The Simple Soul of Susan by Noel Branham – REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

About the Book

The-Simple-Sould-of-Susan-200x300 (1)Title: The Simple Soul of Susan

Author: Noel Branham

Genre: Romance, YA, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary

Release Date: October 11, 2017

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.

MY THOUGHTS

A nice debut novel by Noel Braham.  The Simple Soul of Susan read pleasantly throughout. There were instances where I felt things were somewhat drawn out, especially in the first quarter of the book. However, once that bridge was crossed I found the story more than enjoyable.

Both main characters were relatable and eventually lovable. Susan had my heart from the beginning as her personality reminded me of myself at a younger age.  She has a beautiful heart that is unfortunately smothered with suffocating insecurities, and a low self-esteem.  Initially I didn’t like Calder’s character, but eventually understood his flaws to be mere traits of youth. th (1)Once Calder’s personality matured, his true soul shone through, and he finally realised which people were most important.  He saw through all of the superficial friendships … people who hung around only for what they could possibly gain. In fact Calder’s soul was bestowed with simplicity, which for a long time he was too proud to acknowledge.

“Neglect is the absence of love , and it can cause more pain than hate.”

Noel perfectly demonstrates the importance of pure, trustworthy, friendship in any relationship. Human love is never perfect, and most important to understand is that there is never instant love … not the lasting kind. But when we combine God’s unconditional love with sincere, trustworthy friendship, we are able to have the most perfect relationship humanly possible.

Susan waited hopefully, most of her life for Calder to notice her the same way she noticed him. But as with all good things, they only happen if they were always meant to be, and in God’s excellent timing. Yes, Susan’s soul was perfectly simple, but so was Calder’s … it just took him longer to realise it.

“I don’t know what I’m trying to say either. But I want to be part of your life. I want you to be a part of mine. I want to sleep closer to you than forty feet away for the rest of my life. I want to fish with you every Sunday afternoon and catch armadillos with you every night until I’m too old to walk. I want to buy you flowers every Valentine’s Day and write my name on the tag, …”

Often young people like Calder who have such a competitive nature that they would do anything to gain an edge or to win, soon realise that they are only competing with themselves.  Hopefully they can manage to change the way they do things before it’s too late.

Simple, uncomplicated, unselfish, is always best, after all Jesus did say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, if anyone does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, he will never enter it.” ~ Luke 18:16-17  I suppose that’s because the simple, innocent, and unconditional love of a child is the closest to that of our heavenly Father.

This would be a perfect book for young people experiencing all of these confusing feelings, but also a great book to remind us oldies of the importance of sincere, honest companionship … necessary elements to any relationship.

How about you? What do you think? Are earthly, material qualities and possessions a necessary part of a healthy, loving relationship? I would love to hear from you

I received a complimentary copy of this sweet book from the author via CelebrateLit. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review, and all thoughts are entirely my own.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

Noel-Branham-300x300 (1)Born and raised in a small Texas town, Noel Branham started her career in digital communications after graduating with a degree in English. An award-winning communicator, she now writes from her residence in Florida about things closest to the heart: home, family, and love.

Guest Post from Noel Branham

Fictional Romance: A Real Relationship Killer?

You’ve heard it before… All romance novels give readers unrealistic expectations of relationships. Yep. They totally do. But I think most of the time, with life in general, we have unrealistic expectations not only of others but of ourselves. We live in a world where there is always something else to try, buy or satisfy our ever-evolving aspirations of happiness and fulfillment. So here are three things to remember while reading romance novels that will lead to having deep, meaningful, romantic, relationships in real life:

  1. Happiness isn’t fulfilled expectations. When you expect yoursignificant other (SO) to see you and romantically sweep you off your feet while pulling flowers from behind your back and force feeding you chocolates… you may have some unrealistic expectations. Would it be nice? Sure! But there is always something more they could do to make you happy, feeling loved, satisfied, etc. It’s a bottomless pit of desire and implied anticipated actions. We have to realize that no matter how many things we want out of a relationship, we can never receive them all… because realistically, we could never live up to the things expected of us either. Romance is a two-way street.
  2. Happiness is the unexpected, fulfilled. Wait… how can you fulfill something that isn’t expected? You can’t. And that’s what makes it so great. Your SO fills your car up with gas, takes you out for a date for no particular reason, watches that Victorian-era PBS drama with you even though they can’t understand the accents… When we get rid of expectations for ourselves and others we are able to really enjoy the things and people we already have and anything else is simply adding to lovely life that we already possess.
  3. Happiness in relationships is what you make of it. Just not feeling the love anymore after five years together? Was it that you chose the wrong person? Was it something they did? Something you did? Love can be a feeling and an action. Your relationship doesn’t have to be defined by feelings. Feelings fade. They aren’t realistic. They change with time as people change with time because all people change. But actions… actions are what you choose to do on a regular basis. They are a daily intentional choice (made by you) to care for another person. You can control your actions, but not so much your feelings. Funny thing is often times your actions create feelings you never thought you could have.

If you are looking for a romance novel with a bit more realism to test out these principals, check out The Simple Soul of Susan. You can have the realistic expectation that you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Noel is giving away:

Grand Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card
First & Second Place Prize: eBook copy of the Simple Soul of Susan!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cee4/the-simple-soul-of-susan-celebration-tour-giveaway

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‘She Who Knows No Fear’ by Barbara Bras (Review and Giveaway)

Bstsell-auth-223x300About the Book

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Release Date: December 8, 2017

Cassie’s dream is about to come true. She’s marrying her best friend, the love of her life.

She will never be alone again.

But when Zack fails to return from surfing, Cassie’s safe world comes crashing down around her and she begins her struggle anew.

Haunted by her conviction that her late grandmother left her something that will help her, Cassie discovers hidden “treasures” in the house she inherited.

With the help of her stepmother, Cassie unlocks the secrets of her grandmother’s journey and along the way finds the ultimate answer for her own life.

Click here to purchase your copy.

 

“FEAR can keep us up all night long,

But FAITH can make us a fine pillow.”

 ~ Philip Gulley

 mythoughtsI enjoyed this story, although I think it would have been good if I had read the preceding book She Who Knows – A Tale of the Heart which was the first in this series. This book can easily be read as a standalone, however as Barbara Bras has gone to great lengths to develop believable and lovable characters, I would personally recommend reading She Who Knows first.

She Who Knows No Fear – Another Tale of the Heart tells a sweet story of love and perseverance with a powerful underlying message.

 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and Love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:1-6 

There was an enticing amount of Hawaiian Folklore intertwined within the story which made for an interesting read. Love’s journey throughout the book was beautiful, with Cassie and Zack bonding a life-long friendship into a marriage based upon selfless love, trust, and companionship. However, the love that was most pleasing throughout the book was that of God – the reminder that we need never feel discomfort or anxiety over anything, as He has our hearts, minds, and souls in His grasp.

I would recommend this delightful book to anyone who worries unduly … and also to those who don’t.

I received an Advanced Readers’ Copy of this book from the author via CelebrateLit. I wasn’t at any time under obligation to provide a positive review.

 

untitled-1-198x300About the Author

In 2015, Barbara Bras left her career to pursue her dream of serving God. She believed that her first step was to share the amazing story of God’s blessings in her life. Wrapped in God’s Grace, A Life Rediscovered does so through a trio of narratives. It begins with the story of her son’s miraculous adoption and the challenging years that followed, her grandparents’ remarkable survival in Armenia, and her own quest for purpose and love. Once written, Barbara realized her life’s new purpose. Captured by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, she views her writing as a tribute to the God who comforts and strengthens us in hardships and trials, and as her mission to encourage others. Her first novel, She Who Knows, A Tale of the Heart,seeks to inspire and encourage. The sequel, She Who Knows No Fear: Another Tale of the Heart,released in December 2017. Solo Deo Gloria, To God Alone Be the Glory

 

Giveaway

e5f4939d-cd96-45de-b748-8fb15bc1a0afTo celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card plus a signed copy of She Who Knows and She Who Knows No Fear!!

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

 

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Blog Spots

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 26

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A Review of “Bearing Fruit: What Happens When God’s People Grow”

Bearing Fruit

A wonderful  book review. Spiritual Growth is more than just a couple of trendy words.

Published: 2017

“A Christian can’t grow himself; however, he can put himself in an environment for spiritual growth. When that happens, God brings forth fruit.” This simple message resonates throughout Robby Gallaty’s latest book, Bearing Fruit

To read entire review, click on the following link: https://wp.me/p2CbYE-nO

‘A Loyal Heart’ by Jody Hedlund (Spotlight and Giveaway)

A-Loyal-Heart-Web-Copy-188x300About the Book

Genre: Adult medieval romance

Release Date: March 6, 2018

He’s taken her as his prisoner. But she’s holding his heart captive. In gaining their freedom, will they lose what matters most?

When Lady Olivia’s castle is besieged, she and her sister are taken captive and held for ransom by her father’s enemy, Lord Pitt. Loyalty to family means everything to Olivia. She’ll save her sister at any cost and do whatever her father asks—even if that means obeying his order to steal a sacred relic from her captor.

As Lord Pitt’s commander, Sir Aldric is in charge of the beautiful but feisty new prisoner. He has his hands full attempting to keep Lady Olivia out of trouble. When Lord Pitt throws her in the dungeon and threatens to hang her for stealing, Aldric conceives a plot to save Olivia’s life—betrothal to him.

Can Olivia give up the prestigious match her father has arranged with a wealthy marquess in order to marry a lowly knight like Aldric? And can Aldric move beyond his past mistakes to embrace love again? When loyalties are tested, they’re thrust into danger that could cost them their love and their lives.

Jody-Hedlund.-Web-Copy-250x300About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

 

Click here to purchase your copy

 

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

The Growing Need for Sweet Young Adult Romances

By Jody Hedlund

This past year my youngest daughter turned twelve and entered seventh grade. And she decided that she wanted to read my books.

Of course I was thrilled that she was taking an interest in my writing. But since my adult historical romances are more intense and contain some mature themes, I handed her the young adult series I’ve written.

As she started the first book, I peeked in her room a time or two to ask her how she liked it.

“It’s the best book you’ve ever read, right?” I teased.

“It’s okay,” she replied, teasing me right back.

The true test for how much she liked the series came when she couldn’t put the book down. She hid away in her room and read all day. Then she read the second book the next day and the third book the day after that.

She never did gush over the series. But she didn’t need to. Her serious reading marathon told me all I needed to know! Then when I was writing the fourth book in the series, she asked me if she could read it early before it was published which was another testament to how much she enjoyed the series.

“As long as you promise to say that I’m your favorite author,” I said, teasing her again.

I’m happy to say that she finished A Loyal Heart just as quickly as the others. Although I’m not sure that I’m her favorite author, I’m satisfied that she loved the series.

Even more, I’m thrilled that I could hand her sweet romances full of chivalrous qualities—like courage, sacrifice, honor, and loyalty. As she’s being entertained, she’s learning lessons about character traits that are important in relationships.

My daughter, like other young teens I’ve talked to, really enjoys medieval settings and stories. In some ways, those kinds of stories connect them to the princess fairy tales they used to love when they were little. Let’s face it, even adult readers still love stories about knights and castles and daring damsels!

In a book market for teens that has grown increasingly dark, jaded, and sexual, I only wish I had more to offer my daughter and other young women. It’s my passion to continue providing wholesome, clean romances for teens, books I know will encourage and uplift as well as entertain.

How about YOU? Is there a teen reader you know who needs an alternative to what’s available in the market? I encourage you to gift them with A Loyal Heart. And make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win the entire series that you can read, pass along, or even gift to your library.

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of An Uncertain Choice, A Daring Sacrifice, For Love & Honor, and A Loyal Heart!!

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

 

A-Loyal-Heart-FB-Banner-copy

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Romances of the Cross, April 5

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The bottom line

As always Jo-Anne Berthelsen’s posts are so inspiring.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen's Blog

Jo 17

I always look forward to Easter, not because of all those chocolate eggs and bunnies I don’t eat but enjoy giving our grand-kids—and not even because of those hot cross buns I do eat but shouldn’t! Instead, I look forward to Easter because I know it will bring me face to face again with the absolute beauty of Jesus and his love for us in a way I can’t ignore. I know his amazing sacrifice will shake me to the core again—just as I need to be shaken. And each Easter, I try to stop and reflect on what for me is the bottom line in my life, which is this: Jesus loved you and me enough to give his life for us, in order to save us and bring us back into close relationship with our Father God—forever.

I cannot get my mind around that—but I know it’s true.

View original post 398 more words

‘If He Only Knew’ by Michelynn Christy & Brandi Gabriel (Giveaway & Review)

About the Book

Greeting on the railway station. Vintage car on the background.Title: If He Only Knew

Author: Michelynn Christy, Brandi Gabriel

Genre: Historical romance

Release Date: August 19, 2017

It’s 1968, and love is in the air in the small coastal town of Cambridge, California.

Donna Peterson, the preacher’s daughter, has her entire life ahead of her and the future looks promising. But things aren’t as they seem in Cambridge. A tangled web of secrets threatens to destroy the lives of each person involved – Donna, her boyfriend Bobby, and Rick, Bobby’s best friend. Will the truth make them free, or will they lose their friendship forever?

About the Authors

81tyygX8oSL._UX250_Author Michelynn Christy resides in the Midwest and enjoys creating romantic stories that point to Jesus. Her faith in God shines through the pages of her writing. Michelynn’s debut novelette A Christmas to Remember launched in late 2015. While this pen name and genre are somewhat new to her, she has penned over twenty titles under another pseudonym, has won awards for her works and has earned best-selling title status. With that said, all glory goes to God!

orphanBrandi Gabriel is a co-author of twelve Christian fiction books, including this one. Her first solo novel, The Orphan Bride, released in 2016 and she has since added a sequel in the same series. Her goal in writing is to touch readers’ hearts in some special way and to glorify Jesus Christ, her Lord and Saviour.

 

 

 

MY THOUGHTS‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revellers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.’                                          ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV)

Two sisters – Pamela, the wild one … and Donna, the good girl everyone would want to claim as being their own.

It’s frightening isn’t it, how circumstances can change things around and mix them up, in such a relatively short period of time?

‘As I watch the drops of rain weave their weary paths and die. I know that I am like the rain there, but for the grace of You go I.’   ~ Simon And Garfunkel

Indeed, but for the grace of God go I!

I would like to say I loved this book, but alas, I did not. However, I did enjoy reading it. In fact, I was unable to put it down. Sounds like a major contradiction doesn’t it?

The plotline could run so close to the lives of so many of us. How easy it is to judge each other, not knowing the true circumstances. Sometimes the pressures of family expectations can be all too much to bear. We end up doing things to keep the peace, that are an outright abomination to Christ. But time will always catch up with us when there is nowhere else to hide from the truth.

‘But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.’  ~ Numbers 32:23 (NKJV)

Michelynn and Brandi have crafted a story which is sensitive to human failings, while deeply entrenched in emotions. The plot structure has been thoroughly thought out and the characters are plausible. There is also more than a hint within the book that if we throw away the good that He has given to us, sooner or later we will be punished. However, once we have been forgiven … just watch our lives blossom, as God’s forgiveness is sincere and complete.

‘Bobby wondered if this was what it was like to die of a broken heart. The numberless tears, blurred vision, shaking body. And the internal symptoms: throbbing anguish, ugly helplessness, and a pit of sorrow so deep one could fall in and never be able to climb out.’

09B4D12A-ABA0-439F-A1AF-BE6367DB6C92By the end of this book, I had mixed feelings. The book focused on truth, happiness, sadness, betrayal … and great joy. My curiosity had been satisfied, my heart had been broken, my faith was restored.

PS: I got my happy ending eventually.

If you want to read a book that is honest to the core while keeping you turning the pages, then this is the book for you.

I was provided with an Advanced Readers Copy by the author via CelebrateLit. I have never at any stage been expected to provide a positive review, and have not been financially rewarded. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Guest Post from Michelynn Christy & Brandi Gabriel

Take a step back in time…

If He Only Knew is a novel set in the late 1960s. The book deals with family relationships, loyalty, friendship, love, and loss. The main topic is somewhat controversial in nature, but we won’t mention what it is lest we spoil the story for readers. A similar book was written in a different genre under another name and the story really resonated with readers. We felt compelled to share this story with others who perhaps wouldn’t pick up that particular genre, and that is how this book came about. It may be set in the sixties, but the message is as relevant today as ever. Our prayer is that God will touch readers’ hearts and draw them closer to Him.

Click here to purchase your copy.

Giveaway

e5f4939d-cd96-45de-b748-8fb15bc1a0af

To celebrate their tour, Michelynn and Brandi are giving away the following:

Grand Prize: ONE themed book box, (this will contain small items that relate to the story
1st Place Prize: ONE $25 Amazon gift card,
2nd Place Prize: ONE signed paperback copy of If He Only Knew
3rd Place Prize: ONE signed paperback copy of If He Only Knew!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c601

if-he-only-knew-fb-banner-copy

Blog Stops:

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

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proud to be an autism mom, February 18

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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 20

Christian Author, J.E.Grace Blog, February 21

Janices book reviews, February 21

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 22

A Baker’s Perspective, February 23

Karen Sue Hadley, February 23

Avid Reader Book Reviews, February 24

margaret kazmierczak, February 24 (Interview)

Bigreadersite, February 25

Among the Reads, February 25

Simple Harvest Reads, February 26 (Guest post from Mindy)

Pursuing Stacie, February 27

Red Headed Book Lady, February 27

Maureen’s Musings, February 28

Carpe Diem, February 28

The Fizzy Pop Collection, March 1

Josephines Thoughts, March 2

Have A Wonderful Day, March 2