Monday, June 17, 2019

Talk to Me {Reader Input Required}

Hi, friends! The last couple of weeks have seen me making huge progress in recovering from a couple of physical-pain trials (including a locked-up lower back). After over two months of taking things super easy to avoid getting further injured and to properly heal, I was finally able to go see a couple of movies this past weekend, which means I finally got to hang out with my sister and friends again. I missed them so much! (Thankfully, that feeling was mutual.)

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day last month and Father's Day yesterday. I can hardly believe I forgot to wish you fantastic ones! How did you celebrate? I'd love to hear your stories (post a comment below to share).

All right. So here's what's up:

I've got a few book reviews and articles planned for the next couple of months of blog articles, but I'm already thinking ahead to the second half of the year.

I need YOUR help to decide what I should feature.

Which of these do you like best? (Feel free to name more than one in your comment.)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Living Lies by Natalie Walters

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Reads and a complimentary electronic copy from NetGalley. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

Living Lies by Natalie Walters

What an important book for mental health awareness!

I was quite impressed by the author’s handling of depression, suicide, PTSD, and the support (and lack of support) various characters encountered and lived with. I’m eager to see how Mrs. Walters builds on these topics (or introduces us to new ones) in book two of her Harbored Secrets series.

The only characters I truly despised were the leading lady’s parents. Their controlling personalities were written so well that I struggled to get through their scenes because of previous personal experience with that type of people. Not fun memories! But I must applaud the author for nailing it, even if it made the book a bit challenging to get through. (The second half was easier for me to fly through, and I doubt this issue will slow down most readers.)

Plot twists aplenty kept me riveted to my seat and flipping the pages quickly, particularly in the back half. The pace was fairly decent for a suspense novel, though it read much more like a police procedural than the thriller sort of suspense book the cover implied I was getting into. As much as I enjoyed this book, there were spots where characters randomly thought about (and for too long on occasion) about potential romance, and this ground things to a halt in a few scenes.

The faith thread was sprinkled in very lightly. When it showed up, it was strong. I would have liked this to have been a more important aspect of the plot rather than almost as an afterthought.

Content: one expletive, drugs, alcohol, tattoos, dysfunctional family, depression, suicide

Note: There is violence associated with the suspense genre. Nothing I wouldn’t expect.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The King's Mercy by Lori Benton

I'm terribly sorry this article comes to you so late in the day. My weekend was busy, as was this morning, and I hadn't finished the book I was meant to review by today. It's done now, but it's been a read-read-read sort of a day. I'll be taking a watch-hockey break soon, before I begin my next review book. Be on the watch for my thoughts on Living Lies by Natalie Walters, coming your way soon.

The King's Mercy by Lori Benton

FTC Disclosure: WaterBrook Multnomah gave me a complimentary copy of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

The waves of grace wafting throughout this book were beautiful. Each of the characters had choices to make that either gained grace or refused it, and their inner peace was so dependent upon those crucial decisions. This was an exquisite depiction of the choices people today have at their feet and the consequences—good or bad—of how each of us decide.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Characters Who... Get Married in the Story

For June's reading challenge, we'll be getting in the mood for weddings!

This month, we'll be reading stories in which weddings take place. They could be traditional church weddings, destination weddings, outdoor weddings, beach weddings... The list really could be limitless. Have fun with it!

Remember to share what type of wedding it was (see above list for examples) when you post your books.

Happy wedding hunting... er, reading!

Monday, May 20, 2019

On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

If you're looking for the next #LessonsLearned article, you're in the right place. That article was supposed to be today. However, due to the back pain I've been in all last week, I am taking a break from the Lessons Learned blog series, as it requires more study time than my physical pain will allow me to pursue right now.

Instead, may I present my review for Suzanne Woods Fisher's new book, On a Summer Tide, which I recently enjoyed reading.

FTC Disclosure: Revell Reads gave me a complimentary copy of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest opinions.

What a lovely way to kick off the Three Sisters Island series! This book was a breath of fresh air that raised the stakes of the plot in every chapter. It’s definitely one to learn from, if you’re a writer.

The ensemble cast was superb. Some I hated, plenty I loved, and many surprised me. I loved the idea of sisters struggling to figure out how their lives fit together to make the puzzle of their family come out right. This was totally realistic, as I know from having a sister of my own. We may not always understand each other on every aspect of our lives, but we respect each other and love each other always. I think that same concept was well represented in this book and brought a unique specialness to the story.

Themes of family, forgiveness, faith, trust, and rebuilding a legacy were exquisitely displayed throughout. Each one was explored by multiple characters, in their own ways. That’s what made this story spectacular. Every character, including the island itself, were allowed space to breathe and be itself and react to the others. It was like watching the tide shift from low to high, how the waves crash into their neighbors until their stories become one. Very lovely indeed.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Always Hope

Hey, friends. I’m having a bit of a rough time right now. My back locked up over the weekend. However, as hard as this trial is (and for a person with a low pain tolerance, it’s super hard), it will not defeat me, because I stand (or lay down, in this case, to rest my back) with God. He is my Strength, my Hope for a pain-free someday.

If I feel up to it later in the week, I’ll be sending out another article, the one I had planned for today but don’t have energy to sit up to type on my computer (I’m doing a quick job of this one on my phone).

In the meantime, I was determined that this would not be my first Monday in over five years that my blog would go unposted.

But what to say?

Then I wondered what it is I need right now (other then zero pain when I wake up tomorrow).


Hope that this trial will not be forever. Hope that my future looks a lot brighter than this moment. Hope that my tears of exhaustion and pain and frustration will turn into peals of laughter and joy (once laughing doesn’t hurt so much).


Yes, let us always hope.

Because Jesus is the King of hope. He gives it to us every day, but we have to choose to see it. So in those little pops in my back, I see that hope. In the brief moments when my pain is less, I see it. And in thinking of you, dear friends, I see hope.

Until next time, and beyond, please join me in hoping for bright tomorrows.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Contemplate a Verse

This weekend zoomed right past me without leaving much time for blogging. (Life happened. What can I say?)

So instead of pushing myself to write and post two articles this Sunday evening (it's currently nearly 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night as I'm typing this up), I'm borrowing something from my other article (found here) to share with you here at Writing to Inspire today.

Here's a verse I'm contemplating this week:

Which verse are you thinking about as you go through the work week?

Help me celebrate the U.S. Military in May's reading challenge!