Wednesday, December 13, 2017

More Blog Tours, Anyone?

For all my fellow book bloggers out there, I'm gathering a list of people who might be interested in participating in future blog tours and cover reveals. :)

I recently shared about my return to freelance editing in this post, and it's my hope to return to more marketing as well. But I need your help!

No commitment is required; I simply need to know if you'd be interested in receiving emails from me when blog-event opportunities arise. :)

Here's a sampling of the type of books I've hosted blog tours for in the past:
If you like to review and/or feature books with heart on your blog, I would love to have you join the team by filling out the form below! And if you're an author looking for someone to help share your book with the blogging community, I'd be delighted to work with you.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Gorgeous Historical Fiction Cover Reveal | Amongst the Roses by Meghan M. Gorecki



Happy Tuesday, friends! Lots of exciting bookish things going on today. :) Earlier I shared my top 10 books of the year in this post. And now I get to tell you about a dear blogging friend's upcoming release—and share the pretty-as-a-peach cover that goes with it!

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Book 1 in The Keystone Legacy Series by Meghan M. Gorecki 

Releases April 12, 2018 

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.



My Cover Thoughts

Isn't this cover absolutely lovely?? I adore the color scheme and the whole layout. The writing across the backdrop, the font of the title, and the beautiful dress speak to the historical nature of the story. And the scenery is just gorgeous, with the trees and roses golden in the light. There's a sense of expectation and hope in the bright colors, although the woman's expression suggests sorrow and hardship along the way. It's a perfect cover for the genre, and definitely one that draws me in! :)


About the Author 

Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction about what God can make beautiful from the ashes of history, and hearts. A lover and avid studier of people, times gone by, and fiction, she has been writing since childhood and now houses her books under Northern Belle Publishing. Coffee and red lipstick color her days as a redhead from a box, alongside her treasured tribe of family and friends in her beloved hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Connect with her on social media and at her blog/website at: northernbellemeg.com

Northern Belle Publishing 

P.S. Too impatient to wait till April? Snag Meghan's Christmas novella, Wrapped in Red, today for just 99 cents!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017


There are still a few weeks left in 2017, and there's a good chance I could discover another favorite between now and then... But given today's topic from The Broke and the Bookish, and assuming many other bloggers will be sharing their favorites today too, I'm making a list that's worth checking twice. ;)

I confess I didn't read a ton of books this year; I believe it was only a little over 20 or so. But I experienced a lot of favorites in my own life, like getting married and moving to a beautiful new place. So, no regrets! But of the books I read, here are some I quite enjoyed...

Top Five Fiction

#5 Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

It was hard to narrow down the fiction list. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay and Yes, Carol...It's Christmas! by Cindy Vincent were worthy contenders (and ones I recommend!). But given my love for the historical romance genre (especially fun Westerns by Karen Witemeyer), I'm including this one. :) Whether it was my life at the time or the fact I was reading this on my Kindle, it was slow going at the beginning, but the ending sure had me hooked, and there were lots of things to love about this story. You can read my full review HERE.

#4 The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

I liked the style and structure of this story, with characters from past and present. It was a fun read, especially a few months before my own wedding. :) 

#3 Illusionary by Desiree Williams

This was an engaging contemporary/fantasy read, and I especially loved the ending! A strong finish has a big bearing on how you feel about a book, don't you think? You can read my full review HERE.

#2 Ten Thousand Thorns by Suzannah Rowntree

This retelling of Sleeping Beauty is SO good. The setting and style make it unique, and the characters and dialogue make it meaningful. You can read my full review HERE.

#1 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I suppose this an obvious choice. :) Pride and Prejudice just might be my favorite Jane Austen tale so far! It was great to read this book for the first time with a few friends for our read-along this October. The characters, their growth, and the plot all made this a delightful read. It's lighthearted, but also has a lovely depth. 

Top Five Nonfiction 

#5 Making Marriage Beautiful by Dorothy Littell Greco

I read several marriage books this year, and this one has some great points. I think a lot of what I've read tends to blend together...but from my review (which you can read HERE), I know I found some helpful thoughts in this book. :) 

#4 Wait and See by Wendy Pope

More than anything, I appreciated how this book provided a way to record my waiting journey. I liked the prompts and the journaling space, and the writing itself was simple but engaging. 

#3 Cherish by Gary Thomas

When I don't review a book (and sometimes even when I do!), it's a little tricky to remember months later what you specifically liked about it. I believe I found a lot of great food for thought in this one (I tend to use that phrase a lot... *self-conscious grin*), and I liked the theme of it. As with Making Marriage Beautiful, I gave this book 5 stars. :) 

#2 Letters to My Daughters by Barbara Rainey

Another marriage book! ;) What makes this one extra special (besides the fact that it was a sweet gift from a dear friend on my wedding day ♥) is the artistic angle. I like the letter format, and I love the creativity in comparing different aspects of marriage to different artistic pursuits. 

#1 Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

Is it funny or fitting to give a book on humility the #1 spot? ;) I just finished this one, and I'm glad I read it in time to include it on this list! Humble Roots is a beautiful exploration of humility and how it can affect every area of your life. I highly recommend it! You can read my full review HERE.

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While I didn't read a lot this year, I did read some really great books. Of course, I have many more on my TBR, and who knows how many of those could have ended up on this year's favorites list? It's my hope to read a lot more of the books I already own next year! I have no doubt there are some true gems on my real and virtual shelves waiting to be discovered. :)

What have been your favorites of 2017? 
What books are you hoping to get to in the New Year? 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Poignant Perspective Drawn from the Land | Review of Humble Roots



About the Book

Feeling worn thin? Come find rest.

Nestled in the simple rhythms of rural life, taking cues from forsythia, milkweed, and wild blackberries, Hannah Anderson meditates on the pursuit of peace and its natural companion, humility.

Part theology of incarnation, part stroll through fields and forest, Humble Roots reveals how cultivating humility—not scheduling or increased productivity—leads to true peace. By remembering who you are and Who you aren't, you can discover afresh your need for God and the rest that comes from belonging to Him.

So come. Consider the lilies of the field, and learn humility from Christ Himself.

Available Now

My Rating

Summer

My Review

Humility is a theme that intrigues me, challenges me, and surprises me. Given that the word "humility" is even in my blog title, it's probably little wonder that I requested this book for review. And friends, I wasn't disappointed in the least.

Humble Roots covers a wide landscape of human experiences, everything from taking care of our bodies to tending our talents and facing the reality of death. I loved the imagery of this book and how it reminds the reader in a gentle but honest-to-goodness way that we were formed from dust, and it's only the gracious breath of God within us that gives us this amazing, beautiful gift called life.

Some chapters impacted me more than others, but throughout this book there is a whole garden full of food for thought. I loved that some of the topics and discussions fed into real-life conversations with my husband. I also loved that the writing style felt down to earth, broad and meaningful in scope but still authentic and personal. I think my favorite chapters are "Returning to Our Roots" and the four chapters in Part Three.

This book is one of my favorites of the year, and one I could see myself rereading or at least referring to again. It's poignant, and it offers perspective that can touch your soul and help you understand how Jesus embodied humility—and how He wants to lead you along the humble dirt path. As Hannah Anderson reminds us, there is rest and truth and hope to be found in seeing ourselves as we really are and trusting God for all He is.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: The Winter TBR


I love that some of my blogging friends participate in the weekly "Top Ten Tuesday" meme, which encourages me to participate. Once in a while I see others posting about a topic that catches my eye, and I have to share my own list. :) 

This week's theme is "Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR." (You can read the original post or link up your own post HERE.)

On My Shelf (or Desk, or Nightstand):

#1 The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I requested this one for review from Bethany House Publishers. The premise, the cover, and the mood of this story spoke to me, and I'm looking forward to reading it! It promises to be sweet and thoughtful. 

#2 Yes, Carol...It's Christmas! by Cindy Vincent

I greatly enjoy novellas and Cindy's work! I've had the pleasure of editing a few of her stories, but this one is brand new to me. It sounds like a really fun story to get me in the Christmas mood...even more so than I already am. ;)

#3 East by Edith Pattou

I'm quite ashamed I haven't read this one yet. I was given a copy by a dear friend, and I should have read it many months ago! So this is definitely high on my list to finally finish this winter, and judging by the premise and setting of the story, it's the perfect season to savor it. :) 

#4 What Light by Jay Asher

I believe I bought this one with a gift card last winter, and it's definitely the time of year to actually read it! The description, the cover, the recommendations from friends...yep, this promises to be a sweet treat for the holidays. :)

#5 The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

It's these wintery covers that beg me to read them now, haha. ;) Plus, in this case, I do love me an engaging Denise Hunter story! This one sounds like cheery chaos, and I'm hoping I'll get to it in the next couple of months.

On My Kindle:

#6 The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

Everyone seems really excited about this series, so of course I jumped on the bandwagon and requested a review copy from NetGalley. So, the plan is to read it before its February release. There are a lot of great authors contributing to the series, and I'm happy for the chance to read the first book. :) 

#7 Wrapped in Red by Meghan M. Gorecki

I recently joined dear friend Meghan's Belles & Roses Street Team, and I'm excited for all she has planned for 2018! In the meantime, this sweet little book has been sitting on my Kindle too long, and I ought to read it ASAP. Again, perfect time of year to do so!

#8 Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by Amanda Dykes

Yet another Christmas novella that's sitting on my Kindle, deserving to be read! Based on ratings and reviews, I have no doubt this will be a lovely tale, indeed.

#9 What Dreams May Come by Alana Terry

All these gorgeous wintery covers!! Seriously, so pretty. :) And this book, while fiction, is based off the author's own love story. It sounds meaningful and intriguing, and I hope I won't let it sit forever on my Kindle!

#10 A Twist of Faith by Pepper Basham

I recently won the second book in this series in a giveaway (woohoo!), and I know it is beyond time that I experience a Pepper Basham story. So I figure I should probably start with the first book before diving into the second. :) Bet it will be awesome!

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There are lots of other books on my shelves (physical and virtual), and I hope these aren't the only books I read during the winter season. But these are certainly ones I'd like to read sooner rather than later! So tell me, friends, what books are on your TBR list? Have you read any of the above?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Beautiful Fairy Tale with Unique Style | Review of Ten Thousand Thorns



About the Book

Princess Morning Light meditates in a hidden temple surrounded by ten thousand thorns. Guardian of a long-lost sword skill, the princess is destined to wake after a hundred years to return justice to All-Under-Heaven.

Or so legend says.

As the Vastly Martial Emperor extends his brutal domination across the world, rebel leader Clouded Sky flees the capital for the safety of his martial sect at Wudang Mountain. Meanwhile, the renegade martial artist Iron Maiden seeks a hero to awaken Morning Light. As bounty hunters and imperial guards close in, Clouded Sky must determine who he can trust - and who may be planning to betray him.

An action-packed retelling of Sleeping Beauty in the style of a Chinese martial arts epic! Novella, approximately 39,000 words.

Releasing November 30th!

My Rating

Summer

My Review

This story is beautiful... Epic, yet sweet. Profound, yet fun. Challenging, yet comforting. Ten Thousand Thorns is a version of Sleeping Beauty that has a life, message, and style all its own. I loved it!

I will say that the unique style of this book could possibly make it slightly difficult to follow at times. A lot of words are capitalized, and the names of techniques/stances/titles are often long and different (but also clever!). Please don't let that deter you, though, because this story has so much to offer—and once you get used to the wording and dialogue, it's engaging.

The main characters are so fascinating. Clouded Sky is relatable in his recognition of how little he knows and how incapable he feels in fighting evil and standing up for what is truly right. And Iron Maiden is the mysterious martial artist with a different approach to combat and thoughts that make both Clouded Sky and the reader ponder their own motivation, drive, and heart.

Ten Thousand Thorns is populated with other intriguing characters, littered with twists and challenges, and permeated with an underlying sense of honor and warmth. I love fairy tales, especially new retellings that leave me with something more. This story reminded me that we must make important choices in our life, and we need to make them with courage and a reliance on a strength beyond our own—the strength God offers us. As Iron Maiden says,

The martial skill is important, but so is the ocean-embracing vision and the reliance on Heaven.

I've read a couple other novellas by Suzannah Rowntree, but this is my favorite so far. I look forward to reading more of her work, and I definitely recommend this novella that packs a powerful punch!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-ARC of the book.*

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Fun and Reflective Journey | Review of The Austen Escape



About the Book

Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

This was one of those reads where I succumbed to "peer pressure"...in a good way. :) Online friends were planning a read-along, fellow bloggers seemed so excited about this release, and I wanted to join in the fun. Plus, I knew from reading more by this author that she is talented in creating characters with flaws, heart, and a need to dig deep within life's struggles.

The Austen Escape has such a great cast of characters. It's not that I always approved of their choices or behavior, but that I felt drawn into their world. I think Mary, the heroine, is quite fascinating with her career in a tech-heavy sphere but having buried passions for music and Jane Austen's books. And her relationships are quite complicated, as, like many of us, she doesn't always say what should be said or see what ought to be seen. Still, she cares and has the capacity to change, which makes her relatable all the same.

I loved the older couple who are part of the English "escape." Helene and her husband are dears, and I adore how their love for each other is so palpable. They each want the other to be happy and understood, and their interactions with the rest of the group are really sweet.

As for the main "escape," it's fun to get some Austenland vibes, but with a very different sort of tone. Things are a little more somber, a little more reflective, in Mary's experience at Braithwaite, although there are lighthearted moments. I enjoyed the descriptions of the place—inside the house and on the grounds—and I liked how things take a turn when more characters are added to the mix.

As for the Jane Austen references, I confess they're both familiar and yet have a different Reay-flair. There are some moments that made me happy with what they meant, and others where it felt like an inside joke I wouldn't understand. Perhaps that's more my problem, as I still have a lot of Austen lingo and depth to learn. :) But I think it does make the story a bit less accessible, feeling a little more like it's intended for others who know every line and every character of Austen's stories.

I also feel a bit torn about the ending...wanting more, and yet not. It's both neatly wrapped up, and yet a bit rushed, perhaps? Questions are answered, and yet I'd love just a bit more time and space for resolution regarding the relational side of things. (Not saying the book should be longer, necessarily, as the length is great!) Still, it's a satisfying and challenging ending, and I like that it brings the story full circle.

The Austen Escape provides what it's title offers, but like all escapes, there's a time when you should go home and face the choices that affect everyday life. This novel allows both the characters and the reader to enjoy the journey...and the return.

*With thanks to TNZ Fiction and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book.*

Other Katherine Reay Books I've Reviewed...
Lizzy & Jane

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Vintage Jane Austen Blog Tour | Review + Giveaway!



Welcome to the Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event! I'm excited to share about this neat series with a clever premise and inspiration from an author we all know and love. ♥ (Especially following after our most recent Jane Austen read-along!)

In this post you'll learn all about the series, including the descriptions for each book. You'll also find an event schedule, a fun Amazon giveaway, and my review of Bellevere House. Let's open the door and stroll right in...

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What would it be like to see Elizabeth Bennet in 1930s clothes? What if Emma Woodhouse was the daughter of a car dealership owner? What if Marianne Dashwood was seeking to become a movie star in the golden age of film?

The Vintage Jane Austen series explores the world of Jane Austen, set in 1930s America. Five authors took on Jane Austen’s five most popular novels and retold them set in the Depression era, remaining faithful to the original plots. As an extra bonus to the series, there is a collection of short stories that were inspired by Jane Austen. Which of these books do you most want to read?


Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma): The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.


Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility): Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?


Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park): It's March 1937, and Faye Powell couldn't be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she's fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children—including Ed. The one she'll never admit she's in love with. But she hadn't reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when Faye's cousin BeBe trusts her with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye is in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe's given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to unravel Faye and Ed's hearts.


Perception by Emily Benedict (Persuasion): Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family's prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune—and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey to decide her own fate, before it is too late…


Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice): Coming soon… A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in 1930s Arizona.


Second Impressions: Jane Austen's stories have inspired writers for generations. In this collection, they inspire fiction across the genres! From the English Regency to the American 1950s, in Houston or a space freighter, fairy-tale land or a retirement center...Austen's timeless characters come to life again.

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Event Schedule
Visit these blogs to find interviews, book reviews, and much more


November 5
Review of Emmeline - Once Upon the Ordinary
Review of Bellevere House - Kaylee's Kind of Writes
Series Spotlight - A Real Writer’s Life
Interview with Kelsey Bryant - Resting Life
Series Spotlight - Kelsey’s Notebook

November 6
Interview with Sarah Holman - J. Grace Pennington
Review of Emmeline - Kaylee's Kind of Writes
Mini Reviews and Interview with Sarah Scheele - Deborah O’Carroll
Interview with Rebekah Jones - Livy Lynn Blog
Review of Suit and Suitability - Resting Life

November 7
Interview with Kelsey Bryant - J. Grace Pennington
Review of Perception - Kaylee's Kind of Writes
Review and Interview of Perception - Purely by Faith Reviews
Review of Second Impressions - The Page Dreamer
Series Spotlight - Finding the True Fairy Tale

November 8
Interview and Review of Suit and Suitability - Once Upon the Ordinary
Review of Suit and Suitability - Kaylee's Kind of Writes
Review of Perception - A Brighter Destiny

November 9
Series Spotlight - God’s Peculiar Treasure
Review of Second Impressions and Suit and Suitability - Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father
Interview with Rebekah Jones - Kaylee's Kind of Writes
Series Spotlight – Christian Bookshelf Reviews

November 10
Review of Suit and Suitability - With a Joyful Noise
Series Spotlight - Liv K. Fisher
Review of Second Impressions - Kaylee's Kind of Writes
Review of Perception - She Hearts Fiction
Interview with Sarah Holman – Rebekah Ashleigh

November 11
Series Spotlight - Reveries Reviews
Review of Suit and Suitability - Faith Blum
Interview with Sarah Holman - Kaylee's Kind of Writes
Interview with Hannah Scheele - Peculiar on Purpose
Review of Bellevere House - Seasons of Humility You are here!

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Giveaway!

As part of this special blogging event, the authors are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter to win below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My Review of Bellevere House

I confess this is a somewhat difficult review for me to write. There were some aspects of the story and characters I didn't like...but let me start with some positive points.

Bellevere House is interesting! There is a lot going on, and while the titled house serves as the main stage for the book's happenings, there's also a bit of travel woven through the plot. With such a large cast of characters, there are activities and shenanigans going on all over the place. You're not likely to get bored as you follow Faye and her cousins and acquaintances.

And while I don't entirely care for how faith is portrayed overall, I do feel a good intent is there. There are some lovely thoughts like this in these pages...
The silver light twinkled on the blue waves like thousands of diamonds set adrift by God's generous hand. Diamonds must be nothing to One who held all the riches of heaven. He could spread a few million on the seas.
The struggle to share one's faith, to make it feel "relevant" in an age when many see it as a fairy tale, is a real one, and it's a brave topic to address against this backdrop of a world between wars. I also admire that the story brings up the importance of love and grace.

I think where the book really faltered for me was in its transitions (or lack thereof). Perhaps if I was more familiar with Mansfield Park (it's a book I haven't read yet, but hope to soon!), I would have had an easier time following the plot. Even still, nothing felt fluid—from the conversations to the events, and even to the characters' growth and transformations. Between the large cast and the constant happenings, everything felt chaotic. And how things came together in the end didn't seem authentic to how the characters had been portrayed.

There isn't much to admire in the book's hero, at least from what we're told of him. The heroine speaks now and then of her faith, but it feels like something added on rather than something that influences her to be strong in all areas of her life. (But perhaps that is truly authentic, and a sober reminder of how easily we lose sight of what we claim is most important to us.) I do like Uncle Warren, though, and the way his presence provides order amid the chaos.

I was shocked by some of the things the other secondary characters did without any apparent reaction from anyone else. (That might have been for humor's sake in some instances, although I didn't find it humorous when one character slapped another, and no one seemed to care.) I also don't see how two characters' "happily ever after" is a path to be applauded or admired in how it's approached.

So...perhaps this book wasn't quite for me. But on the flip side, this story could provide a lot of discussion topics! And it makes me want to read Mansfield Park to understand the original plot and characters better.

This is certainly an interesting retelling, and I think the series is a really fun idea, especially with multiple authors coming together to tell these tales in their own unique ways. :)

*With thanks to the Vintage Jane Austen group for providing me with a free e-copy of this book.*

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Cover Reveal + Logging History + Giveaway! | On Eagles' Wings by Lynnette Bonner

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Lynnette Bonner to the blog! She has prepared a brief post on logging in days gone by (for all you fellow history fans out there!). Keep scrolling after the article to be among the first readers to see the cover of her upcoming release...and then keep scrolling for details on how to enter for a chance to win an e-copy. Sweet deal, no? :)

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Nope, not the new cover! ;)
This is book 1 in the Wyldhaven series.

By Lynnette Bonner

The small logging community of Wyldhaven, the setting for On Eagles’ Wings, sits in the rugged mountains of Washington State at the cusp of the twentieth century. Wyldhaven is a logging town, and some of my research about early logging practices has been fascinating.

It is not often realized that the mid-19th century gold-rushes that took place across the West, and particularly in California, had a major impact on the logging industry. Mines had a steady need for the supply of good lumber. Lumber shored up tunnels, it fueled boilers used at the mines, and it was used to build extensive canal systems and dams to divert water. The Pacific Northwest supplied much of this lumber. Logging was the most important industry in Washington for decades. Sadly, in the early years heedless practices nearly destroyed many forests. However, over time logging companies realized the need for sustainable logging practices.

In the growing west, logging was very much a small-town enterprise. Settlements would spring up around a forested area. Quickly-constructed camps would be built nearby for the loggers to live in. And the cutting would begin. Along the coasts, boats would be used to ship the timber to California, or wherever else it was needed, but the inland towns had a harder time transporting their logs and lumber until the railroad network spread significantly.

Logging men were often hardened and profligate. No logging town of any size existed without a saloon, and with few other places to spend their money, men gathered to gamble, drink, and fight. This ensured that any town that wanted to encourage the settlement of families had need of a lawman.

Logging was also a very hazardous and bloody occupation. Men could be injured by saws, axes, hatchets, or snapping chains. They could be crushed by falling trees, rolling or tumbling logs, oxen or horses, or wagon failures. These dangerous conditions required that any operation that cared about their employees would have a doctor on hand to treat the workers.

I could go on and on about the early trials and history of the logging industry, but to keep this post short, I will stop there.

Wyldhaven has both a sheriff and a doctor. Sheriff Reagan Callahan was the main hero in book one, Not a Sparrow Falls. And Doctor Flynn Griffin is one of the main characters in On Eagles’ Wings. I hope you will enjoy reading about him and all the other characters in this new book!

* * *

And here's the cover for On Eagles' Wings, book 2 in the Wyldhaven series!


So pretty! I love the golds and blues, and how this cover begs you to read the book during the Christmas season. The candlelight promises a hopeful story and stands out beautifully against the dark background. But I do believe the expression on the heroine's face suggests some difficulties along the journey...

About the Book

Take the next stagecoach to Wyldhaven, where the coffee’s perked hot, the sheriff likes his apple pie fresh from the oven, and adventure invariably waits just around the next river bend. 

Boardinghouse owner Dixie Pottinger has done her best to avoid the attractive Dr. Griffin. But now that her mother-in-law is sick and he’s going to be coming around more to care for her, Dixie knows she must inform him about her past. She works up her courage and feels great relief when she finally tells Dr. Griffin that she’s a married woman…maybe…if her husband, Steven Pottinger, survived the bullet put into him before she fled.

Dr. Flynn Griffin can’t believe he’s been having feelings for a married woman! His honor requires that he immediately put those feelings to rest. As for the man who had abused Dixie so badly that she retreated into hiding… If he was still alive, he better never show up in Wyldhaven, because Flynn had plenty of ideas on how to teach the man lessons in gentlemanly conduct.

Little does Flynn know that Steven Pottinger is about to become his patient. Gravely injured by an accidental gunshot, Steven lies on the brink of eternity. Never in all his life has Flynn been tempted to break his Hippocratic Oath.

Until now.

Learn more and pre-order at LynnetteBonner.com/OEW

Giveaway!

One commenter will receive a free eBook copy of On Eagles’ Wings when it becomes available. Please include your email address in your comment so we can contact you if you win!*

Lynnette's Question for You: What historical profession do you admire the most?

*A winner will be chosen on November 9 and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Note that the prize will not be emailed until the book's release.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pride & Prejudice Read-Along | Conclusion



Welcome to the final discussion for the Pride & Prejudice read-along!

Today we're going to discuss chapters 7-19 of volume 3. If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Pride & Prejudice read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Pride & Prejudice Volume III: Chapters 7-19

Discussion Format: One favorite quote, some general impressions, and three questions for each week's reading.

Favorite Quote

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun." ~ Mr. Darcy

General Impressions

Minus a few bumps in the road, this section of the story was all uphill in the best of ways for the Bennet family. It's been a long journey of growth and hardship and starting over, but what a happy conclusion this turned out to be! :)

While I might wish to know this sweet side of Mr. Darcy even better, he has certainly proven himself to be a worthy Austen hero. His care for Lizzy, his aid to her family, and his newfound humility all do him great credit. I love seeing his honesty about his character (both the good and bad aspects of it), his willingness to admit his faults, and his desire to be a better, kinder, more patient man. ♥

And I'm delighted by his relationship with Lizzy. Isn't that the best, how two people who had so many misunderstandings and so much awkwardness between them could fall in love and have such an easygoing openness between them? I love how Lizzy asks Mr. Darcy all kinds of questions, and how the two of them can talk of the past and find an even greater hope for the future. Not to mention, I love this line about Georgiana's observations:
At first she often listened with astonishment bordering on alarm at her [Lizzy's] lively, sportive manner of talking to her brother.
Too cute!

In this conclusion to a brilliant story, pretension is cast aside in favor of true joy and a deeper look at the worth behind the title or lack thereof. I love that we get a glimpse into the "happily ever after" for each character. Basically, I just keep saying how much I love it all, don't I? :)

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Which character's words or actions shocked you the most in this section (in a good or bad way)? How would you have responded if those words or actions somehow affected you?

2. How would you describe the main moral of the story? Is there a lesson or reminder that especially stood out to you by the end?

3. Which aspect of the final chapter made you smile the most?

Final Note

Friends, I think this might just be my favorite Jane Austen book now. ♥ So far I've read Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Emma, and this one. They all have been delightful in their own ways, but there really is something about this story—the cast of characters, the twists and turns of the plot, the great dialogue, and the admirable growth—that has especially endeared it to me.

It's been a pleasure reading this book with you, and I've so enjoyed your observations! I have the next Austen book in mind for a future read-along, Lord willing...and I plan to review a retelling of it in a couple weeks for a special blog tour. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Food for Financial Thoughts | Review of Money Problems, Marriage Solutions



About the Book

It's not just about the money... 

Arguments about money are by far the top predictor of divorce, says Sonya Britt, a professor at Kansas State University. “It's not children, sex, in-laws, or anything else. It's money—for both men and women."

Satan seeks every means possible to destroy marriages, and creating conflict around finances is one of his favorite tactics. But there is more to money problems than not sticking to the budget. Chuck and Ann Bentley reveal the underlying issues of financial and relational discord—and show how it robs couples of joy, intimacy, and marital satisfaction.

Money Problems, Marriage Solutions presents seven keys to peace in marriage and helps couples unite and conquer to resolve financial issues together. Through real-life stories, a solid foundation from Scripture, and practical steps for application, this book gives a plan for getting back on the same team. Here is a clear and lasting way forward for couples struggling with money problems.


My Rating

Spring

My Review

I think Money Problems, Marriage Solutions is what it claims to be. The book includes stories, a chapter of application steps, and a big-picture look at the heart of the issue behind financial struggles.

It's an easy read, not too long or in-depth. I appreciate how the seven keys all come together to help you see what needs to change in your thinking, relationship, and attitude before you should focus too much on the practical side.

I confess there are some things that frustrate me a bit. It would have been nice to have more depth in terms of Scripture study and providing context. And perhaps because the main author of the book is the husband—and a CEO—there are some things I don't overly relate to in his stories and approach to life.

One example, in particular, bothered me. I don't think it was the author's intention, but to me it came across like he was quick and eager to accept a gift for himself but much more reluctant to accept a gift someone wanted to give his wife. Perhaps I paid way too much attention to how the juxtaposed stories were written, but it didn't sit well with me.

Granted, we all struggle with selfishness, and the author does try to make it very clear that he had a long growing process before he and his wife arrived on the same page about finances. That honesty is admirable.

Overall, I think this book provides some good food for financial thoughts. It's pretty straightforward and almost like an extended Crown Financial Ministries pamphlet, as the author often directs you to their resources. But it includes some helpful reminders and tips, and it gives you a good starting point for further thought and work.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pride & Prejudice Read-Along | Week 4



Welcome to Week 4 of the Pride & Prejudice read-along! You can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 2 chapters a day.)

Today we're going to discuss chapters 12-19 of volume 2 and chapters 1-6 of volume 3. If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Pride & Prejudice read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Pride & Prejudice Volume II: Chapters 12-19 and 
Volume III: Chapters 1-6

Discussion Format: One favorite quote, some general impressions, and three questions for each week's reading.

Favorite Quote

"Elizabeth was shocked to think that, however incapable of such coarseness of expression herself, the coarseness of the sentiment was little other than her own breast had formerly harbored and fancied liberal!"

General Impressions

True character really comes to light in this section...

Mr. Darcy tells all in his letter, and then reveals a change in his attitude and interactions with Elizabeth when she visits Pemberley with her aunt and uncle. He displays forgiveness, care, and kindness.

Elizabeth begins to realize her own prejudice and the unkindness lurking in her heart. She opens her mind to the words of those who know Darcy and Wickham best, and she shows tenderness to Georgiana by seeing behind the "proud" mask to the fear and shyness beneath.

Jane is as sweet as ever, taking care of her aunt and uncle's children while they go off with her sister on vacation, and then displaying hope and love in the face of scandal and pain.

Mr. Bingley is also as sweet as ever, showing through his conversation and thoughtfulness that Jane and Elizabeth have been on his mind and heart during their time apart.

Miss Bingley sadly attacks Elizabeth (verbally, behind her back) and shows little to no cordiality upon their reunion. Her selfishness and pride leak through her actions and words.

Mr. Wickham and Lydia have run away together, with no guarantee of marriage or commitment, and no thought of how their choice would affect others.

Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet both show selfish tendencies. The narrator and Elizabeth come down rather harshly on Mr. Bennet in chapter 19 (volume II) for the way he views his wife and the way he chooses to hide among his books rather than lead his family. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bennet is quick to seek folly and blame others for the consequences, thinking too much of frivolity and little of propriety.

Mr. Collins...well, his letter in chapter 6 (volume III) really says it all, doesn't it? He may think he made a narrow escape, but I think Elizabeth's the one who can claim that victory.

And now we just have one more week of reading to go! But there is still a lot to be resolved. Lydia and Mr. Wickham are nowhere to be found... Mr. Darcy has disappeared, and his relationship with Elizabeth is a mystery to onlookers... Jane and Mr. Bingley obviously care for each other, but are still separated... And the fate of the Bennet family hinges on a marriage.

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Who do you think has changed the most since the beginning of the story? What are some examples of how he or she has changed for the better or for the worse?

2. What are your impressions of Pemberley (Darcy's home), including the appearance, the location, and the people who work/live there?

3. If you were a Bennet daughter and got word of Lydia's disappearance, do you think you'd respond more like Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, or Kitty?

Join us next Tuesday for our final discussion! 
(Vol. III: Ch. 7-19)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Working with You | My Return to Editing and Writing



Happy Monday, friends!

As you might already know from this post last month, I am now living in Montana with my husband, Josh. Because of this move and this new season in my life, I have returned to freelance editing!

The image above shows a sampling of books I've edited. I especially enjoy working with fiction, including Christian fiction and young-adult stories. But I'm also available to hire for other genres and nonfiction projects!

And due to my line of work these past three years as a content writer for a Christian book publisher, I have experience writing book descriptions and other marketing copy. So if you're in need of a writer to help you in those areas, I'd be honored to work with you.

To learn more about me, my services, and pricing, please visit my new website:


* * *

Some of you may recall that I also used to host/organize blog tours back when I was previously freelancing. Out of curiosity, is that something you'd be interested in hiring me to do? Or is that something you'd enjoy participating in as a blogger?

And one final note: I do plan to continue writing my own books as an indie author, Lord willing. :) While I'm not quite at a point to give a possible publication date, Where Trains Collide is definitely on my radar and something I've started revisiting. I believe that's the next story I'd like to share with you all, and I'd certainly be grateful for your prayers for focus, commitment, and guidance in completing this novella. ♥

Thank you all for your support and encouragement!

Friday, October 20, 2017

New Historical Fiction from Miranda Atchley | Tour + Giveaway



Have you met Miranda Atchley of A Real Writer's Life?  She's a fellow indie author and an awesome friend, and I'm excited to join her in celebrating the release of the third book in her Abi Hensley series, which comes out in a week! Keep reading to learn more about the book and a fun giveaway. And please do leave Miranda a comment! :)

About The Book 

After enduring the first World War, most of the world is hoping to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and move forward in the year 1919. Yet for Abi Hensley, the happiness she felt upon the end of the war has been short lived. Grief stricken from the passing of a dear friend, she cannot seem to overcome the loss. Amidst her grief, she is also struggling with her writing, something that has always been a comfort to her. In light of these circumstances, she finds herself questioning many things in her life for the first time.

Can Abi get back to all that she loves and look forward to things to come?

Releasing October 27, 2017!

About The Author 


Miranda Atchley loves books of all sorts, but has always had a special place in her heart for historical fiction. Writing is her favorite thing to do, and she has published three historical novels and three contemporary young adult novels. Her novel A Castle in the Sky was a finalist for Read Free.ly’s The 50 Best Indie Books of 2016. She also writes the blog A Real Writer’s Life. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find Miranda with her head in a book, taking a walk, or watching Downton Abbey at her home in Arkansas.


Giveaway!


Three winners will each receive a Kindle download of the book Of Things To Come. The giveaway begins October 20 and ends October 28. The giveaway is open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Abi Hensley Series 

Catch up on the series by checking out the first two books!



Blog Tour Dates 

10/20 Amber at Seasons of Humility → You are here! :)
10/21 Julie at My Favorite Pastime
10/22 Grace at She Hearts Fiction
10/23 Amada at ASC Book Reviews

Thank you for checking out the tour!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pride & Prejudice Read-Along | Week 3



Welcome to Week 3 of the Pride & Prejudice read-along! You can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post. (We're reading 2 chapters a day.)

Today we're going to discuss chapters 21-23 of volume I and chapters 1-11 of volume 2. If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Pride & Prejudice read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Pride & Prejudice Volume I: Chapters 21-23 and 
Volume II: Chapters 1-11

Discussion Format: One favorite quote, some general impressions, and three questions for each week's reading.

Favorite Quote

"Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions." ~ Mr. Bennet

General Impressions

How interesting that when last we left Elizabeth, she had just turned down a proposal from Mr. Collins...and now we end this section with her turning down another proposal. But it's hard to blame her when neither of the offers are very appealing, given the information she knows and the assumptions she has made.

I must admit it's rather telling that Elizabeth is so willing to forgive Mr. Wickham for seeking a more profitable match, while she holds it very much against Mr. Darcy for having concerns about making a match with her. And her conversation with Jane suggests she also cannot imagine Charlotte making a match that would benefit herself materially at the expense of mutual love and respect. I'm not quite sure what to make of all that, to be honest!

I think I have to agree with Elizabeth's aunt: "Take care, Lizzy; that speech savors strongly of disappointment." By excusing Wickham and thinking of him in only a friendly manner (wishing him the best), she would certainly put distance between herself and any personal disappointment or hurt. Not that I can blame her! I feel like I understand. But it's in her lack of grace toward Charlotte (mostly just at first) and Mr. Darcy that is difficult to accept.

Difficult to accept, perhaps, but also easy to understand. She's a fallible human being who wants the best for her family and friends, and isn't as eager to see her perceived enemies in a forgiving light.

It makes her relatable. Elizabeth is like a fierce friend to commiserate with; whereas Jane is the one who inspires and motivates someone to grow in love and compassion. I suppose in some ways I wish Jane were more open with her feelings, but I definitely do admire her for wanting to make "allowances" (as it says at the end of chapter 1, volume II) and think the best of others.

As for the other characters... Well, the group at Rosings is an odd bunch. Fitzwilliam seems nice enough. I feel sorry for Anne in some ways, but she doesn't seem eager to break free from her mother's shadow or reach out to others. I like that Elizabeth and Darcy don't encourage Lady Catherine in her rudeness.

And Mr. Darcy still hasn't won me over. ;) But he's had his favorable moments! Like when he shows affection for his sister, and when he listens to Elizabeth even when he's angry and suffering. (In chapter 11, volume 2, it says at one point "he listened without attempting to interrupt her." I feel like that says a lot, especially in that context.) He's awkward and proud, but I'm looking forward to seeing more to him in future chapters.

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. In chapter 1 of volume II Jane tells Elizabeth, "Let me take it in the best light"—referring to the situation with the Bingleys. Do you admire Jane for her way of approaching life, or do you think she's too naive? Is it better to always think positively, or are there times when it's more harmful than good?

2. Pick a character from this section of reading and imagine yourself having a conversation with him or her. How would it go? What would you talk about, and how would you respond to this person's attitude and manners?

3. How would you respond to Mr. Darcy's proposal in this section?

Join us next Tuesday for our fourth discussion! 
(Vol. II: Ch. 12 - Vol. III: Ch. 6)