Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Book Review: The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

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Title: The Sound of Rain

Author: Sarah Loudin Thomas

Series: Standalone

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


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.

**4 stars**

I wasn't sure I was going to like The Sound of Rain, as I'd not read by Sarah Loudin Thomas before. But I shouldn't have worried. I usually love books set in the 1950s, and this one was so fun and also meaningful and tender.

Judd Markley leaves behind the Appalachian Mountains after a mine cave-in and tries to make a life for himself on the beaches of South Carolina. There he meets Larkin Heyward, the daughter of his new boss. She's full of life and light, and has big dreams of ministering to the needy in his home mountains.
Judd and Larkin take a liking to each other ... but with past wounds, secrets, schemes, and differing plans, will their romance be torn apart?

The Sound of Rain was exciting. Fun. Sweet. I loved the 1950s feel, and felt the author did a good job with bringing that era to life. The beach town. Dancing at the Pavilion. Then there were parts of the book that took place in the Appalachian Mountains, another setting I love! There were mines caving in and hurricanes. Walks on the beach and gatherings of mountain folk to dance and visit. Volunteering at the pristine hospitals of Myrtle Beach, and helping the needy in the hills of Kentucky.

Judd was sweet. Larkin was bubbly. I laughed and I sighed. Some parts of the romance were just so completely adorable. *heart eyes*

A couple things I would mention ... the ending felt a little rushed. So much going on. I didn't really care for Peter's character - I felt he acted in a way that was wrong and didn't own up to it. Some of the characters went back and forth in a way that was a little confusing and made me feel I didn't really get to know them, at times.

But overall, it was a very delightful read, with some lovely romance, meaningful lessons, and adventure. I really enjoyed.

I received a copy of The Sound of Rain from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Simple Soul of Susan by Noel Branham

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Title: The Simple Soul of Susan

Author: Noel Branham

Series: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary

Audience: Young Adult


Susan Combs had long ago found the love of her life. The only problem was the other party still didn’t know he had been found. 

Every day Susan saw Calder Hurtz, her next door neighbor and childhood best friend. They always enjoyed the short drive to school down the dusty streets of their small Texas town. She was happy in those perfect moments, for her life at home was most imperfect. The challenging homestead she inhabited was also the favorite subject of local gossip.

But one autumn day she overhears Calder and another boy having a conversation. This occasion of accidental audience sets Susan’s life on an unforeseen path. In the seasons to come, her future will be changed by two hospitalizations, two confessions of love, and one betrayal. 

Compulsively readable, The Simple Soul of Susan is an engaging, soul-endearing romance and a mesmerizing debut.

**4 stars**

A very sweet, old-fashioned feeling story. The Simple Soul of Susan by Noel Branham was an easy and fun read; the storytelling was charming and the characters catch your interest right away.

A small Texas town. A girl with an old-fashioned soul. A boy next door - her childhood friend who has secretly been the love of her heart for years. A hilarious group of ladies in the nursing home. A captivating little adventure.
I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the authenticity of it. It was written with such a sense of reality, you felt like you were there with Susan. Feeling her quiet, hidden hurts. Chuckling alongside her over the nursing home ladies' gambling tales. The Simple Soul of Susan may have leaned toward a narrative writing style but it was still very engaging, and there was a depth to the story.

Contemporary is generally a hit or miss for me. But maybe because of Susan's personality, I really enjoyed going with her through her last year of high school and beginning of her love life. It was both hard and sweet.

There were just a couple things I didn't like so much. Despite there being a faith theme, Calder had kind of a careless attitude toward it. I felt like Susan should have stepped back and guarded her heart, despite him being her childhood love, because he wasn't serious about his faith like she was.
Also, Calder could have chosen a better way to interact with and pursue girls.
But, it was real and raw and showed some of the hurts that come from not being honest, cautious, and intentional about romantic relationships. And I believe Calder did mature and grow up a bit throughout the book.

Overall, it was just an enjoyable read, with some surprises and endearing moments, that I enjoyed returning to.

I received a copy of The Simple Soul of Susan from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cover Reveal for Coming Release by Nadine Brandes + Giveaway!

Hello, my dear reader friends! How's life? Is your day going well? Are you ready for it to get even better? *winks*

Today I have the privilege of helping reveal the epic cover of the next release from Nadine Brandes! In case you don't know who Nadine Brandes is, let me explain. She is the brilliant author who wrote the OUT OF TIME series—a young adult, dystopian trilogy filled with action, faith, a little romance, and cool futuristic stuff! *grins* If you haven't read A Time to Die, A Time to Speak, and A Time to Rise, I highly recommend that you pick them up and join Parvin Blackwater on an amazing, thrilling journey.

Twitter & Instagram: @nadinebrandes

I loved this series and am so, so, so excited at the idea of reading something new by this author! *ahem* Are you ready to see the new cover?

Scroll down to see Nadine Brandes's newest book ... *smiles*


Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.
The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King James.
The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Expected Publication: July 10th, 2018

Pre-Order on Amazon

Add to Goodreads

So what do you all think?? Isn't it gorgeous? And doesn't it sound absolutely fascinating? Does the mix of historical and fantasy interest you? What do you think of the title? Comment below and let me know all your thoughts! I'd like to fangirl with you a little over Fawkes. *grins and winks*

Enter the GIVEAWAY:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Book Review: Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R. Emlet

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Title: Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications

Author: Michael R. Emlet

Series: Helping the Helper #1

Genre: Christian Living/Self-Help

Audience: Adult


OCD, ADHD, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder ... these are not just diagnoses from the DSM; they are part of our everyday vocabulary and understanding of people. As Christians, how should we think about psychiatric diagnoses and their associated treatments? We can t afford to isolate ourselves and simply dismiss these categories as unbiblical. Nor can we afford to accept the entire secular psychiatric diagnostic and treatment enterprise at face value as though Scripture is irrelevant for these complex struggles. Instead, we need a balanced, biblically (and scientifically!) informed approach that is neither too warmly embracing nor too coldly dismissive of psychiatric labels and the psychiatric medications that are often prescribed.

Biblical counselor and retired physician, Michael R. Emlet, gives readers a helpful way forward on these important issues as he guides lay and professional helpers in the church through the thicket of mental health diagnoses and treatments in a clear, thoughtful primer in which the Bible informs our understanding of psychiatric diagnoses and the medications that are often recommended based on those labels.

This first book in the Helping the Helper series will give readers biblical, gospel-formed categories that will help them understand and minister to those who are struggling with mental health issues.

**4.5 stars**

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications by Michael R. Emlet wasn't exactly what I was expecting - especially not in the first quarter or so of the book. But it had good information to impart, and I feel like I've learned a lot. I received some things to ponder, and now have an overall more balanced view of medications and how to help those dealing with mental struggles.

For a long time, I've wanted to know more about the struggles of the mind. Helping people work through emotional/mental issues - counseling, on a small scale - has been something on my heart. On the other hand, I'm a deep thinker and I understand, to some extent, some of these mental struggles, having dealt with anxiety for many years.

So yes. This book was very interesting to me. At first, it was a little over my head, what with some of the history of psychiatric stuff and all these technical terms, in-depth diagnoses, and medications and what they do. But as I kept reading, Descriptions and Prescriptions really became engrossing to me. I started understanding things a little more. And then, toward the middle of the book, the author started talking more about the spiritual and emotional side ... and asked the question: How do we approach mental illnesses and struggles? Is medication always the answer? Where does faith factor into all this?

There were some real-life stories and situations that were very helpful in understanding people and seeing this author's points.

Overall, I felt Michael R. Emlet approached this subject with solid history and facts, wisdom, good information, grace, and some great thoughts. One thing I liked that he said, more than once, is: we are both body and spirit. To neglect one or the other when helping someone, or reaching out for help yourself, is a mistake.
I'm glad I read this book. I plan to keep it on my bookshelf for future reference, and recommend to those wanting to understand more about this subject.

I received a copy of Descriptions and Prescriptions from Litfuse Publicity Blogger Program in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Book Review: Prodigy Prince by Natasha Sapienza

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Title: Prodigy Prince

Author: Natasha Sapienza

Series: The Seven Covenent

Genre: Fantasy

Audience: Young Adult


At seventeen, all Prince Nuelle had ever known was safety and peace while living in the Supreme Palace of Zephoris. 

But one night, his older brother, Tane, defies their father by traveling to a cursed land. Now Nuelle holds the signet-ring and carries more responsibility than even Tane bore. Thrust from the palace and sent to a knight-building academy, Nuelle must discover his purpose for the entire kingdom’s sake. 

From his place of banishment, Prince Antikai has been exacting revenge through fear and rebellions. Nuelle has the potential to defeat him, but he needs the help of a powerful book and six gifted youths. 

Summoned by Antikai, shape-shifting beasts and other enemies hunt Nuelle and the Acumen. If either is destroyed, the faithful citizens in Zephoris will perish, and darkness will rule forever.


Prodigy Prince is book one in a young adult fantasy series, THE SEVEN COVENANT, by Natasha Sapienza. It starts off with drama and action, pulling me into the story at once.

We journey along with Prince Nuelle and his friends on a dangerous adventure. From knight training school to dark forests to neighboring kingdoms. This world is quite thrilling, with princesses and dragons and all manner of other fantastical creatures. We’ve villains and betrayals. Intrigue and battles. Lessons learned and friendships formed. Prodigy Prince is pretty exciting and action-packed from beginning to end.

The start of the book captures your attention, as I mentioned above. Through the middle, the plot seemed to lag a little, though there was plenty of action – many skirmishes and unexpected clashes with the enemies.
And there were lots of fantasy creatures and terms that had me a little confused for awhile.

But by the last 30 or 40% of Prodigy Prince, I think I was starting to get a better grasp on things, and was really enjoying the characters development … so I had quite a fun time finishing reading this book. *winks* It was intriguing, adventurous, and even humorous.

The biggest thing that kept me from fully enjoying this fantasy novel was the theology/faith theme. It kind of kept me confused and wondering what it was leading up to the entire length of the book. By the end of Prodigy Prince, I still wasn't sure what it all meant/symbolized. I ended up asking the author about it, and she explained her reasoning, which was helpful. I'm still not sure if I prefer/am comfortable with the kind of subtle/"not exact" allegory. But I can understand where she's coming from. I will leave it up to readers to decide what they think! It may just be something I'm not so much comfortable with.

Besides my personal complaints, Prodigy Prince was a very interesting read and I see a lot of potential in this author and her writing!

I received a copy of Prodigy Prince from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book Review: Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

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Title: Many Sparrows

Author: Lori Benton

Series: Standalone

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


When settler Clare Inglesby is widowed on a mountain crossing and her young son, Jacob, captured by Shawnees, she'll do everything in her power to get him back, including cross the Ohio River and march straight into the presence of her enemies deep in Indian country. Frontiersman and adopted Shawnee, Jeremiah Ring, promises to guide Clare through the wilderness and help her recover Jacob.

Once they reach the Shawnees and discover Jeremiah's own Shawnee sister, Rain Crow, has taken custody of Jacob - renaming him Many Sparrows - keeping his promise becomes far more complicated, the consequences more wrenching, than Jeremiah could have foreseen.

**4 stars**

I enjoyed Many Sparrows by Lori Benton! It moved slowly in many ways, but the storytelling was rich, and filled with grace and heartache and beauty.

Like this author's other amazing novels, Many Sparrows is set in 18th century America and focuses a lot on Native Americans.
Clare Inglesby is traveling deeper into the wilderness with her husband and young son, Jacob. And with a baby on the way. When the Shawnees take all that's important from her, she is desperate to get back what's hers at all costs.
Jeremiah Ring has many secrets and an unexpected connection with the Shawnees ... he may be the perfect guide for Clare as she seeks out the people she so fears.

Oh, my heart ached for Clare. The trials she endured. The agony she faced. In some ways, I could see myself in her - in the way she struggled to trust, was tormented with anxiety, tried to fix everything on her own. This story spoke to my soul and I learned some lessons through Clare's journey. *smiles*
I really liked Jeremiah, too. This solid and somewhat mysterious frontiersman ... adopted by the Shawnee Indians. The ways he helped and guided Clare were very heart-touching.
Jacob and Pippa! The dear, sweet little ones! <3

There was suspense, and some mystery. I'm still left wondering about one of Jeremiah's "brothers" and this brother's "son". I hope, in spite of all, that everything is well for them.

Some parts of Many Sparrows were hard. Difficult to read even. My heart was heavy ... torn for Clare. Couldn't understand Jeremiah. Could, even less, understand the Shawnees. But the way the tale unfolded and turned out - even through the heartache and pain and loss and bloodshed - was ultimately good and grace-filled and beautiful. That ending. It put my heart at rest! *smiles*

Another well-written and thoughtful read from Lori Benton. I can't wait for her next release!

I received a copy of Many Sparrows from BloggingforBooks in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey by Carolyn Miller

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Title: The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey

Author: Carolyn Miller

Series: Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


Will a damaged reputation and desire for society's approval thwart the legacy of grace?

Tainted by scandal and forced to leave London for the quieter Brighton countryside, the Honorable Miss Clara DeLancey is a shadow of her former society self. She's lost the man she loved to another and, in a culture that has no patience for self-pity, is struggling with depression. A chance encounter brings her a healing friendship with the sisters of an injured naval captain. But Clara's society mama is appalled at the new company she's keeping.

Captain Benjamin Kemsley is not looking for a wife. But his gallant spirit won't let him ignore the penniless viscount's daughter - not when she so obviously needs assistance to keep moving forward from day to day. Can he protect his heart and still keep her safe?

When they're pushed into the highest echelons of society at the Prince Regent's Brighton Pavilion, this mismatched couple must decide if family honor is more important than their hopes. Can they right the wrongs of the past and find future happiness together - without finances, family support, or royal favor?

The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey is full of the captivating, flawed characters, fascinating historical details, and masterful writing that Carolyn Miller's fans have come to know in The Elusive Miss Ellison and The Captivating Lady Charlotte. If you love Lori Wick, Georgette Heyer, and other clean, wholesome Regency romance, you'll love this third book in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series.

**4.5 stars**

I had been looking forward to reading Clara's story since glimpsing her in The Captivating Lady Charlotte, and I believe I enjoyed The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey as much or more than the second book in the REGENCY BRIDES: A LEGACY OF GRACE series. The intrigue of the story, interesting and endearing characters, and a tender faith theme kept me turning pages. Now I need to go back and read the first book in this amazing historical romance series!

Miss Clara DeLancey struggles with dashes hopes and bitterness, surrounded by scandal. A chance encounter with a stranger on the clifftops forces her to reevaluate her life. Might there be a second chance for her? Even at love?
But the man who warms her heart is below her station, much to her parent's disapproval. And the past has a way of haunting one ...

I quite liked getting to know Clara. Her story tugged at my heart. She's an imperfect, broken woman who finds grace and hope and life in Jesus. I love how authentic her journey to faith was!
I love her friends, Mattie and Tessa! *beams* And Benjamin Kemsley ... I really liked his character as well. His seafaring tales. His struggle. His deep faith in and reverence for God. His tender care of Clara ... *sighs blissfully* What a sweet gentleman. So patient with her. So protective. And careful. And adorably romantic.
I think the romance was incredibly beautiful and tasteful.

The characters really were great. Carolyn Miller does such a fabulous job with them. I can hardly wait to read The Elusive Miss Ellison (book one) and Winning Miss Winthrop, the coming release of a new series.

A personal complaint: I didn't like how some of the characters got a bit disrespectful/demeaning/careless. Yes, they were dealing with mean-spirited or arrogant people, but I still feel they should have checked their own attitudes and made sure they were behaving honorably in God's eyes.

But besides those few incidents, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey is really a stunning read filled with faith, true friends, forgiveness, redemption, and tender love. I got lost in this gorgeous, emotional regency tale. Many a time I found myself laughing (perhaps mostly at Benjie's adorable wooing attempts), and my heart was touched by Clara's deepening relationship with God.

Carolyn Miller knows how to write a rich and entertaining story set during the regency era. Recommend!

I received a copy of The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

O Lovely Book Cover

The Honey Bride by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Published: March 29th, 2017

Chief of Sinners {Texas Romance Books #10} by Caryl McAdoo
Published: September 6th, 2017

Heirs of Tirragyl {The Poison Tree Path Chronicles #2} by Joan Campbell

Published: October 10th, 2017 (Enclave Publishing)

The Mayflower Bride {Daughters of the Mayflower #1} by Kimberley Woodhouse

Expected Publication: February 1st, 2018 (Barbour Books)

The Pirate Bride {Daughters of the Mayflower #2} by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Expected Publication: April 1st, 2018 (Barbour Books)

King's War {The Kinsman Chronicles #3} by Jill Williamson

Expected Publication: April 17th, 2018 (Bethany House)

Together Forever {Orphan Train #2} by Jody Hedlund

Expected Publication: May 1st, 2018 (Bethany House)

Falling for You {A Bradford Sisters Romance #2} by Becky Wade

Expected Publication: May 1st, 2018 (Bethany House)

The Captured Bride {Daughters of the Mayflower #3} by Michelle Griep 

Expected Publication: June 1st, 2018 (Barbour Books)

The Orphan's Wish {Hagenheim #8} by Melanie Dickerson

Expected Publication: June 26th, 2018 (Thomas Nelson)

The Patriot Bride {Daughters of the Mayflower #4} by Kimberley Woodhouse

Expected Publication: August 1st, 2018 (Barbour Books)

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Expected Publication: 2018 (Thomas Nelson)

A Rebel Heart {The Daughtry House #1} by beth White

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham