Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday | FREEBIE!

Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

I'm choosing the same topic that the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish chose: Top Ten Books I'd Like to Reread. I have to agree with them: "One of the perils of book blogging is that, thanks to constantly feeling obligated to keep up the flow of new reviews, it's almost impossible to squeeze in a reread when you have so many unread books on your shelf." This also lead to my blogging downfall. My goal this year is to get to all of the unread books on my shelf, and revisit some of my favorites! Here are the top ten I'd love to read again: 

1. Since I've already started re-reading this series, I'll place it in the honorary #1 spot: Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I'm currently on #5. If you've never read the Stephanie Plum series, you should. They are hilarious. *Warning: there is adult language and some adult content. This is not a good book for you if you like clean fiction.*

2. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I think this will be one of my "go-to" books for advice on being a Godly wife. I highlighted and made notes the first time through, and I'll only build my understanding the more I read.

3. Any of Mary Connealy's books are some of my favorite rereads. They never fail to entertain and make me laugh!

4. Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter. I adored this book and I adore Denise Hunter. This is an obvious choice for a reread!

5. Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series. I eagerly awaited each and every book as they came out, and I've read them several times through. I would love to read them again, and again, and again.....(you get the point).

6. The Lonestar series by Colleen Coble. These books launched my love of contemporary Christian fiction. I love visiting them again from time to time.

There are a lot of other books I want to re-read, because I need to purge my shelf. I need to decide if they are "keep-worthy" or not! So, this is just a glimpse of what I like to reread.

What about you? Do you like to reread books?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fire & Ice by Mary Connealy

Fire and IceOverviewSaddle Up for a Wildly Fun Ride in Mary Connealy's Latest

Bailey Wilde is one of the best new ranchers in the West. She's been living disguised as a man for a while, but when Gage Coulter comes to drive her off her homestead, he quickly realizes he's dealing with a woman--a very tough, very intriguing woman at that.

Gage is an honest man, but he didn't make his fortune being weak. He won't break the law, but he'll push as hard as he can within it. Five thousand acres of his best range land is lost to him because Bailey's homestead is located right across the only suitable entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to his land--and he's got to go through Bailey to do it.

Spending a winter alone has a way of making a person crave some human contact. In a moment of weakness, Bailey agrees to a wild plan Gage concocts. Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders loosen up enough to earn each other's respect--and maybe find love in
the process?

ISBN-13: 9780764211805 | Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/06/2015 | Series: Wild at Heart, #3
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: I love Mary Connealy. Her books never fail to inspire me, make me laugh, and keep me on the edge of my seat. Fire & Ice is no exception. It's always interesting to me to go back in time to homesteading and the hardships and challenges of it. Mary Connealy always does an excellent job of describing life on the range. You can tell she does an extreme amount of research for her stories. She also does an excellent job of keeping the story engaging and exciting.  From the very beginning, I was caught up in the story of Bailey and Gage.

Bailey is a tough woman who has endured unspeakable horrors of war and came out on top. In a way, I can relate to her fears and sorrows based on her experiences. Gage is your typical Western male, with the exception of his past. I loved that Mary Connealy gave each of these characters such a unique past. Their troubles and heartaches were different from anything I've read before, and I appreciated the story so much more for it. I always love how the author weaves the love story into her plots. She excels at making you aware of the main characters attraction, without detracting from the plot. It developed, almost, without the reader noticing. 

The message of the story centers on trust. I know, after you read the story you might think I'm crazy, but I have a reason for my choice. Bailey lived through unspeakable horrors. Understandably, her fears drive her to a life of isolation. When she decides to give up that isolation by agreeing to Gage's crazy proposal, she is terrified. Her fears drive her to the point where she doesn't trust anyone, including herself. Gage is just the person to help Bailey, in my opinion. His past allows him to reach out to her in a way no one else could. That's God. Near the end of the story, after Bailey opens up to Gage, he makes a bold statement that really struck me: "..What good does it do to torture yourself by wondering what you should have done? It's over. All that's left now is forgiveness. Have you asked God to forgive you?"
"Yes, a thousand times. But the weight is as bad as it ever was.."
"That's not God refusing to forgive you, honey...it's you refusing to forgive yourself. God's done His part; now you have to do yours."

How many times do we withhold forgiveness from ourselves, even after we ask God to forgive us? Doesn't that drive our trust and fears? What a powerful message!

Overall, if you're looking for a "wild ride" of a story, this is the one for you.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers through the Bethany House blogging program in exchange for my honest review.*

About the AuthorMary 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.

Find Mary online at: Seekerville | Petticoats & Pistols | My Blog | My Website

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A New Year | A New Focus | A New Me

Hello blogging friends. It's been a while..and it's time for some confessions. I stopped reading for about 2 months. I just lost my joy in it and I couldn't figure out why. I loved to read. I loved to learn more about an author, a character, a family, and the Lord through the lessons my favorite authors taught their characters. So what happened?

I. GOT. OVERWHELMED. There are SO many books I wanted to read. Every time I got an email from a publisher or author, I felt like I needed to sign up immediately to read that book. It got to the point that I was reading all review books, and none of the books on my bookshelf that I had bought myself, and I just got burnt out. My natural response to being overwhelmed is to shut down. [It's a horrible response, I know. I'm working on it...] I also got a promotion at work. That really cut out a lot of my reading time. I got overwhelmed because I couldn't find enough time in the day to read all the books I had signed on to read.

My reading resolution is simple: I want to get back into reading for simply the love of reading. That doesn't mean I won't request review books anymore. That just means that I will simply not request or accept every opportunity that comes my way to review books. I'll read what I want to read, without the pressure. Of course, I'll still post reviews, even if the book didn't come my way from a publisher or author. It also means I will take my time reading a book. I am not going to speed read anymore. I want to enjoy what I'm reading and I want you to know it!

I also want to try to incorporate more of the things I love into my blog. I mean, the name of my blog is called "Faith * Love * Books" and all I normally end up posting is "books." I feel like there is so much more to my life than that. I recently found a love for card making and Bible Journaling. I am going on a mission trip in March to Belize that I'm really looking forward to and we need prayers and financial support. I would love to share those loves with you! I haven't figured out quite yet what that's going to look like, so stay tuned!

I'm also asking for prayers.  My "theme verse" for the year is about letting go of that anxiety and letting God handle them. It's hard. It's a daily battle. Blogging and reading brought me a lot of comfort last year and I would love to get back to that. Interacting with my blogging and reading friends helped me a lot. Spending time in God's word and writing down my prayers helped a lot too. But when I say I shut down from being overwhelmed, I literally shut down. I didn't do any of the things I loved anymore. I'm ashamed to admit it to you all, and more ashamed that I let it happen to myself. I'm working on getting my joy back. Will you help me?

Thank you for waiting patiently for me, my friends. God Bless! (Oh, and I'm reading a book for the first time in months and I'm so excited about it!)