Posted in Book reviews

“Like a Winter Snow” by Lindsay Harrel ~ Book Review

Like a Winter Snow (Port Willis)

 

“Like a Winter Snow” by Lindsay Harrel 

A Port Willis Novella

Review ecopy from the author

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

In this standalone holiday novella, return to the charming Cornish village readers fell in love with in The Secrets of Paper and Ink.
Women’s counselor Joy Beckman has always been a friend and helper to all. That’s why she’s given up everything to be with her parents as her mother suffers through Alzheimer’s. Joy may not have a thriving career or a love life at the moment, but she’s doing what she does best—taking care of others. And even though it’s difficult, she knows it’s where she is supposed to be.
But life throws a curveball when she has to leave her parents temporarily to travel to Cornwall, England, for the Christmas-time wedding of her best friend. While there, Joy helps Sophia tackle her last-minute to-do list, and in the process, finally meets a man who turns her head—and her heart. The only problem? He lives in snowy London, and her life is with her parents back in sunny Florida.
She tries to resist Oliver Lincoln’s charms, but it’s harder than it should be. With her heart torn in two, Joy is forced to choose between a life she knows she’s meant for and the one she didn’t see coming.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I do believe that this was a deliciously perfect winter novella! It was so sweet, with such a beautiful message, and I just connected to the story so much in the short amount of time given! It gave such a warm feeling and winter glow, with the soft touches of the Christmas holiday.Joy Beckman was such a well constructed character, and I felt like we really got to know her a lot better, even though this was a short story. And I loved seeing the familiar characters from The Secret of Paper and Ink! So special to return to Port Willis.If you’re looking for a sweet, but meaningful novella with lovely romance and that warm winter feeling, definitely check this one out! I loved how the  the point was shown that with God nothing is impossible. That message was poignant and beautiful, and I really didn’t want this story to end!

 

 

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

 

 

Posted in Book reviews

“The Secrets of Paper and Ink” by Lindsay Harrel ~ Book Review

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“The Secrets of Paper and Ink” by Lindsay Harrel

Duel-Timeline story

Review copy through the publishers/author

 

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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About the Book:

 

Lindsay Harrel presents a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and finding the courage to write your own story.

A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

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My Thoughts:

The cover of this book is simply ravishing, is it not? Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, in my opinion! That was incentive enough for me to read this book. Add in that it is about books and a bookstore, set in Cornwall, England, and is the authors second novel – count me in. ;)
The prologue starts us off with letters written from Emily Fairfax from the 19th century. I found this to be a lovely beginning. I would gladly read a whole novel comprised of letters. But anyway! “The Secrets of Paper and Ink” follow more than just one story-line. We are introduced to three leading heroine’s; two in the present day, and Emily from the past. I loved each of these stories and how they were interwoven with each other. I must say though, that I favored Emily’s portions. I loved being enveloped into her time period, and seeing the struggles she was faced with, and the joys she discovered. Her piece was written in first person, and I really am a sucker for that style of writing. :)
That is not to say that I didn’t connect with Sophia and Ginny, though. I very much enjoyed each of their stories. And their friendship was perfect – they were there for each other at just the right time. And I looooved the bookstore aspect! I so want to own a bookstore, and that was just so fun. I also really liked how each character was so unique and individual to themselves. They were all fantastic, and William was so sweet! Memorable characters for sure.
The one and only thing that kept this being a full five stars for me was the faith content. While there at the end, it wasn’t as strong as I was hoping for, and there were a couple spots that hinted at a more “laid back” view of religions in general that I wasn’t keen on. Don’t get me wrong – the ending message was about finding ourselves in God alone, and that was beautiful. But I felt that there was a theme, especially in the beginning that was more a bit prominent  and that was the message of “being true to ourselves”. Emily wrote towards the end that true strength doesn’t come from us or other people, but rather alluded to it being the Lord – I know that is what she meant when she said “It is to another strength we must look, to first build and then to sustain us.” but I admit I was hoping for a stronger pointing to God – an obvious shout that He is the One she received healing from.
The story itself was (or rather, I should say the stories themselves were ;))  beautiful, and written very well. This wasn’t just a fluff book – it was lovely and entertaining, and meaningful. I will definitely be giving it another read or two in the future!
Lindsay Harrel writes a very captivating tale that keeps you until the very end.

 

 

Posted in Books, lists, Random babblings

Bucket List

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On this fine Monday, I thought I would take a page from “The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel, and share my own sort of Bucket List. I’ve never actually really made one before, but I thought it might make a rather fun blog post. ^.^ So, enjoy reading some things I would like to do one day! In no particular order. :) And if you feel so inspired, please do share your own bucket list either in the comments or in your own blog post and share the link with me – I’d love to read it!

 

 

 

Raechel’s Bucket List

 

 

Publish a Book

Meet my best friend for the first time

Get married/raise children

Visit India and experience life there (and buy a sari :) )

Have my own personal library

Visit Russia, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Scotland, just because these are all amazing places

Attend an old-fashioned ball

Ride on a train

Explore a castle in Ireland

 

Own and ride a dragon ;)

 

 

 

 

So, obviously that is only a small list, but given more time I’m certain I could name a few more things I want to do.  In on odd way, I’m not a huge future-planner. I like day-to-day plans, but for the future…it’s not something I think of much. I figure that what will happen, will happen. It’s in God’s hands. :) But it is fun to dream isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

(In case you missed it, I interviewed Lindsay Harrel at the beginning of this month, and shared a character introduction for one of her characters, as well as reviewed the book. You can check those out here: Interview   Character Introduction   Review  )

 

 

 

Thanks for reading! Are any of my items on your own bucket list? :)

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 Author Interview, Books, Give-aways

Author Interview: Lindsay Harrel! With GIVEAWAY!

LindsayHarrel AI (1).png

 

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 Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel ~ Book Review

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“The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel

 

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers program

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

About the Book:

 

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 and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, 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.

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

 

Prepare yourself for an excited review ;)
I’d been eyeing this book for a while just because of the cover alone, so you better believe I snatched it up eagerly when it became available to review! I knew it was one of those books that even if I didn’t like it, the cover was enough for me to drool over it continually. But of course, no worries about not liking the book – I more than liked it! In fact, I quite loved this novel! “The Heart Between Us” has quickly become one that I hug to my chest and squeal a little bit. Yes, it was that good.
The reading of it gave me so many happy feelings!! But I will try to calm myself in an attempt to write a helpful review…
The plotline was unique and gripping from page one. Oh, and page one – the prologue – I have to make a comment here: that was an amazing sentence opener. I marked it, just because the writer and reader in me loved it. “Amy says in order to move forward, I have to stop clinging to the past.”. This sentence is from Amanda, Megan’s heart-donor. <3
Back to the plot – so yes, Megan is used to sitting on the sidelines due to heart-problems most of her life. But now she’s got a new heart…however, she still fears that life might be passing her by. When she finally meets her heart-donor’s parents, they give Megan their daughter’s journal which is filled with Amanda’s bucket-list. Megan sets out to accomplish each item on the list in honor of Amanda. Right there we’re shown we’re about to embark on the story of a life-time.
Another aspect of this story is about Crystal, Megan’s twin sister. They may be twins but they’re very different from the other, and haven’t had a good relationship in years. When her job and marriage are on the line, she agrees to tag along with Megan on her travels. Will it mend their relationship, and help Crystal right her life-priorities?
Both character’s were great to follow along-with. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d bond with Crystal, already having deeply connected with Megan, but I shouldn’t have been worried. They each go through such life-lessons, and are easily relatable.
I rooted for both Crystal and her husband Brian, and Megan and Caleb. Which brings me to another happy-moment; Caleb, and any scene involving the two. Just…ah soo many good feelings <3333
I loved visiting all the travel-destinations with the sisters – places I may never actually visit, but had the pleasure of seeing them through story. So fun!! In my opinion, this book could’ve capped 500 pages with more details on each travel-stop and I would have been super content with that. ^.^
My favourite places they visited? Oh hard question…I really loved their time spent in Ireland, Scotland, and England. And Paris. And just really every stop. :D
The faith aspect of the book was very good too. It could’ve been a little more included in the beginning, but it’s also understandable why it wasn’t as strong there – we had to see the sisters grow. It was good.
So yep, I loved this book. And will be looking forward to the author’s next book, whatever it may be!

Quotes:

These are just some of the quotes I marked – I marked quite a few. ^.^

 

 

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