Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?!


"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we share what we're reading and our goals for the week.

What I Read Last Week ...
Ha! Well, I read several books this week but not the ones I had planned to read. :) I did finish some of my "in progress" reads, which was good!


What I'm Reading Now ...
I'm hoping to finish both of these up in the next day or so. :)


Audio

What I Hope to Read This Week ...
I'm hoping to make a dent in a few of these this week!


That's what I'm hoping to read this week. What are you reading?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

World Watch List | Sudan

Open Doors USA
[ World Watch List Challenge #11 Sudan ]
Pray for Sudan

Sudan

Moses* was born to a successful Muslim businessman in Sudan. As a young man, he helped his father run the business. Sadly, the father died when he was 16 years old.

Moses' mother remarried after a short while, and he was sent to a state-run school for 'problematic' young people. Here, Moses faced disciplining and Islamic instruction. He endured regular beatings and hard labor.

After some time, Moses escaped. He found refuge for a few years in a separate town where he made ends meet by doing menial jobs.

One day in 2011, Moses walked past a church and noticed the cross. He unexpectedly felt "something stirring in him". He entered the building on an impulse, and was met by a church elder. They had a brief discussion about the Christian faith.

This one conversation led to a number of follow-up meetings. After two years of discussion, Moses accepted Christ. The regular discussions turned into discipleship sessions.

Moses was married to a Muslim woman, and for a while, she kept his faith a secret. However, eventually she told their family, and she left Moses. She said she would only return if he renounced his Christian faith.

Moses receives threats from his family, and has been forced to relocate multiple times.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes

 
Share This Story Sudan
Map of Sudan

Quick Facts on Sudan

Rank: 11
Previous Rank: 12
Leader: President Omar al-Bashir
Government: Republic
Religion: Islam
Population: 45.7 million (number of Christians unknown)
Source of persecution: Islamic extremism/Dictatorial paranoia
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bluebonnet Bride by Colleen Coble (Review)

Bluebonnet Bride
by Colleen Coble
Butterfly Palace series, Book 1.5
Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance
Available April 1, 2014
Thomas Nelson
128 pages



About the Book
At the turn of the 20th century, Elli Korpela boards The Baltic with hundreds of eager women, all seeking new beginnings and brighter futures in America . . . as mail order brides.

Escaping a forced engagement, Elli seeks refuge in a faraway marriage, desperately needing her new life with a Texan named Nathan White to be safer than the one she left behind in Finland. And as she glimpses her future husband and his darling niece at the train station, she instantly knows her risk will prove the best decision she's ever made.

Until he became the guardian of four-year-old Hannah, Nathan White never took an interest in marriage, arranging a mail order wife to simply love and care for his orphaned niece. That is, he never took an interest until he laid eyes on the beautiful Elli Korpela.

After a fairytale ceremony in the gardens of the grandest estate Elli's ever seen, a place called Butterfly Palace, their peaceful beginning takes a disquieting turn as an intruder brutally attacks Elli in the middle of the night. Nathan intervenes, but the devil escapes unidentified, leaving Elli to face two chilling possibilities: either the attack was arranged by strike workers in Nathan's employ or her shadowy past followed her into the present – and across the sea.

As the danger mounts, Elli and Nathan must face their enemy together, fighting to stay alive – and fighting to stay man and wife.

Buy a copy  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
Bluebonnet Bride is a sweet follow-up novella to Butterfly Palace. We pick up with some of the same characters we met in the previous novel, and I was happy to see that this story features Nathan! As Nathan and Elli entered into a marriage of convenience, it was fun to see their relationship grow as they faced their personal fears as well as an attacker who wanted to harm Elli. While this was a really quick read, I enjoyed this story and was glad that it felt so complete. [4 stars]

{As a side note, there are multiple "book descriptions" on various sites for this novella. I read an incorrect one prior to reading the actual book and was pretty confused initially. (The one in this post matches the story that I read.) I was also confused that this book connects to Butterfly Palace but the covers look totally different. Neither of these things affected my review, but I thought it was worth mentioning in case someone else was confused by either of these things. :)}

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Colleen Coble Online
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Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter (Review)

Dancing with Fireflies
by Denise Hunter
Chapel Springs series, Book 2
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available March 2014
Thomas Nelson
352 pages



About the Book
Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

Buy a copy  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
Oh my! Dancing with Fireflies is another amazing story from Denise Hunter. As I've mentioned before, I love "family saga" series, and the McKinley family is officially a favorite family now. (They are all over this book ... so great!) I enjoyed the first book in this series, but I LOVED this book!

Jade's story is so poignant. It was heart-breaking to know her secrets and just have to sit back and watch things unfold. (Can you tell I felt like I was part of the story?!) I wanted to hug Jade and just be her friend.

I really liked Daniel previously and was glad to finally get to know him better. His family was crazy! I wanted to shake his mom on multiple occasions ... or just kick her in the shins under her proper dining table.

Throughout the story, I was so glad that Daniel and Jade were friends. There were times when I wasn't really certain how things would resolve, but I just had to keep reading.

I can't say much more without offering up major spoilers, so let me leave with an admonition to READ THIS BOOK! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Denise Hunter is the nationally published bestselling author of The Convenient Groom and The Trouble with Cowboys. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn't writing she's busy raising three heroes-in-the making with her husband.

Denise Hunter Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Monday, March 24, 2014

It Had To Be You by Susan May Warren (Blog Tour & Review)

It Had To Be You
by Susan May Warren
The Christiansen Family series, Book 2
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available February 2014
Tyndale
480 pages



About the Book
Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen’s cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits—and starting to fear she doesn’t have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.

Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior—on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he’s getting from Eden Christiansen isn’t making things any easier. But when Owen’s carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

Buy a copy  |  Read an excerpt  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
Susan May Warren is one of my favorite authors, and I feel like every time I read one of her books, I declare it a favorite. It was no surprise that when I turned the last page of It Had To Be You I sighed and declared it a favorite. And seriously, it will probably make my list of favorites for 2014!

I really love reading family sagas that follow siblings, so I fell in love with the Christiansens and have been looking forward to more of their stories ever since. Eden's story is amazing. I felt like we got to know both Eden and Owen pretty well in this book—even if I didn't really like Owen for much of the book. I caught myself mentally screaming at Owen a few times and am interested to see how his story plays out in the rest of the series.

Eden, though, was a special character. I felt so sorry for her at times. Her family loves her and she serves them selflessly, but she can't see the good that she has to offer those around her. It was just so ... sad! As her friendship with Jace developed, I was so intrigued at how they both had these horrible assumptions about each other! Somehow, though, they kept trying to work through it all, and the sweetest friendship developed.

Two other stories were woven throughout as well, which made for a fuller, more complete story. Maddy was the cutest little girl, and her story really helped to show Jace's softer side. And the "John Doe" story worked to add a flair of mystery. I was quite surprised by how everything came together in the end.

The writing was flawless. The emotions were intense—for the characters and for me! And the romance was just beautiful. It Had To Be You was an amazing book, and I highly, highly recommend it! [5 stars]

I Really Do Miss Your Smile
I read I Really Do Miss Your Smile—the prequel to the Christiansen Family series—last year and was pleasantly surprised that it is now included as a free novella at the end of It Had To Be You. I loved reading John and Ingrid's story and seeing how this whole family saga got started. While this is a short novella at only 65-ish pages, I still felt like it was a complete story. Don't miss out on this sweet story! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com

Susan May Warren Online
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It's Monday! What Are You Reading?!


"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we share what we're reading and our goals for the week.

What I Read Last Week ...
Okay. I LOVED reading all of these books! I'm pretty sure It Had to be You will be one of my favorites for the whole year. And I'm dying (!!!) to read The One as soon as it comes out this May to finish out The Selection series.


What I'm Reading Now ...
I really need to finish all three of these this week. I'm hoping that will happen!


Audio
I decided to DNF How I Got this Way by Regis Philbin. It just wasn't clicking with me. So ... for now, I'm in between books on audio. The library has several that I'm interested in, so we'll see what strikes my fancy this week.

What I Hope to Read This Week ...
If I can finish the three books I'm currently reading, I hope to read some of these. No telling what I'll be able to get to, though, since Hubs is on Spring Break ... which always means our schedule is a little up in the air. :)


That's what I'm hoping to read this week. What are you reading?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

World Watch List | Yemen

Open Doors USA
[ World Watch List Challenge #10 Yemen ]
Pray for Yemen

Yemen

North Yemen and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen united in 1990 to form modern-day Yemen, and the country has had a violent history from day one. In theory, Yemen is a democracy, but in practice, it isn’t.

The country has four official churches, three Catholic and one Anglican church for the several hundreds of expat Christians living in the country. It is estimated that there are 500-1,000 Muslim Background Believers in Yemen.

When a Muslim becomes a Christian, he or she often faces persecution from both their family and government. They are not allowed to have their own gatherings, so they meet in secret locations.

Persecution is part of daily life in Yemen. The constitution declares Islam as the state religion and Sharia law as the source of all legislation. The government forbids conversion from Islam and proselytizing of Muslims. Additionally, there are al-Qaeda linked groups striving to gain more power in the country.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes

 
Share This Story Yemen
Map of Yemen

Quick Facts on Yemen

Rank: 10
Previous Rank: 9
Leader: President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi
Government: Republic
Religion: Islam
Population: 27.2 million (a few thousand Christians)
Source of persecution: Islamic extremism
Pray for Yemen Share Yemen's Plight Give to Help Persecuted Christians

Pray

Christians in Yemen need your prayers. Post a prayer or word of encouragement.

Share

Be a voice for persecuted Christians in Yemen. Share their stories and make others aware of their plight

Give

Help us in assisting Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Donate to help the persecuted church

Donate to help the persecuted church

Your gift goes to Bible and gospel development, women and children advancement, and Christian community restoration.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Home Matters by Julie N. Ford, A Ripple Effect Romance (Blog Tour & Review + Giveaway)

Home Matters
by Julie N. Ford
A Ripple Effect Romance, Book 1
Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available February 2014
HEA Publishing
156 pages

About the Book
According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can't even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She's confident that her destiny is finally within reach.

When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.

Buy a copy  |  Find out what others think
 

My Thoughts
Home Matters was a great introduction to this new-to-me author! As an avid fan of home improvement shows—since the days of Trading Spaces!—it was fun to read about the stars of a fictional show. I enjoyed the love triangle, but definitely had an opinion about who Olivia should choose. Nevertheless, the journey she went on to figure out who she wanted to be with was a fun one. The book had plenty of humor thrown in, which added to my enjoyment of the story. Overall, I thought this was a great book. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series and to reading more from Julie in the future! [4.5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Julie is a forty-something, dangerously close to becoming a fifty-something, graduate from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama, which has only made her better able to recognize the unhealthy, codependent relationship she has with writing. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a marriage and family counselor. She is the author of four women’s fiction novels, including Count Down to Love, a 2011 Whitney Award finalist. When she’s not writing, she entertains delusions of being a master gardener, that is, when she’s not killing the unsuspecting plants in her yard with her good intentions. She lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, two daughters, a Betta named Bob, and a Scottish fold kitten, Ardweal.

Julie N. Ford Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Sneak Peek
Pete scratched the scruff on his chin. “Olivia Pembroke,” he repeated, as if giving her name some serious thought. “Sounds like a character from a Jane Austen movie.”
Olivia responded with a dour look. “You a fan of turn- of-the-century romance films?”
Pete shrugged off her comment. “I have three older sisters,” he said, his eyes studying her from head to foot. “Except, the more I’m getting to know you, with that fiery disposition and those Bambi eyes, you’re reminding me more of a feisty little Disney fairy than a demure lady of class.” He lifted his thick eyebrows, curious. “Is that your real name, or some sort of made-up stage name?”
Just because a girl had a heart-shaped face, turned-up nose, and bow mouth, didn’t make it okay for people to tease her about resembling any sort of cute little pixy. She hated when people made the connection. He was really starting to annoy her, which was obviously what he intended, so she refused to allow him the satisfaction of knowing just how much.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but both.” She idly examined her manicure. “My momma named me Olivia because she thought Olivia Pembroke would look good all lit up on a marquee. She knew I was going to be a big star when I grew up.”
He huffed out a laugh. “You, and about a few thousand other pretty faces in this town.”
Olivia shot him a withering look. “What’s your point?”
Pete shrugged. “Why waste your life chasing what will likely amount to no more than two minutes of fame when there are nobler causes out there worth pursuing?” He almost sounded genuine. “After all, love and fame can’t live in the same place.”
Olivia’s hands curled into tight, angry balls. Who did this man think he was to lecture her on the nobility of her ambitions? The most infuriating man she’d ever met, that’s who. “Says the man who was obviously born to clean toilets.” Taking a step closer, she faced him straight on and planted her fists on her hips. “And just a tip, Socrates. The next time you go all philosophical on a girl, and you expect her to take you seriously, try not using movie quotes to prove your point.” She slid him a superior glance. “Like I wouldn’t recognize a line from Country Strong.”
Pete moved closer as well. Their noses were barely inches from touching. She could actually feel his breath on her face, and for some unconscionable reason, she found the sensation oddly tantalizing. Then he opened his mouth to say something else. But before he could get a word out, a voice from the near distance interrupted.
“And, that’s a wrap!”
Olivia jerked toward the casting director. “What?” she questioned, though she knew fully well what “that’s-a-wrap” meant. “I’m sorry, but unless I’m mistaken, we haven’t begun shooting yet.”
The director rolled his hand through the air. “Yes well, we’ve seen all we need to,” he said, his attention already diverted to the phone his assistant was handing him. “Thank you for coming down today, Olivia. We’ll be in touch.”

Giveaway
As part of the blog tour, there's a giveaway! The prize? A $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash! Open internationally. Ends March 31. Enter through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
*** Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Inspired Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  ***

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?!


"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we share what we're reading and our goals for the week.

What I Read Last Week ...
This was such a fun week of books! They were all SO vastly different, and three of the four were excellent!


What I'm Reading Now ...


Audio

What I Hope to Read This Week ...
No idea what I want to read this week (and I'm caught up on review books for about a week!), so I think I'll start with these. I love both of these covers!


That's what I'm hoping to read this week. What are you reading?
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