Posted in Books, lists, Random babblings, reading, update

It’s that time of the year //2018//

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Another year has somehow sped behind us! As I’m quite sure everyone with agree with and say themselves, it feels like we just welcomed 2018, but here we are at the close of it, 2019 on its heals.

As every year, 2018 has been full, with highs and lows, adventures and troubles, blessings and trials. And it has all grown us.  I praise God for all He’s taught me this year, even though it meant a lot of rough patches.

Life preceded over blogging this year…I had some good several months there where I did author interviews and character spotlights each month which was really loads of fun and I enjoyed it so much. But as the rest of the year continued, time slipped away and I wasn’t able to organize blog posts as well. Computer problems never help with blogging either, and we had our fair share of that this past year too.

 

Of the author interviews, there were 7 total:

 

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AI AM Heath

 

 

 

And 8 character introduction posts:

Willa Forsythe Haley HamptonWyatt Paxton Moriyah CILindsayH Megan Jacobs CI CI LettieLibby S CI CI Liz Cooke

 

 

 

 

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Books! What would a yearly wrap-up be without books? At least coming from me ;) At the beginning of 2018 I had hoped I’d be able to read 80 books, but knew that was probably a bit unrealistic, so I lowered it to 75. Then half the year went by and I realized I might not be able to make that goal either, so down to 70 it went. I didn’t want the goal to become a stresser, because reading is a very pleasurable thing, not a drag. I made that goal, and ended up making my previous goal too. I read a total of 77 books in 2018, equaling 20,293 pages, approximately. Goodreads kept track of it all for me, in addition to my book-notebook that I keep. If you wanted a more in-depth look at the books I read, you can check my goodreads wrap up here. :)

And as I always attempt to do, I have selected some of my favorite reads of 2018! That was a mighty hard task though, let me tell you. I love all de books. <3

And as last year, I have chosen my Top Twelve instead of ten or less, because that is just not realistic for me. ;) So without further ado…. My Top Twelve.

 

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Twelve beautiful books – And yes, I realize that there are only eleven in the picture. That would be because the 12th is an ebook :)  You can click on the titles below and they will lead you to my reviews of each one.

 

“The Masterpiece” by Francine Rivers

“Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar

“An Hour Unspent” by Roseanna M. White

“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette

“The Sea Before Us” by Sarah Sundin

“A Rumored Fortune” by Joanna Davidson Politano

“Storm Front” by Susan May Warren

“The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel

“Isaiah’s Daughter” by Mesu Andrews

“The Hunter and the Valley of Death” by Brennan McPhearson

“If Only It Were Yesterday” by A.M. Heath

“Through a Glass Darkly” by Jack Lewis Baillot

 

 

Annnnd because I am who I am, I have made an Honorable Mentions List. AND a very short list for my favorite short stories of the year :)

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

“A Sparkle of Silver” by Liz Johnson

“A Song Unheard” by Roseanna M. White

“A Promise to Break” by Kathlyn Spurgeon

“Picking Daisy” by Valerie Howard

“Escape and Endurance” by Sarah Holman

“Shelter of the Most High” by Connilyn Cossette

“The Writing Desk” by Rachel Hauck

“The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond” by Jaime Jo Wright

 

 

Novella’s:

 

“Finding The Magic” by Jack Lewis Baillot

“Shot at Love” by Sarah Loudin Thomas

“A Heart So Tender” by Debra E. Marvin

 

 

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And that wraps up the year! Well, it wraps up this blog post. ;)  Happy New Year, readers!! And THANK YOU for being a follower of my blog. It really does bless my heart, and even though I’m rather bad at posting frequently, I do appreciate each and every one of you! <3

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews

“Retrieve” by Sarah Addison-Fox ~ Book Review//Giveaway

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Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end!

 

Retrieve Cover

Retrieve (The Stormer’s Trilogy #1)

By Sarah Addison-Fox

Ecopy for review from the author

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

What if the job you took to stay alive might be what kills you?

Kade knows what it is to suffer. He knows what it’s like to lose everything and everyone around him.

His job in a Stormer Unit guarantees not just his survival in the decimated country of Azetaria, but his sister Meg’s. Even if it means facing the Numachi warriors baying for his blood, he’ll do what it takes to keep her safe.

Hadley is alone and surviving the only way she knows how. By hiding where predators won’t find her and scavenging enough just to keep her alive.

When desperation drives Hadley to search for her missing brother, she mistakenly accepts the offer of recruitment into the Stormer’s camp, only to be partnered with Kade and sent as a scout into Numachi territory.

The intimidating young Stormer may just know where her brother has gone. But can they stay alive long enough to find him?

Goodreads Book Link

Amazon Book Link

Where to find the author:

Sarah Author image

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Twitter: @saddisonfox

Facebook Fanpage

Blog

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but this novel surprised me – especially the ending. Because…where is book two? I know we only have to wait a month till that one comes out, but I kind of need to know how the story continues. :)
Anyway!
The first bit of this book definitely had a “Mulan” feel to it which was great. I liked the characters – I liked Hadley from the start, though Kade took a smidgen longer. He’s a rough one. ;) But it was enjoyable seeing their journey together. This is an action-filled story that keeps you on your toes. And I was actually quite thankful for that! I wanted something that kept me wanting to read. “Retrieve” definitely did that.
I’m not sure what this book is technically classified as, but it felt quite “fantasy” like without the magic elements, and I liked that a lot. Kind of like Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles. :) The world was very real, and my mind had no trouble picturing everything. And it was great that even though the book centered on two characters almost exclusively, it wasn’t boring at all, nor did you wish for more character interaction – I loved Hadley and Kade’s relationship. And I want to see it continued. Bring on book two. ;)
One thing I will say – there is a fair amount of swearing involved, and while I know that it was realistic for the character, I didn’t care to read all the cursing continuously. It didn’t shock me, but I wasn’t a fan either. I get when something needs to be realistic, but I prefer the “He cursed” or “swore” etc. Actually reading the words isn’t my favorite, because in essence then I am swearing and that is not a habit I want.
There were mentions of ‘gods’ (ex. “If the gods were real, they wanted nothing to do with them”, etc.), and one they referred to as the Ancient religion, which I assume is alluding to Christianity since the one time it was mentioned, the ‘h’ in “Him” was capitalized. It was very brief in this book, definitely not center or even side plot yet. Not sure if that will change in the next book, though I am curious to see. As it is, I wouldn’t classify this as a Christian book, but it was clean and wholesome (except for the swearing).
If you’re looking for an adventure novel with great characters and exciting plot (not to mention the need to keep reading even when the next book isn’t out…) be sure to check out this one. I enjoyed it very much!
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GIVEAWAY!
Click on the image to enter to go HERE.
Posted in Book reviews, Reviews

“Jesus Always” Devotion ~ Review

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“Jesus Always”

Sarah Young

Devotional

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About:

Life today is full of difficulties—loss, sadness, fear. In the midst of these challenges, joy often feels impossible or out of reach. But Jesus has more for His followers than a life of striving, pain, and discontent. He offers life abundant, life to the fullest, life brimming with joy! Jesus Always, the new 365-day devotional from bestselling author Sarah Young, was written as part of Sarah Young’s exploration of the promises of joy in scripture. Written as if Jesus Himself is speaking directly to the reader, Jesus Always invites you into a new way of living—a life of joy. 

Reaching out with joy-filled reminders from the Word of God, these devotions will intimately and gently connect you with Jesus—the One who meets you where you are. Draw near to Him in Jesus Always

 

My Thoughts:

 

I’ve actually already reviewed the content of this beautiful devotional, but this one is different in style – it is smaller, and the cover more intricate than the last. And oh-so beautiful! It is truly stunning to look at.
As I said in my first review of this book, the devotionals are heart-touching and so meaningful. I love all of the Jesus Calling Devotionals that I have read, as they minister right to the heart. They bring comfort and wisdom, and I highly recommend them. :)
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Posted in Book reviews

“Heaven Shining Through” by Joe Siccardi ~ Book Review

Heaven Shining Through

“Heaven Shining Through” by Joe Siccardi

A novella

Review copy from the author

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

Throughout her life, she had a rocky relationship with her mother – and now her mother is all she has left. 

Through a nostalgic look back, Samantha recognizes the presence of God in an ordinary life. She learns more about herself as a wife and mother who has had her share of sorrow and blessings. 

As her faith increases, she is able to see her mother through new eyes, leading to reconciliation …and is reminded of that every time she sees Heaven Shining Through.

My Thoughts:

 

A well written novella about a woman named Samantha who thinks back on her life as she takes care of her ailing mother.
It was a very short and easy read. It felt almost non-fiction rather than fiction, as Samantha recounts her life, the people she met, and the choices she made. Her relationship with Chad was meaningful and it was nice that they loved each other so well, even when life was rough.
There were several swear words, talk of marital relations, and life choices, and while faith was mentioned, it wasn’t really the sole focus. I was expecting a bit more of a redemption thread.
Still, it was written well, and flowed nicely. I wouldn’t recommend for younger readers, though.

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“The Christmas Heirloom Collection” by 4 Authors ~ Review

My review of this is embarrassingly late, as I read this collection a couple of months ago. Ooops! But at last, here it is…

 

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through the Generations

“The Christmas Heirloom”

Four Holiday Novellas 

By Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade.

Review copy from the publishers/author.

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Perfect for the Christmas season, four beloved authors bring their bestselling, award-winning talents to a multigenerational collection of romantic holiday novellas. In stories ranging from 1820s Regency England to present-day Washington state, readers will be treated to Christmas tales of an heirloom brooch passed from mother to daughter for almost two hundred years. Will the family legend claiming the brooch brings love to its recipient hold true for these women separated by the years but bonded together by the ties of family?

in Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson. While he may be far above her station, she can’t help but notice that his desire to make this Christmas special for his grandmother matches her own.

in Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love as the holidays draw near.

in Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her mother’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance one December.

in Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love? 

My Thoughts:

Legacy of Love by Kristi Ann Hunter 4 stars

A sweet novella with endearing characters! I am quickly becoming a fan of Kristi Ann Hunter’s stories. They flow so well, have lovely amusement, and great characters you can’t help but love! Sarah wasn’t your typical heroine, but she was so loveable! Her affinity for cake was just the best. ^.^

Grandmother was also an amazing character who I grew attached to in the short amount of pages.

I just love Miss Hunter’s characters. Although, I will admit that the hero took me a few pages to love him – once I got past the fact that he couldn’t see Sarah’s charm immediately, I loved him too. ;)

The scene featuring the brooch being passed down was darling and very touching.

All in all a very sweet novella!

 

Gift of the Heart by Karen Whitmyer 3.5 stars

This novella was actually my first read by this author. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing quality – it read very well, the characters were all constructed nicely, the plot complete – I was impressed! I enjoyed the story, too. The romance didn’t seemed forced at all (which is a feat in a novella!), and the relationships were sweet.

 

“A Shot at Love” by Sarah Laudin Thomas 5 stars

Oh I loved this one! Main character Fleeta was just priceless, and I would say the same of Hank! I loved how unique this story was, as well as how individual each character was – especially Fleeta. She wasn’t your typical heroine and I loved her all the more for it. Upon receiving the heirloom broach, she was uncertain, determined to never fall in love. Ah, how God changes things. ;) The romance was sweet, and it all unfolded perfectly. And the faith-strand was powerful – some things didn’t turn out perfectly like we hope (just like real life) but how the characters learned from it was splendid, and I was just very impressed. I’m very eager to read more of this authors works!

 

“Because of You”  by Becky Wade  3.5 stars

The contemporary novella of this collection, “Because of You” was a cute finish. The town setting with the Christmas feel was nice, and it was fun to follow along with main characters Maddie and Leo as they worked together on Mission:Christmas – an event run by their church to help families in need. The story was told well, and their romance believable. Little Charlie was a cutie too. :)

I think it would’ve been nice to see the brooch included just a little more, but it was still incorporated.

 

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All in all, sweet holiday read. :)

 

 

Posted in Book reviews, Books, Tyndale House

“Lethal Target” by Janice Cantor ~ Review

Lethal Target (Line of Duty #2)

“Lethal Target” by Janice Cantor

Book #2 in the Line of Duty Series

Review copy through Tyndale publishers review program

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

Police Chief Tess O’Rourke thought she’d taken care of her small town’s drug problem last year. But now Rogue’s Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits. And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up. As tempers flare and emotions boil over, Tess faces the possibility of losing the town’s support.

With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson’s quiet presence. But the anger she holds over her father’s death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace.

Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when a familiar face from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble. And his threats against Tess may prove lethal.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

The suspense returns in this second book in the Line of Duty series. Main character, Tess, is faced with more than one troubling case; including one that just might get her in major trouble.
It was nice to be able to continue with this book after finishing the first in the series. This book takes place several months after “Crisis Shot”, and can be read as a stand-alone. As with most books, you will get a better feel for the characters, setting, and story by reading these in order, but it’s not absolutely necessary. There’s a new investigation, and the story threads that are continued in book two are understandable on their own.
It was a good book, one which I enjoyed. The suspense was well drawn out and you were very intrigued to find out how the book would finish.
I was a little surprised by the romance thread – it took a turn away from what the first book alluded from, and while I suspected it from the beginning of “Lethal Target”, I can’t say it was my favorite choice. I didn’t feel like these particular two characters meshed as well. But that is just my opinion.
The faith strand was continued nicely, and in this book we get to see Tess soften to God and begin to move forward in her healing, so that was good.
I liked seeing familiar characters from the first book, like Tilly. I hope we will get to see a little bit more of her in the third book too!
The mystery kept us guessing, and it was a relief to see it all turn out well in the end.
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Mini Review for the first book in the series, “Crisis Shot”:
Crisis Shot (Line of Duty #1)
Really enjoyed this book – Janice Cantor writes very good police fiction. I felt attached to main character Tess, and her cause from the first page, and enjoyed seeing her journey. The mystery/suspense was well-played out, and had a good climax.
The faith strand was present, woven in gently. I look forward to seeing it continue in the next book.
Romance was very light – sometimes alluded to, but not the main focal point of the book. It worked well for this story, and as with the faith strand, I also look forward to seeing how it all develops.
Well written and engaging. I so appreciate what police do, and this book championed them in a great way.
Posted in Book reviews

“Jairus’s Girl” by L.R. Hay ~ Book Review

 

“Jairus’s Girl” by L.R. Hay

Biblical Fiction for younger readers

Review copy from the author

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

About the Book:

Tammie’s life in a quiet fishing town would never be the same again. 
Her future wasn’t looking good (understatement!), but things quickly went from bad to WICKED with the arrival of a strange grown-up with nice eyes. 
And as for the business with Daniel’s lunch, or Dibs’s roof. . . 

Jairus’s Girl is an entertaining and moving account of the Galilee side of Jesus’s story – aimed at pre-teens, though some adults have sneakily read and enjoyed it too.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

What a delightful story! My family and I have discussed how lovely it would be to have more Biblical fiction written for younger ages – and this book fits that marvelously.
Through this story, we see many of Jesus’ miracles and healings through the eyes and experiences of Jairus’ daughter – the girl whom Jesus raised from the dead. In this book, the girl’s name is Tamar – with some more names after that; the author affectionately dubs her as Tammie. Easy to say and remember!
Reading “Jairus’ Girl” is very much like you are sitting down with the author and she is telling you this tale.
Sometimes modern words were used that didn’t seem quite right (Tammie would say exclamations such as “wicked” or “cool” etc.)  – I didn’t find them offensive or what-have-you, just not authentic or fully fitting to the story itself. She also seemed quite young for her age, but that wasn’t so much a qualm as an observation.
I found this book to be very enjoyable, and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any reader, but especially younger ones! I can tell you what a relief that is. I am admittedly a rather picky book- recommender when it comes to younger readers, wanting the books I recommend to be wholesome and enjoyable. I think “Jairus’s Girl” is one such read! I would say it might be best enjoyed by readers aged anywhere from 8-15, with 10-12 being the most ideal, but that is certainly not restrictive or exhaustive. I think it would make a great read-aloud for parents or siblings too. I am in my early twenties and I enjoyed myself :)
My favorite parts were those involving Jesus firsthand. They were heartfelt and gentle, and I found them very sweet. Sure, the conversations were a bit more modern, but the heart was there, and it was touching. As any encounter with Jesus should be! <3