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

Promises, Anticipation, Enjoyment

pooh-1“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best –” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

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Ah, don’t you just love the anticipation? pooh-2Isn’t it just the best thing? Oh, but the enjoyment of actually doing it! Then, alas it is over …. Oh, but the memory is worth its weight in gold …. err honey. 

When we take a look at those three words, promises, anticipation and enjoyment, we would think that they mean very different and separate things. If we limit ourselves to the dictionary meaning for each of those words, we would be correct.

promise is an assurance, a guarantee, a pledge or a vow, that something will be so; or something will happen, either immediately or eventually.

To anticipate something is to be expectant of that thing, person, occasion, gift etc. Also to have hope that something wonderful is going to happen, based upon past experiences.

pooh-3Enjoyment is the actual pleasure, delight, satisfaction or gratification that we derive from whatever it is that we have obtained.

If we look more closely at each of these words, we would realise that they are intimately conjoined. 

Even Winnie-the-Pooh knew from past experience that there was something more to eating that honey, than just the sheer enjoyment of it all …. And of course he was a bear of very little brain. Sometimes I think that maybe we aren’t much more ‘cleverer’ than dear old Winnie. We probably know the word to match the feeling, but we don’t always appreciate that feeling for how wonderful it is. I know I often forget to stop, listen and feel – how about you?

cruise-shipBack in 2008, I went on a cruise. HoneyBun and I flew to Bangkok, stayed a week, and then took a 21-night cruise back to Sydney via South East Asia. We spent months planning and talking about our upcoming holiday, imagining what it would be like (I had never been on a cruise before). We had both travelled before, HoneyBun more than me, however, each experience is different. We were so excited!  I remember being about one week out of Australia on our return trip home. I became impatient to be back home, not because I wasn’t having a good time, but because once more I was anticipating something. This time my anticipation was backed up by a promise that something good would happen – I loved going back home. ‘There is no place quite like home’.  HoneyBun and I had thoroughly enjoyed our trip; the feelings of satisfaction and gratification were immeasurable. Yes, when we arrived back home there was also the feeling of “oh, it is all over now”; but those precious memories would remain forever.

1474151094I have done some travelling in my life; seeing places such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Great Barrier Reef, Islands of the South Pacific – the list goes on. Then there was Bali, Los Angeles and Egypt.  I really do feel blessed; however if I had not anticipated each journey before going, I don’t believe the experience would have been quite the same. As human beings, we rely on our memories of past events to know whether or not something might be good or worthwhile. That pot of honey was pretty good judging by the amount of golden joy that was running down Winnie’s paws, and the remnants smeared all over his cute, furry face; but the day-dreamy look on his sweet face when he anticipated the enjoyment he would derive from that golden pot of heaven, is almost indescribable.  I feel that same way about a piece of lemon-cakelemon cheesecake, or maybe a slice of chocolate/raspberry torte, chocky-cakewith loads of cream. Oh, the expectation, the sheer delight and the afterglow of basking in the memory – mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!

We need promises, anticipation and enjoyment to be so closely related to fully appreciate the beauty of everything that is around us, provided for us, and even those things and events that we indeed work so hard for. I have always said that half of the fun is looking forward to something. Now as I approach more senior years, I believe that looking forward to something and then cherishing the memories, are usually most of the fun.

You can probably see where this is heading by now. I hope so because when I first started preparing this post I didn’t think it would lead to exactly where it has. The message I wanted to remind myself of and pass on was basically the same, perhaps with a little bit less cake.

Our lives here on earth are for us to enjoy, to make others happy, to work hard and provide the best we can. We won’t always be happy with everything that happens in life, but we need to make the best of everything. Our lives are filled with sadness and joy, pain and delight; life is one big rollercoaster. We are not meant to stay here on earth forever, we are actually citizens of heaven. We don’t know what that really entails, but we have been made a promise by God so that we can anticipate with joy and delight, the world that is yet to come. Our total enjoyment of our eternity is based on faith – faith that God is true to His Word, and of course, we know He is.

 dreamy-clouds“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  ~ John 3:16

Patiently we must wait; but with joyful anticipation, that God’s promises to us will come to pass, and our joy will be everlasting, surpassing any form of human enjoyment that we could ever imagine.

hands-on-clock “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”       ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Photo courtesy of LivingWithGod.org

 

Never my dear friends, take any moment or memory for granted – yes we know that there is something more beautiful coming and we must joyously anticipate; but every moment and every memory that we make here on earth will contribute to and richly embroider our everlasting lives in paradise. I wish us all a beautiful and glorious life of hopeful anticipation, laced with excitement for the enjoyment that has been promised to us. 
pooh-4Oh yes, and honey, cake, and whatever else our little human hearts desire.

Originally published on my Just Jo’Anne website/blog in August 2015