Sunday, August 30, 2015

"a heart's home" by colleen coble

A Heart's Home concludes Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series.

Isaac Liddle is keen to marry Emmie, and she knows she shouldn't hide the secret surrounding her pregnancy from him any longer. But before she can tell him her secret, a widower friend asks the impossible of Emmie: Will she honor her promise to his dead wife by marrying him to care for the orphaned baby?

With the Sioux Wars threatening outside the fort, Emmie's solemn vow threatens her happiness from within. Will she honor a promise sure to break her heart—and Isaac's? Or is there another way to find a home for her heart?

Colleen Coble wraps up her Journey of the Heart Series with a novella that ties up most loose ends and leaves the main characters in a good place.

Emmie and Isaac's relationship was my favorite of the whole series, so I really enjoyed watching them get their happily ever after. I'm also glad that Morning Song, Sarah Campbell's friend, got her own happy ending. I also appreciated that the hardships of frontier life—death, disease, harsh winters—were not shied away from. Not everyone had a dream ending, and that made this series feel more realistic.

I was a little disappointed that Jessica DuBois's story just sort of ended, and I expected Ben Croftner to make another appearance wreaking havoc, but instead the characters just heard about what happened to him. And Emmie's big secret—that she had never been legally married to her first husband—never came out at all; I assume she told Isaac at some point, but as this was a secret that she put off telling him for so long, I felt a little disappointed that as I reader I didn't get to learn his reaction. (I'm sure he would have taken it well—but there was just so much build up and never any payoff.)

Overall, though, A Heart's Home is a nice conclusion to the series. Though this series isn't Coble's most engaging, it is entertaining, and I expect that most fans of historical fiction will enjoy it. 3.5 stars.

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Buy the book.
Read my reviews of A Heart's Disguise (4 stars), A Heart's Obsession (3 stars), A Heart's Danger (4 stars), A Heart's Betrayal (3 stars), and A Heart's Promise (4 stars).
Read my reviews of Coble's Inn at Ocean's Edge (5 stars), Lonestar series (Lonestar Secrets;Lonestar Angel, 3 stars), Under Texas Stars series (Blue Moon Promise, 3-1/2 stars; Safe in His Arms, 3-1/2 stars), and The Lightkeeper's Daughter.



Colleen Coble has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. Seagrass Pier, the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble's addictive brand of romantic suspense.

Find Colleen online: website, Facebook, Twitter


A hidden pregnancy, a promise sure to break hearts, and a tragic loss at Fort Phil Kearny: Don't miss the gripping conclusion in book six, A Heart's Home, of Colleen Coble's A Journey of the Heart series. With the Sioux Wars threatening outside the fort, Emmie’s solemn vow threatens her happiness from within. Will she honor a promise sure to break her heart—and Isaac’s? Or is there another way to find a home for her heart?

Colleen is celebrating the final book release of her A Journey of the Heart series by giving away the entire series and the chance to host Colleen virtually at your book club, local library, or women's group to talk about the series.

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Books 1–6 of A Journey of the Heart series
  • A chat with Colleen via Skype or Google Hangout
  • A custom book-club kit PDF, featuring Colleen's favorite recipes and group discussion questions
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 31st. Winner will be announced September 1st on Colleen's website.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"goodbye, magnolia" by krista noorman

Sparks fly when a wedding photographer must work with the man who has infuriated her since college.

Wedding photography is Maggie’s passion. The art of capturing a moment forever in time is magical to her, and she’s worked hard to become the best of the best. Week after week, she works with couples as they plan their happily ever afters, but she hasn’t been so lucky in love.

Behind the camera, it’s easy to hide from the pain and rejection of her past. The life she has made for herself is safe and predictable, until the owner of a rival photography studio sets up shop in her small town and comes to her with an unexpected proposal. Suddenly, everything she has worked so hard to build is threatened and her simple, controlled life is thrown into chaos.

As she travels the state of Michigan photographing weddings, she struggles to keep her business afloat and the wall around her heart intact. But along the way, she learns more about loyalty and love than she ever imagined.

Goodbye, Magnolia is a sweet, highly romantic story. It's one of those reads that, though it's imperfect, you find yourself completely drawn into. I started reading before bed, and I didn't put the book down until I was finished ... and I paid for it the next day!

Maggie and Simon are wildly imperfect people. Maggie has major trust issues following a bad breakup, and Simon is a little too charming and free with his affections. These issues cause major obstacles on their road to happiness, especially regarding the pivotal misunderstanding that serves to keep them apart until the end of the novel. I will admit I had some major reservations regarding Simon—he wasn't a bad guy, but it also didn't seem wise for Maggie to begin a relationship with him. By the end, though, I'd come around!

Even though I wasn't sure of Simon's character for a while, I definitely enjoyed the romantic scenes. Maggie and Simon's chemistry practically leaped off the page, and I loved the back-and-forth dance they did around a relationship. I also enjoyed the supporting characters—especially Maggie's best friend and assistant Sarah.

I did think the beginning was a bit choppy, and I noticed a couple of continuity problems, but overall, I greatly enjoyed Goodbye, Magnolia, and I'll definitely be watching for what Krista Noorman comes out with next! 4 stars.

Buy the book. (Only $0.99 through 8-28-15.)

KRISTA NOORMAN is the author of the young adult novel The Truth About Drew and the contemporary romance Goodbye, Magnolia. Most of her life has been spent scribbling away in journals, honing her writing skills, while documenting her every day life. But it wasn’t until she took part in National Novel Writing Month in 2008, that she found her true calling and turned her pen (or rather her computer keyboard) to fiction.

Krista studied music education at Cornerstone University. After college, she turned to her love of photography and spent nearly a decade running her own wedding photography business. She is constantly inspired by books and movies, enjoys beautiful instagram feeds, and loves a great cup of coffee. Krista makes her home in a small town in western Michigan with her husband, Jacob, and their two children.


She writes about life, family, faith and whatever else comes to mind at bykrista.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"glory days" by max lucado

One of the things I love about Max Lucado's writing is the way he's able to take biblical truth and explain it in a way that is relatable, understandable, and impactful. His latest book, Glory Days is no different.

The wilderness. Maybe you know it well.

The Israelites sure did. After all, they spent forty years wandering the desert. Victories were scarce. Progress was slow. They were free from Pharaoh but not free from fear. Saved but stuck.

Sounds a lot like midlife misery. Caught in a rut. Stalled out. Running on empty. Are you mired in the same?

You can name the day you became a Christian and escaped Egypt. But you can't remember the last time you defeated a temptation or experienced an answered prayer. You're fighting the same battles you fought the day you came to Christ. You're out of Egypt, but Egypt's not out of you.

Isn't the Christian life supposed to be better than this?

Jesus offers abundant joy. Yet you live with oppressive grief. The epistles speak of grace. You shoulder guilt. You are more than a conqueror yet are commonly conquered by temptation or weaknesses.

But there's good news. With God's help you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. Like Joshua and the Israelites, you can move from a wilderness existence into a promised inheritance.

This is God's vision for your life. You, at full throttle. You, as you were intended. You, as victor over the Jerichos and giants. You, minus the stumbles, hurts, and hate.

You and your Promised Land life.

In Glory Days, Max Lucado takes the Israelites' journey chronicled in Joshua to show how Christians can get out of the wilderness and find their Canaan, their Promised Land.

There's nothing earth-shattering here. I already knew everything Lucado had to say ... but the way he presented it made me think, "I can do that!" For example, Lucado says the most important step to spiritual growth is reading the Bible. Of course that's true, and of course I've heard it before ... maybe it will sink in this time?

Each chapter is incredibly practical and reads like a mini sermon (an interesting one). Lucado uses scripture to back up every point he makes.

I finished this book with passages highlighted, notes jotted in the margins, and much to think about. I highly recommend it! 5 stars.

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Lucado's Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe (4-1/2 stars), Fearless, and The Tallest of Smalls

More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

Find Max online: website, Facebook, Twitter


Are you stuck in the wilderness known as midlife misery? Can you name the day you became a Christian but can’t remember the last time you defeated a temptation or experienced an answered prayer? Find encouragement in Max Lucado's new book, Glory Days. With God’s help you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. Like Joshua and the Israelites, you can move from a wilderness existence into a promised inheritance.

Now through August 31, 2015, pre-order Glory Days and receive free gifts!

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There are two pre-order options:

Option 1:

Pre-order one copy of Glory Days (any format), and receive a free digital download of the abridged audio version of In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado.

After you've pre-ordered, please claim your free gift by submitting your email and proof of purchase at GloryDaysBook.com.

Option 2:

Pre-order one copy of Glory Days (any format) AND one copy of God is With You Every Day (Max's brand-new, 365-day devotional—any format), and receive both the abridged audio version of In the Grip of Grace and a paperback copy of Traveling Light by Max Lucado (U.S. addresses only). 

After you’ve preordered, please claim your free gift by submitting your email and proof of purchase at GloryDaysBook.com.

Pre-order today and get your free gift by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the offer ends on August 31, 2015.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"trial run" by thomas locke

If you like sci-fi thrillers, check out Trial Run!

Dr. Gabriella Speciale has assembled an international team of elite scientists with one goal in mind--to create and control out-of-body experiences that transcend the limits of time and space. Reese Clawson's mind-bending experiments aim to explode the boundaries of human consciousness--and annihilate the opposition in the process.

When a terrifying discovery and a string of failed tests threaten to dismantle both programs, the key to survival may reside in the mind of a gifted grad student whose unsettling dreams have thrust him into the center of a dangerous battle for control.

As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you.

Trial Run is marketed as a thriller/suspense title, but it's really more science fiction than anything—which is fine by me! In a way, Trial Run reminds me of the film Inception because of the idea of entering dreams, but really that's where the similarity ends. In Trial Run, people in a dream state are able to travel back or forward in time, but then several subjects end up comatose.

This novel features a very large cast of characters, and at first I struggled to keep them all straight. A few of these characters only appear sporadically, which sometimes made me stop and question who they were. Fairly quickly, though, the novel's main characters come to the forefront—grad students Shane and Trent, government operative Reese, and researcher Gabriella and her guard Charlie. When this happens, things get much easier to follow. I also appreciated that it took me a long time to figure out which faction (Reese's or Gabriella's) was good and which was bad ... and I'm still not entirely sure that the good guys are truly good!

The action moves at a rapid pace, and, while there's a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo (which isn't actually mumbo-jumbo if you take the time to try to understand it), it doesn't become overwhelming or confusing. The ending features a great blend of dream world and real world action, and it sets up what is sure to be a fascinating second book.

Trial Run is not for everyone, that's for sure, but those who enjoy smart science fiction will really like it. I'm already looking forward to next summer when book two will release. 4 stars.

Buy the book.
Get the prequel novella, Fault Lines, free for Kindle.

Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, the award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies. His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction. Davis divides his time between Oxford and Florida and holds a lifelong passion for speculative stories. As Thomas Locke, Davis is also the author of Emissary. Learn more at www.tlocke.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell through the Revell Reads program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"for the love" by jen hatmaker

Let me start by saying that this review is going to be unlike most of my other reviews because the subject has impacted me so personally. Last March, I was chosen to be on a 500-member launch team for Jen Hatmaker's For the Love, which released today. I honestly have no idea why, out of the 5000 applicants, I was one of the 500 chosen. I wasn't a Jen Hatmaker super fan. Sure, I knew she was funny, and I liked her HGTV show, and I read her blog on a semi-regular basis, but I'd never read any of her books. I have no idea what I put in my application ... but I'm convinced that God gave me the necessary words because He knew I needed the community I'd find on this team and the freedom I'd find in the message contained in Jen's book.

Best-selling author Jen Hatmaker is convinced life can be lovely and fun and courageous and kind. She knows how the squeeze of this life can make us competitive and judgmental, how we can lose love for others and then for ourselves. She reveals how to:
  • Break free of guilt and shame by dismantling the unattainable Pinterest life.
  • Learn to engage our culture’s controversial issues with a grace-first approach.
  • Be liberated to love and release the burden of always being right. 
  • Identify the tools you already have to develop real-life, all-in, know-my-junk-but-love-me-anyway friendships.
  • Escape our impossible standards for parenting and marriage by accepting the standard of “mostly good.”
  • Laugh your butt off.
In this raucous ride to freedom for modern women, Jen Hatmaker bares the refreshing wisdom, wry humor, no-nonsense faith, liberating insight, and fearless honesty that have made her beloved by women worldwide.

Rather than speak about the whole book (which, by the way, is fantastic—you should read it!), I'm going to focus on the part that—I'm not kidding—changed my life.

First of all, check out my endorsement for the book (which wasn't selected for print but shows up on the endorsement page of the book's website), and then I'll expound: 
You often hear people say, “This book will change your life!” I usually scoff at such endorsements; after all, how often does a book actually stick with you after you’ve turned the final page? Well, it didn’t take even ten pages for “For the Love” to change my life. Jen’s words about figuring out which things in your life are necessary and which can be set aside were so freeing and, yes, life changing. I’ll be chanting “off the beam” for the rest of my days.
~ Becky; Blogger, Editor, Cat Wrangler, Hallmark Movie Lover, Latte Enthusiast. Central City, NE
The first chapter of the book is called "Worst Beam Ever." In it, Jen (and I must call her "Jen"—I feel like we're friends now!) talks about how we women have a tendency to try to do everything and do it well—because we feel we must—and that's completely ridiculous.

I journaled my way through the beginning of the book (then life happened, and I just read ...), and this is the very first thing I wrote: I knew Jen "got me" when I read this: "We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise."
Graphic: Brianna George
Be wise. That's something I'm slowly learning as I deal with Hashimoto's and its impact on my daily life, so this message is quite timely. As I kept reading, Jen's words continued to ring true. "You have permission to examine all the tricks and decide what should stay. What parts do you love? What are you good at? What brings you life?" Wow. Just wow.

Graphic: Jenny Garwood
I found this whole chapter so freeing! I ended up having several conversations with close friends about what should and should not be on my beam, and I'm making appropriate changes.

Church choir? Off the beam.
Focusing on health? On the beam.
Speech? On the beam for one more year, and then it's off.

Here's my big takeaway from this chapter: I need to stop feeling pressure to do just because I'm single and childless. I still need to take care of myself, especially now when my health is iffy. It's OK to say no, and it's OK to take things off my beam.

So that's why I said what I said in my endorsement. I'm absolutely not kidding when I say that this book was life changing for me ... and it might be for you, too. At the very least, you'll be left with much to consider. And you'll probably laugh quite a bit, too! (With gems like this, how can you not?)
Graphic: Tricia Klein
Seriously, read this book. While I don't have a copy to give away, several bloggers are giving away one or more copies. You can see posts on the official blog linkup and enter giveaways here. 5 stars.

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Visit the website.

Jen Hatmaker is a mom to five children, a pastor’s wife, sought-after speaker, best-selling author and star of the popular series My Big Family Renovation on HGTV.  She is best known for her books 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. For more information, visit JenHatmaker.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

"a.d. 30 abridged" by ted dekker

Several years ago, I was a huge Ted Dekker fan—as in, I bought and read everything he wrote. But then I got to the point where I couldn't handle the intense crime fiction, a la Boneman's Daughters, and I just kind of drifted away from Dekker's writing. I'd heard amazing things about A.D. 30, though—it won a 2015 Inspy award for best mystery/thriller—so when I had the opportunity to review the new abridged version, I jumped at it.

New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker offers an exclusive, ebook original novella in this abridgment of A.D. 30, the epic historical novel about a woman who rises to lead her people after meeting Jesus.

Maviah, the outcast daughter of a powerful Arabian sheik, is called to protect the very people who rejected her. When enemies launch a sudden attack she escapes with the help of her father's warriors. Their journey is fraught with danger and takes her to a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must form an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews. But her path also leads her to Yeshua, who offers her a way of life more powerful than any kingdom. Though following him may present an even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people--and herself.

Wow. Just wow. I never had any doubt that Dekker was an excellent writer, but A.D. 30 feels like a return to the Circle series, to The Books of Mortals. Yet it's different, too—it's not allegorical; it's set during Jesus' ministry, and it features events that truly happened and Jesus' own words. Obviously, Maviah's story is fictional, but it feels so real. Dekker's novel is a welcome addition to the biblical fiction genre.

Honestly, I have no idea what was cut out of the original novel to make this abridgement: it feels 100% complete. The story moves at a rapid pace, which serves to keep the reader fully engaged. And the scenes with Yeshua are so powerful; I loved watching Maviah change because of her encounters with Him. The ending is a bit abrupt, but that's because the story will continue in A.D. 33, which will release later this fall. I, for one, can't wait to find out what's next for Maviah while seeing Yeshua's story continue! 5 stars.

Buy the novella.
Read my reviews of Dekker's Green, Immanuel's Veins, Forbidden (written with Tosca Lee), and Tea with Hezbolla (written with Carl Medearis).


Ted Dekker is a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five novels with more than 10 million books in print. His most recent novel is A.D 30, an epic historical about the life of Jesus and the first book of his AD series. The second in the series, A.D. 33, will be published in October 2015. Dekker is best known for thrillers that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook free for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

divine walls product review

While I've seen wall decals in many of my friends' homes, I've never tried any in my home. Sometimes they look tacky, and sometimes they look great; it all depends on the design. I have been curious about whether I'd like the look of a wall decal in my home, so I jumped at the chance to review a design from Divine Walls.

Divine Walls crafts inspirational and faith based vinyl wall art for the home, office, or church. Their site boasts over 600 unique designs that you can't find anywhere else online. The design and print shop are both run from their cozy space in Scappoose, Oregon.

The designs available at Divine Walls feature popular scriptures from the Old Testament and New Testament. They also carry decals of Christian phrases such as:

  • "Bless the food before us, the family beside us, and the Love between us. Amen"
  • "and the Blessings of the Lord Rested upon us."
  • And more!

Custom designs are also an option, so the sky is the limit.

Divine Walls loves to work with churches, and they offer wholesale discounts of 10-25% based on the amount spent.

I was able to choose any regular (non-custom) design, and I decided to go with a Christmas design—after all, can you ever have too many Christmas decorations?

Never having used a wall decal before, I didn't quite realize how they worked—it's not exactly easy to move them to a new location (or, in my case, put it up to try it out and then take it down until the Christmas season). I finally decided to apply the design in a place that's normally covered by a piece of art. Then, when the Christmas season rolls around, I'll remove the art to uncover the Christmas design.

As for the actual application process, it took me about 30 minutes. The design came with a set of very thorough instructions, and I followed them to the letter. However, the process was still a bit frustrating at times. After I marked where on the wall I was going to apply the design, I had to pull off the backing. This was more difficult than I anticipated because some of the letters wanted to pull off with the backing. I especially had trouble with the thinner letters. Once I had the backing pulled off, I applied the design to the wall.

Following the directions, I took a credit card and rubbed the edge all over the design to remove air bubbles. Another reviewer said she used a ruler, and I do think that would be a better choice because you could press harder on the design.

Then it was time to peel off the front paper: the directions said to pull down at a slight angle. Just as when I pulled the backing off, some letters didn't want to stay put. I found that if I pressed with the side of the credit card just below the place where I was pulling the paper off, the letters stayed in place better. The "y" and the script "d" did give me extra trouble, and I had to peel them off and reapply them. 

The end result is quite impressive, though—definitely worth the time and effort to apply the design!

I will say that, though I don't have other experience to prove it, I doubt that Divine Walls designs are any more difficult to apply than other wall art. I'm glad to have this design on my wall, and I look forward to enjoying it at Christmas! 4 stars.

See what others are saying.
Visit the Divine Walls website.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” I am part of the CWA Review Crew.
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