage. They portray the fact that bubbly romance can only occur before marriage – but that’s not true! If we save ourselves and enter into God’s covenant of marriage, He will bless us, and of course the romance will be sweeter, if we save ourselves.
I’m going off on a tangent now, aren’t I? :) Those were just my thoughts after finishing this book.
I guess my biggest ‘concern’ and possibly ‘turn-off’ from the book was how the romance left me feeling, and the vast amount of political facts which just didn’t register in my mind.
So, to end, there were interesting aspects of this book, and many may love it – it just wasn’t totally for me.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers and Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

Posted in Books, reading, update

Some September Reads

September books 2015 (2)

 

Hello readers!

I thought that perhaps today I’d show a picture of some of my September Reads. From the picture, it doesn’t look too big, but seeing that September is already half over and I actually forgot a couple of my ‘to-read’ books, it’s big enough for me! In case you can’t really tell the titles from the picture, I’m reading/going to read:

“All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri – I am actually almost done with this one and it is FANTASTIC! I am so excited for this new release of Alicia’s. For anyone that read the first book in this series, “The Fragrance of Geraniums”, you definitely won’t want to miss this one! And if you haven’t read either, I highly recommend it! You’ll hear more about “All Our Empty Places” soon enough, when I share my review and spotlight the release!

“The Girl From the Train” by Irma Joubert – I started this one at the beginning of September, but it has been kind of slow for me to get through. I set it down momentarily, to read “All Our Empty Places” but I will be picking it back up shortly. :)

“Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty” by Angela Hunt – I am looking forward to this Biblical fiction; I haven’t read any of Hunt’s work before and so this will be a great chance to do so. The cover is beautiful.

“Hiding Places” by Erin Healy – Again, I haven’t read anything by this author, but I am looking forward to it. It’s a mystery/suspense novel, so it should be interesting!

 

And then I’m also beta-reading a couple short novella’s not pictured here. :)

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get them all read before October First, but I am certainly going to try! What are you reading?

Posted in Blogging For Books, Book reviews

Blogging for Books Book Review: “It’s Good to be Queen” by Liz Curtis Higgs

“It’s Good to be Queen” by Liz Curtis Higgs

Nonfiction

Review copy source: Blogging for Books

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the book:

Sheba Journeyed Across the Desert with a Caravan of Riches,
 Only to Find the Greatest Treasure of Them All.  So Can You.

When it comes to famous queens of the Bible, we know the good one, Queen Esther, and the bad one, Queen Jezebel. Now meet the wise one, the queen of Sheba, who traveled to Jerusalem to test the mind and heart of a king.
 
Her quest for wisdom will surprise you, challenge you, inspire you, change you. This wealthy royal from antiquity will show you how to live boldly, seek after truth, ask the right questions, encourage others, receive graciously, and honor the Lord above all.
 
Shedding new light on this ancient biblical role model, Liz Curtis Higgs unveils timeless wisdom for all who aspire to please the king of Kings.

My Thoughts:

For some reason, non-fictions can sometimes be a trifle bit hard for me to get through. I adore reading, but non-fiction takes me much, much longer than the regular fiction piece would. I don’t know why. :)

But even so, when I saw this nonfiction book come up for review, I thought I would give it a chance, as I had been wanting to read one of Liz Curtis Higgs’ books for a while, and this seemed like a good opportunity.

The premise was interesting – there are so few verses about The Queen of Sheba in the Bible, but it was impressive that Mrs. Higgs could write a whole book on those verses. I hadn’t before given much thought to the Queen of Sheba, so it was definitely interesting.

There were some things I didn’t agree with – there was quite a bit of focus on make-up and looking nice in the beginning, even when the author said we wouldn’t focus on it since the Bible didn’t. Looking nice on the outside definitely isn’t the goal in life – it’s looking good on the inside for our Heavenly Father. Also, something else that bothered me was the vast use of Bible translations to get the point across. I just didn’t agree with that. It was making it seem like there was more to the actual few verses than there really were, and many of the translations were far off course from the actual verses. But I know there is much controversy on that subject, and I don’t wish to get into an argument. I just disagreed with it.

All in all, it was an interesting book, but not really a book for me. It didn’t really minister to me as much as I was hoping – it was good, and there were some good parts that I will keep in my memory, but overall, it just wasn’t a favourite. That doesn’t mean it won’t be a favourite for you, though. :)

 

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. :)

Posted in Bethany House, Books, Pictures, reading

“Chivalrous” and Me

You’ve heard a fair bit about “Chivalrous” by Dina L. Sleiman by now, right? :D Why not just one more post? For now at least… ;)

If you read my last review of it, you will know that I really liked the book. And the cover is gorgeous.  So, when I received my influencer copy, I took a picture with the book…and I dressed up to resemble to cover as much as I could. So I thought I’d share that with you all today. :D It was hard to keep a serious face like Gwendolyn on the cover, so I just didn’t…I was laughing. ^.^ And of course I don’t have any chain-mail, which is quite a shame, but I had to make do!

So, first, the book cover:

fad8b-chivalrous2bfrom2bamazon

 

Annnd, my rendition of it:

 

023

 

It was quite fun to do that. I may be nearly 20, but I still enjoy dressing up. Especially as a Knight. ;)

Have you ever dressed up like a book character, or book cover?

 

If you haven’t heard what “Chivalrous” is about, here’s the blurb (you may also click on the book cover photo to go straight to its page on Amazon):

Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles–along with twists and turns aplenty–await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.