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

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

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

A Perfect Silhouette by Judith Miller

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About the Book 

Title: A Perfect Silhouette

Author: Judith Miller

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: August 2019

In 1850, Mellicent “Mellie” Blanchard takes a job at a mill in Manchester, New Hampshire, to help support her family. In search of additional earning opportunities, she approaches a daguerreotype shop owner with the proposal that he hire her to make paper cuttings or silhouette portraits for those who can’t afford an expensive daguerreotype.

When a particularly charming customer–whose broad smile and twinkling eyes catch her off guard–asks to escort her home, the seeds of romance begin to blossom. All the pieces of her new life seem to have fallen perfectly into place, but when her new venture brings her an unexpected opportunity, she is confronted with the truth that all is not as it seems. Will Mellie, who is keeping secrets of her own, find happiness in the new life she has carved out for herself in the busy mill town?

Get your copy here.

My Review

A Perfect Silhouette by Judith Miller is the second Christian Historical I’ve read recently involving working in the mills. Set in 1850 New Hampshire, we view the mill town, boarding house, and mill itself through the eyes of one young woman, Mellie Blanchard. We see the deplorable conditions within the mill walls, sweating to near-fainting with Mellie and breathing in stifling lint-laden air. The undeniable monotony of watching the loom shuttles whiz back and forth may have threatened to put me to sleep!

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I thought William Morgan was very brave to take on a role beneath his social class in order to discover more about the true workings of his family’s mills.
There were some details about the looms that were hard for me to follow, or I wanted to leave for business people like Morgan and his father.
Trust and forgiveness are themes that are addressed as are loving one’s enemies, plus standing for one’s convictions.
One part of the story I am still puzzling over- could it really have happened like that? I’m not quite convinced.

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I have enjoyed reading Miller’s books as she has lately taken us through several different professions in America’s history.
Quotes:
« He’d stepped into this new identity thinking he could do good, yet each lie had required another. He was beginning to have trouble sifting the lies from the truth. »
« “Prayer is our best hope—in all circumstances… »
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This did not affect my opinions for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

4 Stars = Excellent, just short of hitting my reading “sweet spot”

About the Author

Judith is an award-winning and best-selling author of historical fiction for Bethany House Publishers.206097 With a love of history, a dash of romance and a touch of mystery, Judith transports her readers to another time and place. Her passion for history and love of God keep her inspired. Judith and her husband are empty-nesters who live in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Judy blogs with four other historical novelists at http://www.writespassage.blogspot.com

 

BLOG, Revell

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano

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About the Book

Title: Finding Lady Enderly

Author: Joanna Davidson Politano

Publisher: Revell

Released: September 2019

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

Though Raina has traded squalor for silk and satin, something about the abbey is deeply unsettling. As she wrestles with her true identity, the ruin, decay, and secrets she finds at the heart of the old mansion tear at her confidence and threaten to reveal her for who she really is. Only one man stands between her and the danger that lurks within–and only if he decides to keep her biggest secret hidden.

 

My Review

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano is a great Christian fiction historical mystery. Like Cinderella, Raina rises from rags to riches. Rothburne Abbey would be a reporter’s paradise, as the questions «Why? Who? Where? When? » and « How? » would, when answered, bring either a great treasure or a terrible calamity.
Once the action started, I was swept away to another time and another land. Were events glorious or were they tragic? Through it all, Raina ponders who she was, who she is, and who she will be in the future.
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I found it interesting and true to life that Raina couldn’t read her Bible and pray while involved in deception.
Great twists and turns throughout until the climax is reached. Also, some great Biblical answers for Raina (which makes the book so much richer). Unfortunately, once the denouement is reached, the wrap-up seems a little weak compared to the incredible action that precedes it.

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Great secondary characters. If this were a movie, some would have won an Oscar for best supporting character.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

About the Author

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie 16355029Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.

 

 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

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About the Book

Book: State of Lies

Author: Siri Mitchell

Genre: Suspense

Release Date: August 13, 2019

Months after her husband, Sean, is killed by a hit-and-run driver, physicist Georgie State-of-lies-197x300

Brennan discovers he lied to her about where he had been going that day. A cryptic notebook, a missing computer, and strange noises under her house soon have her questioning everything she thought she knew.

With her job hanging by a thread, her son struggling to cope with his father’s death, and her four-star general father up for confirmation as the next Secretary of Defense, Georgie quickly finds herself tangled in a political intrigue that has no clear agenda and dozens of likely villains. Only one thing is clear: someone wants her dead too.

The more she digs for the truth, the fewer people she can trust.

Not her friends.

Not her parents.

Maybe not even herself.

 

Click here to grab your copy.

My Review

 

Feelings. State of Lies by Siri Mitchell, published by Thomas Nelson, evoked many different feelings in me.  

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I read in awe as Mitchell wove an intricate, tightly woven net around me, the reader, with her amazing thriller. She certainly seems to be familiar with the inner workings of Washington, DC, which made for an awesome, fast-moving, spy story. 
Those were the great feelings. By the end of the book, I was living in profound sadness. I was absolutely crushed by the discovery of who the “real” bad guys were. I had picked a couple of different insidious government agents instead. 
The most unexpected feelings were the surprise and disappointment as I started the book reading about a bedroom scene (even though it was between a married couple- do we really need that much detail?) I double-checked to see if I was reading the correct book. While the book was free of language, I was disappointed for this kind of book coming from what is known to be a “Christian” publisher. There was no mention of God in the book, either. 

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Do I only read ultra-clean books? Actually, no. But I felt like this one, coming from the publisher it does, masquerades as something it’s not. Is it a great, emotive read? Absolutely! Is it one I wholeheartedly endorse? No. Not without warning. Please don’t make me think I’m getting cake then serve me a cookie. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and CelebrateLit through NetGalley. This did not affect my opinions which are solely my own. 

My Rating

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

 

About the Author

Siri Mitchell is the author of 14 novels. She has SIRI-MITCHELL_headshot-300x239also written 2 novels under the pseudonym of Iris Anthony. She graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and has worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri is a big fan of the semi-colon but thinks the Oxford comma is irritatingly redundant. Visit her online at sirimitchell.com; Facebook: SiriMitchell; Twitter: @SiriMitchell.

More from Siri

A Sense of Place

I’m so excited about the release of State of Lies! Among the many reasons for my excitement is the fact that I set the story in my own home town: Arlington, VA. Here are some things you might not know about Arlington:

 

  1. Arlington was originally included within the borders of Washington, DC.
  2. Arlington isn’t actually a city – it’s a county. We’re the smallest self-governing county in the nation.
  3. Arlington regularly takes the top spot as the most educated place in the country.
  4. Arlington LOVES books. I count at least a dozen different little libraries in my neighborhood alone.
  5. Our region often has a hurricane warning or two every hurricane season. Can you guess where I’ve seen the longest lines when people start to make last-minute preparations? It’s not the grocery store; it’s not the hardware store. It’s the library! (Why wouldn’t you stock up on books too?)
  6. We host Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial, and the Pentagon.
  7. We are home to the very first Five Guys hamburger joint location.
  8. We are also home to the headquarters of over a dozen national agencies as well as organizations like Rosetta Stone and Nestlé.
  9. People who attended our high schools include Sandra Bullock, Warren Beatty, Shirley MacLaine, Katie Couric, and Patch Adams.
  10. The thing I love most about Arlington? Its people. Countless government contractors members of the federal workforce live here. I number them among my friends and neighbors. I’ve never met a group more dedicated, more informed, or more determined to put their expertise to good use. And guess what? My heroine, Georgie Brennan, is one of them!

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The Pentagon and Washington, DC

 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 20

Among the Reads, August 20

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 20

Blogging With Carol, August 21

CarpeDiem, August 21

Josephine Anne Writes, August 21

Fiction Aficionado, August 22

All-of-a-kind Mom, August 22

Genesis 5020, August 22

Andrea Christenson, August 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 23

Pause for Tales, August 23

Through the Fire Blogs, August 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 24

Inspired by fiction, August 25

Because I said so and other adventures in parenting. , August 25

Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife, August 25

For Him and My Family, August 26

Rebekah Jones, August 26

Betti Mace, August 26

As He Leads is Joy, August 27

Wishful Endings, August 27

Reflections From My Bookshelves, August 27

Moments, August 28

Mary Hake, August 28

Remembrancy, August 28

Just the Write Escape, August 29

Simple Harvest Reads, August 29

Hallie Reads, August 30

Bigreadersite , August 30

Living Life Free in Christ, August 30

Connect in Fiction, August 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 31

Texas Book-aholic, August 31

janicesbookreviews, September 1

A Reader’s Brain, September 1

Inklings and notions , September 1

Life of Literature, September 2

Real World Bible Study, September 2

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Gators, Guts, and Glory: Adventures Along the Florida Trail, Hiking Adventures #2 with author interview and giveaway

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About the Book

Book: Gators, Guts, & Glory

Author: Lauralee “Blissful” Bliss

Genre: Non-Fiction, Hiking, Adventure

Release date: July 15, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                    Gators-Guts-and-Glory-197x300

Wander on the wild and humorous side of adventure with long-distance hiker Lauralee Bliss (trail name Blissful), hiking the 1,100-mile Florida Trail from Big Cypress National Preserve to Gulf Islands National Seashore. From alligators and cottonmouths to tenting among the palmettos and walking on water, from forests of cypress knees and lofty pine to the help of trail angels along the way, “Blissful” uncovers the hidden gems of glory in this National Scenic Trail with a unique journey unlike any other.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

“If I do come across a gator, who moves first? I pray whenever we do meet, the gator is not hungry.” Such are the very real thoughts of Lauralee Bliss, author of Gators, Guts, and Glory: Adventures Along the Florida Trail. Unlike most of the books I read, this is a true account of one woman’s traipsing across the wastelands, bogs, and even highways of Florida.  
My first question was, this lady is doing this alone?! But no, she had the support of her husband, “Papa Bliss,” helping out behind scenes, preparing for necessities, and even accompanying “Blissful” on the first part of the Florida Trail.  
What I liked: pictures helped me better imagine the author and her trek through this dangerous terrain. I loved that the author described the different approaches and personalities of herself and her husband, who accompanied her for part of the journey. One was more about finishing the trail and adding the accomplishment to a belt; the other complained a lot but enjoyed the wildlife and scenery more. I just found that contrast interesting! 
I also was amazed by the amount of planning and preparation that had to go into a trek before it ever began… and how quickly plans had to be scrapped and flexibility had to be embraced. “I’m trying not to let frustration rob me of peace, which is easier said than done. I must embrace the hiker beatitude of Blessed are the flexible. I like to plan everything out to a tee, the first thing a hiker should do on day one is throw out the plan.” 
Being a book person, I know next to nothing about blazing a trail through untamed territory or drinking strained swamp water. I learned a lot. Blissful also learned much, mostly about trusting God for provision, “Trail angels” and miracles. 
If you like reading about real-life adventure in the wilds, this book is a good choice. I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This did not influence my opinions, and no positive review was required. 

My Rating

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About the Author

Lauralee Bliss is an avid adventurer, one of only a few women to hike the entire Lauralee-Bliss-Florida-300x235Appalachian Trail both north and south. She is also the published author of over 25 romance novels and novellas. Lauralee’s desire is that readers will come away with both an entertaining story and a lesson that ministers to the heart. She makes her home in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

More from Lauralee

Why hike the Florida Trail of all things?

L – I’ve had several adventures under my belt, like completing the Appalachian Trail twice (see book one in the Hiking Adventure Series – Mountains, Madness and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail)! We used to vacation in Florida as many do come winter, and once we came upon the Florida Trail sign. I couldn’t imagine hiking among the palm trees. After talking to other hikers who had done it, I knew it would be a unique experience unlike any other. After all, why should life be boring?

 

It all sounds kind of dangerous – the alligators, the swamps. Were you scared?

L – I’ll admit there are facets of hiking that can cause scary situations. Once I got stuck in mud-like quicksand. In Florida it’s known as sucking mud, and I thought I’d never get out of it. Can you imagine? I also had some rough weather, dangerous water crossings, and an encounter with a cottonmouth. Btu through it I learned about God’s peace and His saving hand in situations where you really have no control.

 

What did you do to prepare?

L – I hiked as much as I could. I talked with other hikers and asked questions. I joined online trail forums to find out about the Florida Trail. I bought the guidebook for it. I believe one should always try to prepare and not venture into something blind. But of course there’s always the unexpected, which adds to the adventure aspect.

 

What lessons did you learn?

L – What one can accomplish in life if you keep going and not give up, despite the challenging situations thrust your way. I like to go on these journeys to witness God’s care in my life firsthand and seeing the kindness of others to help a hiker in need. I’ve had people try to give me money. Folks that invited me into their homes or given me rides. The human spirit is amazing and one of the most valuable things I experienced.

 

What else can you tell us about yourself?

L – I am an avid adventurer covering thousands of trail miles in the US from east to west including two completions of the Appalachian Trail, the Colorado Trail, the Long Trail of Vermont, the Allegheny Trail of West Virginia, and the Foothills Trail of South Carolina. I have also authored of over 25 romance novels and novellas and when not writing or hiking, I love to talk to others about hiking. My motto is – make your dream come true! (and it has, in more ways than one)

Blog Stops

Lighthouse Academy, July 30

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 31

Mary Hake, August 1

Inklings and notions, August 1

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 3

For Him and My Family, August 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 6

Girls in White Dresses, August 7

Texas Book-aholic, August 8

Just the Write Escape, August 9

janicesbookreviews, August 10

A Reader’s Brain, August 11

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, August 12

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Lauralee is giving away a grand prize of a $25 REI 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/e547/gators-guts