Just Jo’Anne

“A God of All Seasons – Walking Toward Mercy, Grace and Hope” by T.H. Meyer and Amy Breitmann. (Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway.)

A-God-For-All-Seasons-r1-ebook-cover-197x300About the Book

Book title: A God of All Seasons

Author: TH Meyer & Amy Breitmann

Release date: August 28, 2017

Genre: Non-fiction

What if your spiritual life landed in the grip of a wintered soul? How does one’s faith survive?

Discover the beauty and challenge of spiritual seasons as Tammy & Amy remember parts of their stories in order to draw out your own. Learn to perceive God’s companionship even when you don’t sense His nearness. And unearth, not only a God who created the seasons but one who also walks you through them.”

Book Trailer Video: A God of All Seasons

MY THOUGHTS

How often have I foolishly relied more on my own life-vest or efforts? Or …

How often has God called me to plunge off the board of faith or has asked me to leap from my safe seat, only to discover I’ve been too fearful?

 We must listen carefully, and remember that He always knows best.

What an amazing book. I felt privileged and honored to read this lovely book. Amy and Tammy do such a complete job of reminding us (me) that no matter the season of our lives, God always has our back. In fact, He’s got it before we even realize there’s a problem”.

“A God of All Seasons” is beautifully written with such honesty. We are able to see our own lives in many of the trials and tribulations that are discussed within. Superb analogies are presented throughout the book, most of them so wonderful that I found myself highlighting so much of the content.

Our lives resemble a jig-saw puzzle, each piece of life unique in its properties and characteristics. We cannot even imagine what the final picture will look like, but He knows …

I love the way this book is set out, broken into essays, personal testimonies, words of encouragement, and relevant Bible verses. I particularly loved the story about the ‘Brave’ bracelet. How beautiful and how true it is that sometimes, no make that often, God is speaking to us through His Holy Spirit. We won’t always understand His reasoning, but we must trust in Him. We often won’t even hear Him, but we must learn to listen more carefully.

“We savour the small moments like sunken treasure because these days will be the golden ones.

 I like the end of chapter questions for reflection at the end of every chapter. There are also some clever analogies awaiting the reader here. And yes, I have highlighted all these questions, to remind myself to write these in my own journal, and hopefully, answer them one day.

Question: Can we make a deal or agreement with God? e.g. “If you answer me … I’ll keep praying.”  What do you think? Can we bargain with God? And if we could, would we really want to, knowing He knows best anyway?

“A God of All Seasons” brings so much comfort to the reader. It’s tender words gently walk us through all the autumns, winters, springs, and summers of our earthly life.

I received a free ARC of this book from the authors. I am not obliged to give a positive review. All words and thoughts are entirely my own.

Click here to purchase your copy.

Giveaway

13c9ba50-c32a-4f8b-9d0c-9805e3beb56dTo celebrate her tour, T.H. Meyer is giving away a Kindle Fire!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bd4e

 

About the Authors

Tammy H MeyerAfter living in Asia and Europe, T.H. Meyer’s family planted roots on their Texas farm in 2008 where they live among fields of Rye and Bermuda. Tammy is a writer and creative strategist who also moonlights as a social media specialist. She’s the mother to three children and author of, A Life of Creative Purpose: Embrace Uniqueness, Explore Boldness, Encourage Faith and Social Media Strategies: Discovering Powerful Tools of the Trade without Losing Your Soul for Christian entrepreneurs maneuvering the daunting and soul-sucking world of online marketing.

Join Tammy on her website: The Art of Fear Not: An Adventurous Life of Faith http://www.tammy-h-meyer.com/.

Or stay in touch with her at:

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hendricksmeyer/pins/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tammy.h.meyer/ for personal photos and thoughts from home.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammy.hendricksmeyer

Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/tammy_h_meyer/lists & find out what’s on her Twitter “Lists.”

Amy BreitmannAmy’s (Amy Breitmann) Bio: Amy weaves together ministry and writing alongside her husband and two children in Augusta, GA. She is a writer, speaker, and founder of “The Lydia Project,” a national ministry for women facing cancer and is a storyteller for ViBella Jewelry, an international company that employs artisans in Haiti and Mexico. Her published works include pieces in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Mosaic: Sojourners of Faith, and Guideposts Magazine.

Blog Stops

August 10: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

August 11: A Baker’s Perspective

August 12: Just Jo’Anne

August 13: Avid Reader Book Reviews

August 13: Splashes of Joy

August 13: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

August 14: A Reader’s Brain

August 15: autism mom

August 16: Captive Dreams Window

August 16: autismchristianmom

August 17: Karen Sue Hadley

August 18: Moments Dipped in Ink

August 19: Bigreadersite

August 20: Eat,Read,Teach,Blog

August 21: Margaret Kazmierczak

August 22: Breaking Ordinary

August 23: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

August 23: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

 

Wounded in the Church by Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward (Review, Blog Tour & Giveaway)

 Wounded-in-the-chruch-fb-banner-copy-1

About the Book

Book title: Wounded in the Church

Authors: Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward

Release date: March 14, 2017

Genre: Non-fiction

 

Wounded in the ChurchA church should be safe, right? Then why do so many get hurt there?

Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward combine their years of ministry experience to address head-on the elephant in the room: church members and church leaders hurt Christians. All the time. And the long-lasting effects—rejection, shame, despair, loneliness, fear—can be devastating. The authors have witnessed the rise of the “dones,” those who are just done with God thanks to scars from a church.

With first-person stories of hurt and loss, this book is a wake-up call for any who deny woundedness in the church but is also a redemptive message for any who hurt from church wounds. Leaders and laypeople alike will learn how to grieve over abuse, to leave unhealthy attitudes and patterns that cause pain, and to trust in God’s real, delivering work through churches that build up, not tear down.

Thanks to the grace of God, there is always hope beyond the pain.

♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

MY THOUGHTS

When I first saw this book, I wasn’t keen to read it.

Yes, I have been wounded by a church but how could anyone really understand?

“God’s divine nature is offered to everyone. God added to Christ the human nature that we might have the divine nature added to us.”

Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward have nailed it!

This book is the first I have seen that covers the many issues that exist within and out of the church (no matter what denomination one belongs to). Ray and Chris have dealt with this subject in the most respectful and humane way possible. Mere human beings as we are, don’t think the same way that God does, therefore it would be unreasonable to assume that we can ever achieve divine perfection while stationed on this earth. It would also be irrational to assume that what people say, especially many people’s interpretations of the Word of God (The Holy Bible), are correct.

There have been many different interpretations of the Holy Word, some due to ignorance, others due to that human need to be in control. More people have been hurt badly or even been damaged by human applications of the Bible by the church, than the entire number of hairs on my head, that I will have during my lifetime.

There are too many types of wounding discussed within this informative book for me to cover them here, so I have decided to cover Ray and Chris’ words on ‘Guilt and Shame’.

With guilt comes shame. It shouldn’t be that way, we do need to feel guilty when we have done something wrong, have the opportunity to show remorse, and endeavor not to make this mistake again. We most likely will make the same mistakes repeatedly, because we are imperfect human beings, and the power of the enemy is strong. But in His wisdom, God knows this and always gives us the chance to return to Him.

Shame is an entirely different player in this life struggle.  With shame comes fear and blame.

“The first blame-game in human history occurred when Adam implied that it was God’s fault that he was in a mess, for having given the woman to him.”

We have continued to blame others for our shortcomings ever since.

Ray and Chris discuss the various forms of shame: hereditary, personal, generational, inflicted, induced, discriminatory, and unwarranted or false shame. “Unhealthy leaders may use shame for the purpose of manipulation. People will do almost anything to avoid being shamed.”

 “Shame only becomes a horrible thing when it is activated by sin.”

 Then there is the issue of ‘secret shame’. The secrets we keep to ourselves, but God knows of our remorse because we have confessed directly to Him, and by the power of Christ’s Blood we are forgiven and saved. Both Ray and Chris agree that to be a good Christian or follower of Jesus, we do not always need to tell all.

“Righteousness has nothing to do with performance, but with who we become.”

 Ray and Chris eloquently point out the dangers of our tendencies to judge and shame each other, and the damage it has done down through the ages. Their book is interspersed with personal testimonies from good people who have been treated badly by the church, whether by church leaders or fellow followers of Christ. This book doesn’t fix any problems; however, it is comforting to know that if we have been hurt, we are not alone.

“Sin and grace are the crux of the practical Christian life” we sin and it is only by God’s grace that we can be forgiven and saved. It is never up to us as members of the church community to place judgment, punishment, and shame on others.

“Perfectionism is the result of focusing on sin.”

“Wounded in the Church” is a wonderful tool to bring us closer to realizing that there is always hope beyond the pain.

 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

~ Matthew 16:21-23

I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed reading “Wounded in the Church” the same way I would reading a romance novel, however, I must say this book held me until the end because I was able to relate to many of the discussions and testimonies. It was a painful read, but a comforting journey.

I was provided with an ARC by the authors via CelebrateLit in return for an honest review.

About the Authors

ray-beeson-300x235Ray Beeson is the director of Overcomers Ministries, a teaching ministry with a special emphasis on spiritual warfare and prayer. Ray teaches seminars on spiritual warfare, prayer, and Christlike living and is the author of numerous books including Signed in His Blood (Charisma House, 2014) and The Hidden Price of Greatness (Overcomers, 2000). Ray and his wife, Linda, live in Ventura, CA.

 

chris-hayward-201x300Chris Hayward has had over thirty-six years of pastoral ministry and is currently serving as president of Cleansing Stream Ministries, a discipleship ministry that works with the local church around the world. He is also the author of God’s Cleansing Stream (Chosen Books, 2004) and The End of Rejection (Chosen Books, 2007). Chris and his wife, Karen, live in Castaic, CA.

 

Giveaway

GiveawayTo celebrate this tour, Whitaker House is giving away

Grand Prize: Kindle Fire and Wounded in the Church by Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward

First Place Prize: Walking by Faith mug with matching pen OR Bouquet of Blessings mug and Wounded in the Church

Second Place Prize: Walking By Faith pen and Wounded in the Church

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! Giveaway

 

 

Guest Post from Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward

imagesWhen we tell people we’ve written a book entitled “Wounded in the Church,” many nod knowingly. Sadly, the pain and heartache that happens in churches is all too common. Collectively, the two of us have spent more than 70 years in ministry. During that time we have seen neglect, tactlessness, and blatant insensitivity fostered by some leaders and congregations resulting in the wounding of others. We realize it is not prolific in every church, but the wounding is significant and it needs to be exposed. That is why we wrote this book – we share real stories of real people who were wounded in church, a place that should be a shelter of God’s love and peace. Sometimes people are abused by leaders or church members. There are also times when leaders are abused by people within the congregation. As you read, perhaps you’ll identify with some of the situations described. If so, be assured you are not alone. images (1)If you have been wounded, it is our hope and prayer God uses this book to facilitate healing. Because of Jesus Christ, there is hope beyond the pain.

Blog Stops

July 27: Reading Is My SuperPower

July 27: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

July 28: A Reader’s Brain

July 29: cherylbbookblog

July 29: Mary Hake

July 30: Moments Dipped in Ink

July 31: Remembrancy

August 1: Carpe Diem

August 2: Books, Books, and More Books.

August 3: History, Mystery & Faith

August 4: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

August 4: Just the Write Escape

August 5: The Power of Words

August 6: A Baker’s Perspective

August 7: Just Jo’Anne

August 8: Lots of Helpers

August 8: God’s Little Bookworm

The American Conquest ~ Window to the Heart Saga by Jenna Brandt (A Book Review)

THE AMERICAN CONQUESTAbout the Book

After enduring immense hardships, will Lady Margaret finally be free from her past, allowing her to embrace her soul mate? Extremely tender and magnificently exhilarating, The American Conquest examines the journey between healing a broken heart and making room for rebirth.

The American Conquest (Book 3) Running from a past scandal, Lady Margaret must leave Europe forever and escape across the ocean to America. The plan: to brave the Oregon Trail to reach the Colorado territory where her family’s future awaits. While facing adversities in the new frontier, Margaret must trust God to keep their family safe. Attacked by Indians, the group is saved by Cortland Westcott, a rancher and devoted Christian. Margaret and Cort have an instant connection through their faith, but devastating secrets threaten to cripple the budding relationship. Both Margaret and Cort must confront the past that haunts them to finally be able to make a new life together. Will Margaret finally come to terms with what happened to her, or will she let her past destroy her future?

Window to the Heart Saga: a recount of the epic journey of Lady Margaret, a young English noblewoman, who through many trials, obstacles, and tragedies, discovers her own inner strength, the sustaining force of faith in God, and the power of family and friends. In this three-part series, experience new places and cultures as the heroine travels from England to France and completes her adventures in America. The series has compelling themes of love, loss, faith and hope with an exceptionally gratifying conclusion.

MY THOUGHTSBeing the third book in The Window to the Heart Series, I was so contented to finally get my happy ending. But is it the end? Maybe there is more of Margaret’s story to be told. If I had to choose a favourite book so far, in this series, I would be hard pressed. Beginning Margaret’s journey in England, continuing with adventures, trials, and tribulations in France, to finally settle in the harsh Americas was truly intriguing. Nothing could have prepared Margaret or the reader for the macabre atrocities that awaited her gentle spirit in America. After all the pain, humiliation, and hardships Margaret had already suffered in her short life, one would think things just couldn’t get any worse. It is little wonder that her faith was pushed to breaking point. After all, as is Margaret, we are mere humans, whose powers of reasoning are based upon human emotions and reactions. Why would God put us through all these horrific trials … we may ask. But quite simply, I would reply “Why not?”

 It is often said that God would never give us more than we can handle. However, this is not true. He does indeed give us much more than we can handle alone. Why would He do this if He truly loves us?

Yes, He loves us unconditionally, just as He loved Margaret. But He needs us to realise that fact, and in doing so, learn to lean on Him completely. If we have complete faith, we know that He is in control of everything, past, present, and future. However, it is not until we are pushed to the brink, that we are prepared to relinquish our perceived control over our lives.

Right throughout this series, so far, Ms. Brandt has portrayed this human failing exceedingly well, but it is most evident in this third book. It is so difficult to remain in faith when everything is going so terribly wrong.

All three of Jenna’s books in this series contain a good balance of love and betrayal, action and adventure, hope and despair, but the need for blind faith, love and forgiveness was truly cemented in this third book.

We have a satisfying conclusion, but what lies ahead for Margaret? Will Jenna Brandt give us some more? I hope so.

I do hope you enjoy reading the stories Jenna writes as much as I enjoy reading and reviewing them.

The author kindly provided me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

You may purchase this lovely book here

Jenna BrandtAbout the Author:

Jenna Brandt is an ongoing contributor for The Mighty website and had her blog published on YahooParenting as well as being featured on the ABC News, The Grief Toolbox and Good Morning America websites. Jenna started writing stories as a little girl and has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her BA in English from Bethany College and was Editor-in-Chief of her college paper. Writing is her passion but she also enjoys reading, cooking, social media, being active in her local church including leading a grief support group and spending time with her three young daughters and husband. Discover more about Jenna and her lovely books right here

 

 

 

 

None So Blind by Chautona Havig (Blog Tour, Book Review and Giveaway)

nonesoblindcover-200x300A Wee Bit About the Book

Book Title: None So Blind

Author: Chautona Havig

Release date: September 29, 2013

Genre: Contemporary

Dani and Ella Weeks–two women who share one thing in common. The same life, the same family, and the same body.

When Dani wakes with no knowledge of who or where she is–no memories of her life at all–David and Dani Weeks discover that “til death do us part” takes on an entirely unexpected meaning. Practically speaking, Dani died. But she didn’t.

What’s a gal to do?

In a desperate attempt to separate the old life from the new, Dani insists on a new name, a twist of her old one–Ella.

Ella’s doctors can’t explain what happened. Her children can’t understand why she doesn’t know them. David, her husband, finds himself torn between admiration for the “new” version of his wife and missing the woman he’s known for over fifteen years.

Will Ella ever regain her memory? Why does their pastor suspect it’s one great hoax?

mythoughts

Can you imagine waking up one morning not knowing where you are, not recognizing anyone around you (pretty scary, don’t you think?), having no memories whatsoever, and not even recognizing yourself?  You can’t can you?  Well, that’s okay because neither can I.  When I first began reading Chautona’s book, I was thinking about dementia in its various forms. Alzheimer’s came to mind because my Nanna was afflicted with this terrible condition from her forties until she eventually passed away at the age of eighty-six. It is a cruel, uncaring disease which takes away everything from an individual, and has life-long repercussions upon their family and close friends.

As I read on I realized that poor Dani was most likely too young to have such severe symptoms for her condition to be dementia. I believe that dementia creeps up on a person gradually over a period of years like a sly old snake. In Dani’s case, she was okay one day, and not okay after having what most people would consider a good night’s rest.

Okay Chautona, you got my attention. I had to keep reading. What an incredible predicament. What on earth could cause total amnesia? Did Dani have a brain bleed while sleeping? Whatever could have gone so wrong? Does this really happen? Could it happen to me?

Chautona’s style is most personable, leaving one feeling like they are in the room with each of the main characters, thinking what they are thinking. Chautona slipped into calling Dani, Ella smoothly (just as Ella would have wanted), making it easy for the reader to adjust.

“As if she’d become her own saboteur, Ella’s mind returned to David’s words again “She could walk out of our lives tomorrow and never miss us”.

Chautona’s story brings to light the complexity of people’s expectations of us when they believe they know who we are and how we should behave … our likes, dislikes, funny or not so funny quirks. It is to a large extent reasonable to expect that people will find it challenging to accept such extreme changes. It unnerves them and displaces their sense of security. I found myself feeling terribly sorry for Ella but equally sorry for her husband and children.

There was an interesting twist in the plot which involved a mysteriously large sum of money. I was hoping this would be resolved at some stage throughout the book, but I’ve been left hanging. Thank goodness there is a sequel.Will-Not-See-sm-200x300 Perhaps we will get some answers to the many questions that arise when tackling such a sensitive topic.

You will be able to purchase Ms. Havig’s second book in this series “Will Not See” very soon. I feel that Chautona handled this topic with compassion and sensitivity, while still providing us with a jolly good read.

Here’s a thought: If we are to assume that Dani and Ella are two different people or personalities, but technically David is married to both. Would it be somewhat disloyal of David to begin to have strong feelings for Ella and even have a preference for Ella’s personality, when he has been married to Dani for many years?

I was kindly provided with an ARC by the author without any obligation to give a glowing review.  All thoughts are my own. Other information was provided by Celebrate Lit. I have awarded this book with 4 Stars.

media-headshot-sm-240x300About the Author:

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husband and five of her nine children. Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

bf3041c3-aba6-432d-bade-2a2bc46cd775-300x300Giveaway:

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize that includes:

1 $25 Amazon Gift Card
1 Paperback Copy of None So Blind
1 Paperback Copy of Will Not See
1 Lampwork Necklace
1 Cool denim mini-backpack (to hold your stuff!)
1 Custom Travel Mug (with quote from book)
1 FREE eBook code to share with a friend!

Check out this cool video from Chautona: https://youtu.be/5K_cTjlg4S8

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/ba35

Guest post from Chautona Havig:

“Who are you, again?”

“I’m Joe’s, daughter. Vyonie.” My sister pointed to me. “This is Chautona.”

For some odd reason, the niece she spent the least amount of time with, Aunt Doris remembered—somewhat. But she didn’t remember Vyonie from what I could tell. She smiled at me, that amazing, sweet smile I’d never forget. She asked how I was. I always thought that Mrs. Sanderson—mother of John, Alicia, and Carl on the TV show, Little House on the Prairie—looked and sounded like Aunt Doris. Of course, that memory of me didn’t last. A minute or two later, she gave me a big smile and asked if she knew me.

It gave me a picture of what it must have been like for my character, Ella Weeks—to wake up every day with these children there—children who knew her, but she didn’t remember. The hurt she caused every time she had to struggle to admit she didn’t know something she probably should—again. So, I thought I’d ask her to tell us about it.

Ella: People often assume that the worst part of losing my memory is the memories that disappeared, too. But it’s not. A much as I’d love to remember my wedding day, my daughter’s first steps, my son’s first words, or that moment I realized I was pregnant with my third, those are blessings that I don’t think about often. No, what hurts most is seeing the pain in my children’s eyes when they need me to remember something and I can’t. For me, not remembering their first day of kindergarten is an inconvenience. For them, it’s a further reminder that if they didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t know them. That without them pushing themselves into my life, I wouldn’t care about them any more than any other human in my path. I do now, of course, but not at first. I hate that they heard David say once, “…she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t trust me. She doesn’t know our children. She tries, but she could walk out of our lives tomorrow and never miss us.”

Living so close to it every day, I missed those little bits of pain that I inflicted without meaning to, but when I went with our Bible study to a nursing home and visited with the residents, then I saw it. Women with tears running down their cheeks as loved ones patted their hands and tried to comfort. I heard one man offer to find a woman’s father. She squeezed him close and whispered, “It’s okay, Daddy. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The man promised to try to find her father in the meantime.

Those people there—most of them didn’t realize they didn’t remember someone important. They didn’t struggle to remember this or that. Their dementia had gotten bad enough that their lives had gone from constant frustration to, by comparison, blissful oblivion.

And their families withered with each forgotten face, name, moment.

That’s what my “episode” did for my family. It caused them pain that just resurfaced every time something new happened. Pain that I didn’t know I inflicted. And since that visit, I have a greater compassion and awareness of just how amazing and powerful memories are.

I also have a greater appreciation for those beautiful words in Isaiah when the Lord promised… “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

You see, there’s a lifetime of the sins that Jesus died for buried somewhere in my brain—or, at least at one time there was. I know that those sins were in there because the ones I committed yesterday are there today. The ones I’ve already confessed and been forgiven for—I beat myself up for the next morning. A week later. A month. But the Lord has wiped them clean. I just keep smearing them back out there again as if to say, “But You don’t get how BAD I was.” Yeah. The arrogance, right? Because an almighty, holy God can’t possibly understand how sinful a sinner that He had to DIE to save from those sins… is. The arrogance? That’s an understatement.

But all those years before that horrible morning… gone. Maybe I stole something. I don’t know. It was forgiven, wiped clean, and then wiped from my memory. I can’t rehash it with the Lord over and over. I can’t drag it back up like a wife who won’t let her husband forget the one time he forgot her birthday. I can’t use it as a whip to beat myself up with. And I think there’s something beautiful in that.

Do I wish I could stop hurting my family with my blank past? Of course. But am I also grateful for a living picture of the fresh start the Lord gives His people at salvation? Definitely. I hope I never take it for granted again.

None-so-blind-FB-Banner-copy

You can purchase your copy of “None So Blind’ here

Previous Blog Stops for Your Enjoyment

June 15: Blogging With Carol

June 15: Genesis 5020

June 15: Lane Hill House

June 16: Red Headed Book Lady

June 16: The Scribbler

June 16: Moments Dipped in Ink

June 17: Back Porch Reads

June 17: The Power of Words

June 17: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 18: Carpe Diem

June 18: A Baker’s Perspective

June 19: Christian Bookaholic

June 19: Quiet Quilter

June 20: The Fizzy Pop Collection

June 20: Mommynificent

June 21: Seasons of Opportunities

June 21: Truth and Grace Writing and Life Coaching

June 22: Pursuing Stacie

June 22: Remembrancy

June 23: Pause for Tales

June 23: Avid Reader Book Reviews

June 23: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

June 24: Bigreadersite

June 24: CAFINATED READS

June 25: Lots of Helpers

June 25: Ashley’s Bookshelf

June 26: Blossoms and Blessings

June 26: A Reader’s Brain

June 27: Margaret Kazmierczak

June 27: His Grace is Sufficient

June 28: Just Jo’Anne

June 28: Henry Happens

June 28: Reader’s Cozy Corner

The French Encounter ~ Window to the Heart Saga by Jenna Brandt (A Book Review)

About the Book:

While fleeing from danger and searching for her long-lost brother, Lady Margaret encounters new love. Despite her past, can Lady Margaret discover hope for the future? Deeply passionate and intensely gripping, The French Encounter weighs the struggle between giving in to temptation and sacrificing for refuge.

The French Encounter (Book 2).

Ruined by a night she will never forget, Lady Margaret, Countess of Renwick must flee from England with her infant son to hide from the man who destroyed her life and from the sister-in-law who hates her. Relentlessly, the Duke and Viscountess hunt for them, planning to take the child to whom they both feel entitled. Margaret turns to God, believing he will protect her family and help her find her long-lost twin brother, Randall. While searching for Randall in France, Margaret is pursued by two enticing men: Pierre, the alluring Vidame of Demoulin, and Michel, the powerful Marquis de Badour. One man promises passion while the other offers security. Will Margaret surrender the chance for love to secure her safety?

🌼💕

Between turning the pages as quickly as possible to keep up with the intense pace of the story, drinking copious cups of tea to keep warm, and depleting an entire box of tissues … I have read and thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful book.

Once again, the plot structure and character development are superb. Again, I felt every moment and each emotion, often guessing what may happen, and pleading with the book that it would turn out differently. That’s a problem with us writers, we almost always try to guess what happens next.

I found myself asking the age-old question, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’  Sometimes the words ‘It is all part of His plan to strengthen us’ are rather difficult to swallow. However, throughout this book we learn both the importance of love and trust, and the fact that once lost, they can both be restored through time, at great cost, but with patience, understanding, perseverance, and faith, anything is possible.

The timeline of the story slots in neatly at the end of book one (The English Proposal). This second book in the saga could be read as a standalone as there is sufficient back story, however, I wouldn’t recommend it. After all, who wants to read just part of a story?

Ms. Brandt did it again. Jenna captivated my senses, got my undivided attention until the final sentence. But alas, I did not get my happily-ever-after ending. I am assuming this is because there is still one more book to be read to complete this intriguing saga.

The theme throughout this book while distressing and just so damn heartbreaking, is a good one. It makes you think. It makes us realize that we are not perfect in our human form. We make mistakes which mostly we regret over time. Even when we have what one would consider a strong faith, there will always be moments of doubt. We are after all, only human … don’t you think?

Throughout The French Encounter, happiness was constantly overshadowed by tragedy and immense sadness, with a glimmer of hope, shining towards the end.

The third and final book in this saga is entitled The American Conquest. You may and should pre-order it here

I am looking forward to reading the final installment in this saga of unrequited love, betrayal, trust, grief, happiness, and healing, and I am hoping with all my heart that there will be a happy ending, or at least a satisfying one.

Lord knows, Margaret deserves to be content, just as we the readers do, and I have faith that Ms. Brandt won’t let us be disappointed. “No pressure, Jenna.”

So, if you have purchased one or both gorgeous books, you should consider owning all three. And if you haven’t read any of them yet, why not go for broke and buy all three now?

The English Proposal

 

 

 

 

 

The French Encounter

 

 

 

 

 

The American Conquest

 

I do hope you enjoy reading the stories Jenna writes as much as I enjoy reading and reviewing them.

The author kindly provided me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

About the Author:

Jenna Brandt is an on-going contributor for The Mighty website and had her blog published on YahooParenting as well as being featured on the ABC News, The Grief Toolbox and Good Morning America websites. Jenna started writing stories as a little girl and has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her BA in English from Bethany College and was Editor-in-Chief of her college paper. Writing is her passion but she also enjoys reading, cooking, social media, being active in her local church including leading a grief support group and spending time with her three young daughters and husband. Discover more about Jenna and her lovely books right here

 

The English Proposal ~ Window to the Heart Saga by Jenna Brandt (A Book Review)

 

The English ProposalAbout the Book:

The English Proposal (Book 1). Sheltered on her family’s country estate, Lady Margaret, the daughter of an English Earl, is betrothed due to a family promise. Although Henry, the Viscount Rolantry, has been her best friend since childhood and she is expected to marry him, she never felt butterflies until she meets the Duke of Witherton. Against her father’s wishes, Margaret finds herself captivated by the forbidden duke. Caught between family loyalty and her own wishes, Margaret searches for a way to satisfy both her responsibilities and her longings. When tragedy strikes, Margaret finds herself seeking answers at church. But when she finally makes her choice, through her newfound faith, will she be able to live with the repercussions of her decision?

My Thoughts:

“Inspiring Stories: Feel Every Moment”

Only in recent times have I immersed my senses so deeply into historical fiction, especially historical, suspenseful, romance. I loved reading Jenna’s debut novel which is the first of three books in the Window to the Heart Saga series.

I just, could not … put this book down!  You may purchase your own copy right here

The all-consuming theme of love and trust flows beautifully throughout this book, as does the curse of hatred and betrayal.  Fortunately, the love that wins over is not our typical and often superficial human love, but a love most divine.

💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕

Margaret and Henry’s story also brought to mind the fact that even when we do our very best in life, or what we sincerely consider to be the best, God still has His own agenda. We are often left lonely and confused as to why our circumstances have turned out the way they have. We question our faith, but hopefully, eventually, we do learn to trust His purpose.

The plot for The English Proposal has been well thought out, allowing for the adventures and surprises which are yet to come.  Jenna’s scenes are expertly crafted throughout, and the characterisation is splendid. You can visualise each character, and it is as though you are there, inside the story. You will be able to feel each moment and emotion as it passes.

“Margaret found herself sitting at the windowsill again. It was the only thing that brought her comfort. She would stare out, searching for something – anything that would ease the pain.”

“The tears came down quickly and harshly, one on top of the other, leaving streaks and trails behind.”

The English Proposal Teaser 2 

I cried a bit while reading this book … actually, I cried a lot. Why?  Well, I think everyone knows by now that I love happy endings. This sweet book didn’t have that usual happily-ever-after, however, it does instil hope and a promise of a more joyful future.

 

The French Encounter by Jenna BrandtIf you’d like to join me in following Margaret’s journey, you’ll need to read the other two books in the series. Book Two: The French Encounter will be released at Amazon on Monday, 12 June 2017 as well as Amazon Australia, and other eBook sellers.

And there’s no need to wait, you can preorder your copy  here

I do hope you enjoy reading the stories Jenna writes as much as I enjoy reading and reviewing them.

The author provided me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

Jenna BrandtAbout the Author:

Jenna Brandt is an on-going contributor for The Mighty website and had her blog published on YahooParenting as well as being featured on the ABC News, The Grief Toolbox and Good Morning America websites. Jenna started writing stories as a little girl and has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her BA in English from Bethany College and was Editor-in-Chief of her college paper. Writing is her passion but she also enjoys reading, cooking, social media, being active in her local church including leading a grief support group and spending time with her three young daughters and husband.

Love Among the Lilacs (Book Review, Blog Tour and Giveaway)

Love-Among-the-Lilacs-216x300About the Book

Book title: Love Among the Lilacs

Author: Jenna Victoria

Release date: April 4, 2017

Genre: Sweet Romance

Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?

Purchase ‘Love Among the Lilacs’

 

 profile-photo-jpg-50My Thoughts:

“Mollie’s merry-go-round had chipped wooden horses that inflicted splinters and a calliope organ that played only unhappy tunes.”

 I love happily-ever-afters. I really do!

Both Molly and Sean have good reason to be mistrusting of other people and relationships. To expect that those they get close to will eventually betray them. Jenna Victoria writes beautifully, adding just the right amount of conflict and suspense, with a healthy dose of humor. I love the lilac theme, which wafts its way throughout the entire book. In fact, I found myself ‘googling’ and researching the various types of lilacs. Wasn’t I pleasantly surprised – so gorgeous. I am hoping they will grow where I live.

All of the characters are well developed and rounded, even Alma who isn’t physically around for long. I love Emily Rogers and Maria but absolutely adore Aunt Genevieve. She is full of wisdom but at the same time such a hoot. As I read Jenna’s lovely story I was frequently in stitches of laughter. It is sad that we weren’t able to know Aunt Alma better, however, Ms. Victoria gives us many hints and clues, from which we can only deduce, she was a beautiful soul. Quite often the true heart of a person isn’t fully revealed until after they have passed away. Jenna Victoria portrays this well. The analogies throughout were perfectly done.

“Life did not often go in Mollie’s favor, yet the entire real estate closing process had unfolded as seamlessly as a bolt of well-made silk”.

“Never look back”.  “For the first time, her mantra represented a flower unfolding in the sunlight, rather than one cut off at the root.”

I found myself just about unable to put this sweet book down, reading it over two sessions. I’d have read it in one go if chores and other commitments hadn’t taken priority. Yes, the ending was perfectly beautiful (not apologizing for ‘unnecessary’ use of adverbs). Mollie and Sean’s relationship came to a satisfying conclusion after so many bumps in the road. All of the loose ends, for all characters, were neatly and fragrantly tied together by the end of the book.

My only misgiving about this book is that it had to end. A sequel would be nice *hint hint*.  Would I read ‘Love Among the Lilacs’ again sometime? That’s a resounding ‘yes!’.

This is the first book penned by Jenna Victoria that I have read, but I guarantee I will be looking out for more. What a gem!

For its portrayal of human weaknesses, the assumptions we often make about others, and the importance of anticipation and forgiveness, all married together by fragrant love, I have given this book 5 stars.

I received this book as an ARC from the author via CelebrateLit at no cost. I was under no obligation to give a positive review, just an honest one. All thoughts are entirely my own.

Please feel free to jump on board and read the other blog stops along the way. It is always a wonderful opportunity to discover the sites of other writers and bloggers, and of course, offer invaluable support to the author.

Past Blog Stops

May 25: Pause for Tales

May 25: Avid Reader Book Review

May 26: Carpe Diem

May 27: Ashley’s Bookshelf

May 28: Live.Love.Read.

May 29: Lane Hill House

May 29: Christian Bookaholic

May 30: Moments Dipped in Ink

May 30: Karen Sue Hadley

You are here May 31: Josephine-AnneWrites

Blog Stops Still to Come

June 1: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 2: Have A Wonderful Day

June 3: Inklings and Notions

June 4: A Baker’s Perspective

June 5: Caffeinated Reads

June 6: His Grace is Sufficient

June 7: my site/autism mom

beth-head-shot-smaller-300x300About the Author

Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1955, Jenna has yet to taste a cake she hasn’t liked.
Jenna writes books for readers who enjoy sweet & compelling romances, and also for those who look for her “fiction that feeds your faith” titles – happily-ever-after romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian worldview. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt and takes down names… and those that feature satisfying fairy-tale-endings.
Her clean romances won’t put you into a diabetic coma, and her faith-based romances aren’t preachy or unrealistic. It is her glad purpose to glorify God and His sacrificial love through His Son, Jesus Christ through books that illustrate hope & peace in unbearable situations. Her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 has led to surgeries, radiation, reoccurrences and incurable metastasis. Still, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books.

ebdbd602-34f2-4074-bfbf-e106d8206271-300x157Don’t forget to enter the giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jenna is giving away a grand prize of an authentic, new in unopened gift box Coach zipper accordion leather wallet – from their Disney X Collection (Value $140.00)!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! enter Jenna’s Giveaway here

Guest Post from Jenna Victoria

I am thrilled you will be introducing my newest novel, Love Among the Lilacs, to your readers and visitors through CelebrateLit. I am excited to share this sweet love story with quirky characters who hijacked the plot mid-stream, and took me places I did not anticipate!
So – Why Love Among the Lilacs? I chose the title and a subplot regarding lilacs for one reason – I absolutely adore the scent! The fact that a lilac’s bloom is so fleeting, makes their fragrance that much more memorable and anticipated.

jenna pic 1Mollie Wright anticipates something too – finally buying her own home, Lilac Cottage, after a childhood of homelessness. Genevieve Carter, one of the two elderly sellers, leaves her a note of welcome next to a small bouquet of lilacs in Mollie’s new bedroom, after the closing. This helps readers experience Genevieve’s spirit of generosity. Isn’t the bedroom phone antique? The sisters lived in the cottage for more than 50 years and changed little of its amenities.
How did I choose to write about Mollie? What if a character dreamed and saved and finally bought a house after a childhood of homelessness? Then, due to a real estate closing error and interference by the seller’s great-nephew, her sweet cottage ownership is in real peril. Dare she hope for a positive outcome?

 

Jenna pic 2Attorney Sean Grady didn’t want his maternal great-aunts, who lovingly raised him and his younger brother Mark, to sell Lilac Cottage. After a rookie mistake led to a tragedy when he was an associate at his family law firm, Sean decided to concentrate on elder law. He’s seen plenty of abuse of the elderly in his ten-year career, and something about Mollie Write doesn’t sit well with him.

Mollie finds support from her neighbors – including long retired Emily Rogers (Genevieve’s BFF) who often visits Lilac Cottage’s back garden through this connecting gate. It’s so beautiful! She reveals her profession which is perfectly suited to Mollie’s needs. We see selfless giving and stalwart friendship in Emily’s character.

 

Jenna pic 3Mollie has secrets to hide, and a far away half-brother and Mother who aren’t exactly upstanding members of society.

When her half-brother unexpectedly surfaces, bringing a mountain of trouble with him, the budding love between Sean and Mollie takes a hard tumble.

 

The theft of an antique necklace, Sean’s renewed lack of trust and Mollie’s shame at her past – not to mention the final outcome of legal decisions – pull them further apart.

 

Jenna pic 4The intervention of others gives Mollie and Sean a chance at reconciliation – but is it too late? Can they finally unpack and empty baggage from their past?

 

I hope you enjoy Love Among the Lilacs as much as I did writing it!

 

Happy Reading!

 

p.s. my selected giveaway, an authentic Coach Disney X Mickey Mouse accordion zip wallet in glove-tanned leather was chosen to represent the transformation of Mollie’s negative childhood experiences into memories of acceptance and joy among the trials.