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

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, May 10

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 10

Multifarious, May 11

Remembrancy, May 11

Two Points of interest, May 12

Blogging With Carol, May 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 13

Inklings and notions, May 13

Kristin’s Book Reviews, May 14

proud to be an autism mom, May 14

Artistic Nobody, May 15 (Spotlight)

Texas Book-aholic, May 15

Mommynificent, May 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 16

The Fizzy Pop Collection, May 17

Janices book reviews, May 17

Pause for Tales, May 18

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 18

Bibliophile Reviews, May 19

Carpe Diem, May 19

A Baker’s Perspective, May 20

margaret kazmierczak, May 20 (Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, May 21 (Guest post, Mindy Houng)

Reading is my Super Power, May 21 (Interview)

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, May 22

Bigreadersite, May 22

Reader’s cozy corner, May 23

Josephine’s Thoughts, May 23

‘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

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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

Reading is my Super Power, February 17

A Greater Yes, February 18

proud to be an autism mom, February 18

Texas Book-aholic, February 19

Inklings and notions, February 19

Radiant Light, February 20

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

This Treacherous Journey by Misty M. Beller (Book SPOTLIGHT!!)

 

About the Book

This-Treacherous-Journey2-194x300Title: This Treacherous Journey

Author: Misty M. Beller

Genre: Christian historical romance

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing from the reward offered for her arrest. She’s innocent of the dirty dealings her deceased husband orchestrated, but the angry townspeople didn’t stop to listen to her defense before she narrowly escaped with her life. Now, she and her twin brother, Joseph, must battle the mountain wilderness of the Rockies to reach Canada and the clean start she craves. But when a fall from the rocky cliff leaves Joseph wounded and weak, could the strange mountain man they encounter be God’s gift to see them to safety?

Simeon Grant makes bad choices. His deceased wife and twin babies are lost to him now because of his reckless decisions, and the penance he pays by living alone in this mountain wilderness is only a small piece of what he thinks he deserves. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on his doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects the memories he’s worked so hard to forget. And when she asks for his help to travel deeper into the mountain country, he can’t help wonder why God would force him to relive the same mistakes he’s already suffered through. Or maybe taking these two to safety could be the way to redeem himself.

But when their travels prove more treacherous than he imagined, Simeon finds himself pressing the limits of his ability to keep Emma and her brother safe. Can he overcome the past that haunts him to be the man she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all?

 

Click here to purchase your very own copy!

 

About the Author

Misty-300x271Misty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family–both immediate and extended–is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream. Learn more at http://www.MistyMBeller.com.

 

Guest post from Misty M. Beller

The Treasure of Family

I’m an old-fashioned girl. Always have been. And growing up on the family farm, with grandparents in the old farmhouse next door and cousins living all around us, I can’t imagine my life without family. Now that I’m married with three daughters of my own, I treasure my family even more—both immediate and extended!

In my books, I tend to weave the importance of family into each story somewhere, and This Treacherous Journey is no exception! I first wrote the prologue as a standalone short story, the account of the birth of the hero from another of my books (Reuben Scott from The Lady and the Mountain Call).

It was the story of a father, grieving the loss of his wife and feeling as if he has no choice but to give his newborn twins to another family to raise. I wrote this part of the story a week after my third daughter was born, and I cried buckets through the writing! The story has an even stronger emotional connection for me, because my younger brother and sister were both adopted into our family. I can’t imagine their birth parents having the courage to give them up for adoption unless they knew without a doubt it was the best choice for those sweet babies.

So, as you read This Treacherous Journey, it’s my prayer that you’ll take a moment to cherish your own family. Remember all the special moments. Spend extra time with those you love. Relish the treasures God placed in your life!

Blog Stops

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, February 3

History, Mystery & Faith, February 4

A Greater Yes, February 4

margaret kazmierczak, February 4 (Interview)

Kathleen Denly, February 5

Blogging With Carol, February 5

Faithfully Bookish, February 6

Books n baubles, February 6

Mommynificent, February 7

Connie’s History Classroom, February 7

Reading Is My SuperPower, February 8

The Fizzy Pop Collection, February 8

proud to be an autism mom, February 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 9

Mary Hake, February 9

Blossoms and Blessings, February 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 10

Texas Book-aholic, February 11

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 11

Zerina Blossom’s Books, February 12

Bigreadersite, February 12

Kat’s Corner Books, February 13

Janices book reviews, February 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 14

Carpe Diem, February 14

A Baker’s Perspective, February 15

Karen Sue Hadley, February 15

Pursuing Stacie, February 16

Simple Harvest Reads, February 16 (Guest post from Mindy)

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c8e4

“The Viscount’s Wife ~ Jenna Brandt

About the Book

The Viscounts WifeSurrender to destiny: a window to heart opens, when one door closes.

Lord William Almonbury is the spare heir, allowing him the freedom to travel the world and marry for love. Inheriting his father’s viscountship was never in the cards, but when both his brother and father become ill, William is summoned home to take over the family affairs.

When Debbey met and married William Almonbury in America, his nobility was part of his past. She never imagined due to unforeseen circumstances, she would not only move across the world but suddenly become a viscount’s wife. Thrust into a world unlike anything she could have ever imagined, Debbey must learn to navigate being the new Viscountess Braybridge.

Will William be able to handle the pressures of his new title? Can Debbey win the hearts of William’s friends and family? Or will their new life in England destroy their hope for a happy marriage?

Magnificently riveting and deeply romantic, The Viscount’s Wife shows the complexities of navigating a new marriage while fitting into a new world.

This sweet, clean book can be read on its own as a stand-alone book or as part of the series.

Window to the Heart Saga: a recountal of the trials, adventures and relationships of the family and friends of Lady Margaret. The first three books detail her journey and book four through seven focuses on her friends and family. The series has compelling themes of love, loss, faith and hope with supremely gratifying conclusions in book 3-7.

You may purchase your own copies at the links below:

Window to the Heart Saga
Book 1: The English Proposal 
Book 2: The French Encounter
Book 3: The American Conquest
Book 4: The Oregon Pursuit
Book 5: The White Wedding
Book 6: The Christmas Bride
Book 7: The Viscount’s Wife

MY THOUGHTSI know this saga cannot keep going on forever, but I wish it would. As always, the plot, dialogue, and other details were historically correct. I love that God is always there whether the characters want Him to be or not.

It is lovely to see this book concentrate on Debbey and William, as I remember these characters from a previous book and liked them immensely. Love always conquers all other things, and it’s pleasing to see that portrayed well within this book. God has a plan for each of us for our life, and no matter what outside influences come our way, if we follow His path, everything will eventually be okay.

As with all the books in this saga, The Viscount’s Wife is a sweet, clean, and well-written story. It could be read as a standalone novel, however, I recommend reading the whole darn lot!

About the Author

Taken from Jenna’s website: CLICK HERE

IMG_8297My name is Jenna Brandt and I am a historical fiction author and my books span from the Victorian to Western to WWI eras with elements of romance, suspense and faith. I have been an avid reader since I could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. I have been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as edited for multiple papers. I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of my college newspaper. I’m a contributor to The Mighty Website, The Girls Who Write VLog as well as a contributor and curator for the Novel PASTime Website. My first blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News and Good Morning America websites. I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Romance Writers Association (RWA) and Melissa Storm’s All Access Engine.

Writing is my passion but I also enjoy cooking, watching lots of movies while I write, engaging in social media and spending time with my three young daughters and husband where we live in the Central Valley of California. I am also active in my local church where I serve on the first impressions team and write for the church’s creative team.

‘Hope Travels Through’ by Loni Kemper Moore (Review and Giveaway)

About the Book

Hope-Travels-Through-Front-Cover-208x300Name of book: Hope Travels Through

Author: Loni Kemper Moore

Genre: Contemporary Lit

TeJae Smythe gave up on God and her hometown of Evansville, Indiana, ten years ago, but a deep personal loss requires her to return to both. Her life as a stewardess is going to be perfect. She has a plan. If only life would stick to it.

In Hope Travels Through, TeJae finds the biggest challenge comes from the conflict within herself. Will she hold it all together? Or will she fall apart and embrace the beauty in the midst of disaster?

Based on actual events of December 13, 1977, a date most people don’t remember, but one many living in the Ohio River Valley will never forget, the crash of the University of Evansville men’s basketball team plane.

About the Author

pic-hugsband-likes-169x300Loni Kemper Moore is a Denver-Broncos cheering, Diet-Pepsi sipping, Rocky Mountain adventure-seeking kind of girl. She’s passionate about God and wants to share His beautiful love through life’s ugliness with remarkable women around the globe. Her writing came alive seven years ago after she broke her ankle. The crazy time of being laid up forced her to flip through decades of diaries which inspired the story that became Hope Travels Through. When she’s not writing, she’s an entertainer, technical support analyst; mom of a teenager named Adam; traveler with Robert, her dear “Hugsband,” stepmom to University of Evansville alumna Becca and her husband, Anthony; and spender of way too much time on Facebook. With her experiences of learning to trust God through tragedy, being employed by travel agencies and Delta Air Lines, and attending University of Evansville graduate school, she’s the best person to tell this story.

mythoughts

I truly enjoyed reading this book – a snippet of moments during the year of an horrific plane crash. The plane in question was carrying the University of Evansville’s men’s basketball team. I’d only been living in Australia for six years at the time of this disaster, immigrating from New Zealand. I was only twenty years old, but now, another forty years on, I still remember this day in history vividly. imagesThe lives and dreams of so many beautiful people were snuffed out in an instant.

This book is Loni Kemper Moore’s debut novel. I love to read books written by new authors because I too am a writer, with much to learn. Loni has produced a wonderful story, based on fact, with interesting characters, and an easy to follow storyline. 636395337430095085-BURGER-CHEF-1-24-74-19B9DBFI really loved the description of the seventies era, as I did a lot of my own growing up in the 1970’s. Oh and of course, I too was drinking TAB 

 

 

 

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Evansville University Memorial with Weeping Basketball in the background.

 

I felt deep sorrow for TeJae as she faced her internal battle with, Who to trust with her life.

“Flowers in window boxes showed Mum’s meticulous care. I wished she cared as much about me.”

 

Themes of love, hope, sadness, betrayal, jealousy, and joy moved within the pages, but above all, there was an important reminder to be understanding and forgiving of others especially of family, as we never know when we will be seeing someone for the final time upon this earth. There is probably nothing more devastating than living with regrets.

“Good thoughts are no better than good dreams unless they are executed.”        ~ Mikel

“What else could I have done?” I whispered. “What else?” ~ TeJae

I loved the conclusion to this story – no matter what incidents occur in life, through Love there will be joy in the end. I look forward to reading whatever Loni writes next.

“I’m well aware the odds of my little novel being successful, without the industry connections Margaret had, are low, but it’s been a fun journey even if no one buys a copy!”  ~ Loni Kemper Moore

‘Dear Loni, I am certain many people will want to buy your wonderful book!’

I received a free copy of this book from the author via CelebrateLit. I am under no obligation to provide a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

♥ Click here to purchase your copy ♥

 

Guest Post from Loni Moore

What Made Me Write Hope Travels Through?

The weathered orthopedic surgeon shook his head and stared at the x-rays. Without making eye-contact, he said, “I usually work on Olympians and professional athletes. This doesn’t look good. She’s going to have arthritis and limp for the rest of her life.”

I hadn’t had anything stronger than Tylenol since the entire weight of my 128 (at the time) pounds crunched my left ankle, 24 hours earlier.

Robert, aka Dear Hugsband, had told me, so very graciously, when we arrived at Skate City, “Once you’re over 50, you shouldn’t roller skate.” But our son, Adam was 10 and I wondered how many more years he’d want me to hang out with him, so I’d strapped on the skates and joined the crowd of skaters. I avoided landing on the body of the five-year-old who cut me off. Didn’t that count for something?

However, none of that mattered at that moment. I needed drugs, and Robert agreed to whatever that surgeon said to get my prescriptions.

One afternoon, my stomach growled on a gurney as I waited in the surgery center with IVs in my hands until a perky nurse announced, “The doctor will need to reschedule because something came up.”

REALLY? After waiting 10 days, he no-shows?

I’ve never loved Robert’s New York attitude more than the next day when by 7 pm that evening I was at Red Robin, post-surgery, eating a celebratory French Onion soup. Thanks to a nerve blocker the new, cute surgeon had provided after rebreaking bones and inserting pins.

Adam was able to complete his homeschool work with little interference from my drug-infested brain and I occupied my time by flipping through decades of accumulated diaries. The story of a woman surviving tough times percolated in my brain and I remembered my mother saying, “Everyone has a Great American Novel in her. You just need to take time to write it.”

As my leg healed leaving no arthritis nor limp, I returned to the million things life demands, including a visit to our Becca at the University of Evansville, where I’d done my graduate work. As she showed us the Weeping Basketball, my protagonist informed me the story began in 1976, not 2011. The story climaxed when the university’s men’s basketball team plane crashed, but I was too busy to spend much time on it.

Three days before Christmas that year, my younger sister passed away from Lyme complications, I could barely breathe. I’ve seen it a dozen times someone’s busy life prevents her from taking care of herself until something stops them in their tracks and they cannot move on. That happened to me.

At the time, Dear Hugsband programmed Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machine (you’re welcome), so Adam and I joined him in Atlanta for several months. During that time without the cooking-cleaning-requirements and Adam insisting he preferred the independence of his homeschool curriculum with minimal input from me, I processed my grief by putting the story that became Hope Travels Through on my computer.

“In a weak moment, I have written a book.” Margaret Mitchell – Gone With The Wind

Dear Hugsband loved his project with Coca-Cola and enjoyed everything about working in Atlanta except the humidity, the traffic, and the commute. Typically, he worked in Georgia every other week and was home every weekend.

But occasionally, he’d be forced to stay in Atlanta over the weekend and tried to find something to entertain himself. One weekend, after seeing every movie running, he decided to go to the Margaret Mitchell House Museum where one of my favorite books, Gone With The Wind, was written.

He bought me a mug with the above quote on it which he said was to encourage me in my writing, along with several commonalities between myself and the famous author.

  1. She was short—I am 5 feet tall if I stretch;
  2. Her husband was over 6 feet tall—mine is 6’3 1/2”;
  3. She started writing her novel, after an ankle injury– I started writing after I a similar injury;
  4. She used a typewriter—I use a computer;
  5. Her mother gave her the quotes she used about how to survive in an upside-down world – my mom had a Bible verse for every occasion. I think her favorite was Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind, Loni to whomever…”;
  6. It took Margaret ten years to complete her novel – I’m not far behind, at nearly eight years.

Obviously, I don’t have one commonality with Margaret, in that she died at the age of 48 in a traffic accident, but his conclusions are precious.

 

Giveaway

e5f4939d-cd96-45de-b748-8fb15bc1a0afTo celebrate her tour, Loni is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c5be

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Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 16

Karen Sue Hadley, December 16

Jami’s Words, December 17

Quiet Quilter, December 18

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 18

Inspiration clothesline, December 19

Texas Book-aholic, December 19

Radiant Light, December 20

Carpe Diem, December 21

Avid Reader Book Reviews, December 21

A Reader’s Brain, December 22

A Greater Yes, December 23

Blogging With Carol, December 23

Books, Books, and More Books, December 24

SusanLovesBooks, December 25

Remembrancy, December 26

Mary Hake, December 26

Janices book review, December 27

The Power of Words, December 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 29

Just Jo’Anne, December 29

 

Christmas Embers by Chautona Havig (Book Tour, Review, and Giveaway)

About the Book

Christmas-Embers-Cover-sm--200x300Name of book: Christmas Embers

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Contemporary Christmas

Release Date: November 25, 2016

It’s a truth universally unacknowledged that sin will hunt you down and advertise its presence the moment you try to hide it.

Emily Byrne sits in her daughter’s classroom listening to the deepest wishes of twenty kindergarteners as she sketches them. But when little Joey Cordell breaks down, weeping and insisting the only thing he wants to find is his father, she isn’t sure where her Christmas project will take her.

Davia Cordell came to Rockland for one purpose–find her son’s father before she dies. An ex-prostitute, she’s well aware that the news will cause waves, but what’s a mother to do?

As these women join forces to search for Joey’s father–a Rockland area pastor, no less– Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can’t quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her.

Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn’t confident she’ll find the boy’s father in time–if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this–an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes.

A mother’s love. A boy’s confidence. A family’s faith. A preacher’s failure. Is redemption even possible anymore?

Christmas Embers: a story of love, failure, and redemption.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

media-headshot-240x300Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.

 

 

 

MY THOUGHTSI truly enjoyed reading this book. I want to say, ‘I loved it’ … I did, but not in the way you would be expecting. I love Chautona’s style of writing. She drew me into this story from the first chapter. It was sad. It was heart-wrenching. It drove me to tears. Tears of sorrow. Tears of frustration, and sometimes tears of joy.

“Truth never sliced deeper or with more perfect precision. The gaping wound lay bare and open, waiting for the salt of … ”

One might say ‘what an unusual kind of book to have written, to be read at Christmastime’. However, unfortunately for many, Christmas is a time of great stress and seemingly unsolvable problems. Many families are at war with each other. This book examines the issue of adultery, from a biblical point of view. All Chautona’s biblical references are spot on. We see, hear, and feel the thoughts of both husband and wife, as well as friends, extended family, and church elders.

Christmas Embers isn’t a story for the faint-hearted. It’s real life in its ugliest form. It’s very easy to make judgements about the behaviours of others, but the reality is that we are all sinners who are vulnerable to temptation. We sin by our thoughtless actions, but do we sin by our busy thoughts? This is just one question that is answered in this book. Is it okay to have secrets … big secrets, that affect the lives of others?  I thought long and hard about this one. In fact, these thoughts did not leave me throughout my entire journey with the book. If you are looking for something to read that tackles a serious modern-day problem, if you want to examine your own life’s morals, if you want to know what the only solution is, then you must read this fabulous book. The characters of Piper and Joey alone will tug at your heartstrings. For me, this entire book was a ‘Matthew 7:12 moment’.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law of the Prophets.”

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the author, via CelebrateLit. I was never under any obligation to provide a favourable review. All thoughts are entirely my own.

 

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

Infidelity to the Tune of Adeste Fideles

“I think my husband is having an affair.”

An explanation followed. Look, I tend to be one who assumes the best of others—to a fault even. I read the “evidence” and frankly could see it going either way. It’s hard to tell across thousands of miles. While others on the message board saw red flag after red flag—and frankly, I did, too—I also saw perfectly innocent explanations for things. It’s a curse sometimes—that ability to see both sides of an issue. I cautioned against assumptions no one would want other people to make of themselves. And I prayed she was wrong.

She wasn’t.

It wasn’t the first time I’d come face to face with infidelity. As a child, there was an extended family member. As a newlywed, one of my wedding party—then another. Then another. The excuses, the justifications. Friends and I went to confront a sister in Christ on her affair with her husband’s best friend. We foolishly asked “what happened?” regarding her marriage. Her words: “We drifted apart.”

I wanted to scream the words that battered my brain and heart. “Then row back together!

But over the years, it just grew worse. One by one, wives and husbands tossed aside vows made to a brother or sister in Christ—vows made before the Lord—in favor of what sometimes were serial affairs. Abuse. Horror.

I’ve prayed women I love through court cases, medical visits, and disclosures from children no mother should ever have to hear. I’ve prayed for men I didn’t even like because of the pain their wives inflicted each time she left them alone with the kids. He knew. He always knew.

Adultery is real. It’s ugly. And there’s absolutely a cure for it. Jesus. 100% surrender to Jesus. But as long as we rely on those little loops on the back of our boots instead of the saving, healing, strengthening power of Jesus, we’re just as vulnerable as the next person.

And that’s why I wrote Christmas Embers. I took every heartbreaking story I’d observed over the years and put in each character for a reason. Every scene, every plot point, every twist—I put them exactly how and where they are for a reason.

They’re there as a warning.

This isn’t your lighthearted Christmas novel. Some have suggested I shouldn’t have set it at Christmastime. But you know what? Over half the disclosures I’ve ever heard of happened between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I couldn’t get the idea of Joey’s story out of my head. And to write his story, it had to be at Christmas.

Let me say it again. While Christmas may not seem like the optimal time for a hard-hitting book like this, I had to do it. Adultery is reaching epidemic proportions in the church. There’s a solution. His name is Jesus.

Giveaway

Christmas Embers GIVEAWAYTo celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a 6 month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c512

 

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Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, December 5

A Baker’s Perspective, December 5

Mary Hake, December 5

Moments Dipped in Ink, December 6

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 6

Daysong Reflections, December 6

Fiction Aficionado, December 7

A Simply Enchanted Life, December 7

Genesis 5020, December 7

Blogging With Carol, December 8

The Power of Words, December 8

Bigreadersite, December 8

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 9

A Greater Yes, December 9

Radiant Light, December 9

Just Jo’Anne, December 10

For The Love of Books, December 10

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10

Aryn the Libraryan, December 11

A Reader’s Brain, December 11

The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 12

Books, Books, and More Books., December 12

Quiet Quilter, December 13

Seasons of Opportunities, December 13

Christian Book Devourer, December 13

Allofakindmom, December 14

Texas Book-aholic, December 14

Pursuing Stacie, December 14

Pause for Tales, December 15

Reader’s cozy corner, December 15

margaret kazmierczak, December 15

Red Headed Book Lady, December 16

Purposeful Learning, December 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16

Janices book reviews, December 17

Christian Bookaholic, December 17

Karen Sue Hadley, December 18

Remembrancy, December 18

Blossoms and Blessings, December 18

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan (Blog Tour, REVIEW, and Giveaway

Deadly proof FB banner copy

Click here to purchase your copy

 

About the Book

Deadly-Proof-194x300Book title: Deadly Proof

Author: Rachel Dylan

Release date: September 5, 2017

Genre: Legal Romantic Suspense

Tapped as lead counsel in a corporate cover-up lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceutical, Kate Sullivan knows this case could make her career. What really drives her, though, is getting justice for the victims whose lives were ruined by the company’s dangerous new drug. But when a whistleblower turns up dead, it paints a target on the back of everyone involved.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James steps in to handle security for Kate. He’s still haunted by mistakes in his past and is determined never to let something like that happen again. But it soon appears someone is willing to do anything–even commit murder–to keep the case from going to trial.

As danger closes in, Landon can’t help but admire Kate’s courage and resolve–but will her determination not to back down become too great of a risk?

MY THOUGHTS

 

What a fabulous book! Even though I’ve been time poor lately, once I began to read, it was almost impossible to put down. I couldn’t sleep last night, so around 2.30am I hopped up, put the kettle on to boil, then climbed into my comfy armchair, and finished off the second half of the book while sipping on my tea. However, I found it annoyingly necessary to keep getting up to make another cuppa.

“Deadly Proof is a legal thriller that will keep you turning pages late into the night because you will have to know what happens next!” – Lynette Eason, award-winning, bestselling author of the Elite Guardian series

DEADLY PROOF, the first book in the Atlanta Justice series is the first book of Rachel Dylan’s that I have read, and I must say I am more than adequately impressed. If all of Rachel’s books are written as brilliantly as this one, then I shall have to hunt them all down.

I have been reading different genres for a while now, but I haven’t read a good mystery/suspense/thriller for absolute ages. I’ve mostly been reading historical romance, contemporary romance, and a fair bit of creative non-fiction. I didn’t even realize that there were any mystery/suspense novels out there, written by Christian authors. I’m afraid I now have a serious addiction.

“It’s all part of me, and those experiences shaped who I am today.”

Ms Dylan’s personal experience within the legal environment is probably the best research a writer could get. Rachel is an excellent communicator of story … a superior storyteller.  She draws on her own expertise to shape the scenes throughout, explaining most of the legal jargon for greenies like me. Rachel also uses her own personal experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression to shed some light upon the difficulties which sufferers may battle within their everyday lives, and this really struck a chord with me.

“My faith is what has gotten me through difficult times in my own life.”

“Faith can only get you so far. It can get pretty dark when God turns His back on you.”

Her heart broke. “You don’t really believe that God abandoned you, do you?”

Both main and sub-characters are well developed and credible. I just adore Kate. She is such a softie and feels genuine empathy for the pain and suffering of others. I fell in love with Landon James … what a dreamy hunk, but what tinkles my bells the most about this gorgeous man is his open show of vulnerability in front of Kate. Once he showed his gentle, empathetic side, I melted. His humility, loyalty, and trustworthiness are endearing.

“Just when Landon thought he couldn’t be any more surprised by Kate, she’d taken in a three-legged cat. Talk about having a big heart. He wasn’t used to dealing with people like her. After all the heinous things he’d seen, she was a breath of fresh air.”

The ebb and flow of suspense throughout the book is clever. For me it was quite a rollercoaster ride … and then when I was certain I had everything figured out, Ms Dylan expertly threw in a red herring or two. I also appreciated the splattering of subtle humor throughout the story … and just enough romance to warm my toes. I cannot wait to be able to read book two in this series.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, via CelebrateLit. I did not receive any monetary compensation, and all thoughts are my own.

Giveaway

To celebrate the tour, Bethany House is giving away four Suspense Novels and a $25 Starbucks Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4664b04912/

 

About the Author

Dylan_Rachel1-200x300Rachel Dylan was a litigator in one of the nation’s most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband. She is active on social media, and you can visit her website at www.racheldylan.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Q & A with Rachel Dylan

The Atlanta Justice series is centered around strong, female lawyers who take on high-stakes cases. What made you want to write their stories?  I’d have to say it’s personal! Having been an attorney for eleven years now, I love being able to pour parts of myself into the books. My everyday life as a lawyer isn’t that exciting and is definitely not as dangerous! But I’m able to draw on what I’ve lived through to bring life and authenticity to these characters.

What type of research did you do for Deadly Proof?  One of the great things about writing books related to my career is that I know lawyers who practice all different types of law. Deadly Proof focuses on Kate Sullivan, who is a plaintiff’s attorney taking on a big pharmaceutical company. I don’t do this specific type of plaintiff’s work, but I know lawyers who do, and I was able to talk with them. Also, I was able to relate to my characters on the defense side because I’ve done that work for years. It was really fun to write the perspectives of characters on both sides of the case.

Is there a reason you chose Atlanta for this series?  Yes! I’m from Georgia and lived in Atlanta, practicing law at a large law firm, for eight years. I wanted to pick a setting I was intimately familiar with to give readers an authentic Atlanta experience—sweet tea and all.

Where do you think Kate’s passion for her work comes from?  Kate truly believes that her life’s work is to help those who have been wronged. I believe a lot of her passion stems from her strong faith that has developed over the years. She’s not a lawyer to make big bucks but to change people’s lives for the better.

What is the next book in the Atlanta Justice series about?  Book two is about Kate’s friend Sophie Dawson, who we meet in Deadly Proof. Sophie is an Atlanta prosecutor. This story is exciting because it involves a completely different type of legal case than Deadly Proof. But I promise things get just as dangerous!

Blog Stops

September 26: A Baker’s Perspective

September 26: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

September 26: Faithfully Bookish

September 27: Reading Is My SuperPower

September 27: Fizzy Pop Collection

September 27: Blogging With Carol

September 28: Fiction Aficionado

September 28: Moments Dipped in Ink

September 28: Genesis 5020

September 29: Just Commonly

September 29: Bukwurmzzz

September 29: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

September 30: 100 Pages per Hour

September 30: Smiling Book Reviews

October 1: A Reader’s Brain

October 1: Bigreadersite

October 1: Carpe Diem

October 1: Christian Bookaholic

October 2: Karen Sue Hadley

October 2: History, Mystery & Faith

October 2: Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot

October 3: A Simply Enchanted Life

October 3: Avid Reader Book Reviews

October 3: Just the Write Escape

October 4: Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting

October 4: Mary Hake

October 4: Through the Open Window

October 5: The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate

October 5: Inklings and notions

October 5: Ashley’s Bookshelf

October 6: Pause for Tales

October 6: Have A Wonderful Day

October 6: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

October 7: Just Jo’Anne

October 7: Redeemed Hope Dweller

October 7: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

October 8: Neverending Stories

October 8: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

October 8: Cafinated Reads

October 9: Blossoms and Blessings

October 9: His Grace is Sufficient

October 9: Raining Butterfly Kisses