Monday, December 30, 2019

Favorite Books of 2019

Normally, it's hard for me to narrow down my list of favorite books in any particular year. This year, though, there were three standouts among the over 200 books I read.

This isn't to say there weren't other books I adored, loved, or cherished. There were plenty I enjoyed throughout the year. This is simply the short list of which ones stood out the most to me in 2019.


Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano

Raina Bretton is a rag woman in London's east end when a handsome stranger appears in a dank alley and offers her a glittering smile and a chance for adventure. Rothburne Abbey has a unique position for her, one that will take her away from her hardscrabble life and give her a chance to be a lady. Things she could only dream of might be coming true. But some dreams turn out to be nightmares.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas!


May the Lord bless your family and you this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

November Review {part 3}


Movies and Sports

November was quite busy with both movies and sports for me. This included hanging out with friends and family, which is always a special thing for me. I never take for granted that these incredible people are in my life.

Movies

There were quite a few movies out at the theater last month that looked quite interesting. The following are the ones I saw, and I enjoyed all of them. It was fun to not uncover a dud among the group. As often as I go to the theater throughout the year (not normally as frequently as it has been in recent weeks), it’s not unusual to stumble upon a movie or two that didn’t quite make the cut for me. It’s always a treat when I hit a streak of great and enjoyable films.





Monday, December 9, 2019

November Review {Part 2} + a FREE recipe


Thanksgiving

Food, family, and gratitude worked together to create wonderful memories during the holiday. Remember all those recipes I mentioned a few weeks ago? I got them all done! The seafood bisque was a bit treacherous to make (here’s a tip: when making a bisque, go ahead and get all the ingredients measured and prepped prior to starting and work quickly once you begin), but it turned out scrumptious. The cod pieces melted in my mouth, and I’m not even a huge seafood fan.

My favorite discovery was a tie between the pineapple cream cheese cobbler and the honey biscuits. I’ll be making both a few more times throughout the upcoming year, I think. They were delicious! The honey biscuits were especially fun, because the honey taste came through so beautifully. They were the first from-scratch biscuits I’ve ever made, and it was a fabulous recipe for my debut. It was simple and easy to follow while creating a lovely scent in my home while they were baking.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

November Review {part one}

Late again, I’m afraid. The holidays and recovery from the busy week have caught up to me, apparently. I’ll try to do better next week, y’all.

The next few weeks here at Writing to Inspire will be a recap of my November. I'm eager to hear about yours too, so please share in the comment section as you're able.


NaNoWriMo

November’s writing challenge, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), was wonderful for me. I started out editing several chapters of an old favorite, but then I discovered writing crawls in the NaNo forums.



Writing crawls usually contain different tasks within a story format, and each task is writing related. For example, you might be challenged to write 300 words in 15 minutes, to sprint to 100 words, or to write for 30 minutes without taking a break. Some of the crawls even incorporate stretch breaks, snack times, and exercises to keep the back, wrists, and neck from getting too tight from being hunched over the computer (or pad of paper).

Monday, November 25, 2019

Characters Who Celebrate Christmas In the Story {reading challenge}


Holiday Baking

It's the week of Thanksgiving here in America, and that means I'm busy baking and cooking up a storm. I finally decided on the new recipes I'll be trying. I've been told holidays are not the times to test out new-to-me recipes, but I beg to differ. I've only come across a couple of duds over the years, and thankfully they were ones I taste tested before sharing... which means I didn't share those couple of things. But I've found some really great dishes over the holidays through my teens and twenties. Now that I'm in my thirties, I feel like it's practically tradition for me to try something new for Thanksgiving and Christmas and sometimes even New Year's Day.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Protecting Tanner Hollow by Lynette Eason {a review}



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

Lethal Homecoming
Just as mysterious as I recalled! Again, I didn’t figure out whodunit. I liked the family drama and that this was a complex little novella.

Lethal Conspiracy
Wow. So blown away by this one. Such a great addition to the series. I especially enjoyed the wonderful usage of technology and forensic science. The drama and suspense were spot-on and engaging. The faith thread was light, but that did not detract from the amazing quality of this story.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Deadly Deceit by Natalie Walters {a review}


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

This story was fascinating. I enjoyed the psychological vibes strung throughout. The pacing was great, as was the setting of small-town Georgia. The journalism angle was well used, though I would have liked to see Vivian working on articles or something even while working on unraveling the mystery for the bigger piece. I thought the journalism was perfectly countered by the other lead’s being a cop. There was a natural push-pull chemistry between the news writer and the police officer, which made the romance quite believable and organic.

Monday, November 4, 2019

NaNoWriMo Has Arrived!

My new computer is working great. The transition came just in time too, because this month is NaNoWriMo. Now, I'm editing on paper this year, but that doesn't mean I don't use my computer. I still have to log in my word count. And if I need to look up something in the manuscript I'm working on that might be found hundreds of pages apart, I can quickly open the computer document and do an easy search. Plus, there's research that needs to be done along the way to make sure that special layer of atmosphere satisfactorily saturates the reader in the world my MCs (main characters) are living in.



The story I'm working on is one that's been in the works for over a decade, first as a screenplay and more recently (since 2012) as a manuscript. I would, of course, love to see both the book and movie versions come to a reality that readers and viewers could enjoy at their leisure. But this writer's got more work to do on them both first.

Things I might be researching while I edit this baby:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Characters Who... Have Children

November always reminds me of family.

The whole holiday time of the year does, really. Between buying and wrapping Christmas presents and planning for what I'll make for Thanksgiving, my family members are constantly on my mind and in my prayers. While I think I'm nearly done with Christmas shopping already, I'm nowhere near ready to bake yet. I know I'm making my practically famous (non-alcoholic) eggnog and always-requested sweet potato casserole. I just haven't figured out what my other one or two dishes will be. I like to try new recipes some years, while others are better for tried-and-true things. It's a little hard to tell yet which type of year this is.

If you have any simple holiday recipes, please feel free to share in the comments section.


The reading challenge for November will be in the tradition of family. Any book in which a character has children will count. It can be a children's book or a grown-up book, nonfiction or make-believe. The person who has the children could be a daddy or a mommy. It could be a grandparent raising their grandchildren. It could be a foster parent or surrogate parent.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Dark Ambitions by Irene Hannon

Hey, friends! So sorry this is coming to you a day later than expected. We had a wicked storm here Sunday night with scary fireworks-like sparks coming off a couple of power lines that were smacking against each other. Terrifying stuff, really. Thankfully, God kept the sparks from catching the tree or any rooftops on fire. Yesterday, the power company sent guys out, and they fixed the wires so that hopefully this problem won't happen again.

Now, back to regular programming...



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

I’ve got mixed feelings about this story. It was quite the intriguing mystery featuring high stakes, politics written well (and I’m tough to please on that front), and plenty of twists and turns along the storyline.

Positives:

The mysterious scene at the camp near the beginning was fantastic. It pulled in my interest and set the bar for the suspense vibes for the remainder of the story. I had hoped this was a sign the camp would play an integral role in the plot, but I ended up not missing it until about two thirds of the way in, so that speaks to the pace and twists being strong enough to keep me invested through the lack of focus on the camp.

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Distance Too Grand by Regina Scott

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

So I requested a review copy of this book by accident. Sort of. See, at first glance, I thought it was by Regina Jennings, an author a friend of mine has been recommending for a while. The cover of this one has that same whimsical, fun, lighthearted feeling as Mrs. Jennings’s novels usually have. Once I realized it was by a Regina of a different surname, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be in for. I was still hopeful about that cover, though, as it remained beautiful and inspirational.

Much to my great and happy surprise, this story turned out to be quite wonderful. It was adventurous, mysterious, sweet, dangerous, and faith-filled. I rather enjoyed it from beginning to almost-end. The romance in this story was sweet. Sometimes it was cheesy, but it was also clean and mostly realistic. The characters were quirky and unique, with great goals and dreams but also facing pasts and trials to overcome. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Childhood Memories

Last night, I was thinking about animated Disney movies that I grew up on.


The Little Mermaid was the very first movie I saw in theaters when I was nearly three, and it's forever been my favorite Disney movie. I remember the theater in the old mall that's now demolished (and has been for most of my life, sadly), the Front-Row Joe preview, and, of course, seeing the redheaded mermaid meet her prince on the big screen. While I never wanted to replace Jodi Benson as the best Ariel ever, her vocals and that movie did inspire me to shoot for my dreams. That was the first movie that impacted my ideals, because Ariel's journey showed me that dreams were possible to reach.

(Mrs. Benson, thank you for your work as Ariel. I'm sure you hear this a lot, but your contribution to that movie inspired me and added a touch of whimsy to my childhood. I can't tell you how many Little Mermaid Barbies and Little Toys [action figures] I had because of you. In fact, I still have them.)

Ariel and her voice, Jodi Benson; compliments of Google Images

The song "This Little Light of Mine" also shaped me. It gave me courage, because it told me that God would shine through me if I lived for Him. I've seen proof of this many dozens of times in my lifetime so far, and I'll keep believing it through to eternity.

Monday, October 7, 2019

In the Office

Hey, friends!

I'm in the waning days of an editing deadline at the moment, so I'm in my "office" with my nose practically glued to my computer.

Great for production on chapters to be edited for a client, but not so great for my blog.

Unfortunately, I've run out of time to come up with something creative and fun for you today. Once I get off this deadline on Wednesday, I'll try to spark up some inspiration to post an extra piece later this week.

I'll be thinking fondly of you guys throughout the week.

Thank you so much for your patience and support.

Hugs,
Andrea

Monday, September 30, 2019

Characters Who Are... Chased!

Since October is often thought of for Halloween and scary movies, our reading challenge for the month will take on as much of a creepy vibe as you like. That can be little (or none) or much. It's truly up to you. The theme is...



The character could be in a car chase...

... or chased by a dog... 

... or chased by a stalker... 

Monday, September 23, 2019

A Classic Experience

Recently, I've been reading this book:




After finishing each story within it, I have paused my reading long enough to enjoy a movie version of the tale I just completed. This has been delightful thus far, as each movie has enriched my experience with these delightful characters Miss Austen created. I only have Persuasion left to watch, as I just finished reading that one yesterday afternoon, and I'm quite looking forward to it.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

FTC Disclosure: NetGalley and Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

There was a unique, vintage-book-infused story between the beautiful and perfectly-textured cover of this novel. Quirky and entertaining, this tale found my happy place in large chunks.

A few things disrupted my peaceful reading experience, the largest of which was the heavy emphasis on drinking alcohol, drunkenness, and bar and holiday parties at which vast amounts of alcohol were consumed. It was unexpected emphasis as the back cover copy didn’t hint at this theme. I must say, though, that I really admired the lead’s stance on not partaking of alcohol despite one of her closest friends trying on a couple of occasions to talk her into it. I was grateful for this positive note amid the muck of that particular theme.

Back to the things I adored about this novel. Firstly, the cover was amazing. As soon as a friend alerted me to the major cuteness of the cover art (thanks, Hannah!), I knew I had to read whatever was behind those gorgeously, quirkily stacked books. When I received the paperback in the mail (thanks, Revell Reads!), I was blown away by the unique texture of the cover. Not only was it strikingly beautiful to my eyes, but it passed on that same quality to my fingertips.

The way vintage books were infused into the storyline was incredible. This is the second novel I’ve read in recent weeks (the other was Finding Lady Enderly) that found a special way to use classic books within the story. I can’t really talk about how those classics were used in either story, because it would give away major things and rob future readers of the amazing journey those classics helped build. Trust me (or test it out for yourself) when I tell you that it made my heart melt and sigh and sing all at the same time.

Monday, September 9, 2019

You Belong with Me by Tari Faris

FTC Disclosure: Revell Reads and NetGalley gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

With a delicious cover that sparked up my whimsical, creative side, this debut was entertaining, light, and a quick read. The small-town drama was fun, and I especially loved the quirkiness that was present throughout the novel. The premise was good, and I liked the surprises that cropped up along the way to flesh out the story.

The hippo was one of my favorite parts of this story. I still don’t understand how it works exactly, but I’m hopeful that this will be a thread strung throughout the entire series. Maybe eventually the secrets will be revealed, but I’m not even sure if I want them to be. It’s a fascinating aspect to the story, and I can see how it could play a huge role in each of the Restoring Heritage novels.

The search for belonging someplace was poignant and well written. This is such a relatable topic to a wide variety of people (the entire human race, perhaps?), and Mrs. Faris showed great skill for pulling out different nuances of this topic with each of her POV characters. It was beautiful to watch those threads unfold and see those characters dig deeper and deeper into their issues the further along the story went. That journey they each took was what kept me charmed beyond the initial discovery of how cute and fun this story was going to be. When all those storylines around that theme came together toward the end (and I won’t reveal how, because it’s too sweet to spoil), my heart felt the crescendo and tears washed my face. It was such an emotional finale for me, which I absolutely love in a novel. I’m hoping for more of this type of thing from this author as she grows in her writing journey with each new book.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano


FTC Disclosure: NetGalley and Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book (one electronic, one paperback). A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

Where do I start? What a captivating novel! From the first page, the style was engrossing, fascinating, and exquisitely quotable. If I had jotted down every line that made me sigh for how beautiful it was, I would have a notebook filled with at least half the lines from this story.

The unique usage of novels within the romance thread was beautiful and made me giggle with delight and gasp with elation. I truly admired the way each of the classics used were woven in so seamlessly and delectably. Every new quote had me holding my breath to see just what sentiment would be shared this time.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Characters Who Are... Pastors or Teachers


Back to school time means that it's time to think about those who lead us. Pastors and teachers carry significant responsibilities in our communities, and reading about them is just one way of honoring them. So whether you pick up a fictional story about a pastor or teacher or a nonfiction book written by a church leader or anything in between that pays tribute to pastors or teachers, those books all count for September's reading challenge.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Oops!

This past weekend was really busy. A Texas Rangers game, a birthday celebration, time spent with friends and family... It was wonderful!

It left zero time for my blog.

And today I am not feeling creative at all.

So I'm catching up on some internet stuff. I just finished sending some welcome letters for a Goodreads group I help moderate, and I have some book planning to do for an upcoming team game.

I thought I would have a book review for you today, but the weekend zoomed by without my finishing the book. Therefore, that will have to wait until another week.

Since I'm not exactly sure what to chat about today, how about y'all help me out?


What is keeping you busy this summer?

Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds herself so busy!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Vacation Recovery


My family and I went to Corpus Christi and San Antonio a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like I'm still recovering. I totally understand what people mean when they say they need a vacation from their vacation. Haha!

Our vehicle's A/C went out a couple days prior to the trip, so we relied heavily on rolled-down windows and the breeze that God sent at wonderful nearly-too-hot moments... and places that had working air conditioning. The temperatures weren't as hot as they could have been, for which I was so grateful. One of my favorite places we visited was the aquarium in San Antonio, but the river walk was another favorite. I'm not a fan of the boat trips, so we didn't do one of those this time, but walking up and down the narrow sidewalks is always a fun thing for my family and me.

At one of the three beaches we went to, we saw a live crab in its natural habitat. I never thought I'd see one in person outside of aquariums or zoos that have aquarium-type sections, and I think I'm still in happy shock about it. We saw a crab! He was much too fast to snap a picture of, especially since I didn't have my phone on me while wading (better safe than sorry, for it wouldn't take too well to the water if I slipped or something).

The first few days of our trip were still a part of Camp NaNoWriMo, so I would sneak in a couple hundred words once we were back at the rental house for the evening. My total for July was over 54,600 words toward a new (and very messy) draft of a brand-new story. I'm not really sure how to wrap up this draft, but I know I'll have to rip apart this current draft, taking it down to its bare bones and search for the potential hidden deep within them before I can re-flesh it out in a much easier-to-digest manuscript. Other rounds of edits will still have to happen, but my hope is that they will be a lot easier than this first one will be.

Since I've taken a break from writing for over a week now, and since we're home from the trip, I've been catching up on laundry and washing dishes and unpacking and doing other things around the house. I still have another two weeks off from work (I love my tutoring schedule!), and I'm trying to make good use of the time to accomplish chores and reading and watching classic movies on TCM (I discovered I enjoy Red Skelton last Friday; I'd never really seen much of his work before then), and I'll be getting back to writing this week as well.

And apparently, I'm also writing up a summary of random things in this article, because my brain's still too worn out from the trip to be creative right now. I'm hoping to be back to normal next week.

Tell me about you.
How is your summer going?
Did your family and you go anyplace?
What's your favorite thing to do when you have time off from work?

Monday, August 5, 2019

Run Well


We all have choices to make along life's journey. Some are as easy as right verses wrong. Others are more complex with no clear right or wrong answer.

The most important thing about making these choices is to make sure whichever one we make is lined up with God's will. Prayer and time spent in the Bible are crucial for hearing God's direction in our lives.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Characters Who... Travel {reading challenge}

We're approaching another month, and that means we're stepping into a new reading challenge.


Summer often brings vacations, which means travel. For August's challenge, we'll be reading books in which the characters travel someplace. It may be domestic or international travel. It doesn't necessarily have to be a vacation for the character. It may also be travel for work or to help out a family member who lives somewhere different than the character who does the traveling.

Please remember to share with us where they traveled when you post your books.

Let's talk vacations now.
(And yes, I want to hear from you in the comments.)

Monday, July 22, 2019

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham


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

The cover is what first drew my attention to this book. I was so intrigued by the barn and the letter that I really wanted to know more about this story. It didn’t take long to learn that the leading lady worked for the dead letter office, which completely reminded me of the movie and TV show called Signed, Sealed, Delivered, which also features a dead letter office. That aspect of this book hooked me in early on.

Penny’s naïveté and passion for romantic love stories made me root for her right away. She was charming and delightful and easy to imagine. The love she had for her dog and for helping her fellow man were further proof that she was the perfect heroine for this tale.

Though the setup was completely different, the way the dog brought people together somehow reminded me of the opening to the animated 101 Dalmatians movie. This story’s usage of a hairy pet was completely unique, yet the tone of the dog’s antics held a little something that was very reminiscent of that fun and entertaining film that I enjoyed many times through my childhood (and adulthood, truth be known).

Monday, July 15, 2019

From Now 'Til Forever + Giveaway

What a charming tale!

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


This story might be short, but it's well worth the time it took to read it. From the characters to the plot to the atmosphere... it was a delight all the way around.

The Kees & Colliers series (this is book three, not including the two prequels) builds from story to story, so I highly recommend reading them in order to fully appreciate the growth and development of each of the characters. This is a special series, truly unique, and I hope to own a set of paperbacks someday soon. The covers are gorgeous, and the stories hit all my emotional buttons.

I loved how this installment of the series was a culmination of the journey each character had gone on through the previous books. Things were wrapped up so beautifully that this could easily be the last in the series, but of course there is plenty of room for Miss Roth to give us additional adventures of the Kees and Colliers if she so chooses. Personally, I would love to see the girls grow into amazing women and see where their paths take them into their working and/or family lives. As it stands now, though, I'll just have fun imagining the vast possibilities.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Flowers in Her Heart + Giveaway

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

Emotional journey to make the heart sing!


Amazing emotion filled this four-star book. The author dug deep and didn’t shy away from the difficult questions her characters asked. The journey Adele muddled through built beautifully upon the previous book in the Kees and Colliers series (The Lady of the Vineyard).

The rich combination of dialogue and narration created a fabulous atmosphere. Tension, war worries, and family issues enhanced this and, at times, made me want to weep. The further into the plot I got, the quicker I wanted to read—not to be done faster, but rather to see how things would turn out for the dear characters who had secured places in my reader heart.

This story was lovely and beautiful and swept me away into the world of the Kees and Colliers.

Content: one expletive



Giveaway!





Prize One: THE LADY OF THE VINEYARD and FLOWERS IN HER HEART in paperback & a cool FLOWER NECKLACE.

Prize Two: THE LADY OF THE VINEYARD in paperback & FLOWERS IN HER HEART and FROM NOW ’TIL FOREVER in ebook


About the book:


Flowers in Her Heart



Can Adele change her entire lifestyle to be a mother to her babies?

When her husband goes off to war, Adele feels lost and confused. In a new, less-than-ideal place in a frightening, less-than-ideal time, she flees to the garden with her daughters, determined to make their new house a home, even if it is from the outside in.

Battered by her own inner turmoil and scoffed at by those close to her, Adele seeks to make something beautiful amidst chaos. But can even the most beautiful flowers cover the years of scars?

“So sweet, so true, and so downright good.” ~Angela R. Watts, author of Seek


“A fantastic story about family, faith, and a search for beauty and truth.” ~Goodreads Reviewer


There are more books in this series!




About the author:


Kellyn Roth, Author: insightful fiction, unhesitating truth


Kellyn Roth is a Christian & historical author from North-Eastern Oregon. Kell is a ranch girl, homeschool graduate, proud sister of four, proud auntie of five, and owner of two goofy border collies, two presumptuous cats, and a very active betta fish. Check out her website, kellynrothauthor.com, for more info.

Coach Kell: http://coachkell.com/
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest: @ReveriesofRuby

Leave me a comment with your Kees & Colliers book title!


Troy Kee's collage.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Lady of the Vineyard + Giveaway

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

What an emotional journey.


It all began with the characters.

Little Judy stole my heart despite sometimes sounding older than six. Her plight was easy to connect with and empathize over. Adele was harder to love, but her growth was, perhaps, the most noteworthy. She did grow on me, carving out space in my reader heart for herself. Troy was lovely in how he adored his little girl. That parent’s love he displayed and the lessons he taught his daughter were worth reading this book. These characters were messy with raw hearts and feelings, yet they learned so much about life and love and hope. Somehow they wriggled their way into my happy place and left me wanting more of their story.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Characters Who Are... Food Industry Professionals

Hello, friends! It's time for another reading challenge.

This one was requested by Rebekah Morris, one of my writing buddies and a frequent participant of Writing to Inspire's reading challenges. Thanks for the idea, Rebekah!

Ready?


For July, we'll be reading books that feature characters who are food industry professionals. This includes bakers, chefs, restaurant owners/managers, etc. It does NOT include parents baking/cooking for their children, spouses baking/cooking for their significant others, etc. They have to be earning money for their talents in the food industry.

The character can be a lead or supporting cast member. Just let us know what type of food industry professional the person is.

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.

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).

Hope.

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!