Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson

3 Stars!
This is a very good debut novel! The author has immense talent, but unfortunately I just didn't really connect and engage with this book the way I had hoped, and I don't really know why. I did love main characters Keziah and Micah, and I especially loved Hiriam! 
I don't think I've ever before read a book where the main character has epilepsy, and I found it very interesting to read about in a historical novel and get a glimpse of how epilepsy was perceived by people in that time! This book is very historically accurate which makes it tough to read at times, because you know that innumerable African-Americans were denied freedom and  treated with unspeakable cruelty, but this book ultimately has an incredibly beautiful message. Even though this wasn't a favorite, I did still enjoy it and am very glad I read it! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys realistic Civil War fiction, especially those who prefer a story that is lighter on the romance. Tara Johnson is a great writer, and I look forward to trying more of her work in the future.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, which did not influence my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions are one hundred my own.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My Salvation Story!

Hello, all my lovely readers! I wish you all a happy and blessed 4th of July! Today I'm sharing something a little different and non-bookish, my personal salvation testimony! I'm an introvert, which for me means I'm not very good at sharing stories from my life. I have been debating about sharing my salvation story for a few years now, I have decided to take a step outside my comfort zone and share it here in the hopes that it will perhaps encourage or bless someone out there. Note: this post may contain triggers for anyone who has ever been in a car accident.

Imagine you are fourteen years old. It's the Fourth of July and you are riding in the driver's side rear seat of your family's SUV. You're having a blast enjoying the day with your mom, dad, and brother. Imagine that the car comes to a stop at an intersection and proceeds to cross the highway when the way is clear. Imagine that you look out your window and see a Jeep appear out of nowhere, it's heading directly for you, and you know it's going to crash into you. You don't scream. There is nothing you can do but watch in horror. Metal slams against metal as the front end of the Jeep collides with your door, the impact sending your car and your entire world spinning. It seems to take forever for the car to stop moving, and when it does you realize that somehow you are still alive. You begin taking stock of your body, yet amazingly nothing feels injured. You notice that your father and brother are also alright. You instinctively know not to even try your door--it won't open--so you slide over and follow your brother out his door. Your mother is still in the car--she's alive, but unconscious. You're sobbing, and someone tells you they think you should sit down until the ambulance arrives. Sirens blare in your ears as a small army of firefighters, EMTs, and police officers arrive on the scene and surround you. It seems to take an eternity until they finally cut your mother's car door open with the Jaws of Life. But, by then you are lying on your back wearing a neck brace, so you can't look anywhere but straight up at the sky. You're more scared than you've ever been in your life. Then comes the surreal ambulance ride and emergency room exam. Finally, four hours later your entire family miraculously walks out of the hospital with no serious injuries. You are incredibly grateful that everyone is alright, but you are also a control freak and now begins the battle with what you believe to be a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

No, that's not the opening of my next suspense book, that's MY story! Lately, I've heard a lot of people talking about celebrating their Spiritual Birthday (The Day they were saved) and for a while it bothered me because I cannot remember the first day that I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and be my savior. After the accident I found myself terrified to even get into a car for fear that I would be in another accident, and that the next time it would be worse. That worry plagued me for over a year, but it began the process of my salvation and rebirth. I had grown up going to church often and believing in God, but I had no clue what true salvation was or how to attain it. Around that time God awakened within me a passionate desire to remain sexually pure until marriage, it was through the reading of books on the topic of purity that I came to understand The Gospel and what salvation is. The paralyzingly fear I felt led me to realize I couldn't do life alone, and helped me to see just how much I need Jesus! I wish I could say that I made it easy for God to get through to me, but I was a very untrusting, problem child for Him. I also wish I could say that I realized my need for forgiveness and my savior all at once, in one moment on one day, but the truth is it was a very slow process. Over the years I've probably prayed ten different versions of the sinner's prayer, and it took more times of hitting my knees and begging for forgiveness and salvation than I can count for me to finally start to believe that I was truly saved, that God had prevented me from dying in that car accident for a purpose: to give me the chance to choose to give my life to Him! When I realized this my fear started to disappear. Yet, there were still times that doubt and fear crept into my mind. Fear of all the bad things that could happen to me in life, doubt that I was truly saved, doubt that I had enough faith to continue being brave. But each time God never failed to remind me that it was all in His control, not mine, which gave the control freak in me freedom from constant fear. Don't think that there aren't still moments when I struggle, there are. Lots of them. Sometimes more difficult than others, and of course I always think that I am correct in my thinking that I'm beyond hope. Yet, God never stops pursuing me and opening His arms for me to run back into them where He holds me and reassures me that He loves me and He has forgiven and saved me and that nothing can ever change that. I'm nowhere near perfect, and as much as I wish I could say it's not true, sometimes the struggle with overcoming fear and doubt and trusting God is a daily battle that it seems I fail at more often than I succeed. Sometimes the lying little voice in my head chimes in, telling me "What is the matter with you? You've been a Christian for how long? And yet you still struggle with trusting God and letting go of fear, how can you call yourself a Christian?" But all I have to do is cry out to Him and He floods my soul with peace and a renewed perspective that helps me destroy those lies and replace them with truth. Even when I don't realize it God is teaching me a little more each day what it means to lean on Him, and to allow my heart to trust and rest in Him! I love Him with all my heart, He is my everything! I'm still a work in progress, but I am His beloved work in progress, and that is all that matters. His presence is all I need, and I am so grateful that His mercies are new every morning.
So, even though I can't pin down one exact date as the first day of my new life in Christ, I have decided that this year I will have an extra reason to celebrate.
Independence Day will always be the day that marks the turning point in my life that sparked the chain of events that led to my salvation and the true beginning of my life, and isn't it interesting that Independence Day is the day I celebrate as the catalyst for my learning to be Dependent on God?! He does work in mysterious ways! 
Thank you, Jesus for July 4th 2006.

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:9

Do you know? God loves YOU! Jesus willingly died on that cross to save YOU! He hopes you will believe in Him and accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life in heaven that He is offering YOU! No matter what YOU have done His grace is unending! If YOU are ready here is a prayer you can pray:

Jesus, I know I have sinned against you and have fallen short of God's perfect standard. I believe that you died on that cross and rose from the dead so that I could be saved. Amazing savior, please forgive me and wash my sins away with the blood you shed for me on Calvary.
I accept you as my Lord with all my heart and give my life to you from this moment forward. Amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey

5 Stars!

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
Dr. Seuss

I think this quote perfectly sums up my feelings about this series ending. I'm sad to say goodbye, but thrilled that I got to become friends with these characters and live vicariously through them for a little while! Where do I even begin to describe the amazingness that is Dead Drift?! Kate and Luke's story was phenomenal!
As with all of Dani's books I devoured this one in under 24 hours! Dani's books always knock my socks off, but Dead Drift takes the awesomeness to a whole new level. My old friends Griffin & Finley, Parker & Avery, Declan & Tanner, and Luke & Kate grabbed hold of me and yanked me through the screen of my Kindle and into their story, and it didn't take long before I forgot I was reading and instead felt that I was tagging along and living their story right alongside them, that is how fabulous this book is! 
Once again Dani's writing thrilled me, chilled me, and inspired me, at the same time it encouraged and challenged my faith, and made a lasting imprint on my heart! I don't really know what else I can say without risking spoilers, so I will finish with this: I absolutely adored every single moment I spent reading this book, everything was tied up perfectly, and even though I hated to see it end, when I turned the final page a sigh of pure contentment escaped my lips which were temporarily frozen in the giddiest grin of all time! Dead Drift is on my list of favorite reads of 2018, and I highly recommend it! Everyone should read the Chesapeake Valor series, each book can stand alone but they are best read in order to get the full amazing experience!
I simply cannot wait for Dani's next book! READ DANI PETTREY'S BOOKS, YOU WON'T BE SORRY! Now, if you'll excuse me! *Goes to reread Submerged yet again*

Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book to help promote it. Which did not influence my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions are one hundred percent my own (except the quote from Dr. Seuss, of course LOL!)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review: Enduring Love by Toni Shiloh

5 Stars! 
WARNING: this review probably won't be much more than a total gush-fest. You have been warned! ;)
How do I even begin to describe all the things I loved about this book?! Well, for starters it's TONI SHILOH! She is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I know without a doubt that I would be enthralled with a phone book or appliance owner's manual if Toni was the one writing it! Like all of Toni's books these characters grabbed me at page one and wouldn't let go! I totally fell for Micah last year when he first appeared in the previous book, Finding Love, and I was beyond excited when I heard that book three was his story, I LOVED HIM SO MUCH in this book. He is such a kind, patient, generous, caring, protective, amazing man, and best of all he loves Jesus with everything in him! I'm serious, ladies! Micah Campbell is total swoon-worthy book boyfriend material (But then so are ALL of the heroes Toni writes!) 
I instantly liked Belle, my heart broke for all she had been through and I found myself wanting to give her a hug and be her friend! Even though I haven't gone through anything even remotely similar to what she did, I could really relate to her personal struggle between wanting to dress modestly and not attract attention to herself, but at the same time wanting to wear clothes that were flattering, and pretty, and at times wondering if it is even possible to have both. 
The faith story in this book deeply touched my heart and I felt myself growing in my faith right alongside the characters! 
I loved everything about this book SOOOO MUCH, and was in a state of pure bliss every moment I was reading it! Getting to visit all my old friends again was so awesome. I love Maple Run, it's one of my favorite fictional towns and I can't wait for my next visit! 
Overall, I adored every moment of Enduring Love and highly recommend it (as well as all of Toni's other books!) to each and every fan of Christian contemporary romance. Read it, you won't be sorry, but be prepared to set aside plenty of free time before you begin because you will be swept away and glued to the page until you turn the final one! 
Enduring Love has a spot on my list of favorite reads of 2018, and I am eagerly anticipating Nikki and Shorty's story! 

I received an ebook copy of this book from the author and publisher which did not influence my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions are one hundred percent my own.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Seasonal TBR Challenge: Summer Edition

I have decided to participate in this challenge hosted by my dear blogging friend Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Reviews

This is my first time participating and I'm super excited! This challenge runs from June 21st, 2018 to September 22nd, 2018
Click HERE for the link to Melanie's post with all the info on how to join! 

These are the top 11 books I'm hoping to get read this summer! 

Heir to Edenbrooke & Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Storm Front by Susan May Warren

Love's Awakening by Laura Frantz

The Carpenter's Daughter by Jennifer Rodewald

The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

The Keeper of Her Heart by Stacy Henrie

You Can't Hurry Love by Beth K. Vogt

A Marriage for the Marine by Liz Isaacson

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Review: A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

5 Stars! 
Another absolutely splendid novel from Kristi Ann Hunter! I have been eagerly anticipating this first novel in the Haven Manor series since March when I read the prequel novella, A Search for Refuge! I knew A Defense of Honor was going to be fabulous and to say that I was not disappointed would be a humongous understatement, I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! This story grabbed hold of me on page one and would not let go! When I pick up a book by this author I know I'm in for a super fun, witty ride that somehow also manages to strengthen my faith, touch my heart, and make me think, and that is exactly what A Defense of Honor did! I will be thinking about this story for a long time to come. I loved Kit, Daphne, and Jess (I loved Jess in A Noble Masquerade, and I was thrilled to get to hang out with her again!) not to mention all the delightful children! And Graham, oh my word! What a noble, Godly, caring, lovable, hilarious, swoon-worthy hero. Kit, you're one lucky lady! These characters have become like dear friends to me and I so look forward to hanging out with them again!
I also absolutely loved watching Kit and Graham grow in their faith, the faith journey they took has challenged and inspired me in my own life, and was exactly what I needed to read at this point in my life! 
I don't want to risk spoiling anything so I will just say that I absolutely adored every moment I spent reading this book, and hated to see it end, but a sigh of happiness escaped my lips when I turned the final page! A Defense of Honor is one of my favorite reads of 2018 so far, I definitely plan on rereading it in the future, and I can't wait for the rest of the series! Highly recommended, I would give it every star in the sky if I could, but alas I am forced to limit my rating to five stars! Seriously, read it, read it, READ IT, you will not be sorry! 

Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book to help promote it. Which did not influence my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions are one hundred percent my own. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Review: Falling for You by Becky Wade

5 Stars!
Wow! Just, wow! This book is beyond AMAZING! Having read and loved all of Becky's books to date, I knew I would enjoy this one, but it went above and beyond every single one of my expectations which I admit were incredibly high to begin with. I have no words to express just how much I loved every single thing about this book! 
Willow and Corbin were awesome main characters! I instantly liked Willow and found myself relating to her a lot more than I expected to. Corbin was hilarious, he had me laughing out loud more times than I can count. I loved watching them fall in love all over again, but I especially loved watching them both turn to God in all their beautiful brokenness. The pages of this book contain what  just may be my very favorite faith story of all Becky's books so far, it was phenomenal, grabbed my heart and would not let go! 
I also loved the twelve year old precocious tornado of fun and sarcasm that is Charlotte Dixon! She's such a riot, never a dull moment when she was on the page!
Another thing that I loved so, so much about Falling for You was the mystery the characters were investigating, it was so well written and just absolutely fabulously well done! 
I was pulled into the book from the first page, and to be honest I don't think I've truly left yet, nor am I likely to at any time in the near future! Have I mentioned that I loved this book?! I haven't? Well, shame on me because I LOVED IT SO MUCH I CAN'T HELP BUT GUSH! This one has a permanent spot on my keeper shelf, and is on my list of favorite reads of 2018! 
Read it, read it, READ IT! You won't be sorry! 

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher to help promote it, which did not influence my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions are one hundred percent my own.