BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

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About the Book

Book: Smoke Screen

Author: Terri Blackstock

Genre:  Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death.Smoke-Screen-197x300 All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

 

Click here to get your copy.

My Review

“Innocent until proven guilty.” If only those words were true for Nate Beckett, who left his high school sweetheart behind when Nate’s dad was accused of killing Brenna Strickland’s dad. When the church where Brenna’s father pastored burned down shortly after that, townspeople whispered Nate was responsible. 

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Terri Blackstock is one of the best voices in Christian suspense. I always start her books thinking, maybe I won’t like this one as much as her others. But each time Ms. Blackstock proves me wrong, whipping up the tension into high winds, my reading satisfaction spreading like wildfire as I navigate (in this case) through the very realistic, sad mess that two families have made of their lives once tragedy strikes. I loved the twists that Blackstock incorporates, as well as the strong, solid faith message she projects. Blackstock’s remarks about faith are clear and concise, not preachy. I questioned an event at the end, but then again, people can be unpredictable and don’t always make the decisions one might expect.

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If you love faith-filled suspense, this is a great book for you. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This is no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAYTerri-Blackstock-200x300 bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com; Facebook: Blackstock; Twitter: @terriblackstock

 

Excerpt from Smoke Screen

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.

 

Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

Blog Stops

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 9

CarpeDiem, November 9

Christian Bookaholic , November 9

Fiction Aficionado, November 10

KarenSueHadley, November 10

Quiet quilter, November 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

Among the Reads, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 11

A Reader’s Brain, November 11

Robin’s Nest, November 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12

Bigreadersite , November 12

Blogging With Carol , November 12

Betti Mace, November 13

Spoken from the Heart, November 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

Emily Yager, November 13

By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

Mary Hake, November 16

Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

EmpowerMoms, November 17

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 18

Older & Smarter, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 18

Lights in a Dark World, November 19

amandainpa , November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

Hallie Reads, November 20

Cathe Swanson, November 21

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

All 4 and About Books, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Batya’s Bits, November 22

Livin’ Lit, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

janicesbookreviews, November 22

*No Giveaway for this Celebration Tour

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Love’s Allegiance #4 Wartime Brides by Linda Shenton Matchett

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About the Book

Book: Love’s Allegiance

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre:  Historical Romance

Release Date: August 15, 2019

Loves-Allegiance-ebook-jpg-cover-198x300With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.

Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.

Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?

Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Set in Pennsylvania in 1943, this war romance introduces Rochelle Addams and Irwin Terrell. Linda Shenton Matchett has written Love’s Allegiance with two goals in mind, maybe three. First, Matchett provides a modern-day retelling of Isaac and Rebekkah. Secondly, we get a glimpse inside mental hospitals at the time, and thirdly, we are shown the poor treatment of Conscientious Objectors during World War II.

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We need more people who think like Irwin working with our mentally ill and special needs people. He realized the value of a person and gave that person the dignity of having space to prove himself.
The romance seemed to be written in a minor key. I kept hoping the “song” would hit some major key phrases, but they didn’t stand out. I wanted to be shown more than told. I really did appreciate the education I received about Co’s role in WWII. I didn’t realize things were quite so difficult once they volunteered.

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I think there are many who might really enjoy this book. You may want to check this book out. Points to Matchett for the reader’s guide with questions and the historical notes at the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via Celebrate Lit. This in no way influenced my opinion, which is solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars- Excellent- I Would Recommend This Book.

About the Author

Linda-Matchett-Head-Shot-200x300Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

 

More from Linda

Love’s Allegiance is the fourth book in the Wartime Brides series that retells biblical stories by setting them during World War II. Each story was challenging to write in some way, and this novella was no different.

While brainstorming ways to twist Rebekkah’s and Isaacs’s love story, I happened to take a phone call from my younger brother who is a pastor. I mentioned my quandary that I wasn’t sure which aspect of the home front to address with their story, and he suggested the topic of conscientious objectors (COs).

After we hung up, I realized I knew very little about COs and that I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. Were they cowards, as many people assumed? Were they right? Wrong? Were their convictions biblically based?

I began my research by reading first-person account articles and watched oral history interviews with men who served in the Civilian Public Service, a government organization created to use COs who refused military service as medics and other non-combatant roles. More than 12,000 conscientious objectors chose not to take up arms during the war, and I knew I had to tell their side of the story.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 8

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 9

Batya’s Bits, November 9

Blossoms and Blessings, November 10

Betti Mace, November 11

Rebecca Tews, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 12

mpbooks, November 13

As He Leads is Joy, November 13

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , November 14

Back Porch Reads, November 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 16

Texas Book-aholic, November 17

For Him and My Family, November 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 18

janicesbookreviews, November 19

Inspired by fiction, November 19

A Reader’s Brain, November 20

Inklings and notions , November 21

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away all four books in the Wartime Brides series and a $10 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/f029/love-s-allegiance-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

The Painted Castle, #3 Lost Castle series by Kristy Cambron

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 About the Book

Book: The Painted Castle

Author: Kristy Cambron

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: October 15, 2019

44441963Bestselling author Kristy Cambron concludes the Lost Castle novels with this sweeping tale of art and secrets long buried in England.

It was supposed to be a one-week job: survey an art find, collect a hefty fee, and use that to settle historian Kiera Foley’s life back into balance. But from the moment she sets foot in the East Suffolk countryside, the mysteries surrounding the old English manor and the enigmatic art thief who’s employed her stir more questions than answers. Then, Kiera finds the existence of a portrait captivating enough to upend all of her expectations. This one could be a twin-a painting so close in composition to a known masterpiece, it may be rendered priceless if it truly captured the likeness of a young Queen named Victoria.

Set in three time periods-the rapid change of Victorian England, the tumultuous skies over England’s eastern shores in WWII, and modern day-The Painted Castle unfolds a legacy of faith, family, and stories that are generations in the making.

 

Click here to grab your copy.

My Review

Kristy Cambron closes out her Lost Castle series with The Painted Castle, the story of Kiera and Emory. Reminiscent of an old movie, the accused art thief and the art historian/evaluator work together until the fire of rumors and truth gets too hot and combustion takes place.
Happily, we are simultaneously fed snippets of the survival of the castle manor and its inhabitants during WW II, plus another possible love development.
To make things even better, if not more complicated, Cambron weaves in and out yet a third tale of a young girl who sees her father murdered and grows up vowing to get revenge.
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This is one tapestry that shows the immense skill of the author, working so many different strands seamlessly together into a beautiful, satisfying and educational product. Authors like Cambron are opening my eyes to the world of WWII. I have always avoided reading about this time due to the great pain and terror it produced, but Cambron shows there is life between the times of terror. Love, kindness, and a desire to help others can flourish like a determined weed between cracks of cement in an otherwise ugly, resistant world of hate and war. I love seeing the best of humanity come out and shine forth brightly when it seems the worst of humanity is winning for a season. I especially saw this in Amelia and Wyatt’s story, which takes place at Parham Hill during WWII.
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My recommendation? You can read this book as a stand-alone. If you do, hurry and get the first two books like I plan to, and find out the riches you ‘ve missed out on.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

KRISTY CAMBRON is an award-winning author of historical fiction, including her Cambron-headshot-300x300bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She’s a Women’s Ministry Leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, and a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10Library Journal Reviews’ Best BooksRT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation, working with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

 

More from Kristy

About The Painted Castle

A war-torn estate holding its secrets close. A lost library bricked off from the world. And a portrait-maker’s unknown masterpiece of a Queen named Victoria… What stories do they long to tell?

It was supposed to be a one-week snatch-and-grab: survey an art find, collect a hefty fee, and use that to settle historian Kiera Foley’s life back into balance. But from the moment she sets foot in the East Suffolk countryside, the mystery of an old English manor, a crumbling beekeeper’s cottage, and a library that had long ago been sealed off brick by brick, all stir more questions than answers. What begins as a novice assignment instead peels back layers, lulling Keira into the depths of the estate’s long-forgotten history.

Despite questions swirling around the enigmatic, rumored art thief who’s employed her, Keira finds the existence of a portrait captivating enough to upend all of her expectations. This one could be a twin—a painting so close in composition to a known masterpiece, it may be rendered priceless if it truly captured the likeness of a young Queen named Victoria…

1842— In order to salvage what’s left of her family’s shaky circumstances, artist Elizabeth Meade knows her duty must be to marry well. But she hopes looks can be deceiving enough to hide her true motives behind a congenial smile and gain entry into the ballrooms of England’s noble elite. Instead of husband-hunting, Elizabeth searches for the one thing that’s seared to her memory—the eyes of her father’s killer, whom she unwittingly sketched one snowy night in Piccadilly ten years before. She never expects to find answers tucked away in the countryside at Parham Hill, in the form of a portrait-maker who could help her artist dreams come true, if only she could forget the highwayman she’s hunted for the last decade—the estate-owner who unwittingly selects her as his betrothed…

1942—When the 390th Bomb Group arrives at Amelia Woods’ Parham Hill Estate, the American flyboys bring playing cards, B-17 “flying fortresses”, and enough bravado to believe they can triumph over Hitler just by staring him down. Amelia isn’t certain, and she’s unwilling to compromise the safety and security in a carefully-crafted world she’s built for the dozens of London-evacuated children left in her charge. But with Anderson shelters buried in the gardens and an Allied airfield a stone’s throw away, Amelia may have no choice but to wait out the war under blackouts and bombs, and accept help from the captain who offers it—even if it means risking all she has left of her late husband’s memory…

From the streets of Piccadilly and the lavish halls of Buckingham Palace to the countryside surrounding Framlingham Castle, a warn-torn estate, a hidden library, and the lost portrait of a queen come together to write the final chapter in the Lost Castle series. Set in three time periods—the rapid change of Victorian England, the tumultuous skies over England’s eastern shores in WWII, and modern day—The Painted Castle unfolds a legacy of faith and the family we fight for, of risk and reward, and the artful crafting of a story that can be generations in the making… yet still change everything about a single life.

 

Blog Stops

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 15

The Power of Words, October 15

A Baker’s Perspective, October 15

The Avid Reader, October 16

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 16

Betti Mace, October 16

Reflections From My Bookshelves, October 17

Fiction Aficionado, October 17

Through the Fire Blogs, October 17

Inklings and notions , October 18

AndreaChristenson, October 18

She Lives to Read, October 18

Bloging With Carol, October 18

The Christian Fiction Girl, October 19

Back Porch Reads , October 19

Christian Bookaholic , October 19

KarenSueHadley, October 20

Livin’ Lit, October 20

A Reader’s Brain, October 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 20

Genesis 5020, October 21

Worthy2Read, October 21

Life of Literature, October 21

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 22

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 22

janicesbookreviews, October 22

For Him and My Family, October 22

Older & Smarter?, October 23

Mia Reads Blog, October 23

The Becca Files, October 23

Daysong Reflections, October 24

Connect in Fiction, October 24

Texas Book-aholic, October 24

Just the Write Escape, October 24

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 25

Moments, October 25

Simple Harvest Reads, October 25

Pause for Tales, October 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 26

Lis Loves Reading, October 26

Hallie Reads, October 26

Living Life Free In Christ, October 27

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 27

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, October 27

Soutgern Gal Loves to Read, October 28

Remembrancy, October 28

Batya’s Bits, October 28

Leona J. Atkinson, October 28

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Better Than Fiction by April W. Gardner and Michelle Massaro

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About the Book

Book: Better than Fiction

Author: April W. Gardner &  Michelle Massaro

Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction  Better-than-Fiction-cover-200x300

Release Date: April 4, 2016

Imagining him was harmless…until it wasn’t.

Romance novelist Meghan Townsend’s marriage is slipping, and no amount of prayer seems to help. She aims to recapture her husband’s waning attention by getting in shape and finds escape by crafting her own fictional love story. Taking inspiration for the hero from a new friend—the attractive, spiritual, and attentive Curtis Jameson—she pours her yearnings onto the page, and craves the kind of pulse-pounding romance found in her book, Racing Hearts…

In 1916 Corona, California, motorcars are all the rage, and racing them is what Meghan’s hero, Russell Keegan, does best. But when his competition vandalizes his car, the only mechanic available is a greasy woman in a man’s overalls.

After a racing accident claimed her father’s life, Winifred became the sole breadwinner for her family. She is disdained as a female mechanic, but her daddy’s trade is all she has left. Can she swallow her hatred of the races and take up Russell’s offer of big bucks to fix his car, or will she lose everything to mounting debt?

Under Meghan’s skillful pen, these two embark on a thrilling, adventurous romance. But she finds that writing those love scenes with Curtis’s face in mind takes her heart places it shouldn’t go. Will she realize in time that real life can be better than fiction?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

Fiction that challenges one to think carefully about real life is always welcome in my book (or Kindle, to be exact.) April W. Gardner and Michelle Massaro have combined to create a time-slip novel of racing, avarice, grease monkeys, and modern-day friends who juggle families, church life, and keeping fit.

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Romance and the lack of it are big themes in this novel. What do you do as a modern married woman in a Christian marriage blown cold? Where do you take refuge? A very fun way to examine a tough but very real topic in the church today.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors and publisher via Celebrate Lit. This in no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own.

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My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I would recommend this book!

About the Author

April W Gardner writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our southeastern April-headshot-237x300Native tribes. She is a copyeditor, military wife, and mother of two who lives in South Texas. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Massaro writes contemporary fiction, soaked in grace. She makes her home in  Michelle-Massaro-253x300Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship. When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.

 

 

More from April and Michelle

April and Michelle get a lot of questions about how exactly co-authors write a book. Who writes which part? Did you have any trouble, any conflict? Valid questions! But in the case of Better than Fiction, it was no trouble at all, and neither author can remember a single heated disagreement. In part, because they’d been critique partners for eons and were already working together seamlessly.

It also helped that the story is made up of two intertwining novellas. Each author had her own blank canvas to color on with the other looking on and offering feedback. The most enjoyable part of the process was the challenge of making sure the events in the life of Michelle’s contemporary character (an author) influenced the characters’ decisions in April’s historical plot.

Why intertwining stories? The idea behind it was to show what it’s like to live in the mind of a writer, how her real life makes its way into her stories. The theme of emotional affairs was a good fit, as it is often all too easy for women—even Christian woman—to be drawn to another man and justify it as harmless friendship rather than admit she is looking to this person to fill a need that only God and her husband are meant to fill.

They decided to set the story against the backdrop of Michelle’s hometown of Corona, California in 1916 and the real-life Corona Road Race that took place in April of that year. It was the third race and, due to tragedy, the last.

From concept to “The End,” it took a span of about four years for Michelle and April to publish Better than Fiction, and as far as teamwork goes, it went off without a hitch. April was able to fly from her home in Georgia to stay with Michelle’s family and do research, and later, Michelle flew to Georgia for a concentrated writing weekend. The two had an amazingly fun time writing and working together.

Another question the authors get…will there be a sequel? Only time will tell.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 9

Among the Reads, October 9

Genesis 5020, October 10

Through the Fire Blogs, October 11

Betti Mace, October 11

Artistic Nobody, October 12

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 13

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 13

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 14

For Him and My Family, October 15

Remembrancy, October 15

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 16

Maureen’s Musings, October 16

Godly Book Reviews, October 17

Moments, October 17

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 18

Bigreadersite, October 18

Texas Book-aholic, October 19

For The Love of Books, October 19

janicesbookreviews, October 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 20

A Reader’s Brain, October 21

Inklings and notions , October 22

Simple Harvest Reads, October 22

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, April and Michelle are giving away the grand prize bundle of a $20 Amazon gift card, themed mug and bookmarks, and handmade throw pillow that says, “Books, my happy place”!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ed92/better-than-fiction-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Nonfiction

Whispers in the Pews: Voices on Mental Illness in the Church, edited by Chris Morris

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 About the Book

Book: Whispers in the Pews

Author: Chris Morris

Genre: Mental illness & Spirituality                unnamed-2-199x300

Release Date: November 9, 2018

Mental Illness is real. Will the Church get real?

This book is a collection of essays from various authors: men and women, pastors and congregants, counselors and nurses, parents and children. All have a unique view of how mental health conditions affect people, and how the church has responded to these circumstances. Whispers in the Pews tackles how the mentally ill have been, and still are, treated in the church at large by sharing stories.

This is not fundamentally a teaching book, but a book of moments and lives, knitted together by the common theme of mental health. No sermons will be included, though lessons learned from difficulties and their foundations in Scripture are encouraged.

This collection will expand your vision, and your heart, about what the church does well for the mentally ill, and where we can improve.

 

Click here to grab your copy!

 

My Review

Where does one begin expressing one’s thoughts about a book like this? Whispers in the
Pews, edited by Chris Morris, is a collection of various Christians’ thoughts on how the
church is, for the most part, failing to meet the needs of its members who are dealing
with mental illness. Each essay presented is written by a person who struggles. Most
struggle with depression and/or anxiety, but some struggle with illnesses such as bipolar
or schizophrenia. Many deal with PTSD.
Most feel like the church has ignored them. I know many sufferers are right when they
say Christians act like depressed people are those who don’t have enough faith or have
sin in their lives or even have dark forces at work in them.
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I am one of those who believe that God “has given us everything we need for life and
godliness…” However, a few of those things He has given us are wise doctors,
medications for depression and other illnesses, and Christian counselors. Having dealt
with some of these issues myself and in others around me, the book made me a little
uncomfortable. Partly because the essayists are right; many churches do not deal
appropriately with this topic. However, I also feel like (don’t shoot me, please) ill people
need to concentrate on moving forward when possible. The Apostle Paul talks about
taking every thought captive and forgetting what is behind and reaching for what is
ahead. If anyone experienced trauma enough to send him into illness or had memories
of a horrible past he wished he’d never lived, it would have been Paul. We have to treat
with medicine, counseling, and retraining the thought pathways of the brain.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through the publisher via
Celebrate Lit. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent, I would recommend this book

About the Author

Chris Morris writes about the juxtaposition of faith and unresolved pain, those moments where we feel like God should show up, but He doesn’t. His writing focuses on bringing ChrisMorrisFINAL-12-of-94hope, encouragement, and practical steps to those disappointments, so we don’t get stuck.

He is familiar with the confusion and pain of a life interrupted by an illness. He’s had seizures of one kind or another for his entire life. Some days, he loses hours of his day. Other times, the steel trap that used to be his mind…leaks like a sieve.

His daughter is epileptic and has had over 5000 seizures in her life. She is also a high-functioning autistic, with increasing frustration as she begins to realize she is not like her peers.

Every day, he is reminded in some way that his family will never be normal.

But he won’t give in, he won’t give up. He won’t let the pain and aggravation, the injuries and difficulties that are part of his normal keep him from living a full life. At least, most days that’s true. His heart is to show his readers how to do the same.

 

More from Chris

Mental illness isn’t going away any time soon, as statistics say more than one in four people are diagnosed with a mental illness in the United States. And yet, the church at large has had a mixed response to mental illnesses. The church should be the one place where people are accepted as they are, no matter the details. Jesus accepted everyone who came across his path—adulterers, tax collectors, fishermen, critics. It didn’t matter. As His footprint upon the earth, the church should be the same.

Even with, or perhaps especially with, mental health conditions, the instinct should be to lean into kindness and love. The local church body should gather around, provide a place of safety and transparency, upholding those who are not well in their midst.

And this is exactly what happens, sometimes. There are pastors who are actively looking to normalize mental health conditions by mentioning depression alongside diabetes as an illness that can be overcome.

But for every pastor looking to build a healthy understanding of mental illnesses, there is a pastor lumping depression in with pornography, equating anxiety with faithlessness, telling their congregation to avoid medicine for treatment, or otherwise refusing to recognize the complexity of mental illnesses.

Definitely there are spiritual disciplines that can help those suffering from depression, but often it’s not enough. And yes, talking with a pastor or a counselor can certainly provide some relief for anxiety, but that’s not always the path forward either. Sometimes medicine is the answer, or at least part of the answer. And sometimes, there is no answer. Sometimes, trauma has left an indelible mark upon a person that cannot be overcome.

How can anyone tell the young man who is battling depression because of his abusive upbringing with a violent alcoholic father that a little more Bible reading and some memorization of a few verses will make the nightmares go away? No, that’s not how it works.

That’s not to insinuate every mental health condition comes from trauma. But even when the root isn’t trauma, there is still complexity involved. Some come from chemical imbalances…and no, that’s not a cop out. This is why antidepressants ease the burden for many suffering from severe depression, because these medications work to balance out various neurotransmitters. This is why some diagnosed as bipolar are able to find rest from the highs and lows with lithium, because a lithium imbalance was the problem in the first place.

Unfortunately, these truths are not always appreciated or understood in the church at large. No, many pastors paint with broad strokes, equating any mental illness with immaturity in the faith. It’s uncomfortable at best, and fear inducing at worst, to tell a pastor that he’s wrong. Especially when it’s hard to nail down why it is that he’s wrong.

Because of this discomfort, many choose to put on a happy shiny Christian mask and act like they’re not hurting. It’s more painful to confront church leadership and answer all the accusations and questions.

Even more disheartening than putting a mask on, many with mental illnesses choose to step away from the church altogether. They’ve been hurt too often, and too consistently, to have any space left in their hearts for trust. So they hang tight to a belief in Jesus, but walk away from the church because it hurts too much. Some of the voices you’ll read in this book have walked away from church for this very reason.

We can do better as the church. We must do better.

This reality is why I’ve gathered almost two dozen voices to share their stories. It’s only in listening—truly listening with every fiber of our being—to story after story of mental illness that we are able to see just how different every person is, even when the diagnosis is the same.

Mental illness isn’t a simple diagnosis, under any circumstances. It’s not like a fractured shoulder blade, where the path to healing is clear. With a shoulder, the bone needs to be set, the shoulder needs to be immobilized, and healing will take place. If there’s a complex fracture, then surgery might be necessary. But, the basic path is the same. This is never true with mental health conditions. Too often the church has treated those with mental illnesses as though there is a straightforward path toward healthier living, and that’s been painful to bear.

Whispers in the Pews has been written because I am convinced that it is fundamentally stories that will change the allowances for bad theology and inconsiderate (or worse) treatment of people. By hearing the pain and the victories that others have experienced in the church, my hope is that there will be room for a new way to approach mental health—one that sees the person before the health condition.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 13

As He Leads is Joy, October 14

Kat’s Corner Books, October 15

Texas Book-aholic, October 16

janicesbookreviews, October 17

Just the Write Escape, October 18

Mary Hake, October 18

Kathleen Anderson, October 19

A Reader’s Brain, October 20

Rev. Rebecca Wtites: Read, Write, Pray, October 21

Inklings and notions , October 22

Artistic Nobody, October 23

Inspired by fiction, October 23

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Chris is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/e97f/whispers-in-the-pews-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Forever, Lately: A Regency Time-Travel Romance by Linore Rose Burkhard

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About the Book

Book: Forever, Lately  47933390._SY475_

Author: Linore Rose Burkard

Genre: Time-Travel Romance

Release Date: October 2019

 Maine, present day
Author Claire Channing needs to write a bestselling book to salvage a failing career. She moves to her grandmother’s rustic cottage, but without the deed, the clock is ticking on how long she can stay. She thinks she’s writing St. John’s story until an old prayer shawl with embroidered lovebirds transports her to his Regency world! She falls in love with him–a man she thought she created. But a jealous Miss Andrews would rather see Julian dead than in another woman’s arms!
Claire and St. John must beat the clock to prevent a deadly tragedy, but can love endure past the limits of time?
Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Can a twenty-first-century author and a Regency gent find common ground, let alone find themselves in the same time period for any length of time? Join them in their race against time to save their lives and love.
What a perfect story of time-travel. This novel, Forever, Lately, by Lenore Rose Burkhard, was much more than just a Regency/modern romance. It morphed into a suspense, became a mystery, and involved more twists and turns than one might have imagined possible. The serpentine path of the plot moved the narrative from “simple” to “complex” and “compelling.”

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I loved the main characters, Julian St. John and Claire Channing, and her grandmother. So charming! I strongly disliked a main character, but I did like how well the supporting characters came together to enhance the tale. This is a great Regency time travel that I recommend.
I received this complimentary book from the author via Celebrate Lit. This is no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior — Hit my reading sweet spot!!

About the Author

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian Linore_Smaller-276x300market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, Linore home-schools her youngest daughter, teaches workshops for writers, and is the Vice President of the Dayton Christian Scribes.  Her latest  PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a “chilling possible future for America, while affirming the power of faith in the darkest of times.”

More from Linore

I wanted to write a Regency time travel for years. When I saw the movie “Kate and Leopold” I thought, Oh no! Someone used my idea! But I needn’t have worried. Leopold (Hugh Jackman) was a Victorian gentleman, not a Regencian. Secondly, though I enjoyed the flick, I kept thinking it missed many opportunities for humor. (Having written a screenplay since then, I now realize why it missed so many: tight scripts just don’t have room for all the scenes that could be fun.) When I wrote my story, however, I was able to include a lot of the humor scenes that had been floating around in my head for eons. It’s one of the reasons the book is a lot of fun to read—particularly when the Regency hero appears in the present.

On a side note, I started this book and then dropped it—for years—mostly because I wanted to write it as Christian romance like my other Regencies. But I kept running into roadblocks. And Christian publishers weren’t interested. Finally I realized I had to let God out of MY box and write the story he was giving me, not the one I thought he should give me. After that, it came together remarkably easily and quickly. And, I think, in a very fun way. I might even do a sequel.

Blog Stops

A Reader’s Brain, September 19

Betti Mace, September 20

Worthy2Read, September 20

Reading Is My SuperPower, September 21

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 21

For Him and My Family, September 22

Through the Fire Blogs, September 23

Godly Book Reviews, September 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 26

Texas Book-aholic, September 27

janicesbookreviews, September 28

Inklings and notions, September 29

Remembrancy, September 30

Sara Jane Jacobs – Blog, September 30

 Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 1

The Avid Reader, October 2

Mia Reads, October 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linore is giving away the grand prize of a $25 gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/eb9d/forever-lately-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Trapped by Lillian Duncan

Trapped

About the Book

Book: Trapped

Author: Lillian Duncan

Genre: Romantic Suspense (Christian)/Stand Alone

Release Date: September 27, 2019

TrappedAngelina Matthews has everything—rich, famous and beautiful—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a T-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God. Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman. When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped. As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still. But are they delusions?

 

 

Click here to grab your copy.

My Review

Lillian Duncan begins her romantic suspense novel quite eerily so that the reader quickly feels Trapped along with Ange. The action moves very swiftly at first but slows considerably to become more of a refection of self-help and therapy groups. I thought the points made by Duncan were spot on, and I was glad to see the approach she took to recovery. However, during this part of this book, the suspense was temporarily paused so we could adequately view the issues Angelina was dealing with.
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Eventually, the action picked up again, and the suspense accelerates to a good pace. I appreciated the author’s note at the end. I must say, a certain event causes me to want to pick the author’s brain… (did you REALLY want to do that ?!)
I recommend this book.
I received a complimentary copy from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my responsibility.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – A book to pick up!

About the Author

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech Lillian-Duncan-238x300pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Her goal is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.com as well as her devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

 

More from Lillian

TRAPPED is my latest suspense novel. And suspenseful, it is! With just the right about of romance to make it even better.

You can’t help but love Nate Goodman—small-town policeman, believer in truth, justice, and Jesus—comes back home to the sleepy town of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio to work because nothing ever happens—until it does.

Angelina Matthews has everything. She’s rich, famous and beautiful until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God.

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman.

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped, not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. As an ex-Chicago policeman, Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped so he reaches out to help. Between the two of them, they have more than their fair share of problems. But that’s what makes the story exciting.

I have a philosophy when it comes to writing. If I find it boring so will the readers! That means I cut out the boring parts and focus on the action. I loved writing this story with all its twists and turns.

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 28

Babbling Becky L’ Book Impressions, September 28

Livin’ Lit, September 29

Genesis 5020, September 30

Through the Fire Blogs, October 1

Inspires by fiction, October 1

Spoken from the Heart, October 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 3

Avid Reader Nurse , October 3

Maureen’s Musings, October 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 4

For Him and My Family, October 5

CarpeDiem, October 6

Blogging With Carol, October 6

Bigreadersite , October 7

Betti Mace, October 7

Texas Book-aholic, October 8

janicesbookreviews, October 9

Inklings and notions , October 9

Mary Hake, October 10

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 10

A Reader’s Brain, October 11

 Giveaway 

 

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To celebrate her tour, Lillian is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and one of her eBook (readers choice)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/e958/trapped-celebration-tour-giveaway