Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

The Reluctant Duchess
Ladies of the Manor, Book 2
Bethany House
April 2016
ISBN-13: 9780764213519

Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough—not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar and the men who have jeopardized her life.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has suddenly found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of his neighbor, Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when the moody Earl of Lochabar tries to trap Brice into marrying Rowena, Brice finds he’s not as opposed to the idea as he expected to be.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to resort to marrying a notorious flirt just to gain his English home. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in some kind of questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

Get your copy: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: I am so sorry that I never picked up one of Roseanna White's books before now. She has a unique way of weaving mystery, romance, and faith into a masterful story that will keep you turning pages way past your bedtime. The Reluctant Duchess is the second book in The Ladies of the Manor series. It can be read stand alone, but there is a lot of back story you will miss so I highly recommend reading the first book in the series, The Lost Heiress (because it's JUST as fantastic as this one!).

I cannot even begin to fathom the kind of pain and suffering Rowena has endured in her life. I've never experienced the tragedies she has. Roseanna M. White brings to light the harsh realities of abuse masterfully. Like the author herself wrote in her Author's note: I loved watching Rowena come to terms with what she'd endured, overcoming it, and flourishing. Brice is just the man for the job. His insights and charm are exactly what Rowena needs. His uncanny ability to listen and interpret what the Lord is telling him truly inspires. Where Rowena tends to doubt and pull into herself, Brice is bright and charming and does his best to pull her back out. The banter the two share helps ease the suspense and seriousness of the story.

Brice and Rowena have to deal with so much from the very beginning of their marriage.  Again, Brice's ability to laugh in spite of the circumstance and joke in the face of all they endure really keeps the story from leaning toward a more Gothic nature. To me, it definitely has a more serious undertone purely because the issues Rowena and Brice have to deal with, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable watching the two fall in love.

Overall, I loved this story. Suspense, romance, and a happy ending; what more could I ask for?!

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

Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them.

After graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the same mountains they equate with home.

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, the historical romance, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, and the historical, romantic suspense Culper Ring Series (Ring of Secrets, Whispers from the Shadows, and Circle of Spies). She is also the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, HisWriters, and Colonial Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with Roseanna: Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

First off, I want to apologize for not having a BuJo post this week. I know you all LOVE reading about my journey with the Bullet Journal :D

Second, why has no one told me how GREAT an author Roseanna M. White is?? I will forever be greatful that I picked up the second book in this series, The Reluctant Duchess, for review and my OCD would not allow me to read the second book in a series first!

The Lost Heiress
Ladies of the Manor, Book 1
September 2015
Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764213502

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

Buy Your Copy: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: Let me start off by saying that Roseanna M. White is DEFINITELY going to be added to my list of ALL TIME FAVORITE authors. I literally could not put this book down. This book had it all: humor, romance, intrigue, and an engaging plot with a whole lot of layers. I really enjoyed the emotional roller coaster this story took me on. From the moment Brook is "found," the suspense begins.

I fell in love with Justin and Brook immediately. Their playful banter, their spark that both ignored for the wrong reasons, their arguments that had me wanting to shake them both had me hooked from the start. Elizabeth Brook Eden is such a complex character. Her independent, fiery spirit contrasts with her sense of being lost and her fear of loving and losing. She has many facets to her personality because of her past and she is able to carry herself in almost any situation. It also amused me greatly when she would get so mad she lapsed into a different language! Justin, oh Justin. I loved his fierce loyalty to his family and Brook. His protective and cautious nature are at times endearing and frustrating. My favorite "layer" of the story was watching Brook find out who she truly was and embracing it, then watching Justin and Brook figure out how to navigate their feelings for each other in Brook's new reality. Just mesmerizing and beautiful!

The battle of good vs. evil, greed vs. generosity was evident throughout the story. It amazed me that certain characters actions represented well these facets of the human nature. Watching Brook and Justin grow in their faith because of the trials they endured was beautiful and encouraging. One of my favorite characters was Lord Worthing. Besides the fact that he was charming and good humored by nature, his insight because of his faith was uncanny. He represented, to me, what a true Christian should look like.

Overall, I can't say enough great things about this beautiful story. Go out and get your copy today! Trust me, you won't regret it.

Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them.

After graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the same mountains they equate with home.

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, the historical romance, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, and the historical, romantic suspense Culper Ring Series (Ring of Secrets, Whispers from the Shadows, and Circle of Spies). She is also the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, HisWriters, and Colonial Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with Roseanna: Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On Lone Star Trail by Amanda Cabot

Revell Books 
ISBN 978-08007-3433-6
Texas Crossroads, #3

OverviewA woman without a future. A man running from the past. One enchanting place where broken dreams are mended.

If there's one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it's a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. Unsure about the next phase in her life, she heads to Rainbow's End Resort for some R&R when a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash right in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin's wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He has spent the past year wandering the country on his motorcycle, trying not to think about the future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God's sense of humor.

As these broken people collide, they find that a bright future is still ahead -- it just might not be the one they imagined for themselves.

Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD
My Reviews: At Bluebonnet Lake | Firefly Valley

My Review: I love Amanda Cabot's writing style. Her stories flow so steady and smooth. On Lone Star Trail was definitely a nice break from the fast paced, action packed stories I've been reading. I also enjoyed being back at Rainbow's End and Dupree. Catching up with characters from Firefly Valley and At Bluebonnet Lake made me even more happy to read this book.

Gillian and TJ are both fighting their own personal grief battles. I can relate to grief, feelings of guilt, and questioning "why did this happen to me." Amanda Cabot captures those emotions excellently. I love how these characters clicked as friends, but wouldn't allow themselves to surrender to more than that for a while. It was also entertaining that everyone around them (Kate, Greg, Marisa, Sally, the Matchers) recognized their feelings for each other before they did. Sometimes love truly is blind!

Amanda Cabot writes an emotionally challenging story with a clear message: Let go and let God (LGLG). It was so hard for these characters to embrace the concept and I appreciate that. It's not easy to do in real life and it made the story more relevant that the characters struggled to find their paths and finally surrendered their all to God.

Overall, this was an excellent end to the Texas Crossroads trilogy and I look forward to reading more by this fantastic author.

*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: Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers Best. She lives in Wyoming.

Connect with Amanda: Facebook | Blog | Twitter |Website

Monday, April 25, 2016

Join Becky Wade for a Facebook Party May 5!

wade event promo - fb 

A female bodyguard plus her star NFL client plus danger equals a great recipe for romance! Her One and Only, book four in Becky Wade's Porter Family novels, releases May 3. To celebrate, Becky is hosting an author chat party on her Facebook page on May 5 at 5 PM PDT/8 PM EDT. Join Becky for an evening of book chat with other bookworms and prizes.

Plus a portion of all pre-sales and sales the release week of Her One and Only will be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. For more details on how to purchase a copy, click here.

wade 400 - fallen heroes

About the Book

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bullet Journal | Budget & Savings Log

There are many different "logs" and "lists" you can put in your BuJo. One of the many notebooks I've carried around with me FOREVER is my budget notebook. I handle the finances for our family and I've created a pretty good system for keeping track of what bills are due and what paycheck I need to pay them with. The one thing I'm NOT good at, however, is saving. So, I researched "savings plans" on Google... after combing through an OVERWHELMING amount of plans, I decided to follow two: The 52-Week Savings Plan (in reverse) and the Christmas Savings Plan.

In my BuJo, I created a "savings log" spread. On one side, I have the 52 weeks savings plan. On the other side, the Christmas Savings plan. Each week I move money to my savings account, I revisit this page so I can check off the savings and keep track of my goals.

The great thing about the Bullet Journal is the flexibility it provides. I can't stress it enough! If you don't like one layout, use it for a week (or month) and try another one! There are ENDLESS options on Pinterest and the internet. Prime example: my budget log. I thought keeping it together with my monthly layout would be a good idea. After February, though, I decided I needed them all in the same place, so I changed my layout. It's worked out great the past two months! I didn't change my system, just moved where I kept the information.

As I continue my BuJo journey, I can look back at how it's evolved. I loved the concept when I first heard about it, and I love it even more now that I've started one of my own! What about you? How do you use your BuJo for budgeting and savings goals?

If you're just joining me on my BuJo journey, be sure to check out my previous posts:
Bullet Journaling | How I Got Started and Bullet Journal | Future Log

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Introducing B. Benfield | Author Interview

B. BenfieldIt is my honor and privilege to introduce a brand new Christian author to you folks. She is not only an amazing author, she is my best friend. I've known her since she was 5! We go wayyyyy back, and I am thrilled at the chance to help her promote her writing. I've been hard on her as she started her writing career because I wanted her to be the best she could be. Her first novel, Sophia Redeemed, blew me away. I haven't started her newest novel, Saving Taya, yet but I have high hopes! Without further ado, let me introduce you to my very best friend and author extraordinaire: B. Benfield.

Hi Brittney. Welcome to Faith * Love * Books! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is B. Benfield, otherwise known as Brittney. I’m a banker by day and writer by night, spending all time in between hanging out with my three year old son, husband, family, and friends! I also like to squeeze time in for a good book when I can!

Banker: that's an interesting career choice. When did you know you wanted to become an author?
I’ve always known I wanted to be an author I just always thought it was a dream that would never come true. I started working on a book a couple years ago and discovered self-publishing. My story transpires from there…

Tell us about your writing journey.
I started writing New Adult Romance in 2014 where I self-published four books. At the beginning of 2015, I had an idea for a Christian Romance story, so I started brainstorming. After I started writing the story, I had decided that I didn’t want to associate my name with both New Adult and Christian Romance, so I pulled all of my books from the shelves. I self-published Sophia Redeemed in October of 2015. A short while after it had been released, I had submitted the book to a publisher, not expecting anything to come out of it, but to my surprise, they signed me! Sophia Redeemed was just re-released on March 29th, 2016, and will be followed by Saving Taya and Mila’s Strength, which are the next two books in the series.

That must have been a hard decision. I'm glad you made the jump to Christian Romance and I can say that it has been an amazing journey! Where did the idea for Sophia Redeemed come from?
I’m not sure if it was something that was said in church, but I remember sitting at the table with my husband and son one Sunday evening eating dinner and the idea for Sophia just came to me. I was a little nervous and wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue the idea, but the character kept growing and I decided this story was one I had to tell.

I remember having several conversations with you about the main story line for Sophia Redeemed. Can you tell us a little bit about what your current project is?
I’m currently working on book three in the Faith and Love series which is Mila’s Strength. I have also started throwing around ideas for my next project once the series is complete, which I believe will be a standalone novel, but I don’t want to give too much of that away yet!

Thank you so much for joining us today Brit. It's been fun! 

Here's where you can find B. Benfield on the web:

Purchase your copies of Sophia Redeemed and Saving Taya:
Saving Taya: Amazon  CURRENTLY ON SALE FOR $0.99!! 
Sophia Redeemed: Amazon | B&N

Please provide an excerpt for readers of Sophia Redeemed.

It was a slow night. My short, red dress that was always so promising, had failed me. My long, brown hair hung in loose waves down my back, and my green eyes popped with the heavy make-up and dark liner. What was the deal tonight? This was bad, really bad. I was $500 short and things weren’t looking in my favor. I had two options: one, tell Jax I didn’t have the money and face punishment; or two, give him everything I had without taking my cut, pushing me back another week behind on rent. Another week behind, and another week closer to eviction. What to do, what to do.
“Here you go,” I heard a man say behind me. His voice sounded oddly familiar. I turned around to find a frail girl, wrapped in a torn, blue blanket. Thick grease molded to her hair and her face was smudged with dirt. She was holding a can with a sign: HOMELESS. ANYTHING HELPS. Oh no, I don’t think so.
“Take it back, Charlie. Take the money back, or I’m calling your wife,” I said.
“I said take it back!” I yelled.
He reached into the can and pulled out his five-dollar bill, mouthing I’m sorry to the girl. He glared at me before taking off. I marched over to the girl and propped my hands on my hips.
“What are you doing?” I snapped.
“What does it look like?” she scoffed.
“Go,” I ordered.
“Excuse me?”
“I said go. This is my corner.”
She looked around aimlessly and shook her head. “I don’t see your name on it.”
I laughed dryly. “No? But you’re getting ready to see my six-inch heel where the sun don’t shine if you don’t leave.” I pulled off my shoe and held it in my right hand with the left still propped on my hip. I wasn’t kidding. Determination seeped out of my voice and ownership covered my face. As far as I was concerned, this was my corner and others weren’t welcomed. My money depended on it.
“Fine, fine. I’m going.” She stood up with the blanket still wrapped around her. I noticed the brand of her jeans as she sloshed off. Abercrombie. Ha, I laughed to myself. It wouldn’t have surprised me if she dirtied herself up and parked on the street just to make some money. Lazy people. Some of us had to earn a living the hard way.
I didn’t have another hit the rest of the night. I contemplated what to do. I couldn’t be kicked out of my apartment, but I didn’t want to face another beating from Jax. The last one left me with a busted lip and a black eye. Needless to say, that wasn’t good for business.
He pulled up to the curb in his black Cadillac at three in the morning, the same time he did every time I worked the street. I got into the car and pulled the money from my bra.
“Here,” I said, tossing him the bills.
“That’s my girl,” he said, caressing my cheek.
“Take me home, Jax. I’m tired.” I wasn’t tired. I was stressed. I needed money for rent.
“You don’t want to talk?”
“I’m not much in the mood for talking.”
He took the hint, and we drove in silence downtown to my apartment. I gazed out the window the whole way, feeling distraught. I just wanted to be home alone.
“See you tomorrow, Sugar,” he said. I blew him a kiss and exited the car, rolling my eyes the whole way up the stairs to the door.
When I arrived at my apartment, I was greeted by a friendly note on the door.
Rent by next Friday or you’re out.
Ah, the man who owned this building, he had a way with words that was for sure. I lived in a rundown building, probably built in the 1800s. I found the occasional bug, and you could hear the softest of noises through the paper-thin walls. There were a few other apartments around me, if you could even call them that. Five hundred square feet including a kitchen with ancient appliances, a tiny bathroom enough for one, a small bedroom big enough for my bed, and a living room the size of a walk-in closet. On the lower level of the building was a furniture store. I paid $600 a month for this “home,” but it’s almost all I could afford. Housing in Atlanta, Georgia was hard to come by. At least for me!
Once inside, I tore the place apart. Surely I had some money around, some kind of stash I put away for emergencies. I flipped up the mattress, nothing. Tore through the closet, nothing. How am I going to make rent? I couldn’t get kicked out. I had nowhere to go. There was no way I was going to stay with Jax. I would just have to work really hard for the next week. Call me what you want, but you couldn’t call me a quitter.
I wanted a new life. There were so many times I thought about taking every penny I had, packing up my car, and just leaving. I’d drive until I couldn’t drive anymore, and I’d start a new life. There were only a few problems with this dream of mine. I wasn’t sure if my little Saturn would make it. That car was on its last leg, and I, of course, couldn’t afford a new one. The other problem, I had no idea what I’d do when I got there. Hard to find a job when you don’t even have a high school diploma. Does McDonald’s even hire without a diploma? Didn’t know, never tried.
I felt like I was dying a slow death, my past and present a pure hell. All my life I’d been a runaway. I had perfected the art of escape; running was all I knew how to do. Only now there was nowhere for me to go. Four years on the streets had done me in. I’d had enough, but escaping this life almost felt impossible. Life continued on, but I was stuck. Death almost sounded better than this game of survival I called life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday | Books That Will Make You LOL

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

This week's topic: 10 books that made me laugh. Where to begin....(side note: I really need to do a better job of classifying my books on Goodreads. I can't remember all of the hilarious books I've read!)


  1. Anything by Jen Turano will have you in stitches. They are light-hearted, action-packed, all around fun reads. A Change of Fortune was my introduction to Jen's hilarious books. 
  2. Petticoat Ranch is the introduction to Mary Connealy's Lassoed in Texas series. Her books never fail to entertain me.
  3. Karen Witemeyer has a gift for mixing humor with an encouraging, faith-based message. A Tailor-Made Bride was the first book I read by this enticing author.
  4. Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake is light-hearted fun, with an awesome message. All of her books are written in a similar fashion, and they are amazing.
  5. Janice Thompson's books are HILARIOUS. I love her writing style. Every Bride Needs a Groom is an exemplary example of this.
  6. Sushi for One? is absolutely hysterical. Camy Tang has a knack for writing quirky characters who have gone through really tough patches in their lives, but have an amazing sense of humor and faith.
  7. Breaking away from the Christian genre, Janet Evanovich is one of my favorite authors ever. One for The Money is this first book in the riotously funny Stephanie Plum series.
  8. Back to the historical genre, The Grand Sophy was my introduction into the hilarious writings of Georgette Heyer. The antics and situations her female leads find themselves in never ceases to amaze me.
  9. While all of Becky Wade's books are fun and light-hearted, with a serious faith-based message, My Stubborn Heart sticks out as one of her more comedic books. The dialogue was highly entertaining.
  10. Last, but certainly not least, Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series always cracks me up. While the book does address some common "coming of age" issues, it's appeal is the humorous dialogue and inner monologues of Percy Jackson. Start the series off by reading The Lightening Thief and buckle up for the ride!
There's my top ten picks. I'm sure there are a whole lot more books that I've read that have had me ROFL, but this is all I could think of! What about you? Read any funny books lately?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bullet Journal | Future Log

Last week, I introduced you to the Bullet Journal concept. This week, I'm going to start the introduction into my own BuJo. The beauty of this system is the flexibility. There is so much room to make the BuJo your own... to make it work for YOU.

I wanted to start this series by introducing you to my future log. As stated in the last post, I use my future log to notate events that I need to remember for the upcoming year, as well as events that have happened and I want to remember for the next year. There are so many different ways you can set up your own future log. I chose to do my birthdays and anniversaries separate because I have so many I need to keep up with.

(Yes, that says "Birtdays"....)
I also chose to do the whole year on a 2 page spread for my future log. Some have chosen to do a few months to six months at a time. For me, it just seemed easier to have it all on the same page.

Check out the Bullet Journal blog for more Future Log ideas. You can also check out Pinterest for even more fun ideas!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall | Book Review

Overview: Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a cafĂ© in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood, and keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.

Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD
ISBN-13: 9781601426994 | Publisher: Crown Religion/Business/Forum
Publication date: 09/08/2015 | Series: Amish of Summer Grove Series

My Review: I've never read such an intense book from the Amish genre. Ties That Bind was all I expected it to be... and so much more! From the very beginning to the very end, I was biting my nails. I was nervous, excited, and scared for Ariana and the Brenneman family, even though I didn't know exactly what was wrong! The well-hashed plot kept me turning pages until the very end. AND TALK ABOUT A CLIFF HANGER! I can't wait to get my hands on the next book!

Ariana Brenneman loves her family, her faith, and her community and it shines through her personality on each page. After a devastating blow five years ago, Ariana has become fiercely protective of those she loves, so when Quill enters her life again she is understandably wary. Despite how Ariana feels, I instantly fell in love with Quill, especially after I learned why he did what he did. His deep understanding of faith and his acceptance of the consequences associated with his choices made him my favorite character in the book. I *hope* Quill and Ariana end up together. He is definitely my choice for her! (HINT HINT Cindy Woodsmall!!)

The statement that touched me the most, and the one I feel relates to the message of the story for all characters involved is this: "I used to think I wasn't strong enough to face my future. But eventually I learned that I only have to face today, and that's where our loving God, faithful family, and good friends come in. Each brings something to the day that strengthens us - just enough, but who needs more than just enough?" Wow.... just wow. I cannot tell you how much that statement just knocked me off my feet. Who needs more than just enough?.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Ariana's story and cannot wait to see what the future holds for her and the Brenneman family.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.*

About the Author: Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the Foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bullet Journaling | How I Got Started

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of work you have on your plate? Is your desk over run by sticky notes and random pieces of scratch paper? Do you wish you had a better way to organize your life? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then I've got the perfect solution for you. Introducing the Bullet Journal: a revolutionary organizer that can be as simple or complex as you'd like it to be!

Alright, I'll stop sounding like an infomercial. I was introduced to the wonderful world of Bullet Journaling by a friend of mine. She was raving about how it helped her organize all of her work and personal life in one place. I started researching the concept and wasn't immediately hooked. Enter Pinterest. If you are ever on the fence about something, there is nothing like Pinterest to get you hooked or completely dissuade you. I realized how much fun I could have with a Bullet Journal (affectionately known as a BuJo) and decided to give it a try.

First things first: Learn more.

Start here: Bullet Journal: The Analog System For The Digital Age. I got the best understanding of what a Bullet Journal is and what I can do with it from this site. Plus, they have lots of ideas on how to customize your Bullet Journal.

Now that you've fallen in love with the BuJo system: gather your supplies. 

There are many different journals on the market you can choose from. Two of the most popular brands are the Moleskine and Leuchtturm. I chose the Moleskine, Large, Squared paper notebeook. (For a comparison of the two, visit BohoBerry.) As writing tools, I use the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. I love these pens. They come in a variety of colors and a super cool case!

Finally: Give it a try!

The best thing about this system is the customization options. You can stick with the basic system created by Ryder Carroll or adapt his version to suit your needs, like I've done. I found a lot of inspiration on Pinterest (follow my Journaling board), as well as sites like and Plus, you can check out the Bullet Journal Blog for even more inspiration!

Perhaps the most important page in your BuJo is the Key. This page sets up the standard for how you will record items in your Bullet Journal. Since I haven't quite decided the exact way I want to do this, I've left my Key on a sticky note. That gives me the ability to change my mind and transfer it to the page once I have everything set in stone.

The next page of importance is the Index. The Index is important because,
like in any book, it is the place where you notate your "chapters." You want to make sure you leave plenty of room for the Index, because you will add to it as you add to your BuJo.

The Future Log can be used in many different ways. You can set it up for the whole year or a certain period of time (i.e. 3-6 months). I wanted to use my future log for birthdays and future events I needed to remember, as well as events that happened in the past year that I wanted to remember to note for next year (did you follow that?!). I quickly found that I have wayyyyy too many birthdays and anniversaries to remember for the amount of space I've dedicated to my future log, so I have set up a separate page dedicated for this purpose. (Yes, I misspelled "Birthdays"... everyone is having "birtdays" this year!!)

And that's it! You're ready to begin your Bullet Journal journey! The best part is, you can change your mind. Try something out. If you don't like it, change it up next time. It's perfectly flexible!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg | Release Day(!!) + Giveaway

Author: Melissa Tagg
Series: Walker Family, Book 2
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Year: 2016
ISBN: 9780764213083

OverviewA dying newspaper. An intriguing mystery. And a love they didn't see coming.

Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley's haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered, but her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the paper is bought out by a chain that plans to incorporate it into a regional paper.

After his biggest campaign success yet, speechwriter Logan Walker is approached to work on a presidential campaign. But he already lost his wife three years ago, and saying yes to the job means he'll see his young daughter even less. When Logan hears of a special election campaign in his hometown, helping out sounds like the perfect way to occupy himself while deciding what to do.

When Amelia hears Logan is back in town, she begs him to lend his previous experience in the newspaper world to help turn her paper's numbers around in time. They may butt heads more than they expected, but a lead on a story that could help save the paper is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

Buy a Copy: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: Oh. My. Cuteness. I flew through this story and cannot wait to read it again, and again, and again! I love it when a fictional book grabs my attention and teaches me a real life lesson about my Lord. That's exactly what happened as I was reading Like Never Before. It also helps that Melissa writes her characters in a way that I can relate to their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

This is the second book in the Walker Family series, but it can definitely be read as a stand alone (however, I highly recommend reading From the Start and Three Little Words (which is FREE)). I can tell Melissa poured her heart and soul into these characters. They are excellently written. Amelia is such a unique character. I found her quirky, charming, and of course inquisitive. Her curiosity often helped her connect with Logan on a different level. Logan's equal charm and curiosity put Amelia at ease enough to drop her guard. They were just a fun couple to experience! The setting of Maple Valley is a "character" in it's own right. With unique residents and quirky festivals, Maple Valley has all the charm I would want in a small town.

Melissa Tagg's sometimes witty, sometimes serious dialogue provided the perfect backdrop for the wisdom and insights I gleaned from this story. My copy has several dog-eared pages where I read little nuggets of truth I can relate to and use in my every day life. By hiding your true self, whether intentional or unintentional, you are missing out on so much! I enjoyed following their journey back to a faith and love like they've never experienced before.

Overall, I enjoyed my return trip to Maple Valley, and I look forward to learning more about Reagan and Beckett, and catching up with my old friends Ava, Seth, Kate, and Colton.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.*

Hop over to Melissa's blog and find out why she loves Logan so much, and enter to win a copy!
Happy Release Day Melissa!!

About the Author: Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft-and-coaching community for writers. When she's not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She's passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at

Connect with Melissa: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Friday, April 1, 2016

Belize Mission Trip 2016 | Day 7 | Wrap Up


Day 7: Today was our last work day in Belize. Our job was to finish up all of the projects we had started. We used all of the paint we had left to finish putting one coat on the lower school building. The men worked hard to get the roof and kitchen in Mrs. Benadicta's house back together. Some of our team were still out for the count, and I wasn't feeling all that great, so I mainly took pictures of the ladies conducting a quick Bible school lesson for the kids in the chapel at the school.  They did an amazing job catering the lesson to each age group and getting the kids involved.

Last time I came to Belize, I got to witness a wedding. This time, I got to witness a baptism of a 3 day old baby Kai. Pastor Tim does an amazing job of explaining why Presbyterians believe in infant baptism. It was such a tender moment to see my mother-in-law stand proudly beside Jess, her mom, and her little boy. It was a great night, filled with love and laughter.

Day 8: Goodbyes are always hard, but this year proved to be the hardest. I know my "season" in Belize has come to an end with my desire to start a family of my own. I woke up with a heavy heart and dreaded the moment we would pull out of Camelote village. We stopped at Mrs. Benadicta's to say our goodbyes to Jess and the baby. Mrs. Benadicta hugged me, and the tears started falling. She said "Isn't it such a blessing that God lets us be sisters?" Such a sweet, sweet lady! I made sure to tell "my kids" to behave themselves and continue to work hard to be examples for their friends. I probably cried halfway to the airport.

I know my time in Belize has changed me. I look forward to the day I can come back and see the growth of, not only the community, but the friends and family I have made there. I can look back on the memories I made and the experiences I had in Belize with a smile, knowing they made just as much of an impact on me as I did on them.

Day 9: After a long day of travel (yesterday), 2 hours in line for customs, we missed our connecting flight. We stayed in Miami overnight because the only flight they could get all 10 of us on was in the morning. We flew from Miami, to Tampa, then on to Charlotte. We made it home around 1 pm, and boy was I glad to be home. 

Overall, as with the last trip, I am truly humbled by my experiences. I cannot begin to describe what God has shown me about myself this last week. I look forward to starting a family of my own, but I will truly miss the people in Belize. They have a large part of my heart.