Monday, May 27, 2019

Beauty in His Sight- April W. Gardner

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: It's 1917, and Halifax is at war. Silas Quinn, street sweeper and army reject, remains on the home front, shunning God and society as religiously as they shun him. But the night he stumbles across a half-frozen prostitute, his eyes blink open, and his greater purpose is born: preserve and protect.

There'd been a day when shop girl Helen Fraser was desperate enough to believe a few nights in a brothel would cure her troubles. By some miracle, Major Jack Gordon deemed her worth saving, but Helen knows her meticulously recreated identity cannot last. What she doesn't expect is for its destruction to come about, not by a john or one of the madam's goons, but by a force great enough to flatten a city and bury her alive.

Set against the backdrop of the Halifax Explosion, Beautiful in His Sight is a Christian historical romance that explores unequivocal grace and identity in Christ.

My Thoughts: I've been in love with April's book ever since I first picked up her story about Totka and Copper Woman. That story had filled the place of a certain story which I had known had to exist but had not found up to that point. And I've followed April's releases ever since, eagerly devouring each new story.

This book is a massive tome, nearly twice the length of her other works. But it didn't feel like it (probably because I read it on my kindle, since I'm sure the weight of it would have reminded me of how big it is). The relationship of Helen and Silas is just so captivating, that I didn't want it to come to an end. And the setting of the Halifax Explosion provides a backdrop that is captivating in and of itself.

For readers wondering if this is the story for them, I would probably liken it to Francine River's Redeeming Love. April does not hide the darkness of the situation Helen is in or has been taken out of. And for some readers, that may be a lot to handle. But for others, it will be a wonderful story of beauty, love, and forgiveness.

I have provided an honest review after receiving an ecopy from the author.

https://amzn.to/2MaFuOC
*Also on Kindle Unlimited

Monday, May 20, 2019

Porch Sing Girl- Taylor Bennett

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: What if friendship cost you everything?

Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.

With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.

But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged. Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted, Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket home. And time is running out.


My Thoughts: Have you ever read a book that transports you into a summer mood? Porch Swing Girl is set in a sunny city, with beach and shave ice, as well as jewelry making and summer jobs. It made me long to be there with Olive and her friends, enjoying the sun and sand.

Admittedly, I did find some issues with the story. It took me a few chapters to figure out Olive's age (whether she was an older or younger teen), who certain characters were to each other, and what exactly happened to Olive's mother. And despite the fact that Olive is reacting in a believable way to her lose and subsequent abandonment by her father, other characters behave as though she is missbehaving without reason, instead of trying to talk through the situation with her.

Yet once Olive begins her friendships with Jazz and Brander, she begins to see how she can turn her memories to joy instead of pain. At that point, she shows a lot of character growth, perhaps even despite her family, and sees how she can use her past to better motivate her to help others. While the Christian elements might have been a little too preachy, there was still a good message as to not blaming God for what befalls us and instead trusting him through future pain.

I think that this a great book for Christian girls looking for that perfect summer read, especially those who want a Christian message that makes up the bulk of the story. I look forward to the next book and to what comes of Brander's comments at the end of this one.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dead Sea Rising- Jerry B. Jenkins

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: Nicole Berman is an archaeologist on the brink of a world-changing discovery. During her first dig in Jordan, she believes she has found concrete evidence of a biblical patriarch that could change history books forever. But someone doesn’t want the truth revealed. While urgently trying to connect pieces of an ancient puzzle, a dangerous enemy is out to stop her.

My Thoughts: When I picked up this book, I thought it was going to be a stand alone novel. Nothing about the cover or the description indicated that this was going to be a series. So, it was not until the end of the book that I started to wonder if maybe it could be a series, and an online search showed that this was the case. However, even had I known ahead of time that this was a duology, I don't think I would have liked it.

There are two stories taking place within Dead Sea Rising, one in modern day and one in the time of King Nimrod, mentioned in Genesis. Throughout the story, I was waiting for the moment when the two would connect. But even at the very end, I was still left wondering. I assume that the two will be connected in the next book, but not having that connection in this story made it difficult to care when the narrative switched between the timelines, sometimes every other page.

The individual narratives could have been interesting on their own, as I did think there was some mystery to what would happen. But neither was strong enough to support the weight of a novel, and so I could have easily skipped over sections that didn't seem to add much to the story.

The biggest issue I had with this, however, was that it did not live up to the description given. The story has very little to do with Nicole's work as an archaeologist or her theories. Her being an archaeologist was the entire reason I found interest in this book, as that is what I myself do for a living. Yet, while Nicole mentions her anticipated work, because she has not yet been granted access to the site she wants, the story revolves around an investigation into domestic abuse over a fall that Nicole's mother has had. And that is not the story that the description had promised.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Moments 'til Midnight- Brent Crowe

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: In the biblical letter of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul reflected on his passing life. It was but a vapor. He was a pilgrim, passing through this life and into the next. Moments 'til Midnight creatively peels back the curtain of Paul's final hours. Author Brent Crowe imaginatively retells the last twelve hours of Paul's life, from the perspective of the apostle himself. Along the way, readers will be encouraged to live with purpose, to redeem the time, and to embrace the awesome reality that they too are on a sacred journey.

With no more letters to write, no more churches to plant, no more sermons to preach, and no more missionary journeys to embark upon, Paul awaited his death sentence. What were his final reflections on life? How did he view the race he had run? How should you view the race set before you?


My Thoughts: The blurb of this book implies that this is a form of retelling of Paul's final moments, going through the book of 2 Timothy. This would have made it similar to books like Remarkable Faith, where a portion of each chapter is written in a fictional manner, but the chapter as a whole discusses ideas from scripture. This ended up not being the case, with only a short section at the beginning of the book which met this description.

The rest of the book focuses on potential ideas which Paul could have dwelt on in his last hours, However, few of the chapters touched on 2 Timothy, which the blurb would lead one to believe was going to be the focal point of the book. The chapters are instead on subjects like friendship and grace, referencing verses from other books that Paul had written, as well as C.S. Lewis and stories Crowe has heard. C.S. Lewis' influence was particularly felt when the author references Heaven as 'heaven country', a nod to Aslan's Country.

I did not find this book to be particularly close to what I was looking for when I picked it up. I anticipated an in depth study of 2 Timothy, with some imaginative imagery to set the scene. The topics broached in this book are ones that could have entered Paul's mind in his final hours, however, I find that somewhat unlikely.

Other reviewers have pointed out that this book may be useful for newer Christians, as it summarizes a number of points from Paul's ministry. This is something I can agree with, as personally I did not find much that was new or engaging, but I also did not find really anything that I disagreed with.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy from the publisher.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Shadow Among Sheaves- Naomi Stephens

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz

The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.

Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.


My Thoughts: I love Biblical fiction and am often interested in historical retellings of these stories. And the premise for this book intrigued me. Ruth as an Indian woman coming to England after the death of her British husband? Definitely a story that appealed to me.

As a historical novel, I thought this was good. The treatment of Rena and her mother-in-law was believable, and I enjoyed learning about how Rena and her first husband met and found their way as a mixed couple. However, I was not as impressed with this story as a retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth.

This book sticks to all of the "plot points" of the original book of Ruth, but it changes the motivation for most of the decisions the characters make. To some extent, this was to be expected. The culture of England during this story was vastly different than that of ancient Israel. However, this meant that some of the events of the Biblical story did not fit as well into this narrative. Also, Barric's character was vastly different from that of the Biblical Boaz in a way that made him less likeable in comparison.

I think this book would have been better had it diverged farther from the book of Ruth, with Ruth's story being the inspiration for the narrative rather than the plot. There are things which were important to the story and culture of the book of Ruth which made no difference in the story of Rena. As such, I liked this book, but not as much as I had felt that I could have with a few changes.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ecopy through Netgalley.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Flight of the Raven- Morgan L. Busse

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Exiled and on the run, Selene Ravenwood is in search of the real reason her family was given the gift of dreamwalking but first she must adapt to her marriage with the man she was originally assigned to kill. With war impending and a dark being after her gift, she finds herself at a crossroads but time is running out and soon her choice will be made for her.

My Thoughts: I did not like this book as much as I had hoped. Unfortunately, the issues I had with the first book are still present in this one. As with the last, I still found Selene to be a difficult character to relate with. Whereas before it was because she was blindly following her mother's orders in the beginning of the book, this time it was because I felt like her quest for answers held no sense of urgency. While she does take some steps toward her goal, most of the story revolved around her relationship with Damien. Which is a relationship I loved, but I wish that she had done more outside of that.

We know that off page, Damien is making plans to stop the Empire and that Selene is reading ancient texts about the house gifts. However, neither of them ever really discuss these things with each other, and no one else is enlisted to help Selene scour the texts for the information she needs. And while this later part is because both are afraid of what people will think of Selene's dreamwalking, I was still frustrated that what seems to be a religious question (what was the Light's initial intention for dreamwalking?) was never addressed to the religious leaders they interacted with.

For a fantasy about magical gifts and war, a large portion of this book was dedicated to Damien and Selene coming to know and care for each other. And as someone who is always a sucker for a married couple as the main characters, I did enjoy this aspect. But I also wish that it had been drawn out longer and that more happened in the story in between. Even their falling in love could have been fleshed out more, since there are entire days of their relationship which are skipped over. As a reader, I want to see what Selene and Damien find to talk about for hours in his study, I want to see him show her the beach, and for her to gradually open up to him about who she is beneath her heart of ice.

I still love Damien's character and found his thoughts about his new wife to be adorable. And this book was a pretty easy read, promising a better book to come next. I just wish that this had not hit the middle book slump.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ecopy through Netgalley.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Noble Guardian- Michelle Griep

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: A Cross-Country Trip through Regency England Brings Intrigue, Rogues, and High Adventure

The must-read conclusion to Michelle Griep’s Bow Street Runners Trilogy: Life couldn’t be better for Abigail Gilbert—but it’s been a long time in coming. Having lived with a family who hated her, it’s finally her time for love. Abby sets off on a journey across England to marry one of the most prestigious gentlemen in the land—until highwaymen upset her plans and threaten her life.

Horse patrol captain Daniel Thatcher arrives just in time to save Abby. But she’s simply another victim in a job he’s come to despise. Tired of the dark side of humanity, he intends to buy land and retire.

Abby pleads with him to escort her for the rest of her journey. He refuses—until she offers him something he desperately needs to achieve his goal. . .money. Delivering her safely will give him more than enough to buy property.

So begins an impossible trek for the cynical lawman and the proper lady. Each will be indelibly changed by the time they reach her betrothed, if they don’t kill one another first—or fall in love.


My Thoughts: I've not read a lot of Griep's work, only one other book. But I had found that I had enjoyed that one, so I thought to give this a try. However I do not think that this book lived up to her other one. Despite the character's stating where and when it is that they live, I could not help but picture this story as taking place in Western America, a good hundred years later. This is because the details which which should have set up the location were rarely described.

As for the characters, Abby herself is a woman of strength and confidence, neither of which are traits that seemed to fit with her background of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her family. For someone who has been told her whole life that she is unloved and unwanted, she has no problem believing that Sir Jonathan would fall in love with her after one dance. Even thoughts of her family's absolute abandonment of her just before she is to leave only mildly saddens her.

On the other side of the spectrum is Samuel, who sees nothing but the ugliest side of the world after he have survived a drunken and abusive father, war, and life as a lawman. And while his outlook on life is justified, he is unable to recognize the abuse and neglect Abby suffered even after he learns some of her family's treatment of her. And both characters leave behind a woman and her son whom they know are being abused and neglected. Samuel's only aid offered to them is to give the boy a couple of coins to live off of once his mother passes because of disease and malnourishment.

The only true bright spot I could find in the story was Emma. The child and her antics are adorable as is the relationship between her and the two adults. However, that does not make up for the rest of the characters in the story. Characters who willfully allow others to walk into danger because they can't be bothered to warn them, as well as supposedly kind characters who caste scathing judgement on people they have just met. There are other issues I had with the story, such as unnecessary coincidences and a villain who wastes time with threatening messages when he doesn't need to.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ecopy through Netgalley.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Far Side of the Sea- Kate Breslin

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life--a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel's half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel's diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.


My Thoughts: I've not read anything by Kate Breslin before, but I am glad that I was able to pick up this novel of hers. The first thing which stood out to me while reading was the quality of Breslin's writing. Her descriptions are clear and flow well with the narrative, creating a story that feels real and well thought through.

The attention to historical detail also stands out. I love that she mentions how Colin is able to hear the bombings in Paris from his home in Hastings, England. This is a chilling detail which I had never considered the possibility of before, making the war seem all the more real to me. This, along with a number of other details, set this as a unique story among so many others.

But even with the fantastic writing and research, as story still needs to deliver on its plot and characters, which I feel that Breslin did well with. Both Colin and Johanna come with rich backgrounds as well as complex personalities and desires. And the plot line follows numerous, small twists and turns, which increased the mystery surrounding the complex world of WWI spies. Unlike many a novel I have read, the narrative surrounding espionage in this book felt like it could have actually happened.

I am glad I was able to read this book, and look forward to finding the rest of the author's work. Hopefully they will all live up to this.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through the publisher.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Auschwitz Lullaby- Mario Escobar

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: On an otherwise ordinary morning in 1943, Helene Hannemann is preparing her five children for the day when the German police arrive at her home. Helene’s worst fears come true when the police, under strict orders from the SS, demand that her children and husband, all of Romani heritage, be taken into custody. Though Helene is German and safe from the forces invading her home, she refuses to leave her family—sealing her fate in a way she never could have imagined.

After a terrifying trek across the continent, Helene and her family arrive at Auschwitz and are thrown into the chaos of the camp. Her husband, Johann, is separated from them, but Helene remains fiercely protective of her children and those around her. When the powers-that-be discover that Helene is not only a German but also a trained nurse, she is forced into service at the camp hospital, which is overseen by the notorious Dr. Mengele himself.

Helene is under no illusions in terms of Dr. Mengele’s intentions, but she agrees to cooperate when he asks her to organize a day care and school for the Romani children in the camp. Though physically and emotionally brutalized by the conditions at Auschwitz, Helene musters the strength to protect the children in her care at any cost. Through sheer force of will, Helene provides a haven for the children of Auschwitz—an act of kindness and selflessness so great that it illuminates the darkest night of human history.

Based on a true story, Mario Escobar’s Auschwitz Lullaby demonstrates the power of sacrifice and the strength of human dignity—even when all hope seems lost.

My Thoughts: Dr. Mengele's horrifying experiments on children in Auschwitz are well known. Yet the lives of those who suffered under his oversight are largely forgotten. Helene's life is one of these which is overshadowed by Dr. Mengele's story, that of a woman who chose to live and die with her family when she was repeatedly offered the chance to escape their fate.

The history of what happened within the gypsy portion of Auschwitz is both fascinating and horrendously upsetting. Those who lived there showed both great courage as well as extreme cruelty to their fellow prisoners in the hopes of survival. As someone with a background in anthropology, it interests me to learn about the ways people behave when society is broken. And so that made this story one that I devoured fairly quickly.

However, I do not feel that the writing or the translation held up as well as I would have liked. The book is written some what as though it were a diary, with the narrative told to the reader rather than shown. Unlike most diary style books, the narrative mentioned past events as they become important instead of following an absolute chronological order. Yet this is easily adapted to as a reader.

For the writing, there is a level of repetition to conversations where certain details are re-mentioned, which I am sure is the same throughout any language this book has been printed it. As for the English version, there are a few grammar mistakes as well as what I felt were poor word choices. These choices seemed to have been made as the most literal translation, but perhaps not the most effective. At times they were synonyms to words that would have fit well, but the word used was not exactly right.

This issue with the translation did bother me more toward the start of the novel, whether because it occurred fewer time later or because I had grown used to it, I am unsure. I still believe that this book is a good read for those who are interested in Auschwitz and what transpired there. Yet I would not recommend it to those who do not normally read from this time period. For such readers, I would say that there are many other books with just as interesting story lines but perhaps better writing or translation.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through the Fiction Guild.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

With This Pledge- Tamera Alexander

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Elizabeth "Lizzie" Clouston's quietly held principles oppose those of the Southern Cause--but when forty thousand soldiers converge on the fields of Franklin, Tennessee, the war demands an answer. The Carnton home, where she is governess, is converted into a Confederate hospital, and Lizzie is called upon to assist the military doctor with surgeries that determine life or death. Faced with the unimaginable, she must summon fortitude, even as she fears for the life of Towny, her fiancĂ© and lifelong friend.
  
As a young soldier lies dying in Lizzie's arms, she vows to relay his final words to his mother, but knows little more than the boy's first name. That same night, decorated Mississippi sharpshooter Captain Roland Ward Jones extracts a different promise from Lizzie: that she intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate his leg.
  
Lizzie is nothing if not a woman of her word, earning the soldiers' respect as she tends to the wounded within Carnton's walls. None is more admiring than Captain Jones, who doesn't realize she is pledged to another. But as Lizzie's heart softens toward the Confederate captain, she discovers his moral ground is at odds with her own. Now torn between love, principles, and pledges made, she struggles to be true to her own heart while standing for what she knows is right--no matter the cost.

My Thoughts: I'll start by saying that I believe this to be one of Tamera Alexander's best written books. The events which transpire are vividly described and well handled. The realities of war are described in detail, without being graphic, and most of the side characters are given strong backgrounds which set them off the page.

I struggled with the first part of the book, not because I wasn't enjoying it, but because when it comes to bones, I'm a lot more squeamish than Lizzie is. But it was also in those chapters that I found myself the most invested. I believe it is due to Tamera's dedication to research. Though I cannot say for sure, I imagine that the reason those scenes came to life so well was because those people where real. There was someone at Carnton praying the psalms, there teenage boys waiting for surgery right alone side grown men. Dying beside grown men.

But despite my love of the story, and Tamera's writing, there was one detail that somewhat soured it for me. As with most Southerner's of the time, Captain Jones is a supporter of slavery, and though by the end of the story he has admitted this as a fault, that admission felt to me a little too easy. While Lizzie struggles to find the courage to speak her opinion, and finds that courage through watching the courage of others and hearing the stories of slaves who are abused, Captain Jones fairly easily accepts that all people should be free. But even then it felt as though that admission came only because the war left him no choice, his slaves were going to be taken from him either way.

I would have liked for Captain Jones to have apologized to George. For him to have heard the same story that Lizzie did about what happened to George's sister who had tried to escape... the same sister who had also been one of Captain Jones' slaves. It's never really clear whether or not Captain Jones knew what happened. Maybe she ran away while he was at war. But I still felt that he should have had to confront the pain he had caused others, not just admit that he shouldn't do it anymore.

I am glad that Tamera did address one issue with Captain Jones which I believe people often forget, that being that people will struggle to admit when they have done something wrong not just because it will place them at fault but because it will also cast blame on the role models who taught it to them. And most often people choose their beloved heroes over the hurting people right in front of them. It is something that we all do, even with small things like lying or making inappropriate comments.

So while I cannot say that this story hit all the notes I had hoped for, I can say that it is a good book. I'm glad that I was able to read it and hope that Tamera comes out with another one soon.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through the publisher.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Becoming Mrs. Lewis Blog Tour and Giveaway

When I signed up for this tour, I had not yet read Becoming Mrs. Lewis. But I am still participating, to give you all a chance to read this book for yourself and see what you think of it. (Maybe we can have a discussion!)


Banner_BecomingMrsLewis_BlogJR

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan with JustRead Publicity Tours! We continue the Becoming Mrs. Lewis celebration on social media starting March 14.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Becoming Mrs. 

LewisTitle: Becoming Mrs. Lewis 
Author: Patti Callahan  
Publ isher: Thomas Nelson 
Genre: Historical Fiction  
Release Date: October 2, 2018

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Call ahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.”

When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis — known as Jack — she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill - matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled fro m America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest lov e stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice — and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story — a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.


 BECOMING MRS. LEWIS EXCERPT ---Click to read the first two chapters



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

callahanp 
 Patti Callahan (who also writes as Patti Callahan Henry) is a New York Times bestselling author. Patti was a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, h as been an Indie Next Pick, twice an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year. Her work has also been included in short story collections, anthologies, magazines, and blogs. Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time. The mother of three children, she lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina, with her husband.  



CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR: website | facebook | twitter | instag ram

bml blog giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(2) winners will each win a hardcover release copy of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

Be sure to check out each stop on the Blog and Takeover tours for more chances to win. Full tour schedule on this tour shown below. Giveaway began at midnight March 12, 2019 and will last through 1 1:59 PM EST on March 19, 2019. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Due to shipping cost, only US mailing addresses valid. For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.









Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

AND

Be sure to stop at the following tours for more chances to win!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Becoming Mrs. Lewis- Pattie Callahan

My Rating: 1 Stars

Description: In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice.

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.


My Thoughts: As with any work written about a historical figure, the lines can be blurred as to whether critique should be given to the individuals actions or else to the author's writing and portrayal of those events. Having been a fan of C.S. Lewis, I of course want to offer the benefit of the doubt to him and the woman he loved, but then run the risk of being unfair to Callahan and my opinion of her work.

There were numerous reasons I chose to rate this book as I did, none the least of which was the means of story telling and writing itself. The text seemed to often jump around, as though following Joy's thought progression within a scene rather than more comprehensible format. Instead, the thoughts would tend to scatter, starting in one moment, traveling to earlier in that day, then memories from her past, all interspersed with snippets of letters which addressed the theme of the scenes far too well for me to believe that they were actual correspondence traded between Joy and Jack (C.S. Lewis). This, I know is a preference on my part, as there are those who enjoy this exploratory means of story telling. However, I found that it more often than not it pulled me from the story.

Then there were the actual events of the story, which did give me pause. While by no means an expert on the Lewis', there were things which I already knew (such as Mrs. Lewis having been married before, divorced, and the mother of children through that marriage). Knowing these things, I was not totally surprised to learn that the Lewis' met before Joy's divorce, nor that he encouraged her through those events. And his support of her is something which I applaud, knowing that she would have needed a lot of courage and wisdom to make the decision that she did. However, it is the portrayal of this support, and the nature of their correspondence, which I took issue with.

In the author's note, Callahan says that she took Joy's internal musings from Joy's writings. Having never read anything Joy Lewis wrote, I cannot say how much of Callahan's story does indeed come from Joy's work, how much is made up, and how much may have been misinterpreted. I do know, that with this book, Joy Lewis engages in an emotional affair while still claiming to want her marriage to work. Rather than devote her time and thoughts to her husband, she instead describes herself as spending every moment filtering her day through the question of how she would write about it to Jack. And while I in no way believe that Bill was deserving of her time and her attention, I do believe that her devotion to her marriage and to God was.

After Joy's divorce, there are also numerous instances where Joy behaved in a manner which lead me to agree with Tolken on his assessment of her character. No matter how much Jack wished to live a life which he believed was upright (never mind whether or not his perception of upright was indeed correct), Joy insists to him that he give up his ideals and instead act on his feelings. There is no discussion of God nor of what the Bible says of their circumstances. Even later on, once they are getting married and Joy asks the bishop why he was willing to preform the ceremony, his response is that he asked himself what Christ would do... not that he asked scripture what Christ would do or even prayed on the decision.

As for the book's treatment of scripture, there is very little of it within the story. To my memory, there was only one verse quoted, though the language of scripture was used throughout. However, this language used grace to describe their having fallen in love with each other rather than God's love for them. And the one verse quoted "Death, where is your sting?", which is about no longer fearing death because the grace of God redeems us and rescues us from the uncertainty of life after death, was used instead to describe how strong the love between Joy and Jack is. Within this story, there is the sense that Jack is Joy's god, her savior, and that the real God is only an afterthought meant to confirm whatever Jack has already spoken over her.

With detailing the Lewis' growing relationship, there are chapter after chapter of information that I believe could have been cut. At least two chapters in a row are only of Jack giving Joy a tour of Oxford and the surrounding area, with the majority of conversations in these chapters being about their thoughts on the majesty of Oxford. There are chapters where Joy discussed her feelings for Jack with friends who never reappear in the narrative, and a single chapter where the story shows Joy's relationship with her parents, a relationship which the reader already knows is a strained and toxic one and which is not mentioned again.

I know that the majority of readers found this book to be a wonderful story of a love despite the odds. Yet I was left mainly with disappointment, either in the author or the Lewis' themselves. I will say that this book has left me with the determination to read more of Lewis' work than I already have, as well as to pick up some of Joy's. And should I meet someone in person who has already read the book, I would love to discuss it. Joy and Jack Lewis have been a highly influential couple, their popularity only growing in the past year with an increasing interest in their beliefs on equality. And these are perhaps the first authors whom I have felt any real desire to dissect their work in such manner.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through The Fiction Guild.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Between Two Shores- Jocelyn Green

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it is easier to remain neutral in a world that is tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the fray against her wishes when her British ex-fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel asks her to help him escape, claiming he has information that could help end the war.

Peace appeals to Catherine, but helping the man who broke her heart does not. She delays . . . until attempts on Samuel's life convince her he's in mortal danger. Against her better judgment she helps him flee by river, using knowledge of the landscape to creep ever closer to freedom. Their time together rekindles feelings she thought long buried, and danger seems to hound their every mile. She's risked becoming a traitor by choosing a side, but will the decision cost her even more than she anticipated?


My Thoughts: Something I learned while reading this is that, as the author has stated before, she is not a romance writer, but a historical author whose works may include romance. And for people reading this book, I believe that is an important distinction, unlike with her last two novels.

Jocelyn Green is a fantastic historical author. Her works are well written, well researched and always from a perspective which I had yet to see from these time periods. Growing up in Michigan, I had of course learned about this war in school, though never from a French/Mohawk stand point. It was interesting to learn more about what happened during this conflict than what I had in school.

My one dislike from the book was Samuel's character. Though I understood that the decisions he made were what he believed to be the right choice, I still felt strongly that they hadn't been. Particularly his actions which occurred in the actual story. And since his actions had a direct impact on Catherine's life and well being, I couldn't help but feel angry whenever the narrative drifted back to discussing his motivations.

In that regard, I found that I sympathized quite a bit with Catherine's siblings. I felt they behaved toward Samuel in the exact manner as I would have given the situation. And I loved the entire sibling plot line and how it delved into how they are all united as a family despite having values and identities separate from each other. I enjoyed this read and look forward to Green's next book.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Within These Lines- Stephanie Morrill

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.


My Thoughts: This is a confusing review for me to write. I've been extremely excited for this book for a while now, ever since reading Girl of Astor Street and learning that this was to be Stephanie's next book. I had hoped for a novel as awesome as that, hopefully with some mystery as well. However, this book was not as similar to the author's last as I hoped.

As always, Stephanie's writing is amazing. It is easy to read and relate with, and I blew through the story in a day with little to complain about. But even while reading, I knew that while I believed this story worthy of a four star review for most, it was more of a three star read for me personally. The reason for this is that I believe the narrative relies a lot of the reader having never read another book about Japanese Interment and to perhaps be a little in the dark about that time in history. And for most readers, this is true. Japanese Internment is not a much talked out subject in America, unlike the Holocaust which most everyone knows something about.

However, I have read about Japanese Interment, both novels and nonfiction accounts. I have been interested in the subject from a young age and so, as with any historical I read, I was hoping to learn something new or to at least find the story to be about the internal conflict of the characters who still believed themselves Americans but found their country telling them that they were not American enough.

And I KNOW, I warned that this review would be confusing. Because I do believe that had I not already known about most of what was mentioned in this book (I did learn about one event that I had not heard of before, and was captivated for those chapters) that I would have been singing the story's highest praises. And I do recommend that people read this and learn more about a subject they may not have known much about. Because Stephanie's writing is phenomenal and Japanese Internment is a piece of history that should never be forgotten or dismissed.

That's not to say that if you already know about Japanese Internment, that you will not enjoy this story. It is still well told, it just didn't hit all of the right notes for me. I wish that there had been more of an internal conflict with the characters as their worlds shifted, as well as perhaps some flashbacks to the beginning of Taichi and Evalina's relationship. Because even before internment, it took guts for these characters to choose to be together.

I have provided an honest review of this book. However, I was not required to post a review as I received an ARC through a giveaway held by the author.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Of Fire and Lions- Mesu Andrews

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin's Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear--until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Belili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?


Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.


My Thoughts: Daniel has always been one of my favorite men from the Bible, due to his honor and the many miracles that occur throughout his life. But while there are plenty of books were Daniel is a side character, those stories often leave Daniel appearing inhumanly perfect, without fears or regrets. Whereas Mesu's novel shows him to have been just as human as the rest of us, though perhaps with a bit more faith.

I'll admit that I was hesitant when I first picked up this book. It starts off in Daniel and Belili's old age, leading me to believe that I was not going to be able to see the miracles from Daniel's life but only read as he recounted them. Fortunately, this was not the case as the story drifted back and forth through time, anchoring the narrative in the ending period of Judah's seventy years of exile before shifting back to detail everything that happened in those seventy years.

Belili is not my favorite of Mesu's heroines. She is not as likeable or as upright as some. However, I felt that I could relate to her struggles with belif. Like all of us, she has seen moments of God's goodness, but easily forgets them when faced with hardship. And it is only a long and hard road which leads her to trust Yahweh no matter the consequences to herself or others.

Despite my initial trepidation, Of Fire and Lions has become my second favorite of Mesu's novels (I think The Pharaoh's Daughter will always be my favorite) because of its honesty in portraying the characters' failings and regrets even as they seek to follow God in their daily lives. Trusting God is not an easy path, but it is rewarding if we take courage in God and see it through.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ARC through the author and publisher.







There is also a pre-order sale going on! Read this message from the publisher: We have some serious fun planned for you on release day, March 5th! You are going to want a copy of the book in your hands early that morning to participate in the Of Fire and Lions Launch Day Palooza! (More details to come on this 12-hour event in the March 4th Book Lover Newsletter.)

How do you get a book in your hot, little hands on launch day, you ask? We have three easy options for you!

- Pre-order your copy from WaterBrook Multnomah during their Pre-Order BOGO event. (Pssst...this option includes a free 2nd book!) https://waterbrookmultnomah.com/ofalbogo/
 
- Pre-order a copy from your favorite on-line retailer. Click here for options: https://mesuandrews.com/books/of-fire-and-lions/
 
– Visit your favorite local bookseller when it opens on launch day!

Regardless of which option you choose, you will want to be ready to start answering questions at 8:00 AM (Eastern Time). Make sure to check out the March 4th newsletter for more information!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cover Reveal for The End of the Magi by Patrick Carr!!





There is a cover for Patrick Carr's new book!! This one is a bit different than his last few novels (it is a Biblical Fiction novel rather than fantasy), but is sure to be just as amazing. Keep reading to see the short blurb available on Goodreads.



 
Fleeing for his life after his adoptive father is put to death by a ruthless Parthian queen, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, escapes the city. There he begins an epic journey filled with peril, close escapes, and dangerous battles. Over everything shines the dream of a star that Myrad can't forget and the promise that the world will never be the same.


Monday, February 11, 2019

The Sound of Rain- Sarah Loudin Thomas

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water,
In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through

Judd Markley knew he could never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother's life meant leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world was all he knew, he put it behind him and headed for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward's life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more--maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there--until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd's and Larkin's dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together--or maybe, it will take a miracle.


My Thoughts: I was pulled back and forth with this book. On the one hand, I really like Judd's character and reading his scenes was enjoyable. Judd was a really sweet guy who never tried to force his opinion on others, only stated his mind and left it at that. And though this seems to be a growing trend in romance, stepping away from the alpha male heroes, it is a trend that I fully enjoy.

On the other hand, I was not a fan of Larkin. I felt that she was fairly immature and that the book gave her easy outs to her poor decisions. Rather than having to learn to make better choices, she is only encouraged to "follow her dreams", even though these dreams are ill defined and could be followed out where she already is rather than her having to runaway to the mountains. That's not to say that her character did not grow. I did prefer her toward the later half of the story and the way she was with Kyle and Granny. But by then, she willingly turned over the dreams she had worked so hard to achieve.

As to the book as a whole, the pacing is slow, which I liked, but it also meant that most all of the conflict came from the characters themselves. The hurricane that the description of the book mentions hardly makes an impact on the story itself and the conflict hinted at throughout which related to Pete ends up happening mostly off screen. As a character driven story, Judd is a compelling character whose scenes always read with enough conflict to keep the story interesting. And his romance with Larkin is a sweet one. I just wish that Larkin could have been more responsible.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Letters to an American Christian- Bruce Riley Ashford

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Description: What does it mean to be an American Christian?

In Letters to an American Christian, Bruce Riley Ashford, author of One Nation Under God, addresses overarching issues of the relationship of Christianity and politics, speaks to the way historic Christian belief informs specific hot-button political issues, and challenges readers to take seriously both our heavenly and earthly citizenships. Written as a series of letters to "Christian"—a young college student who is a new believer—Letters to an American Christian will help every reader think carefully about how Christianity informs what it means to be an American.

In the midst of a rapidly changing national and political landscape, Letters to an American Christian reminds us of two important truths: we cannot afford to shrink away from our earthly citizenship, and we cannot afford to lose sight of our heavenly citizenship.


My Thoughts: This is one of those books where my opinion of it seems to have scattered across the board. In some ways, I would recommend, while others would cause me to hesitate in offering it to someone. The most important area of this is is the content of the book itself.

Personally, I agree with most of the points or stances that Ashford takes. And I appreciated that he had the guts to call out some aspects of right wing politics that venture into the realm of idolatry, though he does have more to say on issues of liberal politics. Yet, I also found certain arguments weak or else completely Americanized, with little scriptural backing (not that there IS no scriptural backing, but that he did not point to any).

However, I think what might have hindered Ashford's message was the delivery. While the narrative implies that "Christian" is a real person, none of his letters are included. And while many of Ashford's explanations are necessary for those without a political bent, they seem to explain things that someone heavily invested in politics (as Christian is) would already know. Especially since the tone of the letters reads less like something one would write to an acquaintance and more like an essay written to a larger audience.

Because this book reads more for a large audience than an individual, it actually loses its ability to make strong cases for or against certain opinions. Each topic discussed could have gone further into depth, with more real life examples, but instead the letters only grazed the surface as numerous pages were devoted to explaining things which did not need to be explained or else repeating stories from "Christian's" letters (which should be unnecessary if Christian is real and already knows what it was that he wrote).

Ultimately, I do believe that the book could offer some moral challenge, particularly to those who fall in the trap of idolizing the government instead of trusting in God. However, I do not believe that it will be overly effective in convincing anyone to change their opinions or actions, only strengthen the stance of those who already agree with Ashford's position.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gone Too Soon- Melody Carlson

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: An icy road. A car crash.
A family changed forever.

Hannah Josephson had always been the “perfect” daughter. Kiera couldn’t live up to her before, and she certainly can’t now that her older sister has died in a car accident. But the image she carried resentfully of Hannah is challenged when she finds her dead sister’s diary and begins to read. Apparently Hannah’s final year wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought.

Caught in a pattern of blaming each other, the Josephson family is falling apart. Their father has left, their mother is mixing opiates and alcohol, little sister Maddie has been shipped off to spend the whole summer with their grandmother, and Kiera feels utterly alone with her grief and anger. A summer job helping at a park in a poor section of town provides a friend and a purpose.

But it’s Hannah’s diary that fills her thoughts. For the first time in years, she feels close to the sister she’s lost. But can the knowledge she gleans about her possibly help her patch back together the family that seems determined to implode?


My Thoughts: Gone Too Soon is not an easy book to read. The Josephson family has, and still is going through really dark times. There is depression, addiction, abandonment, forms of verbal abuse, and so many other things that this family is dealing with. And everyone of those issues is spelled out, right on the page where the reader is unable to misunderstand what happened.

Some of that can be hard to swallow. I honestly had a hard time reading the scenes from Moria's perspective, as I found it difficult to relate with her character or her actions. But I can also see where her thought process could very well be that of someonde in real life who has gone through a loss and is searching for escape. And the reader is never supposed to like the way she behaves at those times.

The bright point in this story is Keira, who despite all of her family believing her to be a moody loser, is actually taking charge of her life amidst her family's tragedies. And though she can give nearly as good as she gets when it comes to harsh criticism of her other family members, I have to say that I don't blame her. Her mother is truly aweful.

As far as the actual writing of the story goes, I think that it could have been edited a little better. There are a few spelling mistakes throughout, as well as a couple areas were the internal thoughts of the character turn a little dramatic, more like the hype in a blurb to make a story sound more interesting that it actually is. As well, I felt that the ending resolved too many of the family's problems without any real consequences to the horrible things that the three main characters did.

I still feel that the message was a good one: that forgiveness is important, including for family members who do not deserve it. And that that forgiveness can lead to complete healing where Christ is involved. So despite the books issues, I would still recommend it. Just not to anyone who may find the mentioned issues difficult to stomach.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Freedom's Light- Colleen Coble

My Rating: 1 Stars

Description: Hannah Thomas left the South and all that was familiar to marry her beloved John. But the fact that she’s never been quite accepted by his mother and sister and that she doesn’t quite fit the strict Massachusetts Puritan community only becomes more difficult when John is killed in one of the first battles in the war for freedom. Hannah is allowed to continue to serve as lightkeeper for the twin tower lighthouses on the lonely coastline, but it is grueling work for a woman alone.

One of the first shipwrecks washes ashore a handsome captain she thinks is a Tory, but she soon finds out he’s working as a spy for Washington. Much stands in the way of their happiness including the need to protect his secret, pressure from John’s family to marry another, near-constant disapproval from the townspeople, and the appearance of Hannah’s wayward sister. Coupled with the strain of war, Hannah isn’t sure she’ll ever see the light of freedom.


My Thoughts: I've read a few books by Coble and never really loved them. However, all of those books had been some of her contemporary novels, which has never been my favorite genre. So when I received this book for review and saw that it was historical fiction, I had hoped that it would be a much more enjoyable read.

Though the description makes it sound as though the book is about Hannah and Birch, the plot is driven far more by Hannah's sister, Lydia, and Hannah's ex-suitor, Galen, both of whom are selfish and will betray anyone to get what they want. Yet both seemed more fleshed out than either Hannah or Birch, the first of which was so unassuming and unwilling to make waves, that she had little agency or desire to stick up for anyone else outside of a word or two.

As for the content of the story, most every character is sexually promiscuous or else highly judgemental of those who are. And the narrative of the American Revolution fell almost to the way side because of this. The reader is told about the fact that there are spies and that Hannah's lighthouse is key to the war, however almost all of the scenes are of people arguing over whether or not, and in what situations, it is wrong to be promiscuous and then how punishment for such behavior will be exacted.

And while this kind of content would not normally be a problem for me, as I enjoy novels which delve into harder issues, I was frustrated with this one. While Hannah herself has opinions on all that I mentioned above and refuses to bend in her own actions, she also takes no stand on them when it comes to her dealings with others. She defends the judgemental church leaders who condemn her sister, while describing them as judgemental. And even after describing her father as an abusive alcoholic, she only tries to bring one of her sisters out of that situation once she decides that she is lonely living by herself. At the same time, she dismisses the idea of trying to help the other sister with one sentence, claiming the task to be impossible.

Had Hannah truly stood up for her sister, either in giving up her secrets about Galen or else sacrificing her lighthouse, I might have liked her character. But as the story was, I did not find anyone that I really cared for.

I have provided an honest review after receiving a copy of the book through the Fiction Guild.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Handmade Hearts Blitz and Giveaway


Handmade Hearts blog blitz

Welcome to the Blog Blitz & Giveaway for Handmade Hearts by June McCrary Jacobs, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Handmade Hearts & nbsp;
Author: June McCrary Jacobs  
Publisher: JMJ Story Stitcher Books  
Release Date: December 18, 2018  
Genre: Historical Romance 

Handmade Hearts 

Cover.jpg
'Handmade Hearts' is an historical romance short story set in New Orleans during World War II and was inspired by a true story.

Toward the end of his life, the author asked her Uncle 'Allen' how he met his wife. He shared about how he met ' Irene' at a church social in their neighborhood in New Orleans in the early 1940s. He had been seriously wounded in Guadalcanal in the South Pacific as a young Marine and was using crutches to get around as best he could.

He had many inner wou nds which needed time to heal, too. He had no way of knowing when they first met that Irene had suffered her own wartime tragedy. She bravely sought to keep her grief locked away deep inside because thinking about her loss caused her even more sorrow. She needed to be strong because she was the breadwinner for her small family.

Times were tough, but these two unique individuals made it through each day with inner fortitude, determination, and the sincere hope of something greater just over the horizon.

This inspirational short story follows the growth of Allen and Irene's relationship beginning with their chance meeting and leading forward to a lifetime spent together. 'Handmade Hearts' was created to honor this unique couple 's love for and devotion to each other in a relationship which spanned seven decades.  


PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon

EXCERPT


As she walked the short distance to her home, Irene realized this soldier had a broken heart in need of healing. Although Allen did not know it, he and Irene were kindred spirits in that respect. Warm memories of the evening spent with Allen Bradford filled her mind and caused her to smile to herself all the way home.
The week marched on as usual for Irene. She helped her mother and sister with housekeeping chores around their small bungalow. She worked eight hours each weekday, including four hours on Saturday at the local savings and loan association. As secretary to the institution's president, Irene performed myriad professional responsibilities, including scheduling her bachelor boss's social calendar and coordinating other personal details for him such as his dry cleaning and grocery deliveries.
Irene felt fortunate to have secured a stable job so that she could assist her mother with the monthly house note and light bill. Along with her younger sister Frances, Irene had lived at home and contributed to household expenses since their father passed away almost two years earlier. The war years had not been easy on any American family, but losing their father to pneumonia at age fifty was a tragedy none of the Carstons anticipated.
For a while, the three women drifted aimlessly through life until Irene was hired for the bank job. The job was a blessing for them all. Her salary and working hours were regular and provided the family with some financial stability during uncertain times.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author photo_black & white

June McCrary Jacobs was the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing's 2013 Holiday Tale Contest for her debut novella, 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom'. 'Robin's Reward', her first full - length novel, was set in her favorite location in California — th e Mendocino coastal region. This book is the first installment of the 'Bonita Creek Trilogy'.

June's debut middle - grade novel, 'RES - Q Tyler Stop', an historical novel set in Sonoma County, California, in 1968, will be released in the spring of 2019. The second installment of the 'Bonita Creek Trilogy', 'Penny's Promise', will be released in late 2019 or early 2020.

June's original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred b ooks, magazines, and on sewing industry blogs in the past decade. When she's not writing, reading, blogging, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, visiting art and history museums, and touring historic homes and gardens.

CONNECT WITH JUN E: Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Goodreads Blog | Amazon

TOUR GIVEAWAY


handmade hearts giveaway

(1) winner will win an ebook copy of Handmade Hearts + $15 Amazon Gift Code 
(2) additional winners will each receive an ebook copy of Handmade Hearts

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 15, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm January 22, 2019. Open internationally except where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the give away and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.




Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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