Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Trailer Thursday | How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck

What's better than an awesome trailer for a new book you're excited about?! Not a lot . . . well, except for another one of your favorite authors (Beth Vogt, I'm talking about you!) making a cameo in it! If everyone ELSE is reading How to Catch a Prince, I guess I need to move it to the top of my stack . . . pronto!


About the Book
Prince Stephen came to America to escape responsibility. But what he found complicates his life more than ever.

Corina Del Rey is happy with her life in Melbourne, Florida. She spends her days engrossed in her career as a journalist and has her sights set on climbing the corporate ladder—if for no other reason, to distract herself from her dissolving family. But when she is confronted with the past she fought so hard to put behind her, she struggles to make sense of her future.

Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom has moved on since the tragic death of his buddies in Afghanistan. A star professional rugby player, he has no intention of looking over his shoulder at what could’ve been.

But when a notice arrives in the mail requiring his and his wife’s appearance before the courts to dissolve their marriage, he must deal with the questions rumbling around in his heart. He thought his marriage had been annulled long ago, but his memories of Corina Del Rey remain close. Does he still love her? Can he even find her? Above all, can he tell her the truth about that fateful night in Afghanistan seven years ago? If he does, he might really lose her forever.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Blog Tour Grand Finale | After the Silence by Rula Sinara (With Giveaway)

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

We're blitzing the GRAND FINALE for
After the Silence
By Rula Sinara

Two people from different worlds and separated by an ocean. Can love span the distance? Did you find out more during the tour? Did you miss some posts? Go back and check them out now!
What do you hope readers take with them when they read your book?
That there are no boundaries to love: not mountains, oceans, physical or emotional challenges, race, different cultures and not even species (sometimes a pet can open a heart when another person can't). Love is a universal power that has an extraordinary ability to heal. And it always finds a way.

The Written Adventure - Ten Tips on Strategic Parenting from a Marine
A marine accustomed to battlefields—not babies—is thrown into single parenthood after the tragic loss of his wife. This man has braved worse things than a civilian could imagine, but raising a ten year old who hasn't spoken since her mother's death, a hyperactive four year old and an infant who can some major diaper damage is a whole new kind of battle.

I Am A Reader - Soul Mates Stranded Oceans Apart
In my latest book, After the Silence, Ben Corallis, a widowed marine in America and Hope Alwanga, a medical intern in Kenya manage to meet despite the ocean between them, but that's just the beginning of the impossible road ahead of them.

Letters from Annie (Douglass) Lima - Suffering in Silence: Selective Mutism in Children
It's a whole different world when the inability to communicate doesn't stem from language differences, but from deeply rooted fear or anxiety. In particular, trying to help or raise a child who suffers from selective mutism is heartbreaking and often frustrating because you don't want to watch them suffer.

JoJo's Corner - Review
"The author does a fabulous job immersing readers into the story and creating powerful scenes throughout. . . .  If you love stories of love and loss and second chances, don't miss After The Silence."

Mythical Books - Heroes and Heroines: How Visual Are You?
When I embark on a new story, one of the first things that pops into my head is an image of the hero and heroine. After all, it would be kind of creepy stepping into their world and encountering faceless people. Don't you think?

Christy's Cozy Corners - Review 
"The characters in After the Silence are very well-written, and you'll feel like they could be your neighbor or best friend. This story drew me in very quickly, and I finished it within 2 days. It is very realistic and moving."

Brooke Blogs - Excerpt
     But I need you to get some rest before I end up having to resuscitate you. Or before you do make a human mistake.î
    Hope pressed her lips together and cringed at the mental image of Zamir resuscitating her. He'd love that, wouldn't he? Zamir to the rescue. Always looking out for her. That was exactly why her parents loved him so much.

i blog 4 books - Review
"[After for Silence] is a sweet romance that tackles some tough issues as well. The intro gives readers a glimpse into the "what could have been", making the reality throughout the rest of the book even more heartbreaking. . . . I thought this was a great book. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series, so we can keep track of Ben, Hope, and the kiddos! [4 stars]"

WV Stitcher - Review
"Easy to connect with characters that provide depth and feeling for what they are going thru really captured my emotions as I read this story. . . . A touching story that left me wanting to read more from this author." 

Wishful Endings - Review
After the Silence was a wonderful, heartfelt story. It was full of challenges, family, self-awakening, friendship, grief, and hope for a brighter future. I loved the romance and I loved these characters. If you enjoy sweet romance and this line of books then this is one you definitely don't want to miss!

Katie's Clean Book Collection - The Month of Love
Have you ever played the word association game? Isn't it funny how, any given month is identified by its main holiday? I say November, you say.I'm betting you said Thanksgiving. I say December, you say Christmas, right? And I can't think of February without thinking of Valentine's Day. But in a perfect world, shouldn't every single day of the year be Valentine's Day? Doesn't love deserve 365 days instead of just 30, or 1? 

Savings in Seconds - Review
"The story is gentle yet heartbreaking; the contrast makes the sweet parts even sweeter. . . . This clean romance has a tender story that all women, especially moms, can appreciate."

Rockin' Book Reviews - Interview & Reviews (Book One & Two)
5. Give us a hint of what the next book in the series will be about.
Thanks for asking! I'm so excited about Book 3 (yet to be titled) in the series. Those who read Book 1, The Promise of Rain, may remember Mac, the Serengeti bush pilot who volunteered time to helping wildlife rescuers and who had a thing for Anna ;). Well, he's the next hero, it'll be back to the wilds of Africa for his story! Stay tuned!

"I love her approach in addressing each topic and in the way she truly draws the reader into the story. The characters are very real and endearing and the scenes portrayed well and easily visualized." (Review)

After the Silence
(From Kenya, With Love #2)
Rula Sinara
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback, 368 pages
March 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Does following her passion mean losing her way?

Marine Ben Corallis is an expert at facing death, but nothing comes close to the terror that grounds him when his wife is killed in a car accident the day he returns from duty. He's left to raise an infant, a toddler and a ten-year-old girl who hasn't uttered a word since her mother's death.

It's hard not to care for the widowed marine with three young children. Yet he's still grieving, too burdened with guilt to fall in love again. And Hope Alwanga's future as a doctor awaits her on the other side of the world, in Nairobi. If two such opposites can't agree on a common country, how can they ever create a safe place to call home?



Rula Sinara
Rula Sinara lives in Virginia's countryside with her husband, three boys and zany but endearing pets. When she's not writing or doing mom stuff, she loves organic gardening, attracting wildlife to her yard (cool bugs included) or watching romantic movies. She also enjoys interviewing fellow authors and is a Special Contributor for USA Today's Happy Ever After blog. Her door is always open at her website and blog.


Tour-Wide Giveaway


Gift Card Prize Pack: $100 Amazon Gift Card and ebooks of The Promise of Rain and After the Silence (open internationally)
US Prize Pack: Paperbacks of The Promise of Rain and After the Silence + Swag
3 ebook of After the Silence (open internationally)
Ends February 28th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prism Book Tours

Friday, February 20, 2015

Take a Sneak Peek into Dani Pettrey's Sabotaged

Get your copy of SABOTAGED by Author Dani Pettrey!

Fans of Dani Pettrey are feeling a bit mixed-up emotionally right now. While we're thrilled that her latest book is FINALLY available to hold and smell (yes, I love how paper smells!) and read, we're also feeling a bit sad that we're going to have to say farewell to the McKenna family as the Alaskan Courage series comes to an end. [*sob*]

Before you despair too much, though, let's take a few minutes to properly celebrate the release of Sabotaged! [*!!!party time!!!*]

In my opinion, Dani is an expert at writing characters that spring to life page after page. AND she always puts together some goodies to give readers a sneak peek into the lives of said characters. Take a look at these dossiers that Dani put together and meet Reef and Kirra . . .



She also put together a great playlist of Kirra and Reef's favorite songs. What a great way to get in their minds a little more!

As if great characters aren't enough, Dani also does a great job creating a setting for these characters to have great adventures. To be honest, I've never really cared that much about traveling to Alaska. It sort of seemed like a place that retirees visit on a cruise when they're around 60 or 70.

However, if I could dress like this . . . 


. . . drink a cup of yummy deliciousness like this one . . . 


. . . snuggled up in a reading nook like this . . . 


. . . in an adorable cottage like this . . . 


. . . and staring at gorgeous scenery like this . . . 


. . . then maybe I've had it all wrong.


Check out the rest of Dani's Sabotaged Pinterest board to be inspired to fall in love with Alaska. OR just go grab a copy of the BOOK and let Dani take you on an awesome adventure with Kirra and Reef. (If you can't wait to get to the bookstore or download the ebook, you can get a head start and read the first chapter now!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brooke's Beautylicious Faves


From time to time I think to myself, "Self, you HAVE to share this awesome product with . . . well . . . everyone!" And for whatever reason, I never really feel like I have the right place to do that. I've decided that I'm going to start sharing these types of things in a feature called "Brooke's Faves"—maybe once a month or so. These will likely be themed posts (where all the featured items/tips/life hacks/whatevers fall into a similar category), so if the category doesn't interest you, feel free to skip it. These probably won't be things that I've been asked to promote in any way . . . just things that I'm really loving and want to let you know about! So with ALL that build up, here's the first edition of Brooke's Faves!

I certainly don't consider myself a beauty guru (not by ANY stretch of the imagination!), but in the past couple of years, I really think I've come into my own where makeup is concerned. I've found some products that I truly love and enjoy using on a daily basis. Here are six of my faves. Perhaps you'll find something new to try and fall in love as well?!


I was introduced to NYC Color HD Color Trio Eye Shadow through Influenster last year and have continued to use it. It stays on well and lasts all day. I've been using a more neutral color palette with browns and golds, but found a brown/plum palette last week (Central Park Plums). I'm loving it! Plus, it's around $3, which is a fantastic price for eye shadow!

Another Influenster find that I'm still using is Rimmel London's Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara. It gives a bolder look, which I'm a fan of. I personally like a dark, black lash, so this is pretty perfect for me. I assumed that it would be really expensive, but it was the same price as the Cover Girl mascara I as using before. I'd call that a win!

While we're talking eyes, I've been super displeased with my eye liner recently. I've used the same Cover Girl liner for YEARS, but recently it doesn't seem to be holding up as well—breaking and crumbling as I apply it. Oddly enough, my mom and aunt have had the same experience, so I've been hoping to find a solution. I think I've found it in the Cover Girl Liquiline Blast Eyeliner. It goes on SO smooth and I haven't had any issues with breaking or crumbling. I picked up a really pretty brown shade, and can get the perfect smudged look with the other end of the liner (or with a Q-tip).


A WHILE back, I found out just how much I love a good foundation brush. So imagine my delight when I received this awesome Mary Kay Brush Collection for Christmas a couple of years ago. I use ALL of these brushes and have absolutely loved them. It's easier to use these than those little applicators that come in the eye shadows, blushes, etc., and I think it looks better. This set is a little pricier than something I would buy for myself (currently $55), but it makes for a great gift!

One of my other Mary Kay favorites is the Foundation Primer. Y'all! If you're not using a foundation primer, would you just try this? I thought it was just bunk at first, but it really does smoothe everything out a bit and my foundation goes on smoother as a result. I tend to have fairly sensitive skin, and this hasn't caused any breakouts or other issues for me. It's very light. PLUS it has SPF 15 in it, so that's a huge plus for me. It's $16 and lasts forever. Seriously.

Okay. Let's talk lips. I WANT to be a lipstick girl. I am southern after all. ;) I just don't have much tolerance for the need to constantly reapply. Plus, my lips are ALWAYS dry, so finding a good balance there can be difficult. I'm really loving the NYC Color 8HR City Proof Extended Wear Lipgloss right now, though. The Gold With Me color is a really pretty neutral with a light shimmer and seriously gives a little color all day—yes, even after numerous bottles of water, meals, etc. And at around $3, it's a perfect price.

What about you? Any beauty faves you want to share?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ten Book-Related Problems I Have


To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see a list of future topics click here!

When I saw this week's topic, the only bookish issue that immediately came to mind was the need for more shelves! It didn't take long to come up with a few others though. :) Here are ten book-related problems I have . . .

Ten Book-Related Problems I Have

I have books in every single room of my house. Yes, including closets!

I do not have enough storage space for all of these books.

I have so many books and not nearly enough time to read them all.

This creates great anxiety within me. I call it TBRaphobia. You know, when your TBR pile is so large you're afraid that (1) you'll never get to them all and/or (2) you'll be killed when the pile topples over and buries you alive.

Ebooks (and freebies!) have compounded the problems. I literally have hundreds of unread books on my Nook that I don't know if I'll ever get to. (Can a Nook topple over on you?)

Since I have so many books, I certainly don't have time to re-read them. Even the ones I've loved best. This creates a dilemma—get rid of books once I read them and create space for the unread ones or continue to hoard (er, stockpile) them in case I ever get around to re-reading.

I have a few books that have been damaged one way or another (gasp!). I never know if I should keep the damaged one or purchase another copy to replace the messed up one. (I kid! Seriously. I'm way too much of a bargain hunter for purchasing books I already own! But I've thought about it.)

And as a bargain hunter, it sure is hard to pass up a good bargain! Seriously, how can I walk out of a used bookstore or pass a sale shelf at the bookstore or decline a $0.99 ebook? Thus just adding to the TBR pile!

I've attempted to limit my book buying to gift cards only—unless it's a book emergency. :) Last year I managed to stretch the gift cards I received out for the whole year. I'm not doing so well this year. I'm already halfway through, and it's only February 17!

Seriously. WHAT am I going to do with all these books?

Well, that was a little tongue in cheek. But us book nerds do have some pretty big problems. Like storage! What are your biggest book-related problems?

Monday, February 16, 2015

After the Silence by Rula Sinara (Review, Blog Tour & Giveaway)

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

After the Silence
(From Kenya, With Love #2)
Rula Sinara
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback, 368 pages
March 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Does following her passion mean losing her way?

Marine Ben Corallis is an expert at facing death, but nothing comes close to the terror that grounds him when his wife is killed in a car accident the day he returns from duty. He's left to raise an infant, a toddler and a ten-year-old girl who hasn't uttered a word since her mother's death.

It's hard not to care for the widowed marine with three young children. Yet he's still grieving, too burdened with guilt to fall in love again. And Hope Alwanga's future as a doctor awaits her on the other side of the world, in Nairobi. If two such opposites can't agree on a common country, how can they ever create a safe place to call home?


My Thoughts
After the Silence is a sweet romance that tackles some tough issues as well. The intro gives readers a glimpse into the "what could have been", making the reality throughout the rest of the book even more heartbreaking. As the Corallis family grieves the loss of their wife and mother, Hope Alwanga comes to stay with them—both to help the family and to get some rest. What happens through the rest of the book is a delightful read.

There are some real challenges to telling a story that is so full of heartbreak. However, the author does a great job of bringing us readers along as the family recovers from their loss. The secondary stories with Ben's in-laws as well as Ben and Hope's friends provide additional dimensions as well. There's a lot going on, but it all works well together.

My biggest "complaint" as it were is that the relationship between Ben and Hope took so long to develop. It seemed that the book was basically over by the time that aspect of the book really came into focus. The conclusion was just too fast for me.

Overall, though, I thought this was a great book. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series, so we can keep track of Ben, Hope, and the kiddos! [4 stars]

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


Rula Sinara
Rula Sinara lives in Virginiaís countryside with her husband, three boys and zany but endearing pets. When she's not writing or doing mom stuff, she loves organic gardening, attracting wildlife to her yard (cool bugs included) or watching romantic movies. She also enjoys interviewing fellow authors and is a Special Contributor for USA Today's Happy Ever After blog. Her door is always open at her website and blog.


Giveaway


Gift Card Prize Pack: $100 Amazon Gift Card and ebooks of The Promise of Rain and After the Silence (open internationally)
US Prize Pack: Paperbacks of The Promise of Rain and After the Silence
3 ebook of After the Silence (open internationally)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Let's Talk About . . . Lent

My mind is absolutely blown that February is halfway gone! I can't seem to wrap my brain around the fact that we are firmly six weeks into the new year. I suppose that means I can stop calling it "the new year" now, huh?

Anyway.

Mid-February doesn't only mean Valentine's Day and President's Day. It also means we are coming up on the beginning of Lent. The churches I grew up in didn't really do much in the way of highlighting or celebrating Lent, so it was probably around college that I really began to understand that this sacred season could have meaning, value, and implications for this Southern-Baptist girl.

Perhaps you're like me and never really thought of Lent as something more than ash crosses on foreheads, choosing the least important to you thing to "give up" (but not really because you didn't really like it anyway) for a period of time. However, the older I've gotten, I've come to realize that there really is something special about setting aside extra time to consider the sacrifice made, the suffering endured, the salvation offered for us. Somehow all of this reflection makes Easter that much more meaningful for me.

If you're looking for a resource to help you as you reflect over these 40 days, I have three that I'd like to suggest. You've still got a few days to grab these before Lent officially starts on Wednesday, but even if you can't get it together by Wednesday, start whenever you can!

Follow: Watching, Waiting, Wonder from Naptime Diaries. This devotional includes six devotions (one per week), along with a daily Scripture and journal space to write out thoughts and prayers for each day of Lent. This is a perfect option for those who like a something a little less structured and more free-flowing writing and journaling. The printed version is sold out, but they've made a printable PDF version available for purchase.

Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross from She Reads Truth. You can register online to receive daily email devotions completely free. They've also put together a nice study pack for purchase, which includes a daily devotional journal, Scripture prints, and Scripture memory cards. I've been hearing about this ministry for a while now and have several friends who follow along with the various studies they offer throughout the year.

Mission Accomplished: A Two-Week Family Easter Devotional by Scott James. Scott James published a family Advent devotional two years ago and it is simply amazing. I was so excited to hear that he has published a similar Easter devotional. I have not personally read this yet but wholeheartedly recommend it based on his other book. This would be a perfect resource for families with children of all ages.

How will you observe Lent this year? 
Do you have any other resources to recommend?


Photo Credit

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What Is Love?

Don't you love hearing what kids think about things? Samaritan's Purse asked kids to answer the question, "What is love?" I think you'll agree that their answers are too cute . . . and pretty insightful!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh

 
Paper Hearts
by Courtney Walsh
Christian Fiction / Romance
Available January 1, 2015
Tyndale House
416 pages

About the Book
Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.

When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.

As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?

My Thoughts
With all of the talk about how love is depicted in movies and books these days, Paper Hearts was a refreshing find. The story is sweet, yet has depth (it’s not *just* a romance!). The town is obsessed with love (which I love, pun intended!). Plus, Abigail, the main character, owns a bookstore. What more could a book lover like me want? I keep seeing other bloggers use the word “heartwarming” to describe this book, and I definitely agree. Overall, this is a lovely story that I’m glad I took the time to read. I’ll be on the lookout for the author’s next novel! [4 stars]

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

About the Author
Courtney Walsh is the author of Paper Hearts and the Sweethaven series. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, was a New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller and a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. In addition, she has written two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives with her husband and three children in Illinois, where she is also an artist, theater director, and playwright. Visit her online at www.courtneywalshwrites.com.

Let's Talk About . . . 50 Shades of Grey


Ladies (and guys to, for that matter!), we need to talk about 50 Shades of Grey.

It seems like my social media feeds have blown up with comments and articles and other blog posts about what we should think or feel or do about the movie that releases this weekend. I hesitated to say anything because I don't feel that I have anything new or particularly profound to add to the discussion. However, in the event that YOUR social media feeds haven't blown up in the same way that mine have, I felt like I should say something.

Friends, I am begging you, pleading with you . . . PLEASE DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE. I'm not out to wreck your weekend or judge you or make you feel guilty about your curiosities of such a talked-about movie. No. I say this only because I care about you.

If you don't know anything about the books or the movie, great. You can skip this post. But if you do and you're curious or you're thinking about going to see the movie this weekend or wondering if there's really so much wrong with it because it's just for entertainment after all, can I just remind you of a few things?

Love does NOT involve stalking a woman. Love is NOT manipulation. Love is NOT exerting authority and influence to get your own way. Love does NOT pervert God's good gift of sex and twisting it to suit only one person. Love is NOT about domination. Love is NOT even only about sex. Love is NOT violent—ever . . . even if there is a "contract" in place. (And just for the record, women and children sold into the sex trade often have contracts of some sort as well.)

The Bible says this about love:
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
Does that sound like whatever you've read or heard about Christian Grey? No? I didn't think so.

There is nothing good about this movie, and nothing good can or will come from you watching it. Again, I am begging you: PLEASE DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE.

Lest you think I'm just trying to ruin your plans for a romantic night with your guy or a fun weekend with the girls, may I offer a few alternatives?
  • Looking for a romantic movie without all the garbage? What about Old Fashioned? It releases this weekend, and looks absolutely adorable! (I love this trailer!)
  • Or perhaps you could show your honey how much you love him and offer to go see a movie that HE wants to see! Perhaps American Sniper or Unbroken would appeal.
  • Maybe you choose to set the scene for a romantic date night or a fun girls night by staying home and having a movie marathon of some favorites. Order pizza, pop popcorn, and watch one movie right after the other. Or you can catch up on one of your favorite shows . . . Downton Abbey anyone?!
  • What if you just turned the TV off altogether? Go grab a hot chocolate and take a drive. Or snuggle on the couch and just catch up on life. I found this list of 20 questions to help you reflect on your year. It's just February, so it's not too late to do a little reflection as a couple or a family.
  • Tired of sitting around after a long week at work? Take a hike. Play on a playground. Go roller skating or bowling. Mini golf anyone?
Who says you have to be super romantic on Valentine's Day?! Not me! Isn't the point just to enjoy time together? So grab your valentine and savor the day . . .  and celebrate your love for one another.



A lot of people who are way smarter than me have had a lot to say about this movie over the past few weeks. Here are a few of the articles and posts that have been extremely helpful in discerning how to biblically think and express my thoughts on this movie.

"Sin that looks and feels like pleasure is only a poor shadow of something much more intense and satisfying." -- Marshall Segal, Desiring God, "Fifty Shades of Nay: Sin Is a Needle, Not a Toy"

"It is a complete lie that going to see the movie will help your marriage. And an even bigger lie is that it won’t affect you it all. Because it will. The things that you see cannot be unseen. The feelings that you experience from being entertained by those scenes cannot be unfelt. And if marriages aren’t under enough pressure already, going to watch pornography is only throwing gasoline on relationships experiencing fire from all directions." -- Becky Thompson, Scissortail Silk, "Christian Women and Christian Grey"

Christians shouldn’t try to “redeem” 50 Shades of Grey. We should not get cutesy and advertize a new sermon series on “50 Shades of Grace.” We should not give both art and holiness a bad name by thinking that somehow something as dark as 50 Shades is worth viewing or worth reviewing. -- Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition, "No Grey Area"

" 'Pornography is anything we use for sexual titillation, gratification or escape – whether it was intended for that purpose or not.' . . . Have you considered the fact that when you view pornography you are complicit in sexual trafficking? Yes, whether the individuals depicted are actors or real people, or if they are appearing willingly or by coercion, your presence, attention, and payment all combine to make you a willing consumer and market expander of the ever-growing and always exploitative pornography industry." -- Walt Mueller, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, "Fifty Shades Today . . . A Plea to Christian Parents and Youth Workers"

"The bottom line: the ideas of Fifty Shades of Grey are dangerous, and can lead to confusion and poor decisions about love. There are vast differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, but the movie blurs those differences, so you begin to wonder: what’s healthy in a relationship? What’s sick? There are so many shades of grey…I’m not sure. Listen, it’s your safety and future we’re talking about here. There’s no room for doubt: an intimate relationship that includes violence, consensual or not, is completely unacceptable." -- Miriam Grossman, MD, "A Psychiatrist's Letter to Young People about Fifty Shades of Grey"


* Photo Credit

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma (Review + Blog Tour + Giveaway)

Remember the Lilies
by Liz Tolsma
Women of Courage #3
Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance
Available February 2015
Thomas Nelson
384 pages



About the Book
Can Irene and Rand stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom?

Interred by the Japanese, missionary Irene Reynolds comes across a mysterious note while working at the censor’s office. She memorizes the parts she must black out and delivers it to wealthy nightclub owner Rand Sterling. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s drawn into a web of secrets and danger.

Rand Sterling wants nothing more than to reopen his nightclubs once the war ends. But slimy Frank Covey wants his hand in the till—and has news that could threaten Rand’s reputation if it became public. More importantly, beautiful and intriguing Irene Reynolds cannot discover this information if he expects to persuade her to become his wife.

When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, they must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

Buy a copy  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
Liz Tolsma is a relatively new author. I have read her previous two novels—Snow on the Tulips and Daisies Are Forever—and greatly enjoyed them. It seems that lots of WWII novels are coming out these days, but Tolsma puts a bit of a different twist on her stories. Her stories are inspired by family members and family friends who lived through it.

As with the previous two books, I found Remember the Lilies to be very unique. I don't believe I've ever read a book set primarily within the walls of an internment camp. However, what could have been a very dark book turned out to be very hope-filled, with a strong gospel message. It's definitely not an easy read, but I was never left "down" for long.

I really enjoyed the two main characters. It was hard to imagine a romance blossoming under such dire circumstances, but the author pulled it off well. The character development was strong throughout, and I grew to like them both more and more as the story went on.

As several other reviewers have mentioned, I did wish that there was a bit more description of the camp. Unfortunately, I don't have much knowledge at all of this particular aspect of the war, so it was difficult for me to grasp. (I recently found a three-part interview with an internment camp survivor on the author's blog that shed some light on the true living conditions they experienced. Reading it would definitely be helpful in understanding the book better. Click here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.) Additionally, I felt like the book was a tad slow in a few places.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this story. It's not often that you read a wonderful story with such rich, historical detail. Fans of historical fiction are sure to enjoy Remember the Lilies.  [4 stars]

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

About the Author
New York Times best-selling author Liz Tolsma is the author of Daisies Are Forever, Snow on the Tulips, and the contributing author of A Log Cabin Christmas. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally.

Liz Tolsma Online

Giveaway
This gripping new tale from Liz Tolsma, Remember the Lilies, is a must-read for fans of WWII-era fiction. When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, she and Rand must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

Help Liz celebrate the release of Remember the Lilies with a Kindle Fire giveaway!

rememberthelilies-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • One copy of Remember the Lilies
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/19. Winner will be announced at Liz's Remember the Lilies Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and WWII fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!   

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{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}
 
RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 19th!

Book Trailer Thursday | Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh

What an adorable trailer! I'm so intrigued to see how this ties in with the book now! (Oh . . . and by the way . . . the book is Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh!)

Do you have any Valentine's Day traditions . . . either from when you were a child or now? We don't really have special traditions—other than that we always spend the day together. This year, we'll probably have a low key day, which will probably involve watching a movie and cooking dinner together.

I'd love to hear about your traditions!



About the Book 
Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.

When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.

As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Blog Tour Launch | After the Silence by Rula Rinara

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

We're launching the BOOK TOUR for
After the Silence
By Rula Sinara

Two people from different worlds and separated by an ocean. Can love span the distance?

The Tour
9 - Launch
22 - Grand Finale

More About After the Silence and Author Rula Sinara

What is your motivation behind this book? Why did you want to write it?

This entire series grew from everything I've been passionate about since childhood, including Africa, wildlife rescue, nature and children. When I wrote the first book, The Promise of Rain, I was able to live my childhood dream of being a wildlife veterinarian in Africa's Serengeti, or becoming the next Jane Goodall, vicariously through my heroine's experiences. And as that story unfolded, I knew exactly which characters needed their own stories to be told in books 2 and 3 of the series. Sadly, I also knew that the death of a dear character in The Promise of Rain would happen in After the Silence. And I knew that my own emotional struggles with raising children who were blessed with being "outside-the-box" would fuel Ben and Hope's journey in After the Silence. Although so much of me comes through in my stories, they're by no means autobiographical, however I hope that they do make readers experiencing similar circumstances know that they're not alone.

What do you hope readers take with them when they read your book?

That there are no boundaries to love: not mountains, oceans, physical or emotional challenges, race, different cultures and not even species (sometimes a pet can open a heart when another person can't). Love is a universal power that has an extraordinary ability to heal. And it always finds a way. Think of all the adopted children who found loving families in countries across the world where they'd never set foot before—yet those families were destined to come together and complete one another. Or soul mates, like Ben and Hope in this story, who also lived on opposite sides of the world and, given their circumstances, had very little chance of ever meeting—yet they did. So it's all about a little destiny, serendipity, unconditional love and acceptance. And the world really needs more of it.

Do you have a favorite scene?

Oh, this is a tough one. There are so many! Anyone who knows me knows how self-critical I am, but this was an emotional story for me to write, so every scene is close to my heart. But if I had to boil it down, there's a scene that takes place in the kitchen at Ben's in-laws house where, for the first time, we see him letting his guard down a little as he plays a joke on Hope in front of his kids. We see that, behind his hardened exterior, he has a sense of humor. We get a glimpse of the father he used to be—the type of father his daughter is desperate for if she has any chance of breaking through her mutism—and we do see the potential impact his letting his guard down would have on her. So it's a big turning point for all three characters: Ben, Hope and little Maddie.

Share something about you that is unique—maybe about how/where you write or a favorite snack.

I'm chuckling because there are many things about me some might weird, as opposed to unique, LOL—like the fact that, when I need a moment to relax or decompress, I go outside and pet my chickens. I have a small backyard flock and anyone who has chickens knows just how sweet and loving the little ladies can be J. Plus, they give me delicious, organic eggs (I'm big on organic gardening and foods) every day. But really, they're very grounding and such a symbol of life's basics, that watching them puts life's challenges in perspective.

As for a favorite snack, I'm such a coffee addict it's not funny. And not just any coffee. It has to be good coffee. Smooth and rich. I think I hit a world record on coffee consumption while writing After the Silence, and when I was writing The Promise of Rain, I actually went out and bought a Kenyan roast to enjoy along with my heroine, Anna. Oh, the things I do to immerse myself in a story, LOL!


After the Silence
(From Kenya, With Love #2)
Rula Sinara
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback, 368 pages
March 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Does following her passion mean losing her way?

Marine Ben Corallis is an expert at facing death, but nothing comes close to the terror that grounds him when his wife is killed in a car accident the day he returns from duty. He's left to raise an infant, a toddler and a ten-year-old girl who hasn't uttered a word since her mother's death.

It's hard not to care for the widowed marine with three young children. Yet he's still grieving, too burdened with guilt to fall in love again. And Hope Alwanga's future as a doctor awaits her on the other side of the world, in Nairobi. If two such opposites can't agree on a common country, how can they ever create a safe place to call home?


About Book One in the Series
(Each can be read as a standalone.)

The Promise of Rain (Book 1)The Promise of Rain
(From Kenya, With Love #1)
Rula Sinara
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback, 384 pages
January 1st 2014 by Harlequin Heartwarming

He wants to take her child out of Africa...

The Busara elephant research and rescue camp on Kenya's Serengeti is Anna Bekker's life's work. And it's the last place she thought she'd run into Dr. Jackson Harper. As soon as he sets eyes on her four-year-old, Pippa, Anna knows he'll never leave...without his daughter.

Furious doesn't begin to describe how Jack feels. How could Anna keep this from him? He has to get his child back to the States. Yet as angry as he is with Anna, they still have a bond. But can it endure, despite the ocean--and the little girl--between them?


Rula SinaraRula Sinara lives in Virginia's countryside with her husband, three boys and zany but endearing pets. When she's not writing or doing mom stuff, she loves organic gardening, attracting wildlife to her yard (cool bugs included) or watching romantic movies. She also enjoys interviewing fellow authors and is a Special Contributor for USA Today's Happy Ever After blog. Her door is always open at her website and blog.


Blog Tour Giveaway


Gift Card Prize Pack: $100 Amazon Gift Card and ebooks of The Promise of Rain and After the Silence (open internationally)
US Prize Pack: Paperbacks of The Promise of Rain and After the Silence + Swag
3 ebook of After the Silence (open internationally)
Ends February 28th

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Prism Book Tours

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cover Reveal | Newest Novella from Amber Stokes

It's been a while since I've participated in a cover reveal. These are always fun posts because not only do I get to share about an upcoming release, but I get to be part of the crew who's showing off the cover for the first time ever!

Without further ado, here is the cover for Amber Stokes' newest novella, Where Trains Collide. Drumroll please ...


I think Lena does a great job with these covers, and each one seems just a bit better than the last! I love the focus on the couple (love covers with guys on them!), the pop of color with the fall leaves in the bottom right corner, the title font (so cute!), and the lovely backdrop for all this romance (beautiful sky and love the train tracks!)! Based on the number of exclamation marks, it's evident that I'm a fan. What do you think of this new cover?

About the Book
New Adult Contemporary Romance Novella

Two hearts racing in different directions will meet where trains collide.

Burned out and disillusioned with her chosen career path, Trisha Knolane gives in to impulse and hops on a train bound for Oregon, eager to escape the stress of college for a few days. But what begins as a fun little adventure suddenly collapses into a nightmare when she discovers that her ex-boyfriend is also on board.

All her hopes and dreams had once centered on Paul Benson. Now, when Trisha doesn't know where her current track will lead, Paul’s questions only complicate matters and spark a few of her own.

Questions that could change the course of her life.

A heartfelt and thought-provoking contemporary romance novella, Where Trains Collide faces the uncertain season of new adulthood head-on and shows that sometimes a path of broken dreams can lead to life's best destination.

Coming April 2015

Add to Goodreads

About the Author
Amber Stokes works in marketing for a Christian publisher. On the side, she writes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. The next step in her career has her happily settled in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she's always considered home. Learn more about her indie-author adventure through her website.



About the Designer
Lena Goldfinch writes romance and fantasy for adults and teens. She’s a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it’s a novel, novella, or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Elements of romance, fantasy, and mystery have a way of creeping into her writing, even when she's writing historicals or something light and contemporary. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests. She lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. Visit Lena at her website.


Giveaway
Fall in love with gorgeous autumn earrings by Belle on a Budget (perfect to set aside as a gift for yourself or a friend later on!) and treat yourself now to a little something on Amazon.com with a $5 gift card. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only, and you can enter using the Rafflecopter form below.



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Friday, February 6, 2015

The Heart of Adventure Sweepstakes GIVEAWAY from Dani Pettrey and Bethany House

Enter the HEART OF ADVENTURE Sweepstakes from Author Dani Pettrey

As sad as I am to see Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series come to an end, I'm super excited about FINALLY getting a chance to read Reef's story. Dani is celebrating the end of this series with a huge sweepstakes giveaway. You do NOT want to miss out on these awesome prizes ...

The Book
In SABOTAGED, the fifth and final book of author Dani Pettrey’s award-winning Alaskan Courage series, Kirra Jacobs and Reef McKenna experience the high stakes of Iditarod search-and-rescue when Kirra’s uncle, a musher in the race, goes missing.

Kirra and Reef put aside their differences to search for him, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank’s daughter Meg has been kidnapped, and Frank must do the kidnapper’s bidding or Meg will die.

Soon Kirra, Reef, and the entire McKenna family are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl’s life, but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

To celebrate their epic race, Dani and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the HEART OF ADVENTURE SWEEPSTAKES, and your chance to win one of three marvelous prizes, all closely connected to the story.


The Prizes
Grand Prize: Luxurious Lodge Getaway
During their cross-country hunt for answers, Kirra and Reef stop to rest at a gorgeous mountain lodge in Denali that holds special memories for Reef. This prize offers you a chance to build your own special memories, with a luxurious lodge getaway for two.

Our Grand Prize winner will receive: A $250 gift certificate to Hotels.com, good for reservations at lodges and hotels across the Continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, and numerous International locations.

Second Prize: Pals with Paws Donation
In the Alaskan Courage series, Kirra is the proud owner of Nanook Haven, a rescue shelter for sled dogs. In real life, animals need rescue as well, and this prize will allow you to give a special gift to support an organization like Kirra’s.

Our Second Prize winner will receive: A $150 donation in your name, to the animal rescue, shelter, or veterinarian of your choice.


Third Prize: Sweetheart Survival Sled
In SABOTAGED, Kirra and Reef take shelter in a snow cave while hiding from a man determined to put them on ice– permanently! Luckily, Kirra has a survival kit, to help them make it through the sub-zero temperatures.
 
If you prefer a little more romance and a little less suspense in your survival kit, this is the prize for you.

Our Third Prize winner will receive: A $100 value sweetheart survival pack. This gift basket includes double chocolate raspberry cake, smoked salmon, brie cheese and crackers, and a wide variety of gourmet snacks.

The Details
This giveaway starts February 2, 2015 and ends February 22, 2015 @ 11:59 pm (PST).
Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Monday, February 23, 2015, and announced at DaniPettrey.com.

Go to Dani's website and complete the entry box, anytime between February 2 – 22, 2015.
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