Friday, December 19, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

I have loved this series by Denise Hunter, so when The Wishing Season released last week, I knew I was going to read it. It's the third in the group, so let's look at the blurb, and I'll see you on the other side:)

Spirited PJ McKinley has the touch when it comes to food. Her dream of opening her own restaurant is just one building short of reality. So when a Chapel Springs resident offers her beloved ancestral home to the applicant with the best plan for the house, PJ believes it’s a contest she was meant to win.

Contractor ColeEvans is confident, professional, and swoon-worthy—but this former foster kid knows his life could have turned out very differently. When Cole discovers the contest, he believes his home for foster kids in transition has found its saving grace. All he has to do is convince the owner that an out-of-towner with a not-for-profit enterprise is good for the community.

But when the eccentric philanthropist sees PJ and Cole’s proposals, she makes an unexpected decision: the pair will share the house for a year to show what their ideas are made of. Now, with Cole and the foster kids upstairs and PJ and the restaurant below, day-to-day life has turned into out-and-out competition—with some seriously flirtatious hallway encounters on the side. Turns out in this competition, it’s not just the house on the line, it’s their hearts.

Ok, so first that cover is amazing. I love the color and their smiles; a total win. Second, the story completely captivated me (side note: I happen to have a current hero who I think would be BFF's with Cole, so that drew me in even more) from the moment I read the first sentence. Denise opens this book with the H/H meeting in an unconventional way. It made me laugh, while also setting up immediate obstacles for them to overcome.

As usual, Denise is amazing with the chemistry between her two leads. She also writes some of the best leading men out there. Here characters are always imperfect and relatable, which allows her to organically weave in a story of grace and faith...because we are all imperfect. We are all in need of God. And rather than preaching at us, her stories simply show the testimony of her characters' lives. The Wishing Season was no exception. In fact, I think it may now be my favorite in the series with PJ's quirky ways and Cole's past hurts that are handled so well. They made a great pair.

Once again you'll be treated to laughter, love, and hope when you pick up this book. A wonderful way to enjoy time by the Christmas tree and a few moments of rest in the middle of this season. I give The Wishing Season 5 out of 5 stars and you can purchase it here.

And speaking of rest, I'll be taking time with the family to unwind and unplug over the next couple of weeks. I'll be back January 5th for the new year.

Merry Christmas everyone!

If you'd like to see a break-down of what my stars equal, check out my page My Ratings System to the right there. And a big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.
Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the experience of falling in love vicariously through her characters and can expect a happily-ever-after sigh as they close the pages of her books.
In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!
When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys.

Learn more about Denise when you visit her website:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

A quote from the best book on earth.

The true Reason for the season. Merry Christmas friends:)

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Believe...

We hear this word a LOT this season, but believe in what? A red man and eight flying reindeer? Nine if you count the one with the shiny red nose.

Or is it believe in the goodness of man? Joy? Happiness? Kindness? Humanity.

What exactly are we supposed to believe in?

Can I share that there's only one thing to believe in, not only this season but in all the seasons of our lives? Only one thing that brings goodness, joy, happiness, and laughter. Only one thing that pulls us from the depths of sadness or depression and sets our feet firmly in the light. Only one thing that washes us whiter than the snow many of us see. Only one thing that can remove our past and gives us a future.

Only One who has given the ultimate gift that is soaked in unconditional love. One who wants nothing more than for you to place your belief in Him.

Because every day you believe in something. And while believing in joy is wonderful, how about believing in the One who created it? Believing in kindness is beautiful, but why not believe in the One who enables us to be kind? Believing in a man with a red suit is a fun tradition, but believing in the One who's red blood fell as a sacrifice for every single one of us will change your life.

What are you believing in this Christmas?

But these [the gospel] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - One December Night by Melissa Tagg and other fun stuff:)

Before I get started I need to let you know who won my November Bookshelf...
Jessica Jaroch
you win the book of your choice. Just let me know which you'd like and I"ll get it to you!

As for today's bookshelf, I wanted to highlight one of my friend's books because she's doing something super cool, she's giving it away for free! It's a novella ebook that ties into a small town she created called Whisper Shore. If you've read other books by Melissa Tagg, you'll not only recognize the town but maybe even some of the people:) Here's a blurb and then I'll tell you how to snag it on the other side.

Librarian Pennilynn Baxter likes life the way she likes her bookshelves—neat and tidy, arranged just so. Niggling doubts aside, getting engaged to the nice man she’s been dating for two years is the obvious next step, right?
But on the snowy evening of the expected proposal, Penn discovers someone’s been squatting in the old Victorian house she inherited from her grandparents. She finds herself back in picturesque Whisper Shore, Michigan, facing off with an intruder named Will who may not be what he seems.
As charming as the house he’s taken over, Will pushes past the reserve that has kept Penn from living the brave life she craves. And one December night in the house she used to love in the town she used to adore changes everything.
With cold nights and brightly lit Christmas trees to curl up next to, tis the season for reading. It you'd like to snag Melissa's novella, just click right here and download it from the blog post. And while you're there, check out her website and learn more about her and her books. Trust me, you'll LOVE them...and they make great stocking stuffers:)
Oh, and here's two other pretty neat giveaways going on right now by a few other friends. Each giveaway involves one of my favorite things...books! Enjoy:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Don't Pull That Trigger

credit: lamnee on
I was having a talk with a group of ladies this week and somehow we ended up on the subject of rejection. And believe me, it's a subject I know well. I'm a writer who's yet to be published:) But it's also a subject so many of us feel. We're women. We've been through junior high and high school. We've had relationships and friendships. We've walked into a room where no one talks to us or we've had people, friends, husbands, or family members turn on us. If we're walking on this earth, we've experienced rejection. And for women who are so relational it can cut deep.

But here's the thing, while we can't stop rejection, we can stop letting it be a trigger. Stop letting it determine how we feel, the decisions we make, or how we see ourselves. Because while living down here on this terra firma means we'll encounter rejection, being a daughter of the King means we'll never be rejected.

When we know who we are in Him, we can be secure in how people see us. Oh, rejection will never cause us to break into song or skip down our path, but we don't have to allow ourselves to be defined by it. Our emotions and well-being don't have to be swayed by it. We can realize that our acceptance need only be found in our Father. We can decide that when the answer is "no" that He's still working out the plan for our lives. We can understand that not everyone is going to love us, but God always has and always will.

And that is when we start to overcome rejection rather than letting it overcome us.

How do you handle rejection when it comes your way? Are you standing on the firm ground of who God created you to be and resting in His arms? I pray today you find that spot and stick:) 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Storm Siren by Mary Weber and my monthly giveaway

This book kept making an appearance around my other author friends' pages and posts. The cover intrigued me, but I'm not a huge YA reader and definitely not big on fantasy. Finally curiosity (and amazing reviews) tugged me over, and I purchased a copy. I am beyond giddy that I did! Here's a blurb, and we'll chat on the other side!

In a world at war, a slave girl's lethal curse could become one kingdom's weapon of salvation. If the curse - and the girl - can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn't merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth - meaning, she shouldn't even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she's being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn't want to be the weapon they've all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

It took me a few chapters to sink into the world of Faelen, but I honestly cannot say if that was me or the writing. I did feel the pace pick up around chapter five for me, and by that point I was so sucked in I struggled to put the book down and stay productive in my own little world. With each page I fell deeper into this story, hungry to know what would happen, how things would work out for Nym, and what, exactly, was going on around her. Tears were shed, gasps were made, heart fluttering occurred, and by the time I flipped the last page of this book in a genre I hardly ever touch I was reminded of a fact I've forgotten in the last few years...

Great writing, great characters, and great story all eclipse genre.

Mary Weber has crafted a world and characters that will attach themselves to you, staying alive in your heart and mind long after you put this book down. She also will leave you counting down the days until Siren's Fury (the sequel) comes out. And let me tell you, currently there's 180 days and counting...

Until then, if you haven't already, I highly suggest picking up Storm Siren and I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Happy Friday!

And it's also time for my monthly bookshelf giveaway. If you would like a chance at one of the books I reviewed in November, just leave a comment here (the list and links of those reviews is at the very bottom of this post). I'll announce the winner on next week's Bookshelf Friday, and that person can pick a book from my November shelf, and I'll mail it to them. Happy reading:)

M. Christine Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. She lives on the breathtaking California coast with her three homeschooled children and an engineering husband who looks strikingly similar to Wolverine. 

Her writing experience includes card copy for Hallmark, articles and short stories for newspapers and e-zines, and educational curriculum for a non-profit, although she can also type a mean grocery list when necessary. On her days off, you can find her penning book reviews or conducting silly interviews here at amid drinking lattes and instructing her kids on the finer aspects of world domination.

You can connect with Mary on her website:

November Bookshelf:
Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund
A November Bride by Beth Vogt
The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thinking Outside the Box - a guest post by the awesome Jessica Patch

Hey all, I wanted to welcome my dear friend, Jess Patch here today. She's taking the floor with a devotion and a glimpse at her new Christmas Novella, Hope Under Mistletoe. Oh, and she's even giving it away for free! So keep reading to get to know Jess, her heart, and her sweet and sassy Christmas novella.

Thank you, Susan, for having me today! I feel taller over here. I like it. (Hardy har 
har... I may or may not be slightly taller than shorty here.) 

But I digress, so back to Jess...
Today, I want to talk about thinking outside the box. Doing things differently.

Let’s take a look at a small excerpt from Hope Under Mistletoe, my Christmas novella:

     He placed a cup of steaming coffee at her fingertips. She lifted it and savored the warm rush down to her stomach. “This is good.”
     “I can pour more than a nickel draft.”
     Eden winced. “I didn’t mean to imply that.”
     “Sure you didn’t.”
     Eden scanned the room. Walnut tables. Shiny hardwood flooring and walls. An old-fashioned juke box in the corner.
     The awkward silence grew deafening.
     “What’s back there?” She pointed to the archway beside the bathrooms.
     “Game room. Pool tables…air hockey.” He crunched into the peppermint.
     She chuckled. “You can take the boy out of the minor hockey leagues but…”
     Knox’s grin faded. “Yeah.” Longing filled his eyes. He’d come home six years earlier when his mother had taken ill with cancer, bought this old building and remodeled it himself.
     “How big is it?” This place was huge.
     “Go see for yourself.”
     Eden marched into the back room. Spacious. A stage. A drum set and keys. “Is there sound equipment in here, too?”
     Knox nodded. “Live bands.”
     She whirled around. “I need this bar.”
     Knox popped another peppermint stick. “You sound like half the town now.”
     She frowned. “We have no place to hold our Christmas cantata practices or fill Christmas baskets, hold the coat drive…have Sunday morning services.”
     Knox crossed his arms and cocked his head. “Whoa. Wait a minute. You want to have church…in my bar?”
     “Yes, and I want you to offer it free of charge.”
     Knox’s raspy laugh bounced off the high wooden ceiling. He bent over cackling. Mocking her. “You been checked against the boards one too many times? I can’t have you coming in here converting customers. I’ll go broke.”
     “I’m not asking to hand out tracts on Saturday nights. We need a place.” And if a few patrons heard the Good News, so be it. Maybe Pop would come back to church—if they brought church to him.

Prior to this, Eden’s church has burned to the ground and they didn’t have the funds to purchase new equipment or even rent a place. Looking at Knox’s bar, she saw an opportunity. She thought outside the box. Here are a few of her thoughts:

     Pastor Gabe inhaled. “I have to agree with Eden. The truth is we might be able to make a difference in the lives of those who frequent the bar, people who try to numb their pain with the bottle and drink away their problems. We have a real solution. Plus, we’re not paying a dime, we have free use of sound equipment and instruments—which we can’t afford to buy or rent—and it seems like Mr. Everhart is rather agreeable to our needs.”
    Thank you, Gabe. Eden leaned forward. “The hurting people in the bars aren’t going to waltz through the church doors. We’re going to have to take the church to them. It’s a mission field.” Excitement bubbled in Eden’s chest. “Who knows what God will do? This is the season for miracles, isn’t it? New birth. Good tidings of joy and peace. We could be a Christmas miracle for someone…for many.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NET) says, “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We’re instructed to go out and be the hands and feet of Christ. As the body of Christ. I think sometimes we tend to get set in our ways, and while the Gospel and message of truth remain the same, our approach at times need to change. I’m not talking about gimmicks or marketing the church. I’m not for that at all. I’m talking about finding new ways to cultivate relationships with people. Instead of expecting them to simply come to us. I’m talking about going to them and building relationships. Showing them through actions that Christ loves everyone.

This is what happens when Eden and the new pastor of the church think outside the box. The bar won’t come to them. So they go to the bar. Not to Bible thump. Not to preach hell and damnation.

They go and hold their services, serve the community, and hold Bible studies. What happens inside that bar? Well, you’ll have to read the novella. But I can tell you that living a life devoted to God, showing compassion and love without any judgment brings hope and while not every person may slip into the back room and cling to the life, some will. And you don’t need to feel as if you’ve labored in vain. You never know when you’re sowing seeds or watering them.

But you have to think outside the box. Miracles can happen!

How has someone shown you the love of Jesus with their simple actions?

Have you subscribed to the Patched In Newsletter? I’d love for you to and as a thank you gift, you’ll receive Hope Under Mistletoe for FREE! (Susan again...if you haven't, you really, really should! Not only is this an amazing novella, but Jess's newsletters are packed with not only news but fun and tons of encouragement. And she won't spam you, promise. )

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational romantic suspense and contemporary romance. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with ice-cold Perrier and adventurous trips in the name of research. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer's class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, dominating her son at board games, and collecting recipes to wonderful dishes she'll probably never cook. She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

Connect with Jessica on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and her WEBSITE.