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Evergreen: Life Flourishes

Renee Ann Smith —  September 15, 2014 — 9 Comments

I don’t think Christmas should ever be perfect.

Maybe because my most treasured Christmas memories seem to be the times when God helped me find joy in the midst of far from perfect circumstances . . .

***Like that winter during my childhood when I was sick for every holiday. Dad carried me outside to see the Christmas lights my brother and sisters had set up. On the way back in, he slipped on the ice and fell, cushioning me with his body.

And I learned that I would always be safe in his arms—no matter how often we failed to see eye-to-eye in later years.

***The first Christmas after my dad died, decorating our mother’s house because she hadn’t the strength. My sisters dragged an ugly Charlie-Brown tree out of the woods and gave it a makeover. The tree made my mother cry, and we cried with her.

And we discovered that we could cry and laugh and eat and live, even though we never stopped missing the one we had lost.

***That time I went Christmas shopping with my best friend of twenty years. She dashed around Walmart on a scooter, spreading smiles and laughter like a holiday elf, and we shared a joy made bittersweet by knowing it was her last Christmas on earth.

And I saw that breast cancer can’t stop a child of God from rejoicing in her Savior—or keep a determined woman from one last shopping spree!

I’m thankful for those Christmases. And also for the ones that were mediocre or boring or left me with a feeling that surely there was more to the holiday—or life—than this. Because they taught me that what our hearts long for will never be satisfied by anyone or anything on earth, by anything less than Christ Himself.

So for me a “real” Christmas is when we’re able to celebrate the coming of the Christ-child no matter what pain or problems plague our hearts.

And isn’t that why Jesus came in the first place? To fill up all those empty places inside us and make something beautiful out of our messy lives.

This is the truth that threads throughout Susan May Warren’s lovely winter novella, Evergreen . . .

Evergreen Susan May Warren“In the wake of good-byes, life endures. Even flourishes.”

(Click to Tweet)

The story focuses on empty-nesters Ingrid & John Christiansen and their efforts to thaw the “chill that has settled over their marriage” by creating the best Christmas ever—even though their adult children are spread far and wide, beloved family members are struggling with heartbreak & abandonment & addictions, and their own hearts have grown cold towards each other & God.

As sad as Ingrid and John’s situation might be, the storyline that sucked me in & had me grabbing for the tissue box involves a beautiful lost boy named Romeo. His hungry heart & sweet spirit change every character—and reader!—he comes in contact with.

Though this novella is short enough to be read in one sitting, it’s impact will last long after finishing that final page and leave you with a few gems to stir your faith & warm your heart. 

And whether or not your church has ever tried to pull together a Living Nativity, you’ll vicariously enjoy the event at the Christiansen’s church!

Evergreen Susan May Warren“Maybe, however, you’re Mary & God is simply asking you to be willing to say yes to whatever He asks.”

(Click to Tweet)

GIFT SUGGESTION: Evergreen would turn a gift basket into something special or be a great stocking stuffer. If you’re gifting a reader, you could pair it with an Amazon gift card or the rest of the Christian Family Series. Good for any age—my high school students LOVE the Christian Family books!

Purchase your copies of the novella at this link. ***Thanks to Susan May Warren & Litfuse PR for providing a copy for me to review.

About the author: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels, whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. Susan May WarrenShe served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.

Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists.

In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.

Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more.

You can connect with SMW

***See my reviews of the Christiansen Family Series at the following links:

I’m truly thankful that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics from iPhone pics—of our church decorated for a winter wedding & my dear friend’s daughter playing Mary in our school chapel a few years ago. And, of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Continue Reading…

Just Like Going Home

Renee Ann Smith —  September 7, 2014 — 22 Comments
I'm fourth down on the right: the small blonde child facing the camera

I’m fourth down on the right: the small blonde child facing the camera

 My childhood was marked by large family gatherings, like the Thanksgiving in this photo

I grew up in the same small town as the families of my dad’s three brothers & my mom’s two siblings. My cousins walked the halls of my school with me, and I seemed to stumble over at least one relative every place I went. At one point, of the twenty or so homes on our street & extension, about seven of them housed relatives—granted some were distant.

The presence of my extended family left me with a strong feeling of being loved and watched over, of being part of something good.

Some of my best memories involve family dinners—my four siblings, I, and my parents sitting around the table during those few short years when we were all home and healthy and happy How quickly the time has flown since those days under my parents’ roof.

I enjoyed my childhood, but I truly did not realize what a rare treasure it was until I began teaching. I teach high school English at a small-town Christian school, and I calculated that in our tiny community of 80 kids, 20% of them come from fractured homes &traumatic pasts. Unlike me, their childhoods include abuse, foster care, a parent in prison or on drugs, death of a parent, being raised by grandparents, no father, never met their father, or unhappily married parents who divorced. So they are highly entertained when I share stories from my growing up years!

I enjoy going home again in my mind. I think that’s why I’m drawn to books about large, chaotic, loving families facing life together even after they’re adults. I call it my Walton’s Syndrome.

The latest book to provide my Walton’s Syndrome fix is Deborah Raney’s charming story Home to Chicory Lane.

Chicory Lane is where Audrey & Grant Whitman raised their five kids. Now that those kids are grown, they’ve invested a large part of Grant’s retirement and much sweat equity into transforming their home into a bed & breakfast. The book begins as they’re ready to jump into the new world of innkeeping. However, little do they expect their first—nonpaying!—guest to be married daughter Landyn, who has run back home after a fight with her husband. Though shocked that the newlyweds have run into trouble after just six months, Landyn’s family rallies around her and her husband Chase in a beautiful way.

Because that’s life in the Whitman family—parents, adult kids, and grandkids, supporting each other through tough times with grace, humor & prayer. And then, as Grant says, “Learning to enjoy the lull between catastrophes.”

What I liked best . . .

  • The gentle flow of the story—perfect for a crisp fall day & a cup of tea!
  • The whole idea of running a bed & breakfast (My Lorelai Gilmore Syndrome!)
  • Getting to know the Whitmans & their adult kids (They’ll be featured in more books to come!)
  • Going along for the ride as Audrey & Grant learn to handle scheduling and preparing and unruly guests (even young beauty queens)
  • Seeing their daughter Landyn grow & change as she puts her life back together
  • Speculating on the future relationship between Link & Bree

My favorite quotes . . .

deborah raney quote“We’re just imperfect people trying to follow a perfect God. We try to be obedient to all we know of Him. And we have to trust that He’ll take care of the rest.”

Deborah Raney quote“The more we see Him work in our lives, the easier it will be to trust Him.”

What you should do next . . .

You can grab a copy of Home to Chicory Lane at this link. ***Thanks to Deborah Raney & Litfuse PR for providing a copy for me to review.

Deborah RaneyAbout the author: DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A VOW TO CHERISH, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. HOME TO CHICORY LANE released in August from Abingdon Press Fiction. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy life in Kansas. They have four children and five small grandchildren, who all live much too far away.

You can connect with Deborah . . .

At her website

On her Facebook page

On Twitter

So glad you stopped by to soak in some nostalgia today. Blessings, friends!

***I’ll Tweet your post! I enjoy tweeting the posts and/or graphics of my visitors. If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

***Photo Backstory: I made the quote graphics with images from my account at RGB Stock Photos & tweaked them with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Continue Reading…

In Perfect Time

Renee Ann Smith —  August 19, 2014 — 4 Comments

Sarah Sundin’s novels always remind me why we call the men & women of World War II,
“The Greatest Generation.”

Her most recent book, In Perfect Time, tells the story of flight nurse Kay Jobson and C-47 pilot Roger Cooper, who work together in Italy and southern France to evacuate the wounded and deliver paratroopers and supplies. They are hard-working, courageous, and quick-thinking. In their down-time, Roger entertains the local kids by playing the drums on any available surface, dreams of auditioning for a Glen Miller type big band, and stays far away from girls. And beautiful, high-spirited Kay, who can’t seem to break through Roger’s quiet reserve, appreciates him from afar.

Of course, we readers can see that Roger and Kay would be perfect for each other, but these characters have personal issues to work through before they can become a real team. Both Kay and Roger are damaged by families who did not cherish them—and even deemed them worthless. After years of being told they would never measure up, they are haunted by their parents’ hateful words.

Kay and Roger help each other wage powerful inner battles to overcome the negative messages of their youth and see themselves as God sees them. Their personal struggles and growth—set against the backdrop of the fierce fighting around them—make this a riveting, romantic story.

What I liked best . . .

  • How Sarah brings the World War II settings to life
  • The great dynamic between Roger & Kay
  • Roger’s marked up old Bible
  • Catching up with Georgie and Mellie (from previous books in this series)
  • A beautiful scene where an old hymn works truth & healing in Kay’s heart
  • The action—an especially harrowing capture
  • The USO war bonds tour
  • The Nightingale Sisters
  • The sweetly satisfying ending
  • How much my students love these books, as well!

My favorite quotes . . .

Sarah Sundin In Perfect Time“I think the heartbeat itself is a drum message from God. With every beat, He sends His message. His life, His love. His life, His love.”
~Lt. Roger Cooper, In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin~

In Perfect Time Sarah Sundin

“Something warm and light stirred in her soul. Her earthly father scorned her, but her heavenly Father—oh, what He had done for her. He loved her, forgave her sins, and gave her gifts too numerous to count.”
~Lt. Kay Cooper, In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin~

What you should do next . . .

BUY THE BOOK: Take “A Sentimental Journey” today! All you have to do is follow this link to purchase In Perfect Time for yourself. ***Thanks to Litfuse and Sarah Sundin for providing a copy for me to review.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Click on the graphic below to enter Sarah Sundin’s contest to win a Kindle HDX!

Sarah Sundin Litfuse Kindle contest

READ: Follow this link to check out Sarah Sundin’s previous novels.

WATCH: Follow this link to check out some great World War II movies.

So has this put you “In the Mood” to re-visit the heroes & heroines of the Greatest Generation through books or movies?
Then my job here is done!

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics with photos from my account at RGB Stock Photos. Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

That’s the Deal

Renee Ann Smith —  July 28, 2014 — 23 Comments

Why love if losing hurts so much?

Probably every one of us who ever lived has asked that question.

After four short years with the wife he lost to cancer, C. S. Lewis answered it this way,

“Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived.
Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man.
The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering.

The pain now is part of the happiness then.
That’s the deal.”

And you can tell he’d do it all over again if he had the chance.

(If you haven’t seen Anthony Hopkins saying these lines as C. S. Lewis in the movie Shadowlands, you need to go right now to Netflix or Amazon Prime & reserve a copy. But come right back!)

In her novel When I Fall in Love, Susan May Warren answers it this way,

“When we suffer, it forces us into God’s arms.
That’s where we find not only what we need, but more than we can imagine.
We find Him.”

(Click to Tweet)

Susan May Warren

I couldn’t help but think of C. S. Lewis’s real-life love story as I read When I Fall in Love.

Both stories reminded me that love is most beautiful when its cost is great. And both stories made me thankful for the people God has brought into my life—even those I lost too soon.

But unlike the C. S. Lewis story which has reached its eternal happy ending, When I Fall in Love explores those ‘What If’s with which we torture ourselves . . .

  • What if I risk my heart & end up rejected?
  • What if the person I love leaves?
  • What if I bring children into this dangerous world & it damages them?
  • What if God doesn’t stop the things I fear from happening?

As it says on the back cover: “If love means having to sacrifice her ideal happily every after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.”

The story focuses on predictable Grace Christiansen, who likes to play it safe, and daring hockey player Max Sharpe, who will risk anything but his heart. Grace & Max find themselves paired up for a cooking class and then a cooking competition (and all in exotic Hawaii!). Though they make a perfect team, they each harbor private fears that prevent them from pursuing a future together.

How they work through their ‘What If’s and fight for love makes for a beautiful story! It’s amazing how author Susan May Warren can touch on our most deeply felt needs and fears, present heart-breaking situations, and find the romance & happy ending in it all. She always leaves me feeling uplifted and hopeful.

What I liked best . . .

When I Fall in LoveWonderfully real, relatable book people

Memorable, romantic scenes between Grace & Max

Vicarious travel to Hawaii & the Deep Haven resort

Swim buddies & hockey dads

Great recipes & descriptions of food

The preacher on the beach

The secondary storyline involving lonely but brave Raina

The charming, exasperating, break-your-heart younger Christiansen brothers

Another favorite quote . . .

Susan May Warren quote

“I think everyone who gets to have dreams should reach for them.” ~Susan May Warren~

(Click to Tweet)

What you should do next . . .

Follow this link to purchase When I Fall in Love. ***Thanks to Susan May Warren & Litfuse for providing a copy for me to review.

Click on the image below to enter the cool GIVEAWAY!

Susan May Warren Giveaway

About the Author:  Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels, whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. Susan May WarrenShe served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.

Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists.

In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.

Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more.
***For any writers out there, joining My Book Therapy was one of the best decisions I’ve made yet in my writing journey. I attended the MBT Deep Thinkers Retreat and found that so many things connected for me during those five days. (I can’t wait to go again!) You should hop to the website and at least check out the free level today!

You can connect with SMW

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made the first graphic with an image from RGB Stock Photos & the second from an iPhone pic of Copake Lake here in upstate New York and tweaked them with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

“These prisoners—the ones who painted or wrote poetry or played in the orchestra—they refused to let the spirit die.”
~Kristy Cambron, The Butterfly and the Violin~

Butterfly and Violin Kristy Cambron(Click to Tweet)

Kristy Cambron’s debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, tells the story of two women: Sera James in present day and Adele Von Bron in 1942. Sera is an art dealer who becomes fascinated by a painting she saw once as a girl—of a young female violinist with piercing blue eyes. It’s a painting of haunting beauty, and Sera is compelled to chase it down.

As she does, we discover the subject is Adele Von Bron, once a celebrated Austrian violinist, who ends up imprisoned in a concentration camp for smuggling Jews out of Vienna. Surprisingly, the painting was not commissioned when Adele was rich and famous. Instead, the canvas captures Adele the prisoner, who found a way to honor God with her music even in Auschwitz, an Adele matured & refined by suffering.

We learn that this particular masterpiece so captivates Sera because it speaks of hope in the worst of circumstances—and that’s what I love about this story. 

For Adele’s story is one of hope and joy amidst heartbreak and loss. Adele’s legacy is powerful enough to help Sera break free of her own selfish bubble of personal pain and reach out for life and love.

The Butterfly and the Violin reminds us that even when men try to remake the world in their own image, they can never erase God’s image in us. And all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent & worthy of praise cannot be silenced for long.  

What I liked best . . .

  • Two storylines—present day with a link to the past (my favorite plot device)
  • The old-Hollywood-movie feel of Sera’s contemporary romance
  • Adele’s riveting Holocaust storyline
  • Vladimir’s big heart & unfailing kindness
  • Omara’s strength & courage
  • Dancing on the banks of the River Seine on a sunny Paris day
  • The Standing-Ovation-Worthy ending of Adele’s personal Holocaust experience!!!

My favorite quote . . .

Kristy Cambron Butterfly and Violin“For the first time in her life she felt beautiful in her weakness, feeling God’s strength uplifting her from all sides.”

(Click to Tweet)

What you should do next . . .

Follow this link to purchase your copy of The Butterfly and the Violin. ***Thanks to Kristy Cambron & Litfuse for providing a copy for me to review.

Enter the GIVEAWAY! Click on the photo below & enter to win a copy of the book plus a Kindle Fire . . .

Kristy Cambron contest

Kristy CambronAbout the author . . . 

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII Era since hearing her grandfather’s stories of his experiences as a B-17 co-pilot in the war.

She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes both World War II and Regency Era Christian fiction titles.

A SPARROW IN TEREZIN —the next Hidden Masterpiece novel—will release in April, 2015.

She’s a proud Hoosier, living in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

You can connect with Kristy . . .

At her website

On Facebook

On Twitter

 May you count many blessings as you go through your day, friends. I’m thankful you took a moment to stop in here!

***Photo Backstory: I created the graphics by downloading photos from RGB Stock Photos & tweaking them with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.)

Continue Reading…

For Such a Time

Renee Ann Smith —  May 31, 2014 — 6 Comments

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord. He turns it wherever He wishes. ~Proverbs 21:1~

This verse came to mind again and again as I read Kate Breslin’s riveting debut novel, For Such a Time. Set during World War II in a Czechoslovakian transit camp, this book tells the story of Jewish prisoner Hadassah Benjamin and Colonel Aric von Schmidt, the SS Kammandant who saves her from a firing squad.

forsuchatime_rgb300-updatedmockHaddassah, who goes by Stella Muller, enchants Aric. She brings to mind happier days, when he was a simple country boy, searching the woods for treasures to bring home to his beloved mother. As for her part, Stella tries to use her position as the Kammandant’s secretary to protect what Jewish prisoners she can and struggles with her growing love for him.

Her Uncle Morty has assured Stella that—as in the story of Esther—God will use her to save His people. But since Stella is barely on speaking terms with God, she finds this difficult to believe.

The events that bring Hadassah and Aric to faith, love, and triumph make for a wonderful story.

Throughout the Bible, God touched the hearts of those in power to reach out in love and protection to Moses, Joseph, and many more of His children. During the Holocaust, He used unlikely heroes (think of the fast-living, ladies’ man Oscar Schindler) to preserve His people. And He also presided over unconventional romances—the upright Jewish leader Boaz with Ruth the Moabitess and a Jewish spy with former prostitute Rahab—to name a few. 

So it was no stretch for me to immerse myself in a novel where God prompts a disillusioned Nazi to protect a beautiful woman prisoner and through her, changes that man’s heart. I’m sure in real life, God gave many such men a chance to repent and turn to Him. And what better way to touch the humanity within them than through the noble lives of the people they were oppressing?

I love how Kate captured God’s heart in this story! Although neither character is consciously seeking Him, God calls out to them. In the midst of all the horror and ugliness of the world men remade in their own sinful image, He desires to give them abundant life, peace, purpose, joy, and even romance.

What I liked best . . .

  • The period details—I’m a World War II fiction fan
  • Stella’s encounters with God through His miraculous word
  • Aric’s fascinating character arc
  • Having my heart stolen by a brave little boy named Joseph
  • Snowball fights, porcelain jewelry cases & the Blue Danube Waltz
  • Prisoners like Morty, who refuse to be beaten down & silenced
  • The unexpected, nail-biting, FANTASTIC ending!

My favorite quotes . . .

 For Such a Time Kate Breslin

“Earthly hearts cannot always fathom divine reasoning. Remember, we live not in our time, but in God’s.”

(Click to Tweet)

“It went against her conscience, defied even her bloodlines—yet she felt something for this man. He’d broken through her resistance, made her feel decent and human again, all the way down to her bones.”

“Why had she assumed God would speak to her in some great audible sign, like a thunderclap, lightning, or a burst of fire from the sky? Had anger and bitterness made her deaf to His whisper? ‘Tell me, Lord,’ she pleaded softly. ‘I promise to listen.'”

What you should do next . . .

Follow this link to purchase For Such a Time. Read it soon & share it with a friend! ***Thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy for me to review.

Kate BreslinAbout the author: A Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives with her husband, John, and a very spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written several travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her first manuscript, a Scottish historical romance, was finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. When she’s not writing inspirational fiction or spending time with her author friends, she’s avidly reading books, watching anything Jane Austen on BBC, or following John’s musical career as his #1 fan.

You can connect with Kate . . .

At her website

On Facebook

On Twitter

Thanks for stopping by. Blessings, friends!

This week I might be linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Sharing His Beauty, Mommmy Monday Blog Hop,Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Modest MondaysBook Notes, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Salt & Light, Turn It Up Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, The Bloggers’ Digest, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Titus 2sday Link-up, Living Proverbs 31, Busy Monday, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Imperfect Prose, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Three Word Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Walking Redeemed, Whimsical Wednesday, A Little R&R, Capture Your Journey Wednesday, The Barn Princess, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, Whimsy Wednesday, In Him We Live, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Throwback Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday, Cozy Book Hop, Booknificent Thursday, Tell His Story, Thought Provoking Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, From House to Home Link Party, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Christian Fellowship Friday, Faith-filled Friday, Fantastic Friday, Faith & Fellowship Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Situation, Ladies Only Blog Hop, Sunday Stillness, and Heart Reflected.

Somebody Like You

Renee Ann Smith —  May 19, 2014 — 6 Comments

“Sometimes that’s all God is asking us to do: make the right choice—over and over again. And before you know it, you’ve walked into the future and hope He has waiting for you.”
~Beth Vogt, Somebody Like You~

somebody like youA kind truth-teller shares these words with widow Haley Ames, the main character of Beth Vogt’s latest novel.

As the story begins, Haley’s army medic hubby Sam has been killed in Afghanistan, and Haley finds herself in survival mode—simply doing the next right thing to make it through each day. God seems far away, and Haley admits, “Praying feels like trickles of water coming out of a hose when somebody has tied a big knot in it somewhere.”

A childhood spent keeping up with her brothers has made Haley fiercely independent—no whining, no asking for help, and absolutely no crying. But soon Sam’s brother Stephen makes himself practically indispensable in Haley’s life. The man cooks, fixes fences, cleans garages, and somehow always shows up exactly when she needs him.

As Haley struggles to navigate this new chapter in her life, she discovers there is no shame in weakness and that sharing your life with others is a beautiful part of God’s plan.

What I especially loved about this story was how the simple testimonies of believers living their everyday lives—showing kindness, making tough emotional choices, and going out of their way to consider others better than themselves—makes such an impact on Haley’s life.

So at a time when she can barely form a prayer, she is still able to see and know that God is good. 

To me, this story seemed very true-to-life in the best ways. Haley’s and Stephen’s struggles and emotions pulled me into the story. And watching how they lived out their subtle inner changes through some BIG events kept me turning pages.

Somebody Like You is a poignant story of life, loss, regret, reconciliation, and second chances. Don’t miss this one, friends!

What I liked best . . .

  • The scene when Haley first meets Stephen (both heartbreaking & humorous)
  • Stephen’s strong and tender heart
  • Haley’s penchants for junk food & John Wayne
  • Haley’s supportive, insightful, I’ll-rejoice-even-while-you-get-what-I-want best friend, Claire
  • The final confrontation with Mr. Shelton (Yeah! Take that!)
  • Stephen’s special spaghetti & meatball dinner (Read with tissues)
  • Big, beautiful tree house trees
  • The when-Stephen-and-Sam-were-young stories
  • The creative business Stephen & his partners start up (Don’t skip to the end just to figure it out!)

My favorite quotes . . .

Somebody Like You Beth Vogt

“The funny thing is, you walk forward to find what you left behind.”

(Click to Tweet)

“Am I not the God of more? I’m past all your boundaries. Stop limiting Me. Stop limiting yourself.”

(Click to Tweet)

“He teetered somewhere between regret and acceptance. Somehow he had to learn to shoulder his choices—the good and the bad—and keep living.”

What you should do next . . .

Follow this link to purchase your copy of Somebody Like You. ***Thanks to Beth Vogt and Howard Books for providing a copy for me to review!

beth vogt authorAbout the author: Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. 

You can connect with Beth . . .

At her website

On her Facebook page

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So glad you stopped by today, friends! Come back Wednesday, to see my graphic of the theme verse of this novel. Blessings!

This week I might be linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Sharing His Beauty, Mommmy Monday Blog Hop,Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Modest MondaysBook Notes, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Salt & Light, Turn It Up Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, The Bloggers’ Digest, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Titus 2sday Link-up, Living Proverbs 31, Busy Monday, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Imperfect Prose, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Three Word Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Walking Redeemed, Whimsical Wednesday, A Little R&R, Capture Your Journey Wednesday, The Barn Princess, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, Whimsy Wednesday, In Him We Live, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Throwback Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday, Cozy Book Hop, Booknificent Thursday, Tell His Story, Thought Provoking Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, From House to Home Link Party, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Christian Fellowship Friday, Faith-filled Friday, Fantastic Friday, Faith & Fellowship Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Situation, Ladies Only Blog Hop, Sunday Stillness, and Heart Reflected.

Meant to Be Mine

Renee Ann Smith —  May 4, 2014 — 6 Comments

I was a daddy’s girl. So I’ve always loved stories that feature tender father/daughter scenes, like . . .

  • Atticus Finch including precocious Jean Louise in his nightly newspaper reading.
  • Or shy Matthew Cuthbert picking out a dress with puffed sleeves for Anne Shirley.
  • Charles Ingalls playing the fiddle as Half Pint and Mary fall asleep.
  • Oh, and that scene from Little Women, where Father March comes home from war, and Amy wraps her arms around his leg, determined to hold on and never let him go.

wade book coverFor me, Meant to Be Mine evoked that feeling.

Becky Wade’s novel tells the story of estranged husband and wife, Ty Porter and Celia Park. The main action takes place five years after an impromptu wedding, which ended with Ty informing Celia the marriage was a mistake. However, their time together produced a tiny, glasses-wearing miracle named Addie—which Ty discovers when he feels an urge to see Celia again after many years apart. 

The first time Ty meets his little girl Addie, this story lassoed my heart and galloped away for a wonderful ride.

Check out Ty’s response to spending time with her: “If she turned that sunray of a smile on him again and asked her to buy him a boat or a pony or a swimming pool, he’d probably buy those, too . . . Addie fascinated him. Enchanted him. Wrapped him around her pinkie . . . He expected it would take him a good while to win her heart. But it hadn’t taken her long at all to win his.”

This father/daughter magic works on Addie’s mother Celia, as well. As Celia watches Ty with Addie, her heart begins to yearn for a renewed relationship with her Heavenly Father. Yet even this involves her estranged husband as God leads Celia through the painful process of forgiving him.

I love how God restores this family by wooing the hearts of the parents to Him—-just like a doting, in-love-with-His-kids, always-there-for-you Father. And, of course, there’s plenty of romantic sweetness & sizzle along the way!

What I liked best . . .

  • The fun, flirty conversations between estranged-but-still crazy-about-each-other Celia & Ty
  •  Imagining what kind of cowgirl boots I’d wear if I were visiting the Porter family (Everyone in Texas wears boots!)
  • Celia’s creative take on princess stories
  • Every time the Porter family got together
  • Uncle Danny’s surfer dude adventures
  • Meeting long-timed marrieds Jerry and Donetta

My favorite quotes . . .

Meant to Be Mine Becky Wade

 

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 Meant to Be Mine Becky Wade(Click to Tweet)

What you should do next . . .

Follow this link to purchase your copy of Meant to Be Mine. ***Thanks to Becky Wade and Bethany House for providing a copy for me to review.

becky wadeAbout the author: Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met a Texas boy, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the ABA, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  Her CBA debut, My Stubborn Heart, was a finalist in both the RITA and INSPY awards.  Undeniably Yours kicked off her Texas-set Porter Family series.  Her newest contemporary romance, Meant to Be Mine, has just hit shelves!

You can connect with Becky . . .

So glad you stopped by today, friends! Come back Wednesday, to see my graphic of the theme verse of this novel. Blessings!

This week I might be linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Sharing His Beauty, Mommmy Monday Blog Hop, Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Unite @Rich Faith Rising, Modest MondaysBook Notes, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Salt & Light, Manic Monday, Turn It Up Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, The Bloggers’ Digest, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Titus 2sday Link-up, Living Proverbs 31, Busy Monday, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Imperfect Prose, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Three Word Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Walking Redeemed, Whimsical Wednesday, A Little R&R, Capture Your Journey Wednesday, The Barn Princess, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, Whimsy Wednesday, In Him We Live, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Throwback Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday, Cozy Book Hop, Booknificent Thursday, Tell His Story, Thought Provoking Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, From House to Home Link Party, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Christian Fellowship Friday, Faith-filled Friday, Fantastic Friday, Faith & Fellowship Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Saturday Sharefest, Sunday Stillness, and Heart Reflected.