“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― G.K. Chesterton

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Review of "The Sacred Scarred: A Modern-Day Christian Twist on Beauty and the Beast" by Joanna Alonzo



"The Sacred Scarred: A Modern-Day Christian Twist on Beauty and the Beast" by Joanna Alonzo is a great fairy tale retelling with a beautiful Gospel message!  I love the parallels in the story between this book and the original Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, not just the Disney version.  Ms. Alonzo also puts her own unique spin on the tale with a very strong faith element.  The first half of the story is more like a modern young adult novel, whereas in the second half, the writing seems to change and the story takes on more of a fantasy aspect (which I personally enjoy more).  Aside from the fact that the first and the second halves of the book feel slightly disjointed in their style, I think this first novel of Ms. Alonzo’s is very well written.  The end is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. 

The characters are one of my favorite parts of the story, especially the change that takes place in our main characters.  The heroine, Calysta, is not beautiful or perfect in the beginning of the story, but is very broken, as is Brendan, our beast character.  The characters strive to make Christ first in their lives as the story progresses, even before pursuing a romantic relationship.  This story also has some very well done side characters.  The characters’ relationships with God inspired me in my walk with Christ to be more passionate for Him. 
This book has an amazing message of God making the broken beautiful and bringing beauty from the ashes!

Content and Rating:  I give this book four stars.  It is definitely more on the edgy side, as far as being a clean read.  There is a lot of this edgy content in the beginning to show how messed up our main characters’ lives are before they transform and find Christ (e.g. making out, talk about cutting oneself--with detailed description). 

I want to thank Joanna Alonzo and Almond Tree Publications for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

The link to purchase the book is here

Click here for Joanna Alonzo's website

About the Author:
Joanna Alonzo is a walking paradox. She is a beautiful, albeit messy, mixture of thought and emotion, expressed in the form of hopefully readable – and relatable – stories. She is a kingdom kid, who looks forward to being a writer and storyteller even when she reaches heaven. She is passionate about the unreached, about those who have yet to know the Love she found in the arms of the Almighty. She is intrigued by the world and its people, who day by day, continue to convince her that God is the greatest Storyteller of all.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"An Epiphany in Lilacs" by Iris Dorbian Book Blast & GIVEAWAY!

An Epiphany in Lilacs by Iris Dorbian

Publication Date: January 1, 2017
Mazo Publishers
eBook & Papberback; 180 Pages
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction/World War II


An Epiphany In Lilacs is a young adult novel set in a DP camp outside Hamburg, Germany following the end of World War II. The author, Iris Dorbian, captures in this story a unique glimpse into the period after the Holocaust when survivors had to deal with their new realities for living, based on her father’s personal experience. After liberation in May 1945, Daniel, a 14-year-old Latvian Jew, is treated in a field hospital in the British zone of partitioned Germany. A survivor of various concentration camps, Daniel fights to recover from starvation and disease. Racked by nightmares, a nearly nightly occurrence, Daniel finds sleep almost impossible. Through his love of nature, and pre-war memories, Daniel struggles to find comfort. He forms an intriguing bond with an older German gentile, another survivor. Later on, as he joins a theater troupe, Daniel tries to move on with his life, yet still searching for the whereabouts of his mother and two sisters. Poised on the cusp of a new life, young Daniel makes his way to the country that will become his new home.

“Rich with powerful and piercing historical references, An Epiphany in Lilacs: In the Aftermath of the Camps by Iris Dorbian captures thereality of Jews who survived the Holocaust, the inner scars and the struggles with uncertainty, incessant nightmares, and fitting into the day-to-day lifestyle of ordinary people. It is a heart-wrenching story,told in excellent prose and in the author’s unique style. I have been a huge fan of Holocaust literature, starting with Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and have always felt appalled by man’s cruelty to fellow man. In this new book, the author explores the terrible effects of a fragment of history on the life of a little boy. This is a story to read and share, a powerful story about freedom and the perils of war.Well-crafted with compelling characters and interesting themes.” – Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite
 
“This was a lovely and inspiring read about survival after the war. The fact that this is based on the author’s personal accounts made this absolutely mesmerizing. This was such a tragic and heartbreaking time in our history, so to be able to read a story like this was like none other. Iris really captures this time period quite well through her father. The connection Daniel finds with the older German (another survivor of the war) and his story about rebuilding his life in the country while searching for his family makes it impossible to put book down.” -Rainy Day Reviews/Bookjunkie Mom Blog

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble (Paperback) | IndieBound (Paperback)

 

About the Author

Iris Dorbian is a business and arts journalist whose articles have appeared in a wide number of outlets that include the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Venture Capital Journal, Buyouts, Investopedia, DMNews, Jerusalem Report, the Forward, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. From 1999 to 2007, Iris was the editor-in-chief of Stage Directions. She is the author of “Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater,” which was published by Allworth Press in August 2008. Her personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal, ThisSpace.org, Skirt! and Gothesque Magazine. A New Jersey native, Iris has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

For more information, please visit Iris Dorbian’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 17
Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, July 18
Book Nerd
To Read, Or Not to Read
Wednesday, July 19
Faery Tales Are Real
Thursday, July 20
T’s Stuff
Friday, July 21
Books of a Shy Girl
A Literary Vacation
Saturday, July 22
Laura’s Interests
Sunday, July 23
Must Read Faster
Monday, July 24
Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Tuesday, July 25
WS Momma Readers Nook
Wednesday, July 26
100 Pages a Day
Thursday, July 27
Carole’s Ramblings
Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
Friday, July 28
Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we are giving away a signed copy of An Epiphany in Lilacs to one lucky winner! To enter please see the direct link below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

 Direct Link to giveaway: https://gleam.io/01y6B/an-epiphany-in-lilacs

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"You Can Do This: Seizing the Confidence God Offers" by Tricia Lott Williford Review--A Truly Inspiring Book for Every Woman!




"You Can Do This: Seizing the Confidence God Offers" by Tricia Lott Williford is an encouraging read for any woman in any stage of life, facing any type of struggle.  It is a non-fiction Christian book that is a mix of self-help, memoir, and Christian encouragement.  Ms. Williford tells her story to the reader in a way that feels like you are having a conversation with her over a cup of coffee (or tea).  She inserts many helpful and encouraging nuggets of truth for those who are going through hard times or need a confidence boost.  Some examples of topics that she covers are negative thoughts, boundaries, and how we define ourselves.  She puts practical ways to implement these truths at the end of each chapter. 

I love this book!  I feel like Ms. Williford was reading my mind at times and the way she writes is like she is speaking directly to one’s soul.  Her words and stories brought smiles to my face and tears to my eyes.  I love how encouraging and practical this book is.  I especially love Ms. Williford's section on replacing negative thoughts and feelings with Scripture and positive affirmations.  She even lists out relevant Scripture to use for different circumstances.  I personally have been through some rough seasons and have wrestled with my confidence and not feeling like I could do some hard things (like my recent battle with chronic pain and chronic illness).  Ms. Williford's words are balm to my weary soul.  I highly recommend this book to any woman, because we all need to hear these words at one point or another in our lives.

 Content and Rating: I give this book 5 stars.  It is a clean read.  Ms. Williford is very open and honest about some of the struggles she has gone through (for example, sexual abuse and PTSD).  She doesn't go into detail about her abuse. 

I want to thank Tricia Lott Williford and Tyndale House Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

 
 Click here to visit Tricia Lott Williford's website

 Click here to purchase the book

Tricia Lott Williford's bio as found on her website:

I am a writer, teacher, reader, and thinker.

I am a remarried widow.

I collect words, quotes, books, and bracelets.

I take my caffeine hot or cold:

I believe diet Pepsi is best with a lime,

and coffee is largely about the feel of the mug in my hand.

Sometimes I snort when I laugh,

talk in my sleep,

and cry without warning.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"The Captain's Daughter" by Jennifer Delamere Review--A Backstage Pass to Victorian England and Gilbert and Sullivan's Theater

 
 
 
"The Captain's Daughter" by Jennifer Delamere is not at all what I expected; it is completely different and exceeded my expectations!  This book is the first book in the "London Beginnings" series.  I have not read any of Ms. Delamere's work before but I love this time period and the plot description and title were intriguing.

 
The book takes place in Victorian England, taking the reader from George Müller's famous orphanage to Gilbert and Sullivan's productions in the theater.  Ms. Delamere provides vivid descriptions of what London at this time is like, from being on the streets to backstage.  She deftly weaves fascinating historical detail into a well written story. 

 
The main characters, Rosalyn and Nate, are very likeable and relatable.  They both talk of their faith and mature in different ways over the course of the story.  Rosalyn is a sweet character, who is a little naïve at first.  She is very caring towards others.  I liked Nate from the beginning as he is very protective of Rosalyn. 

 
There is an overarching theme of relying on God to meet one's needs.  Rosalyn is brought up in George Müller's orphanage, where they never solicit donations, but rely on prayer and faith for provision.  Rosalyn then has to incorporate that philosophy into her life as she goes out into the world with no money, job, or place to stay at first.  Can she truly live out the faith and example George Müller set?  Other characters also struggle with being able to trust God to meet their needs. 

 
I love how strong the faith aspect is in this story.  “The Captain’s Daughter” kept me turning the pages and is easy to read with lots of breaks.  I do think the title "The Captain’s Daughter" is a little misleading, as there isn't much at all about Rosalyn’s father (who is a captain) or anything to do with ships, etc.  Other than that, I love the premise, the faith aspect and the setting.  I highly recommend this book! 


Click here to go to Jennifer Delamere's Website
Click here to purchase the book

Content and Rating: I give this book 5 stars and it is a clean read.  Rosalyn does find herself at in a house of prostitution at one point and there is a little talk of this subject.  Another woman speaks of her past and of being raped, but does not go into detail.  There is also a theme of predatory men, but again, there is no explicit detail. 
  
Photo credit: Megan Scott

I want to thank Jennifer Delamere and Bethany House Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

 


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Jane Austen and Tea? Yes please!--"Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility" Review by Hillary Manton Lodge



I was so excited when I first heard about this book!  I am a huge Jane Austen fan.  My husband's go-to gift for me is Jane Austen paraphernalia.  Plus I am a big tea drinker.  To top it off my favorite of Jane Austen's works (at the moment) is "Sense and Sensibility," and "Jane of Austin" is a retelling of that book.  Even though I don't normally read a lot of contemporary novels, I knew I would love this one, which I did!

 "Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility" by Hillary Manton Lodge is a modern day retelling of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility."  I loved seeing the parallels between the two books as I was reading.  Ms. Lodge also includes nods to some of Austen's other works, which any "Janeite" will appreciate.  The main character, Jane, correlates to the character of Marianne from the original “Sense and Sensibility.”  It is really fascinating to see this story told from Jane's perspective, whereas in the original, it is mostly told from her sister’s perspective.  Jane is very witty and sarcastic.  The story sometimes switches to the perspective of Callum, one of our heroes.  A lot of people don't like these characters in the original "Sense and Sensibility."  I think Ms. Lodge gives readers a fresh take on the story by offering things from their points of view and fleshing out their characters a bit more.  I was certainly rooting for these two characters in the story!

 Another element of the story that makes it very interesting and unique is the tea.  The main characters make tea and own a tea shop.  There are recipes throughout the book that correlate with the story and what the characters are making.  I really enjoy hearing about the tea making process, specifically how the main character harvests the leaves and makes the different blends.  Tea making is a real art.  The quotes at the beginning of most of the chapters were also a fun addition.

 Content and Rating: I give this book 4.5 stars.  It is a clean read.  I would specifically recommend this book to fans of Jane Austen, retellings, and women's fiction. 

 Click here for more info and to purchase the book: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/books/538834/jane-of-austin-by-hillary-manton-lodge/

About the Author:

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA bestselling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate magazine. A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring new walking trails. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon.  Click here for more info on the author. 

Author Website: http://www.hillarymantonlodge.com/

 Click here to read the first chapter

I want to thank Hillary Manton Lodge, Waterbrook Press, and Blogging for Books for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Freedom's Price" Review by Christine Johnson--A Book Filled with Mystery and Secrets!



"Freedom's Price" by Christine Johnson surprised me--in a good way! I am unfamiliar with Ms. Johnson’s other work, but after reading “Freedom’s Price”, the third book in her “Keys of Promise” series, I now really want to go back and read the first two books! I always have lower expectations going into a book that I don't know much about, so I was very happy when I enjoyed this so much!

Even though this is the third book in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. You do meet some characters from past books, and seeing tidbits of these character's stories left me intrigued and wanting more. The history in this book is great and I loved learning about this time period in the Southern United States in 1856. I find the story regarding the wreckers and wrecking licenses fascinating. I didn't know there are such things as "wrecking licenses" and have always have seen wrecking in other books as an illegal activity. There are also a lot of nautical and boat references and I can tell the author knows her way around a ship. It is fascinating to see the differences in the customs and social statuses between the British and Americans (our heroine, Catherine, is from Britain and travels to the Southern United States) and to see slavery from Catherine's viewpoint (as slavery is already outlawed in Great Britain). I always enjoy learning about history while reading an enjoyable story!

 I also think the characters are very relatable and Catherine is a strong female protagonist. The story switches back and forth between Catherine and Tom's (our hero) points of view. When Catherine is left alone due to hard circumstances, she doesn't take the easy way out by marrying for comfort and money. Instead, she decides to join her mother's family in America (she hasn't had contact with this family for many years and doesn't even know how they will receive her). I admire how she sacrifices the small amount of money she receives from her inheritance to give to her tenants, as they will be losing their jobs and she wants to make sure they are taken care of. Catherine and Tom both have a strong faith. I love how they pray and talk about trusting in God and His plan. Tom quotes Scripture when he's in a tough situation and doesn't know what to do, asking for God's direction. There's also some great verbal sparring between Catherine and Tom that keeps me smiling!

 This story left me pleasantly surprised. I love the concept of a run-down plantation surrounded by mystery and secrets!

 Link to purchase this book: http://amzn.to/2sZFrKA

 Link to Christine Johnson's website: http://www.christineelizabethjohnson.com/

 Content and Rating: I give this story 4 out of 5 stars. It is a clean read.

 I want to thank Christine Johnson and Revell for the complimentary advanced copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Adventure Filled Next Installment to the Ashford Chronicles!--"True As Fate" Review by Laurie Alice Eakes

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Goodreads Blurb:  Lady Chloe Ashford detests going to balls, loathes social pretense, and finds the very idea of hunting for a husband obscene. But she has an even more scandalous secret: she once helped an American—the enemy—escape from Dartmoor Prison. Now it’s three years later, and Ross Trenerry is back—and in trouble again. So is her traitorous heart. He doesn’t know she’s the one responsible for sending him to a second prison, and she has no intention of telling him.
A former privateer, Ross’s legendary luck has finally run out. Only one woman lies between him and freedom. He desperately needs Chloe’s help to prove he hasn’t committed treason, but he’s distracted by the passion that flares between them.
They set out on a cross-country adventure together to prove Ross’s innocence, but peril soon dogs their heels. As they race to reach their appointed rendezvous on time, they must fight their growing attraction and focus on discovering who is behind this deadly plot. Will they finally admit their love and put the pieces together before it’s too late?
 My Review:  I have been reading books by this author for many years and always look forward to her next book releasing. The first book in the "Ashford Chronicles," "My Enemy, My Heart" is very exciting and left me wanting more. I looked forward to Chloe's story! This book, "True as Fate," is the second book in the series and takes the reader on quite the adventure!
"True as Fate" tells the story of Chloe, the sister of the main character from the first book in the series. I would definitely recommend reading the series in order.  The story is told from two different points of view. Chloe's view is the main focus, but once in a while the author switches to Ross's point of view (Chloe’s love interest and the other main character). This story of Ross and Chloe and their adventures together is full of rich historical detail and descriptions. Ms. Eakes obviously knows a lot about the Regency time period. She adds little tidbits here and there to really make you feel like you are transported back in time. She does use some terms that readers not familiar with the Regency era may not know, but they are used in a context where one can get the gist of what Ms. Eakes is talking about (e.g. blunderbuss and attaché). She also has a scene on a boat with a lot of ship and nautical terms that history buffs will really appreciate.
The main characters in this book are supporting characters in "My Enemy, My Heart." It is also fun to see the two main characters from "My Enemy, My Heart" make an appearance and have a roll in Ross and Chloe's story. Chloe, our heroine, is a strong female character who defies the norms of society. She loves adventure and can hold her own with any man. She drags a man to safety with the armed enemy in pursuit, escapes out of a window and climbs across a roof with an untreated wound, and she often carries a pistol. She's not afraid to help Ross even if it puts her in danger and knows it will possibly ruin her reputation.
This book is filled with mystery and adventure, privateers and possible traitors on every side. Who is guilty and who is innocent? It is an exciting read filled with secrets and travel across breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. I especially enjoy how many chapters end in cliffhangers or intense moments. It has great characters.
Finally, I would want some of my readers to be aware that this book would be on the edgier side, content wise. I did highly enjoy it and would recommend to those who love the Regency time period and history buffs.
 My Rating and Content:  I give this book 4.5 stars. It is a clean read per say, but does have some more "edgy" content. As stated above, I truly enjoyed this novel!
Link to Laurie Alice Eakes's website: http://lauriealiceeakes.com/

I want to thank Laurie Alice Eakes and Waterfall Press for the complimentary advanced copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.