Posted in Book reviews

One of my new favorite books: “Love You, Truly” by Susan L. Tuttle

Love You, Truly JustRead Takeover Tour

I am participating in the JustReads Instagram tour (my IG is @vikinglady10) for “Love You, Truly” by Susan L. Tuttle, but I wanted to post my review here on the blog too because it is such a good book! It was my first time reading a book by this author, but it quickly became a favorite and I can’t stop thinking about it, weeks after I finished it.  Here is my finished review :)

 

 

My Review:

I’ve definitely found a new favorite author to follow! “Love You, Truly” was my first book to read by Susan L Tuttle, and I fell absolutely in love with it – truly ;) Puns aside, I really did love this novel, and must get it in print so I can read it again.
The writing was marvelous, the plot light-hearted and fun, the characters fantastic, and a message of depth that was beautiful!
While I don’t watch the Bachelor or those type of shows, I confess to loving that trope in fiction. They are so fun to read XD And actually, I somehow missed going into this book that that was the plot of the story, so I was pleasantly surprised! It was executed so well, and I would love to see this novel as a movie/show.
Okay, so let’s talk about the characters a bit – Harlow was so relateable. My heart completely reached out to her, and I felt connected over her striving to be ‘good enough’. “Coincidentally” I have been learning this lesson recently too, and seeing it mirrored in this story was touching. Harlow was such an authentic character, and had such a good heart. Then there is Blake Carlton, seen as America’s playboy. Oh did I dislike him at first! XD I wasn’t sure how I’d get past that first meeting, if I could grow to like him. Of course I shouldn’t have been worried. He is actually an amazing hero, and you can’t help but fall for him too.
I seriously can’t stop thinking about this book and plan to get my hands on a print copy asap! It needs another read, and I greatly look forward to that pleasure. <3
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There is also a giveaway occuring for this Instagram Tour, so be sure to stop by @JustReadtours on Instagram for that!
Posted in Books, lists

The Books I Enjoyed in 2019

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Hello readers!

I feel a little strange sitting down to put together a blog post that is not a review post – I have definitely drifted away from blogging consistantly this past year, and I apologize. Life is like that though; it changes and flows and you kind of just have to go along with it.

The end of 2019 didn’t go exactly as I had planned. I always look forward to putting together a nice, organized list of favorite books, taking pictures of them, with the hope of sharing on my blog here as well as my instagram (@vikinglady10). But I’ve had some more health struggles, and my pain has kept me from doing much of anything. Except reading. I have been reading still. ;) Thankful for that.

So while I don’t have a nive and pretty organized Top Ten Reads or pictures or anything like that, I did make a list of the books I definitely enjoyed in 2019. It’s long, and I’m okay with that. I mean, can one ever get tired of good reads? I don’t think so.

I’ll probably copy and paste the cover pictures in, since that’s easier than taking a photo myself.


According to Goodreads, I read 23,809 pages across 80 books. My goal was 75, so I was very excited to top that goal. Someday I’d like to reach 100, but I’m making my 2020 goal 80. We’ll rise slowly. ^.^

 

My year in books

In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

The White City by Grace Hitchcock

Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

The Heart of a King by Jill Eileen Smith

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

Irrelevant by Sarah Addison-Fox

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

Magic by Midnight by Allison S. Bass

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano

All this Time by Melissa Tagg

Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie

A Pursuit of Home by Kristi Ann Hunter

Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn   Miller

The Dating Charade by Melissa    Ferguson

 

Love You Truly by Susan L. Tuttle

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin

 

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I also vastly enjoyed:

The Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski

Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations

Dance With Me by A.M. Heath

Midnight on the River Grey by Abigail Wilson

Cross My Heart by Robin Lee Hatcher

Cameo Courtships by a collection of authors including Debra Marvin

A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson

Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller

Deadly Intentions by Lisa Harris

The Yellow Lantern by Angie Dicken

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

Bella At Midnight by Diane Stanley

The Heir of Ariad by Niki Florica

The Perfect Christmas by Bell Renshaw

Like a Winter Snow by Lindsay Harrell

 

and SO many others that would take too long to name. Bravo to you if you’ve actually read this whole list. I realize I am more so putting this together for my own personal reflection XD

I’d love to hear what books you enjoyed in 2019! I’m looking forward to many more books to come in 2020.

(you can find my reviews for these titles on goodreads – my username there is also vikinglady10)

Posted in Book reviews

“Don’t Blame The Mud” by Marty Machowski ~ Kids book review

 

Don't Blame the Mud

“Don’t Blame the Mud” by Marty Machowski

a childrens book

Review copy through publishers

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the book:

For young readers and families, Don’t Blame the Mud paints a vivid and accurate picture of sin and God’s plan of redemption. Written by best-selling children’s author Marty Machowski, this beautifully illustrated picture book teaches children how to recognize the lure of temptation and the truth that bad choices lead to bad consequences.
One day, Max takes the muddy path along the creek home, disregarding his mother’s reminder to keep his school clothes clean. After crashing into a mud puddle, he tries to hide his mistake and discovers the stain of his sin goes deeper than the mud he can wash away. In this lovable, relatable, and heartwarming tale, Max learns his heart needs to be cleaned, and Jesus is the only one who can wash away his sin.
By clearly articulating the gospel, Don’t Blame the Mud helps parents create an environment of confession so kids can own up to their own mistakes—in the freedom of Christ—rather than place the blame elsewhere. Parents, teachers, and caretakers can help children identify with the real-life draw of temptation and the real-life consequences of sin, understanding the value of God’s salvation through the cross. Instead of teaching kids how to deal with a problem, Machowski uncovers the real issue of sin and provides a gospel answer

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

“Don’t Blame the Mud” is a simpler portrayal made for children to  better understand our sins and what they do to us. It explained in a heartfelt yet easy to understand way, using creative illustrations that connect the child to the story.

It was a very good message, but would need to be for a child old enough to sit still for a period of time as the book is a little bit longer and requires attention. But all in all, a good way to get across the message of repenting.

Posted in Book reviews

“In the Cradle Lies” by Oliva Newport ~ Book Review

In the Cradle Lies (Tree of Life #2)

“In the Cradle Lies” by Olivia Newport

Book two in the Tree of Life Series

Review copy through the publishers

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Book:

A Father-Daughter Genealogy Team Link Present to Past on Family Trees 
On a solo ski vacation in Canyon Mines, Colorado, Tucker has a love-hate relationship with his wealth, spending indiscriminately while skiing fearlessly and preparing to conquer the overgrown slope of Hidden Run, a dangerous run not attempted in decades. As genealogist Jillian tries to uncover enough of Tucker’s family tree to understand his charming nature but reckless resolve, Jillian’s equally charming father, Nolan, cajoles Tucker into giving him ski lessons to get him talking about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s life in St. Louis in the 1930s.  
On the surface, Tucker’s family’s history seems too perfect. The secret may lie in the sealed envelope Tucker carries with him at all times—even on the ski slope. When no one can find Tucker to tell him the fiancée he never mentioned turned up in Canyon Mines, they realize he must be off attempting to ski Hidden Run alone in a snowstorm. And they may be too late. 
In the Cradle Lies is the second book in the Tree of Life series by Olivia Newport. You’ll want to return to the lovely Colorado mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that will inspire you to connect with your own family histories and unique faith journeys.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

In this second book of the Tree of Life series, we are reunited with Jillian and her dad, Nolan, along with the other fun characters of Canyon Mines. I liked delving back into this familiar town and characters, and seeing what – and whose – family history Jillian and Nolan would uncover.The history aspect, woven into both the present timeline and the past timeline included in this novel, was fascinating and I enjoyed how it all came together. I also was a fan of the wintery season and setting, as that is my favorite time of year. :)There were a couple instances where the process of the present-timeline’s plot seemed very similar to the first book (The Inn at Hidden Run), but it was still enjoyable to read.To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the character, Tucker (it was his family history we followed) – I know he was supposed to be charming, and I did like his character alright, but I didn’t care for how he treated Kristina…I guess I would have liked to see some more resolution for her character. I like that this series centers around Jillian and Nolan, and their cozy town. I’m looking forward to the next books in this series!

Posted in 1940's, Bethany House, Book reviews

“Echoes Among the Stones” by Jaime Jo Wright ~ Book Review

 

Echoes Among the Stones

 

“Echoes Among the Stones” by Jaime Jo Wright

Review copy from the publishers

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

About the Book:

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her vintage, though very outdated, home. Aggie didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in a dollhouse.
Mystery seems to follow Aggie when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the town’s cemetery. Forced to work with a puzzling yet attractive archaeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep hidden–even if that means silencing Aggie.
In 1946, Imogene Grayson works in a beauty salon but has her sights set on Hollywood. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the burgeoning world of forensic science and, as a woman, not particularly welcomed into the investigation, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . no matter the cost.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Another gripping Wright book to add to the shelves! Carrying a more bittersweet, sorrowful tone to it than the other books by this author, “Echoes Among the Stones” tells the stories of two main characters who have both suffered deep grief and suffering. I really liked how the two characters were so closely related, grandmother and granddaughter. Through both past and present timeline stories, we see how specific griefs and traumas have affected and shaped both heroines. I felt for both Aggie (present day) and Imogene (past timeline), and enjoyed getting to know them through their stories. I loved present-day hero, Collin. He was charming, and so sweet. His gentle reminders to Aggie of God’s presence in our lives was touching, and his willingness to remain beside her through her story was heartwarming.I felt like there was a lot of struggles with God portrayed (understandably, which you will understand upon reading), but there wasn’t a great healing resolution. Which I also understand takes time, and it was hinted at finally healing at the very end, but I would have liked to see them wrestle a bit more with finding God’s peace instead of just finding the resolution to the murder.
On conclusion, I enjoyed another well-written Wright novel, and look forward to more. :)

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews

“A Season To Dance” by Patrica Beal ~ Celebrate Lit Book Tour/Book Review

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A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Release Date: May, 2017

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus.

Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.

Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?

Click here to get your copy!

 

A Season to Dance cover

My Thoughts:

 
I really liked the writing style, and easily became involved in this story, reading as much and often as I could. Main character Ana’s story was…captivating. And raw. This is not a sugar-coated fluffy romance book. It has a definite hopeless, ever-searching feel to it in the beginning, and the journey is pivotal to the book. It is a salvation message story, one that shows the reality of life first without Christ, always searching to be fulfilled. Ana was constantly searching, struggling to feel content. She slept with the two men in her life, hoping their love would be enough. She was constantly reaching out for the next thing, until everything came crashing and all the signs up until that moment culminated in saving grace. There was lots of pain involved. Lots of mistakes. Lots of regrets. But the message was clear – the powerful message of Jesus’ salvation, and that was beautiful.
The author’s note at the end along with what she wrote about this book and how it came about really added a depth to the novel that I appreciated. It made the story even more real.
I will warn that this book shows the realities of living a life without Christ as your Savior – as mentioned, this book contains premarital sex, along with alcohol consumption, and aspects of deceit. Some of it is not pretty, but it paints the picture of this life well, and underlines the desperate need for Jesus.
Personally, it wasn’t my favorite thing to have Ana in love with two men and waffling between the two. I’m not a huge fan of love-triangles in general, but I know everyone’s preference is different.
The ballet angle of this book was lovely – I’ve never been involved or around the ballet world but it was beautiful to read about in a novel. :)
*I was provided an electronic copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.  

About the Author

Patricia Beal

Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. A Season to Dance is her debut novel (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, May 2017). Her second novel comes out in February of 2020. Patricia graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and has worked for the U.S. Army as a writer and editor for many years. Patricia writes from Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find more info about Patricia on her website here.

 

 

 

More from Patricia

A Season to Dance: The Book That Wrote Me

When I wrote the first line of my first novel in January of 2011, I wanted to get published because I was desperate to feel important.

I finished writing A Season to Dance that fall and hired coach Gloria Kempton via Writer’s Digest to look at the whole thing and tell me if it was any good.

She saw potential in the story of a small-town professional ballerina with big dreams, but explained I needed a clearer quest, more telling details, better scene structure, and better balance between sequels and dramatic scenes. I joined Gloria’s critique group and spent a year rewriting.

During that year, my husband got orders to move the family from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Germany, and he deployed for the sixth time soon after we settled on a lovely mountaintop in Idar-Oberstein.

When I finished rewriting, Gloria said the novel looked good and had everything a novel was supposed to have. But… “Something’s still missing. I don’t know what it is. We’ve covered it all.”

So of course I did what any writer desperate for validation would do. I told my coach that surely nothing was missing and that it was time to query. I hired a service to blast queries everywhere for me. I know… Shame on me… But God used that.

 

God’s Plan—Phase One

One query ended up with Mrs. Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary. The novel wasn’t Christian—I wasn’t a Christian. She shouldn’t have received my query. But she did. She sent me a note saying she liked the storyline but that in Christian novels the protagonist couldn’t live with her love interest without being married. She was very kind and said that if she was missing the point and if the novel was indeed Christian that I should resubmit explaining the living together piece.

When I read it I laughed and rolled my eyes. I started typing a condescending reply. Something about Christian fairy tale brains and me living in the real world, but I decided not to send it.

Days passed. A week passed. A month passed. And all I did was collect rejections. I became bitter. Bitterly sad at first. Then bitterly discouraged. And then bitterly ugly. I’d never been ugly before. Not like that.

See, up to that point, I’d believed that there was some kind of “god” and that somewhere, somehow, being good was right and that it paid off. But with the disappointments of the publishing journey those beliefs became a joke to me. I stood in the middle of my empty German kitchen—husband deployed, kids at school, my first dog had just died. And I looked at that inbox full of rejections and stated to whomever or whatever was out there: “God is dead.”

Mercy. Surely I said that to the “god” of my imagination, and not to the real God—God as He reveals Himself in the Bible. But I know that He was in that kitchen with me. And phase two of His plan was about to start.

Luke 22:31-32: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

 

God’s Plan—Phase Two

As I lost all restraint and became the worst version of myself, God removed me from my green German mountaintop.

After less than eighteen months in Germany, we were sent back to America, to the Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas. To a place called Fort Bliss—a place from which you can see a Mexican mountain with the words: “Cd. Juárez. La Biblia es la verdad. Leela.” That translates to “City of Juárez. The Bible is the truth. Read it.” Gotta love it. God is good.

During the first six months back in America, I went to two secular writers’ conferences and met more rejection. My lack of restraint and my selfishness didn’t really make me happy. I wanted to go to therapy. I wanted a job. I still dreamed of that book deal that had to be just around the corner. I wanted, I wanted…

But nothing happened, and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to get help, get happy, and find any kind of relief for the pain I felt. Nothing. Happened. I’d never seen so many closed doors—slammed-shut doors—ever in my life. Even the shrink kept double booking, closing early, and somehow cancelling on me. It was ridiculous.

 

The One Open Door

When God planted our family in the desert, He planted us two blocks from a friend from the Fort Benning years. A friend whose claim to fame was church shopping whenever the Army moved her family. I asked her to take me to church on the first Wednesday of January of 2013.

I fell in His arms. Surrendered, defeated, and dependent. Or what God likes to call—ready. I was born again two weeks later and was baptized on Super Bowl Sunday that February.

 

Gloria’s “Something Missing”

I had tickets to go to New York for the Writer’s Digest conference that spring, but sometime in March, it dawned on me: “You silly goose of a girl. You wrote a salvation story without the salvation piece.” My first coach, Gloria Kempton, had been right all along. There was something missing!

A Season to Dance isn’t just the story of a small-town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York and the two men who love her. It’s also the story of a girl desperately trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with often misguided career and romantic pursuits.

I deleted Mrs. Hart’s email that week. Yes, it was still in my inbox. Job well done, Mrs. Hart.

Now, I had work to do. I spent 2013 and the first half of 2014 rewriting the novel. Five ladies from my Sunday school read chapter after chapter as I produced them and cheered me on through that gruesome process. I couldn’t have done it without their support. God is good.

Jeff Gerke edited my novel in the summer of 2014 and had me read Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes. God is good.

I went to my first Christian writers conference, the ACFW 2014 in St. Louis. Two weeks later, Les Stobbe offered to represent me. God is good.

ACFW 2015 was fantastic and many houses are looking at that first manuscript. God is good.

In early 2016, we sold the manuscript to Bling! Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A Season to Dance released in the spring of 2017. God is good.

My family got saved, too. My husband in July of 2013. Our son in December of 2013. My mom in the fall of 2014. And our little girl just this past summer, the summer of 2015. God is amazingly good!

 

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Patricia is giving away the grand prize package of a themed basket of book-inspired coffees and chocolate!!

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/f23d/a-season-to-dance-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

 

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, December 12

The Power of Words, December 12

As He Leads is Joy, December 13

Through the Fire Blogs, December 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 15

For the Love of Literature, December 15

Hallie Reads, December 16

By The Book, December 16

Girls in White Dresses, December 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 17

Texas Book-aholic, December 18

janicesbookreviews, December 19

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae, December 19

Godly Book Reviews, December 20

Blogging With Carol, December 20

Christian Bookaholic, December 21

For Him and My Family, December 21

Inklings and notions, December 22

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, December 22

Emily Yager, December 23

CarpeDiem, December 23

A Reader’s Brain, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 25

Batya’s Bits, December 25

 

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews

Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn Miller ~ Book Review

Misleading Miss Verity (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #3)

“Misleading Miss Verity” by Carolyn Miller

Book three in the Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley series

Review copy through the publishers

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About the Book:

Verity Hatherleigh has a mind of her own—but her actions do not impress her viscount papa. When she gets into one scrape too many, he sends her off to the wilds of Scotland to rethink her headstrong ways.
Anthony Jardine relished his role as curate, but his new duties as laird of Dungally aren’t always to his liking. Though he thought his new inheritance would be a blessing, somehow he’s finding nothing but trouble on these estates. And the intelligent, compassionate, feisty lass who was sent to rusticate in his territory is one of the biggest problems. He’s falling in love with her, but she doesn’t share the faith that’s his foundation—not to mention he’s been lying to her about who he really is. For the truth-loving Verity, that may be unforgivable.
The tangled web these two have woven may spell disaster for their happiness—and for the tenants of Dungally.

 

My Thoughts:

 

This was such a good story! I think it has to be my favorite of the three books in this Regency Brides of Aynsley series. :)Verity proved to be an absolutely endearing character, full of spunk and adventure. Her zest for life was exciting, and following along her journey – including that of her journey to faith – was so enjoyable.All the characters were so well written, and that hero, Mr. Jarden! I fell in love with him too. How could one resist a Scottish, down-to-earth, kindhearted gentleman?! I loved the banter between him and Verity.The whole plot was engaging and I had a hard time putting this book down. The spiritual thread was so sweet and well handled. Realisitc and encouraging.Truly, I really loved this book, and am sad to have left its pages! If you’re looking for a fun, engaging Regency read, with loveable characters and a great message, definitely pick this one up. :)

 

 

 

**I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.