Posted in Devotional

It’s okay

Today, I am supposed to share a devotional. And yet…I have nothing planned or prewritten out. I’m the kind of person that likes order and routine and schedules, and being prepared, so in general I try to have blog posts typed up at least several days in advance, but this month’s devotional has evaded me. Every time I tried to sit down and write it, nothing would come.
Life has been extremely busy lately, with lots of running and time away from home. I feel like I haven’t learned anything monumental that I could share. And that disappoints me. It feels like I’ve failed. I know that it’s not true. When I first prayed about starting this blogging schedule, my concern was on missing a post, and the Lord has to remind me – would that be the end of the world? In the grand scheme of things, a missed post is not much of a problem at all. I just knew that I would feel badly, even if they were never read anyways – because I am a routine person, and if I say I’m going to do something, I want to follow through with that. Without making mistakes. But that is just not possible sometimes. We will make mistakes, we will miss things that we said we’d do. Not out of malicious intent, but because it happens. I’m still learning to give myself more grace especially in this area.
I think – no, I know – that it is one of the reasons I am hesitant to talk about my writing publicly. Because I feel that if I start talking about it, or even talking about a possible release date in the far future, I will absolutely have to follow through with that, and I know that I can’t right now. And in some ways it is good to not promise what we know we can’t follow through with, but sometimes we do need to give ourselves room to dream, speculate, and grow. To hope. And leave the results in God’s hands.
I’m kind of going off on a bunny-trail now. ^.^
But yes, sometimes –  a lot of times – life will not go how we plan it, and it’s during those times especially that we have to hold on to the One who has everything in His hand. We have to follow His leading even when it brings us to places we didn’t think we’d go. We learn so many little things on these journeys. Maybe they don’t seem monumental at the time of learning them, but when we look back, we realize the little things He’s been growing us in all along.
So no, I don’t have a proper devotional to post today. All I have are these few meager words. And that’s okay. Because…grace. His grace is sufficient for me.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
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Posted in Book reviews, Books

“Among the Poppies” by J’nell Ciesielski ~ Book Review

Among the Poppies by [Ciesielski, J'nell]

Among the Poppies by J’nell Ciesielski 

WWI Fiction

I received a complimentary ecopy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Can their love survive? Or will it become another casualty of war?

The ideal lady wears lace, speaks quietly, and never—under any circumstances—fixes an automobile. But Gwyn Ruthers has never cared two snaps about being the ideal lady. With the war to end all wars exploding across the English Channel, she leaves behind her restrictive life as a chauffer’s daughter to serve in an all-female ambulance unit in France. She’s not about to let her social status or gender prevent her from serving her country. Not even a handsome captain can distract her from her mission. Most of the time.

Captain William Crawford wouldn’t wish the ravages of war on any man, much less the captivating woman who insists on driving into battle instead of staying safely at home. He can’t deny that the troops need more medical help, but not when it puts innocent women in danger. How can he lead his men against the Jerries while worrying about Gwyn’s safety?

Bound together by circumstances, Gwyn and William can’t stop the love growing between them. Can their relationship survive, or will it become another casualty of war?

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This was quite the beautiful story, and a great debut novel. Not to mention that the cover itself is stunning, too. :) At times, it felt very Downton-Abbey/Crimson-Fields-esque, which was rather fun, since I enjoy both of those BBC shows.
The writing style was extremely well done. It flowed brilliantly, and was truly captivating.
The characters were very likeable as well. I couldn’t help picturing Sybil from Downton Abbey for Gwyn. She was a very independent young woman with a mind of her own. Of course, she wasn’t completely like Sybil – Gwyn grew up as the chauffer’s daughter, learning to work on cars which was her passion. She could be a little too strong-headed at times, too, thinking it was bad to be a woman. And honestly, that view does kind of wear on me. I find it is slipped in constantly, no matter the time period of the book, that “woman belong in the kitchen” is akin to a swear-word, and women’s rights, etc. I’m a woman, I’m not a fan of cooking myself. However, I do help out in the kitchen because I do believe that a woman’s place is to *serve*; where ever, however, including the kitchen. It’s not a bad thing. I don’t believe that woman are lesser or should be treated with less respect, or anything of the sort. I just wish that feminism wouldn’t be so pushed in every book I read.But anyway! Rant over, yes? Back to the actual review…
So I enjoyed the book, there were just a couple of things like this that I didn’t care for as much.
Of course I loved the two main characters. But I need to mention Roland. Side-character, yes, but oh my word. He was so fantastic. ^.^ His little quips always made me laugh, and his attitude was just the best. <3 <3
I liked Gwyn’s best friend, Cecelia, but sometimes I admit she could be a bit annoying. Still, their friendship was admirable.
I will also sort of ‘warn’ that there were several passionate kisses in this book. I think they went a little far at times, but I know that everybody’s preference regarding kissing in books is different.
The plot-line was great. It was very drawing, and I didn’t want to leave its pages. The action was well-played out, and WWI depicted realistically. I cannot imagine the horrors, really. All of it would have been so terrible.
But these characters handled it admirably, and it was fascinating to see the battle side of things of WWI.

 

SPOILER!! Please don’t read if you want the book to be a surprise as this gives away a plot-line!!

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.(Highlight words below to see, at your own risk. ;))
 But Roland! I was so, so, so upset. Like, why?? He deserved his own happily ever after. I think I can say he was my favourite character, and therefore…yeah, I wasn’t happy with his ending. Made me terribly sad and upset.
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END OF SPOILER

 

 

 

Among the Poppies 1

Among the Poppies 2

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Posted in Books, character introduction, Give-aways

Character Introduction: Megan Jacobs // Giveaway Winner Announced!

Happy Monday! Today not only do I have the pleasure of sharing a character-introduction for Megan Jacobs of “The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel, but I also am here to announce the winner from the giveaway featured last week of this very special book! So be sure to read till the end to see who won!

 

LindsayH Megan Jacobs CI

 

(If you’re new to these posts: The idea behind them is just to spotlight the character a bit, give a little description of their personality, and for fun, a few books I’d recommend to them if I could.) 

 

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Meet Megan Jacobs, a 32-year-old wannabe travel writer who finally received a heart transplant after years of childhood illness.  When the story opens, Megan is just plain stuck--she still lives at home, working the same job she worked in high school.  So when her heart donor's parents show her the teenage girl's journal, its pages filled with unfulfilled bucket list items, Megan is inspired to complete each item. Can she finally break free of the fear that's been holding her back?

(Photo found on the author’s pinterest page; used only for enjoyment -I do not claim any rights to this picture)

 

 

Megan is a courageous character. She struggled with health complications growing up, and eventually received a heart transplant.

These things kept her “grounded” – she lived her life carefully. But then she meets the parents of her heart-donor and they lend Megan their daughter’s journal. I would say that this was a life-changing point for her.

As Megan sets out to fulfill her heart donor’s Bucket List, she learns about herself too, realizing she has been courageous all along. The Bucket List quickly becomes her own..

I like Megan because she is relatable. Yes, she did live her life in fear sometimes, but she also stepped out in crazy faith and grew so much along her journey. And I loved following her on her adventures. :)

 

 

 

Books I would recommend to Megan:

 

Well, she is more into travel books, not necessarily fiction. None the less, I would suggest…

 

“The Josey Series” by Susan May Warren// I think she’d enjoy these as I did, as they begin in Minnesota, and proceed to travel – to Russia in this case.

 

Melissa Tagg’s books// The writing style of these books is fun, not to mention the stories are great. I think Megan would enjoy them for sure.

 

“A Song Unheard” by Roseanna M. White// While this is WWII historical, and I  kind of think Megan would read more contemporary fiction, I do believe she’d like this book and its heroine. I just get that feeling. :)

 

 

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Meet Megan for yourself in “The Heart Between Us”:

The Heart Between Us: Two Sisters, One Heart Transplant, and a Bucket List Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

 

 

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And now….how about we get to that giveaway winner?!

 

 

 

 

!!!!* Beth Tate *!!!!

 

 

Congratulations, Beth! I hope you’ll love “The Heart Between Us” as much as I did!  I’ll be in contact with you to get you the book from Lindsay Harrel :)

 

And a HUGE thank you to each of you who entered – I was very thankful to see the entries! :) I’m sorry you can’t all win, but I do definitely encourage you to check out the book!

 

 

 

If you missed the Author Interview from last Monday, or my review of this book, you can find those here:

 

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Posted in Book reviews

“Quest for Leviathan” by Amanda Tero ~ Book Review

Release 01.jpg

“Quest for Leviathan” by Amanda Tero

Short story

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

My review:

 

This was a great short story. It was unique, and definitely captivating, even though the pages were few. And the illustrations were splendid! I love the depth they added. Very well done. In ways, the short story gave off a slightly How to Train Your Dragon (book not movie) feel, but that could very well just be me. ;)
It had a Christian message of surrender which was very good.
My only “complaint”, if you can call it that, is that it was too short. I would’ve loved to read even a novella length of this story. :)

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the author I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

 

Amanda bio pic.jpgAbout the Author

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Connect with Amanda

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com

Website: http://amandatero.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amandaterobooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandateroauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amandaruthtero/

Blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmandaTero

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

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review, Uncategorized

“Jesus Calling: 50 Devotions for Comfort” – Sarah Young ~ Review

Jesus Calling: 50 Devotions for Comfort

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

My thoughts:

 

I looooove the Jesus Calling devotionals. I may have more than two…or more than three…Okay, so I have four different ones. And I love them all. I was very excited to see this one come available for review, because who doesn’t need comfort from Jesus?
I love how these devotionals are written, as Jesus speaking to us. It feels very personal, and I definitely believe that the Lord uses them. There have been so many times where I am feeling low or discouraged, etc. and open to a devotional page and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.
In this one, they are the devos selected from the bigger one, Jesus Calling, so I have read them before, but many seem like reading them new, and they do share immense comfort. And the artwork! Oh my. I wasn’t expecting that, but each devotional page has a piece of art on the other side with a verse scripted across it, and then also some pages in between devotionals with Bible verses elegantly scripted across a lovely scene. It really is beautiful, and so peaceful and calming.
So yes, I definitely recommend this devotional, as well as the other Jesus Calling devotionals!

 

Posted in Author Interview, Books, Give-aways

Author Interview: Lindsay Harrel! With GIVEAWAY!

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Good morning, and happy Monday! Today, not only do I have an amazing author interview to share, but she’s also offered a GIVEAWAY to go along with it! Isn’t that fantabulous? I fell in love with “The Heart Between Us”, and knew I’d love to have Lindsay Harrel for an author review. And when she offered a giveaway – well, goodness, what fun! Keep reading to find all the details, and don’t forget to enter for a COPY of “The Heart Between Us”!!

 

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Welcome to my “Peculiar” Blog! I’m so happy to have you here :)  Would you please introduce yourself and the genre that you write:

 Sure! My name is Lindsay Harrel and I write inspirational romantic women’s fiction. Thanks so much for having me!

 

 

What sparked the idea for your book, “The Heart Between Us”? (I thought it was so clever and absolutely loved the whole thing!)

 Thank you for your kind words. I heard a radio feature story on K-LOVE or some other station about a woman who went sky diving because her heart donor had always wanted to do it and never got to. It just made me ask the question, What if someone fulfilled her heart donor’s entire bucket list?

 

 

heart-1450300_1920.jpgIn “The Heart Between Us”, is there a character that you relate best to? And if so, why?

 Yes! The story is about twin sisters Megan and Crystal and how they have both been affected by Megan’s long-term illness and subsequent heart transplant. When I was first going to write the book, it was just going to be Megan’s story and Crystal was just the antagonist who was overprotective and didn’t understand Megan. But my agent challenged me to dig deeper and tell Crystal’s story too. When I did, I discovered a character who had been deeply affected by living with a sick sister her whole life. I could relate, since my mom was sick for many of my formative years. Between that and Crystal’s penchant for defining herself by her achievements, she became the character I related to most.

 

 

Do you have a special process for how you choose your character’s names?

Not really. I always look up common baby names in the year the character is born and when one pops out at me as feeling “right” for the character, I choose it. Funny though—I didn’t do that with Megan’s character at first. I chose Maddie because I liked the name, but I got the comment that it made the character feel for high school age, not 32. So I went back, applied the process mentioned above, and chose Megan (I also have a good friend named Megan so that was a bit of fun in choosing that name).

 

 

I have heard that many authors have their own interesting writing quirk – do you have one?  If so, would you mind sharing?

I don’t know if it’s a quirk, but I really prefer silence when I write. I also can’t stand the idea of only writing part of a scene; if I’m going to write, I try to finish an entire scene in one sitting. It feels incomplete to me to write only, say, 500 or 1000 words at a time!

 

 

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Megan in “The Heart Between Us” is fulfilling the bucket list of her heart-donor; Do you have a bucket list yourself?

It’s not something I’ve actually written out, but yes! At the top right now is visiting Italy with my husband.

 

 

 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Great question. I think both. I actually don’t care as much for the drafting stage of writing (I much prefer editing!); the blank page is a bit intimidating to me. But I am energized by the thought that I get to live my dream. It’s also exhausting to pour yourself and your emotions out on the page, and to be a good writer, I think you have to be constantly doing that.

 

 

cross-2209803_1920How important to you is the faith-element in your writing? Is it central to the theme or more of a sideline plot?

I’ve read all sorts of Christian fiction, and the ones that resonate with me the most are those that infuse faith organically. So that is what I try to do. Some stories require more actual mention of faith; with others, the character kind of just has this misconception about God and has an epiphany at the end, but faith isn’t constantly mentioned. I think it just depends on what the story calls for. But because I am a Christian, I can’t help but write stories from that perspective and worldview, so I think in that sense, my stories will always be faith filled.

 

 

What does your family think of your writing?

They are 100% supportive! Of course, my boys (who are 1 and 3.5 years old) don’t really understand it. But my husband is amazing in giving me time to write when I’m on deadline, and my mother-in-law and stepmom help with the kids too.

 

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Stop worrying! Things will happen in their time. Just enjoy the process and stop stressing over how you’re going to get there (and when! and if!). :)

 

 

old-1130731_1920.jpg“The Heart Between Us” visits many places all over the world – have you traveled much in your life, and did you make any special travel-plans during the writing of this book?

In college, I took a study abroad trip to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Paris one summer. It was amazing and definitely shaped my desire to write about those places. I have wanted to go back, but my husband and I haven’t had the time or money. But we are saving and dreaming!

 

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I am blessed to be friends with SO many in the writing community, and have been craft and brainstorming partners with Gabrielle Meyer, Melissa Tagg, and Alena Wendall. I’ve also been mentored by incredible authors like Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. All of them challenge me to do deeper with characters and—more than anything—they just encourage me when I’m down and help keep me grounded and rooted in the things that are most important on this writing journey. I’m so glad my writing life isn’t a solitary endeavor.

 

 

And lastly, would you recommend a book that my readers might like if they’ve read your latest, “The Heart Between Us”?

I think readers who enjoyed The Heart Between Us would enjoy anything by Katherine Reay, specifically Lizzy and Jane or her latest, The Austen Escape!

 

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image found on google; I do not claim any rights to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you so very much, Lindsay Harrel!

 

 

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Lindsay HarrelLindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.

 

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What a lovely interview, wouldn’t you say? I just love learning more about an author and their writing process/books! <3

And now, how about we get to that giveaway!

 

DETAILS: Lindsay Harrel is offering 1 (one) print copy to be given away to one reader! Follow the link below to enter this lovely giveaway – trust me, you don’t want to miss this book!

**US address only due to shipping costs**

 

Giveaway will start TODAY and will end SUNDAY the 10th, and the WINNER will be announced next MONDAY with the Character-Spotlight post, so be sure to check back!!

 

 

Click the graphic to be led to the giveaway widget, or click here.

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Best wishes on the giveaway!!

 

 

Posted in Books, Random babblings, update

Can’t help it…MAY I recap?

Yeah, I know. I should’ve resisted it. Too easy, right? But I just couldn’t. Not when it is just asking for it….I mean, it’s MAY. ;)

Which is now over. The beginning of the month was fair, temperature wise, but towards the middle and end it turned scorching hot…I’m dreaming of winter. ;)

This month consisted of reading, a visit to a park with family and extended family (wherein I remembered the joys of swinging. So freeing!), yard and garden work, and some more reading in between. Besides the heat, it was enjoyable. :) Not without its trials, but what life is?

 

The books I read:

 

The Backcountry Brides Collection by Shannon McNear – I read a couple more stories in this collection.

Judah's Wife by Angela Elwell Hunt   The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristin Billerbeck   Quest for Leviathan by Amanda Tero    Dance from Deep Within by D.L. Sleiman   Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren   Storm Front by Susan May Warren   Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall

 

The first three you can click on to read my review, the next two have reviews that will be posted soon, same for “Enchanting Nicholette”, and the SMW books – my reviews are on Goodreads. :)

 

 

 

Books added to my already-too-big collection:

 

 

Three are review books, one is from Tyndale Rewards (where you can sign up to earn points towards FREE books! <3), a couple were book-swaps, and the rest were garage-sale and library sale finds, besides “Ain’t Misbehavin'” which I purchased on a FB group. :)

 

Yep. What else can I say than that I love books?

 

 

May Post Sum Up:

 

Connilyn Cossette AI  Moriyah CI

038    The God Who Sees Me

4-29-18 (5)   a5193-tag

 

And posted about the GDPR news HERE, and also reviewed “Judah’s Wife” HERE.

And a Cover Reveal HERE.

 

 

And here’s to June, right? May we survive the heat. ;)

 

 

 

How was your May, readers? Any exciting news to share? Books read? Feel free to comment and we can chat!