Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up (Oct 31) - Month in Review

This is the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

What I've Read:
The Story KeeperPromise to Protect, A: A Novel

Reviews Posted
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate
A Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley
Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson

What I'm Currently Reading:
Prelude for a Lord

What I Plan on Reading in November
Her Good NameAt Bluebonnet Lake (Texas Crossroads, #1)The Christmas CatA Love Undone: An Amish Novel of Shattered Dreams and God's Unfailing GraceRecipe for Love

October in Review

Pull Me In (Resisting You, #1)Promise to Protect, A: A NovelThe Story KeeperThe Doctor's Lady by Jody HedlundTried and TrueKeeping Her SafeLove's Fortune (Ballantyne Legacy Series #3)A Deadly Business (Mia Quinn Series #2)

That about wraps it up!

Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson

buttermilk coverOverview: Weary of the expectations imposed on her by her strict upbringing, eighteen-year-old Mazy Pelfrey prepares to leave her home in the Kentucky mountains for the genteel city of Lexington, where she’ll attend secretarial school. She knows her life is about to change—and only for the better. Everything will be blue skies from now on.

But business school is harder than she thought it would be and the big city not as friendly, until she meets a charming young man from a wealthy family, Loyal Chambers. When Loyal sets his sights on her, Mazy begins to see that everything she’d ever wished to have is right before her eyes. The only hindrance to her budding romance is a former beau, Chanis Clay, the young sheriff she thought she’d left firmly behind.

Danger rumbles like thunder on a high mountain ridge when Mazy’s cosseted past collides with her clouded future and forces her to come to terms with what she really wants.

Product Details:
ISBN-13: 9781414389851
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 10/1/2014
Pages: 368
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD
Read the First Chapter

My Review: What a sweet, sweet story. Jan Watson writes a captivating story of a girl trying to find her way in the world. Her style of writing is soft, like a down feather. There isn't a lot of action, mystery, or adventure, but it is engaging, none the less. Not many authors can write a story like that and hold my attention.

I love Mazy Pelfrey. I could see a lot of myself in her characteristics. She is young, naive, innocent, and sweet. She has all of the normal characteristics of a teenager trying to find her place in society and life. Chanis Clay is a great male lead. He is loyal, strong, and kindhearted.

Both of these characters struggle with finding their way into themselves, live, and love throughout the book. One thing that the author did not downplay was their reliance on their faith to help them make the right decisions, even when that wasn't the first place they sought guidance.

Overall, this is a sweet coming of age story. I look forward to reading more by this wonderful author!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.* 

About the Author: Former registered nurse and peri-natal loss counselor, Jan Watson won the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild First Novel Contest in 2004 with Troublesome Creek. Written with a dollop of romance and a smidgen of suspense, Jan’s award winning historical novels, are uniquely set in the Appalachian Mountains.

Jan was recently voted 2012 Best Kentucky Author by the readers of Kentucky Living Magazine.
A voracious reader since childhood Jan recalls “when all those squiggles on the page made me want to learn what Dick and Jane did next.” Although she has always loved books, she had no intent to write one of her own. . .until one day she recalled a story told to her by her grandmother.

As a child, Jan often visited her grandparents in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. One summer day, as she and her grandmother sat in the porch swing breaking beans, her granny told her the true story of the terrible flash flooding of Frozen Creek, and of the tiny baby who was swept away never to be seen again. Jan carried the story in her heart for fifty years before she decided to save that baby, if only fictionally. This became the basis for a series of books: Troublesome Creek, Willow Springs, and Torrent Falls and of a spin off, Sweetwater Run.

In all her books, Watson artfully draws on the folklore and culture of times long past to create colorful characters living their faith in a world that offers comfort and peril in equal measure.
Jan’s latest novel, Skip Rock Shallows, follows the story of Lilly (Copper’s daughter) who is featured in book 5, Still House Pond. It is sure to be a satisfying read. Jan’s publisher is Tyndale House.
Watson lives in Lexington, Ky. Most mornings you’ll find her at the keyboard with her Jack Russell terrier, Maggie, on a pillow in her lap. Her work day lasts as long as Maggie will allow.
When Jan isn’t writing or entertaining Maggie, she enjoys reading, taking long walks, and collecting out of print medical books, which she reads “like other women read cookbooks”.

Jan lives in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky near her three sons and her daughter-in-law. Jan also enjoys two grand-cats, Buddy and Lily B.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley

Promise to Protect, A: A NovelOverview: In a steamy small town riddled with broken promises, one woman's secret could change everything.

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn't heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn't mean he can get her--or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago--out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But all too soon, Ben is charged with a different task--protecting Leigh from the people after her brother. With Leigh doing everything in her power to avoid Ben, it's no easy task. And the secret she is keeping just may change their lives forever.

ISBN-13: 9780800722814
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/7/2014
Series:Logan Point , #2
Pages: 336
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD
My Review: This is the first book I have read by Patricia Bradley, and it won't be my last. I absolutely loved this exciting, fast-paced story. I was hooked from the very first page and remained so until the very end. This is the second book in the Logan Point series, but you don't have to read the first one in order to enjoy this (although, I definitely want to now!).

Leigh and Ben were fantastic characters. I loved the depth each character had to them and the growth I could see in each of them as the story progressed. Both characters are dealing with tremendous weights they have places on themselves. Leigh is carrying secrets and trying to prove her self worth. Ben struggles to let go of the past, especially when he couldn't have changed it. Their romance was super sweet! I could tell, from the beginning, they belonged together!

The message of the story was about forgiveness. Not just God's forgiveness of our sins (which is the most important kind), but forgiveness of ourselves and others. As the author so greatly states: "Forgiveness is a choice. But so is receiving it." How often do we hold on to the past mistakes we made? God wants us to let it go, just like He does for us when we receive His salvation! Leigh and Ben both have to find a way to forgive themselves, as well as each other.

Overall, I really enjoyed this exciting story. With a few surprises up her sleeve, Patricia Bradley will have you saying "WHOA, I didn't see that coming!" 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Revell Reads blogging program in exchange for my honest review.*
About the Author: Honoring God through my writing is top priority for this Mississippi Writer.
I am a Romantic Suspense writer living in the Deep South. My short-stories have been published in Woman’s World, and I have finished one book, Shadows from the Past which is set in Memphis and the surrounding area.

It has won several awards…the 2008 Maggie (Inspirational Category)…1st Place in the 2012 Touched By Love and Daphne du Maurier contests…finaled in the 2012 Genesis…bronzed in the Frasier.

Currently, I am working on a second book, Shadows of Love set in the same area but featuring different characters. And…I’m doing the unthinkable–writing a straight romance–who would’ve thought it’d be such fun?

I’m also an abstinence/healthy relationship speaker and have spoken to many students…and adults. When I’m not writing or speaking, I throw mud on a wheel and try to make something beautiful.

Connect with Patricia: TwitterFacebookWebsite

Water Your Faith Wednesday (Oct 29)

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
I'm combining two different devotions this week for our Water Your Faith Wednesday. They are both similar in nature and, I think, go together quite well. 
From The Daily Bible Verse: "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble." – 1 John 2:9-10 (NIV) 
Today’s commentary by Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor,
We only entrap ourselves when we allow our souls to be bitter toward others. There could be a good reason for our feelings, but harboring hate toward others doesn’t affect those people in the least. On the contrary, we are the ones who become imprisoned by our feelings. So bring your bitterness to the light. Talk to someone about your hurt and receive prayer for your need. God’s light can fill the dark soul and take out the obstacles around us if we will just humble ourselves.

Subscribe : Email | Facebook | Twitter
From Proverbs 31:
Lynn Cowell
OCTOBER 28, 2014
Why are Women so Hard on Each Other? LYNN COWELL
"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them." Proverbs 3:27 (NLT)
"Why, when a woman walks in a room, do all the other women size her up?" my husband asked.
Where was the nearest rock? I thought, as I desperately wanted to crawl under one. My husband had just pointed out what I've often seen, but didn't think others noticed. Our insecurity tends to come out when we're in situations where we feel "less than" or uncomfortable.
Greg's comment that evening stirred a series of questions in my mind.
What holds us back from offering encouragement when we know most of us struggle with feelings of insecurity?
Why, when we have the power to do so much good for each other, do we not do it?
Why would I not, when I have a good thought about another person, simply say it?
Beautiful comments we think in our head, yet fail to say such as:
"I noticed your kind act in the grocery store. You inspired me!
"Your generous heart makes me want to be giving as well!"
"When I see the boldness of your faith, I'm encouraged to be bold too."
The more I thought about it, the more I knew how easy it would be to start speaking good things about others.
King Solomon reinforced my thoughts as I read Proverbs 3:27, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them."
My heart heard a thought from God as I read this verse, "Lynn, do not withhold a compliment. When you speak good, you are doing My good."
So, I'm starting with this resolve: If I have a positive thought, I'm going to say it. It doesn't matter if I know you or if you are a woman I've never met. With God's help, I no longer want to withhold good from those who deserve or those who need it, when it is in my power to help them.
My prayer is that not only will I encourage others along the way, but my kids will see God's goodness pouring through me and they too will be inspired to not withhold good from others. If we'll join together and make sharing the good we see normal, we might just bring some really good change to the world.
Jesus, I want to be a bringer of Your good to my world today. In everyday moments like at the grocery store, when seeing my neighbor and as I go about my work, open my eyes to see the good in others and then call it out and encourage them with the power of my words. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Did you enjoy today's devotion? Click here to subscribe.
My Thoughts: People, most specifically women, tend to judge others and see the worst in them rather than taking the time to get to know one another and look for the good. Why is that? I think it has to do with our own self-image and consciousness. We would rather throw judgement on someone else than look at ourselves and our lives. The Bible clearly states that this is wrong. In both key verses, God tells us that we shouldn't hate one another or withold good from one another. When we do, we are not following God's commands to help one another and lift each other up. 
What do you think about these verses? Why do you think we judge each other so harshly?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate

The Story KeeperOverview: When successful New York editor Jen Gibbs discovers a decaying slush-pile manuscript on her desk, she has no idea that the story of Sarra, a young mixed-race woman trapped in Appalachia at the turn of the twentieth century, will both take her on a journey and change her forever. Happy with her life in the city, and at the top of her career with a new job at Vida House Publishing, Jen has left her Appalachian past and twisted family ties far behind. But the search for the rest of the manuscript, and Jen’s suspicions about the identity of its unnamed author, will draw her into a mystery that leads back to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains . . . and quite possibly through the doors she thought she had closed forever. Tyndale House Publishers

Product Details
ISBN-13: 9781414386898
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 9/1/2014
Pages: 438
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD
My Review: This is, by far, the best Lisa Wingate book I've ever read. I was totally captivated from beginning to end. The Story Keeper is a story within a story. The dialogue, the plot, and the characters drew me in and wouldn't let me go.

Jennia Beth's struggle to accept her past and move on is something I could easily relate to. I think, on some level, everyone can relate to it. Throughout the book, we see Jen's character face what seemed insurmountable, only to have her grow in her faith when things finally fell into place. I wish there was more of Evan in the book. Through Jen's eyes, we could see the struggle Evan faced, as well, but I wanted to know more of the mysterious man!

The most compelling part of the story, aside from Rand and Sarra's life, was the message. "What can't be understood and neatly sewn up must simply be let go, no in the way of giving up, but in the way of understanding who is really in control of it." Such a deep and profound truth is often hard for people to accept. We like things neatly bundled and packaged and often become agitated and fragile when something doesn't fit the mold we try to put it in. Learning to "let go, and let God," as I've often heard growing up, is one of the best, most freeing, lessons I've learned!

Overall, I absolutely loved this story within a story. It was magical, mysterious, and powerful. I highly recommend it!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.* 
About the Author: Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 of 2012 and Top 10 of 2013, Lisa Wingate skillfully weaves lyrical writing and unforgettable Southern settings with elements of women's fiction, history, and mystery to create stories that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and ForeWord Magazine refers to as "Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and the author of over over twenty novels and countless magazine pieces.

Her books have held positions on many bestseller lists, both in the U.S. and internationally. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award nominee, an Inspy Award nominee, a two-time Carol Award winner, a LORIES Best Fiction Award winner, and a Utah Library Award winner. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.  Visit Lisa at her website:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up (Oct 24)

This is the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!
What I've Read
The Doctor's Lady by Jody HedlundTried and True 
Reviews Posted
The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund
Tried and True by Mary Connealy
What I'm Currently Reading
The Story Keeper 
What I'm Reading in October
Prelude for a LordPromise to Protect, A: A NovelHer Good NameButtermilk Sky 
That about wraps it up

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Tried and TrueOverview: Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

Product Details
ISBN-13: 9780764211782
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 9/2/2014
Series: Wild at Heart , #1
Pages: 320
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: Mary Connealy is one of my all time favorite authors. I love her characters, stories, and spunk! This story was no exception. Written in Mary's signature style, this story is witty, light-hearted and a ton of fun. The dialogue, especially between Kylie and Aaron, is laugh-out-loud funny. I especially loved the danger and twists the story presented.

Kylie is an unusual character. Many of the characters Mary Connealy likes to write about are unconventional women in the west.  However, Kylie Wilde is unique in that she masqueraded as a man, but longs to dress and be like a woman. I loved that about her, though at times, it could be annoying because it seemed she didn't have a logical thought in her head. Aaron is your typical "hero" male figure. He's strong, handsome, and falls madly in love with Kylie right away. Their story was so much fun to read.

The message of the story is deep and woven expertly throughout. I wouldn't have expected such a strong message in such a light-hearted story. Each character, Kylie, Aaron, and Nev, must come to learn this lesson. Aaron says it best here, "So long as you're alive, ... and no matter how bad life is, there's hope. Things can get better. You can still find happiness in this life and prepare for peace in the next." How can we do that, you ask? Trust in God to take care of you and lean on Him in the hard times. Each of these characters faced the brutality of the Civil War, and each of these characters suffered mightely for it. With God's help, though, they each have hope!

Overall, this story brought me on a wild ride with the Wilde family, and I look forward to getting to know the rest of this fantastic family!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Bethany House blogging program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.*

Photo of MaryAbout the Author: Mary Connealy is the bestselling author of romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Carol Award winner and a Rita and Christy and IRCC Award Finalist.

She is the author of The Trouble in Texas series, Swept Away, Fired Up and Stuck Together, The Kincaid Brides Series, Out of Control, In Too Deep and Over the Edge.
The Sophie's Daughters Series, Doctor in Petticoats, a Rita Award finalist, Wrangler in Petticoats and Sharpshooter in Petticoats. These three books are now contained in the single volume Sophie's Daughters Trilogy. The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now available in the single volume Montana Marriages Trilogy.
Find Mary online at: Seekerville | Petticoats & Pistols | Mary's Blog

Water Your Faith Wednesday (Oct 22)

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
This week's "Water Your Faith" post comes from Proverbs 31. I absolutely love these daily devotional emails. If you haven't signed up for them, do it!
Tracie Miles
OCTOBER 21, 2014
How God Turns Your Past Into Purpose
"'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:39 (NIV)
As I sat in the church pew with my head bowed in prayer, I heard a voice reverberate so thunderously in my heart that it startled me.
The voice was blaringly loud, as if it had been announced over the loudspeakers. I opened my eyes surprised to see that no one else was taken aback. All was calm.
And so began my encounter with God.
I felt God speak loud and clear a short message that held life-altering repercussions. Three powerful, commanding words: "Go and share!"
I became overwhelmed with emotion. I was awestruck that God had spoken to me at all, but even more so at the three words I heard. Go and share? Go and share what?
Then it hit me. Fear immediately overwhelmed me and I sank into the pew, trembling at what I thought God might be asking. I began to question God, "Surely You can't mean share my past, Lord. Surely You don't mean go and share what I prefer to keep secret." Yet, that is exactly what He meant. And I didn't like it.
I didn't want to go, much less share. I didn't want to be transparent or vulnerable. I gratefully accepted His forgiveness and healing, but I wasn't ready to accept His call to give me a purpose. The man who was healed from demon possession in today's key verse experienced similar feelings.
This tormented man lived as an outcast for many years, naked and alone in the tombs of Gadara, near Galilee. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees and shouted at the top of his voice, begging for mercy from God. Jesus commanded the demons to leave him and then cast them into a herd of pigs that rushed down the steep bank into a lake and drowned. The man was healed physically, but more importantly, spiritually.
He was so overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus had done, he begged to travel with Jesus and stay by His side. But Jesus had other plans. Instead, Jesus told him to go and share his story. And he did.
What had once been a burden to bear became a powerful story of holy transformation. This man's past, and the healing he experienced, became the foundation of a purpose in life that he would have never imagined — living his life as proof of the life-changing power of Jesus.
The man's story became a testimony when he was willing to share it with others. How many people believed in Jesus and are now spending eternity with Him simply because this former demon-possessed man willingly allowed his terrible past to become a story of redemption and purpose?
People can deny Christ, dispute Scripture and ignore prophecy, but they cannot deny, dispute or ignore God's transformational power in someone's life. Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God's faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.
I've since learned it is always God's desire for us to go and share our stories, whether we want to or not.
God never wastes our pain. Only we do that. God has a plan for great purpose and a beautiful future for all who believe in Him. Not despite our past, but because of it.
Lord, help me find the courage and the desire to share what You have done in my life. Turn my past into my purpose and refuse to let my pain be for nothing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
My Thoughts: If you've read my About Me section on my blog, you know that I've shared my past with you all. That was very hard for me to do. Most of the time, when I tell my story, people stare at me with pity in their eyes and that's something I don't want. What I DO want is to look back at how I handled myself during that tumultuous time in my life and say "I know I couldn't do it alone. God helped me every step of the way," and encourage others to follow God in their trials.  If you feel like God is prompting you to share your story, DO IT! As the devotional states, "God never wastes our pain." He has a plan for our lives, even if we don't understand it, and our future is bright and glorious because of what we've been through.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: New Series I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature started by
Each week features a book related topic that offers the opportunity to spotlight your Top Ten.
This week's topic: New Series I want to Read

This is going to be hard! There are so many series that I've started and not yet finished, but I don't think those count, so I'll go with series I want to read, even if they aren't new. They are "new to me" :D

The Heiress of Winterwood (Whispers on the Moors, #1)Made to Last (Where Love Begins, #1)A Sensible Arrangement (Lone Star Brides, #1)Love at Any Cost (The Heart of San Francisco, #1)Tried and True (Wild at Heart, #1)Full Steam AheadTop Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21)The Inn at Ocean's Edge (A Sunset Cove Novel, #1)A December Bride (A Year of Weddings, #1)Undeniably Yours (Porter Family #1)
  1. The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd (Whispers on the Moors): I have heard so many good things about this author and these books. I can't wait to get started!
  2. Made to Last by Melissa Tagg (Where Love Begins): This book looks so cute! I've really gotten into more contemporary romances lately, so I look forward to this one.
  3. A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson (Lone Star Brides): You can't go wrong with Tracie Peterson. I've never read a book of hers I didn't like!
  4. Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman (The Heart of San Francisco): I have read one of Julie's books (A Passion Most Pure) and loved it. I want to read more!
  5. Tried and True by Mary Connealy (Wild at Heart): I'm currently reading this book and if this book is any indication, this is going to be another excellent series!
  6. Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer (Full Steam Ahead): So, there is only one full length novel and one novella for this series, but I love Karen's books!
  7. Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum): Ok, so this is definitely not a new series, and I have read almost all of them, but I continue to immensely enjoy this series!
  8. The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble (Sunset Cove): I just discovered this book while looking for series. I love Colleen Coble and everything she's written, so it stands to reason I'll love this book and series, too!
  9. A December Bride by Denise Hunter (A Year of Weddings): This series is a compilation of books by different authors, some new to me and some much loved. My goal is to read the corresponding book each month next year!
  10. Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade (Porter Family): Like Melissa's books, I have heard a lot of good things about this series!