Posted in Uncategorized

Love Her Well – Review and Giveaway

ABOUT THE BOOK:

For many women, having a baby girl is a dream come true. Yet as girls grow up, the narrative of innocence and joy changes to doom and gloom as moms are told “Just wait until she’s a teenager!” and handed a disheartening script that treats a teenage girl’s final years at home as solely a season to survive.

Love Her Well is a realistic yet optimistic guide to help mothers connect with their teenage daughters through the challenges of adolescence. Written by a mom of four girls and an author for teenage girls, it is packed with powerful insights, relevant stories, timeless truths, and common mistakes made in the mother-daughter relationship. By building a connection with your daughter as you parent her, you’ll gain a voice in her life that allows you to offer guidance, wisdom, and emotional support. Let’s change the narrative that leads moms to parent girls with a spirit of defeat – and instead parent them with a spirit of strength, especially during the critical teenage years.

I have a daughter who is about to turn 18 this year, so I definitely want to find joy and connection with her. I remember how close my mother and I were during my teenage years, and I want that with my daughter. Yet I also realize she will not be in the house long. This book does an excellent job of exploring how to love our teenage daughters well. You should read this book with a Bible and journal handy.

This book makes me want to sit down with either a cup of coffee or tea with Kari and talk for hours about life, daughters, and God. If you have pre-teens or teenage daughters or know someone who does, you definitely should check out this book. The evidence Kari has spent a lot of time researching this book comes through the pages as I read it. So check it out for yourself.

I received a copy of this book from Frontgate Bloggers for my fair and honest review.

Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is an author, blogger, and national speaker from Birmingham, Alabama. Her books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For?, have been used widely across the country by teen youth groups and church groups to empower girls through faith.

Kari’s work has been featured on the TODAY Show, TODAY Parents,Yahoo! News, EWTN, Proverbs 31, Ann Voskamp’s blog, The Huffington Post, and other national outlets. She and her husband, Harry, have four daughters and a dog named Lola. Learn more by visiting http://www.kari kampakis.com or finding Kari on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

You can find Kari on Instagram – @karikampakis

You can purchase your copy of this book by clicking here.

#LoveHerWell #LoveHerWellBook #KariKampakis #Liked #10UltimateTruths #UltimateTruthsGirlsShouldKnow

Posted in Uncategorized

The Gentleman Spy – A Review and Giveaway

About the book
 
He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life
 
When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.
 
But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.
 
Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

The Gentleman Spy is the second book in the Serendipity & Secrets series. I love how the characters in this series are not perfect but instead have flaws that make them seem human. Charlotte and Marcus’ story drew me in and make me want to read the third book having already read the first book.

Charlotte’s parents attempt to marry her to any man willing to do so, regardless of his age or anything else. When Charlotte and her mother encounter the mistress of Charlotte’s father, her life and that of her half-sister forever changed. Marcus serves as a spy, but has also been forced to assume the title Duke of Haverly after his father and brother are killed in a carriage accident.

Marcus sets out to marry Charlotte after encountering her once as Hawk and then at a party they are both attending. I love how Charlotte speaks her mind and looks at the heart of people rather than just the surface. Marcus eventually recognizes he cannot neatly compartmentalize his life, and instead must embrace his new life with a wife who can support and encourage him.

Charlotte demonstrates through her words, actions, and prayers how to exemplify a life well lived for Jesus Christ. While the Christian themes are definitely present in this book, it is done in a way that illustrates the power of prayer and faith.

So if you like books set in England in the 1800s that examine being a spy and dealing with prostitutes who are there only because they have no where else to turn, check out this book for yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, but this in no way influenced my review.  All opinions are my own.

About the author
E

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  
 
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
 
A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.
 
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor)Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).

Click here to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of The Gentleman Spy.

Posted in Book Reviews, Celebrate Lit Reviews, Uncategorized

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Maybe because our family lived in Texas for several years, I was interested in reading this book.  A CIA agent becoming an Evangelical preacher caught my imagination.  As I began reading this book, I quickly found myself caught up in the storyline.  The characters grabbed my attention.  Truth has its place and trying to find it can lead to unintentional consequences.  This book is the second in a trilogy and I definitely recommend reading the first book before reading this one.

Family members can complicate the romantic lives of other members, and Christine and John find this out.  I am looking forward to reading the last book in this trilogy to find out how things end.  So check it out for yourself.

 

An Interview with Andrew Huff,

Author of Cross Shadow

All journalist Christine Lewis wants is the truth. There’s always more to the story, and she can’t rest until she uncovers it. All pastor John Cross wants is to avoid the truth. Given his prior life, he thinks hiding the truth can protect those he cares about. A journalist out for the truth and a pastor avoiding it sounds somewhat backward, but that’s where Christine and John find themselves in Andrew Huff’s Cross Shadow (Kregel Publications), the second installment of the Shepherd Suspense series.

When Christine hears that her stepbrother has been arrested for murder in Texas, she vows to get to the bottom of the crime and prove his innocence. Christine wants to investigate on her own, but when John arrives, they team up again to discover the truth about the crime. Untangling a web of intrigue, the couple finds themselves in the center of another dangerous situation and in trouble far deeper than they expected. A chain of events reveals a bigger conspiracy than either could have imagined involving a robotics defense contractor, a private military company, and an assassination plot.

With an assassin on the loose, a trusted colleague acting as a double agent, and unreliable artificial intelligence connected to mercenaries who have Cross on their hit list, these two may not get out of the Lone Star State alive. In the face of danger, will John’s former instincts kick in? Will he turn back to his old ways?

Q: For those who may not have read A Cross to Kill, tell us a little bit about John Cross and his past.

CIA assassin John Cross found himself at a crossroads in his life during a covert operation in Spain. He walked in on a Catholic Mass at a historic cathedral while tracking his target and couldn’t help but get caught up in the majesty of the building. Instead of fulfilling the requirements of the mission, John found an English Bible at a local bookshop and spent the night reading it. Convicted by his sin, he gave his life to Christ and resigned from the agency.

In an effort to pay penance for the targeted killings he was personally responsible for, John embedded himself in a small church community in rural Virginia and served the various needs of its members night and day. Impressed by his commitment to caring for them, and in need of leadership, the congregation offered him the chance to be their pastor. Thinking it might be another step toward paying the price of his past sins, he accepted, though he continues to hide the truth about who he used to be from the members of the church.

Q: How did John and Christine, the leading lady of Cross Shadow, meet?

On occasion, John would accept the call from the CIA to participate in rescue missions during his off time from serving the church. He was dropped into Amman, Jordan, on one such mission only to discover that the person he’d been sent to exfiltrate was Christine Lewis, a beautiful American journalist about to be executed by her captors. Using only a stun gun and his hand-to-hand combat skills, John stayed the execution and escaped with Christine. After he disappeared and all knowledge of his existence was denied, Christine made it her mission upon returning home to locate the man who saved her life.

Through a contact in Washington with mysterious ties to the intelligence community, Christine was given a hint to John’s true identity in the form of an address. She’s instructed to go there on Sunday, and when she arrived, she found John preaching a sermon in the small country church. John’s instinct was to run, but something caused him to trust her and reveal his story. Christine wanted to protect his secret, but forces beyond her control appeared, and she was caught in the middle as a choice from John’s past came back to haunt him.

Q: What are some of the relationship challenges John and Christine contend with? Why does Christine seem to be second-guessing their dating relationship?

Throughout the events of A Cross to Kill, John and Christine are drawn to each other like two magnets. After Christine gives her life to Christ, they decide to see if a dating relationship will work. What they find, however, is that neither is sure what such a relationship should look like as new believers. While the chemistry is still strong, their dates are consumed by John’s compulsion to train Christine in survival skills. Christine loves the small community of Rural Grove Baptist Church, but blossoming spiritual relationships and potential job opportunities keep her tied to New York City. Christine begins to wonder if her connection to John was anything more than an infatuation with his story.

While both are struggling to separate their identity from each other, the biggest challenge in their relationship comes from the lack of communication, both in the sense of the distance between them and also a lack of trust. John struggles to reveal more of who he really is for fear of driving Christine away while Christine struggles with planning her life around John for fear his plans might not align with hers. The tension in their relationship stems from their hesitancy to be truthful with one another when simply sharing their feelings would bring many of these struggles to light.

Q: Both John and Christine seem to have a problem with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Why does this keeping popping up as an issue throughout the story?

John’s life prior to Christ was built on one lie after another, and he’s been oblivious to how that has continued to be the case, even in the wake of his conversion. For him, there’s also an objective to the lie, because he is convinced that he needs to deceive others in order to protect them. John thought his only lie was hiding his past from the members of his church when in reality he’s been lying to himself about who he is and what he should do about it. Finding forgiveness for the lives he took was only the first step of John’s journey toward becoming the new man God has called him to be.

Christine has less of a problem telling the truth and more of a problem obsessing over it. To her, there’s always more to the story, and she can’t rest until she uncovers it. Sometimes, however, she finds herself willing to bend the truth in order to get at the truth on something else. New to Christianity, Christine is still learning about the balance between grace and truth, too often erring on the side of the latter at the expense of the former.

Q: Without giving away too much, can you tell us about the situations they encounter this time around in Cross Shadow?

With the first story, A Cross to Kill, we were introduced to the characters and saw what happens when John’s cultivated small-town life clashes with the fallout from his previous career. For the second book in the series, I wanted us to spend more time with Christine and see how her past might draw them back into a world of danger. Only now she sees the world from a new perspective based on her relationship with John.

On her way to an interview with a new network, Christine spots a suspicious character on the subway who turns out to be a suicide bomber. With the aid of an off-duty NYPD officer, Christine “defuses” (not literally; John didn’t train her to do that!) the situation and is thrust into the spotlight a second time. As if that wasn’t enough, in the middle of it all she learns the shocking news that her stepbrother has been arrested for murder in Dallas, Texas. Christine vows to get to the bottom of the crime and prove his innocence. But when John arrives to shadow her, it starts a chain of events that reveals a far deeper conspiracy than either could’ve imagined involving a robotics defense contractor, a private military company, and an assassination plot.

Q: Christine is a national news reporter and in Cross Shadow has some opinions of her coworkers and how the network covers certain stories. What do you think her take would be about the current news of the day and coverage of events?

Before her kidnapping in Jordan, Christine felt at home among her colleagues at the network news division she works for. But upon her rescue and return, she can’t help but feel like most of the work happening in news is less about presenting truth and more about shaping it. I think she’d sense the same in the way news is covered currently, and she would be bothered by that. At the same time, she’s committed to the profession, and I think she would want to work to effect change from the inside.

When I created the character of Christine, I saw her as someone who went into the job believing she was an agent of change in the world, only to be stripped of her idealism by her captivity. Rather than turn cynical, the experience grounds her in reality and opens her eyes to the possibility that human beings can’t fix what feels broken about the world. That’s how her journey leads to John, then ultimately to Christ. She’s searching for something truly good and right. I think because of that, she’d be less interested in the sensationalism of today’s news and more in understanding the reality beneath the headlines.

Q: Trying to protect Christine from danger puts John in the middle of some moral quandaries. How does he handle himself mentally and spiritually in those situations?

The battle waging in John from the beginning is the tension between who he is now and who he was trained to be. His focus has been singularly placed on the act of killing. But what he’s suddenly faced with as he pursues a relationship with Christine and continues to serve as the pastor of his church is that the instincts drilled into him carry other moral prices as well. The more the situation in Dallas unravels, the more out of control John begins to feel with his own mental and spiritual status.

At the same time, he’s committed to protecting the innocent and preserving life, so he works to redirect his instincts to achieve those two goals. That’s what complicates his relationship with truth. If he’s convinced that what he’s doing is for the greater good, he’s quick to compromise on deception and manipulation. This is a struggle I have and have seen in others. By lying to ourselves about our intentions, we can sometimes make choices that are inconsistent with what we say we believe.

Q: Does John’s prior profession and the choices he made ever come back to haunt him?

Oh, all the time. The truth about the Central Intelligence Agency is that you never truly leave the Central Intelligence Agency. So, John keeps getting pulled back in, even when he says he doesn’t want to. The only problem is that he was really good at what he did. And not just the assassination part. Which begs the question: Should he go back? Was he only running from guilt when he decided to leave?

In Cross Shadow, we also examine his choice to accept the pastorate at his church despite being young in his faith and untrained for the ministry. From the outside looking in, he doesn’t seem like the best candidate to truly lead the church toward growth. Those were real questions that not only were present when I was writing the first book but have also been asked by readers afterward. I can’t wait for you to see how the story continues for him.

Q: What kind of research goes into writing about a CIA agent?

It does get tricky, especially when writing about members of the Special Activities Center (the CIA’s division for covert operations). The most important thing for me about writing these characters is to never make it feel like they’re learning any of it for the first time. Since we’re often in their perspective, there are certain actions they might take or things they might say that need to be second nature to them. That needs to be balanced with making sure the reader can follow along. This means I need to know my stuff!

A lot of my research comes from scouring the internet. (I’m sure the CIA knows how many times I visit their website.) But I also research movies and books too; other writers before me have done their homework, so I love to learn and be inspired by how someone else might have crafted the world of the United States Intelligence Community. A great book specifically on the CIA’s targeted killing programs is called Surprise, Kill, Vanish by Annie Jacobsen. It didn’t come out until 2019, so I didn’t have it as a resource for the first book, but I surprised myself with how accurately I was able to write some things with the then more limited knowledge about this particular aspect of the CIA.

Q: How long have you been working on the Shepherd Suspense series, and have you always wanted to write?

I worked on A Cross to Kill for several years beginning in 2014. The series didn’t start to take shape until two years ago after I signed with Kregel Publications for the book to be published. I originally wrote A Cross to Kill as a stand-alone novel, though I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t already thought about what I might do to continue the story with the characters. What I found most helpful in planning out the series was asking myself what lingering questions I had from the first story, and there were enough that the plots for the second and third books came relatively easy.

While I didn’t start attempting to write until I was an older teen, my passion for storytelling has been a part of my life from an early age. One of my favorite pastimes growing up was to tell stories using action figures (mainly to myself, but often with my brothers). I was also into art and would occasionally adapt those stories into drawings. I even made some short films based on stories I would write. In some ways, novels feel like a more recent addition to my repertoire of formats to tell stories in.

Q: What has been the biggest surprise for you as a new author following the release of your first book?

The biggest surprise has been the season following the release. I looked at the specific date of release as something akin to a movie’s opening weekend and expected there to be a lot of excitement over it immediately. I don’t know if you know this, but a book is very different from a movie, and while the release day was exciting, it’s been really fun to watch new readers discover the book over the months following its debut last October. I’m still getting reviews and messages about it (which is probably laughable for other authors to hear, but hey, I’m still new at this).

Another surprise has been how much I enjoy hearing the varied aspects of the book that different readers enjoyed. Of course, I know and love that each reader is their own unique person, but as an author, you are always trying to reach as vast of an audience as possible. And while many readers have let me know how much they love similar things, it’s been a lot of fun to hear the personal connection each individual has to certain themes or characters.

Q: What can readers expect from the final installment of the Shepherd Suspense trilogy, Right Cross?

A Cross to Kill featured a small-town setting with international intrigue. In Cross Shadow, I flip the script, and we get to go with John and Christine to a bigger city to solve a personal mystery. With Right Cross, both the locations and plot go big. I like to try and write the thrills of a Mission: Impossible movie onto the page with my novels, and the final book in the Shepherd Suspense series is the most M:I of them all.

At the same time, the characters have grown. They’re no longer wrestling with questions of identity and purpose. With a newfound confidence in their standing before God, they get a chance to be who they were ultimately created to be. And I’ve had so much watching that unfold. I can’t wait for readers to do the same!

Learn more about Andrew Huff and the Shepherd Suspense novels at http://www.andrewhuffbooks.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@huffwrites), Twitter (@andrewjohnhuff) and Instagram (@andyhuff).

Posted in Book Reviews

The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez – A Review

The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez

ABOUT THE BOOK:

We Are All Just Imperfect Believers

New release from songwriter Buck Storm described as literary Americana fiction filled with humor and heart

Grand Rapids, MI — If world events are getting you down and you’re ready for an escape, take a trip to Paradise, Arizona, via Buck Storm’s new literary fiction release, The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez (Kregel Publications/July 21, 2020/ISBN: 9780825446375/$15.99). Storm admits his new book isn’t your typical faith-based novel. In fact, in his own words, he describes it as a bit funky, sometimes over the top, and rarely going where you’re expecting it to go.

When his wife, Angel, is killed in a head-on collision, Gomez Gomez feels he can’t go on—so he doesn’t. He spends his days in the bushes next to the crash site drinking Thunderbird wine, and his nights cradling a coffee can full of Angel’s ashes. It’s a form of slow, sure suicide, with no one for company but the snakes, Elvis’s ghost, and a strange kid named Bones. Gomez Gomez has always been a little (or a lot) out there, but the endless flow of alcohol sure doesn’t help.

“Gomez Gomez’s sad state of affairs is the result of grief, pure and simple. At least as pure and simple as grief can be, I guess,” Storm explains. “He’s heartbroken at the loss of Angel. For years he was a black sheep, traveling the rodeo circuit and making trouble. When he met Angel everything changed. Somehow—a miracle in his mind—she saw something good and fine in him. She picked him out of a group of men he felt inferior to. She loved him unconditionally. She showed him what love is, unconditionally. She also introduced him to God. Not in an overhanded way, but by living love out every minute of every day. When she dies, Gomez Gomez simply can no longer get his arms around reality. For him, an Angel-less world is not a world worth existing in.”

The world outside his makeshift shack doesn’t really concern Gomez Gomez until Sonny Harmon, who owns the car dealership next door to the vacant lot, wants the land to expand. Sonny wants Gomez Gomez gone yesterday, and in Paradise, Sonny’s money speaks. Because Angel was special to everyone, when Gomez Gomez won’t leave, the town squares up and takes sides.

Coming to Gomez Gomez’s aid is his once-close friend Father Jake Morales, who always seems to play it safe, haunted by memories of the woman he left behind, hiding his guilt, loss, and love behind a thick wall of cassock and ritual. When Sonny’s shady business dealings threaten both Gomez Gomez and the town, Father Jake, can’t just stand by and watch. But what happens when the rescuer is the one in need of saving?

“In books, the very best characters are the ones who are the most human. As Gomez Gomez and Jake discuss, ‘We’re all just imperfect believers,’” Storm muses. “In this novel, Father Jake has certainly run to the priesthood more as a place to hide than as a true calling. We find that out almost immediately. Not that he doesn’t do his best to honor the commitment, but life presses no matter how high a person builds their spiritual wall.”

Storm didn’t set out with a teaching theme or spiritual message in mind when he started writing; instead he let the story take over. However, that doesn’t mean readers won’t find God throughout the story. “As authors, artists, songwriters, etc., we all have soul- themes that will insist on finding their way into our work. They won’t be quiet. I love God. I love Jesus. I love His love. So, by nature (I hope) these things will find their way into anything and everything I produce, whether it be prose or song or even how I love my family and neighbors. If I’m honest in my work and let things flow out of my personal relationship with God, then His relentless pursuit will resonate in a reader’s heart in an authentic way.”

The first release in the Ballads of Paradise series, The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez is quirky, heartfelt, and deeply human. Lives and hopes collide in the town of Paradise, stretching across decades and continents in this epic story of forgiveness, redemption, and love.

The next installment of the series, The Sound the Sun Makes, releases in 2021 and tells the story of Early Pines, the big, loud, funny, long-haired, plainclothes police detective. Readers are sure to be in for another wild ride.
Advance Praise

“The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez solidifies Buck Storm’s place among the unique literary voices of our day. Infused with humor, imagination, and poetic beauty, Buck’s writing is an absolute delight. I’ve read all his books, and his characters have taken up permanent residence in my memory. They come back to me at unexpected moments and invariably leave me smiling. Anyone who travels into the wild, wacky, wonderful world of Gomez Gomez is in for an unforgettable adventure.”

~ Ann Tatlock, novelist, blogger, and children’s book author

“I’ve never read a phrase from Buck Storm that wasn’t time well spent―and worth reading again. A topflight storyteller, Storm pits his protagonist―an eccentric, homeless widower―against a powerful and wealthy small-town businessman. The engaging story has readers quickly joining the cast of funky supporting characters on the streets of Paradise, Arizona, grooving on creative plot twists and wondering if this hero-and-villain drama can ever be resolved.”
~ Randall Murphree, editor of AFA Journal

“From a small Southwest town to the island of Corfu, Storm’s quirky characters take us to a place where love, compassion, and redemption may seem out of reach but are always within our grasp. From a cameo from Elvis to a story within a story, The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez becomes more than a metaphor. Is Paradise, Arizona, real? We can only hope.”
~ Bill Higgs, author of Eden Hill

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I have to admit that as I began reading this book, I initially had a hard time staying interested.  While the idea of the story captured my attention, the storyline itself just moved at a pace initially that could not keep me captivated.

I think my favorite character is Father Jake because he struggles with being a priest and being in love with Honey.  I can also empathize with Gomez Gomez over the death of his wife.  However, I have to say at some places I had to force myself to keep reading because I wanted to see how the story would end.

So check out this book for yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, but this in no way influenced my review.  All opinions are my own.

 

About the Author:

Buck Storm

Buck Storm is a critically acclaimed author and musician whose stories have found friends around the world. His nonfiction work includes Finding Jesus in Israel and Through the Holy Land on the Road Less Traveled. Storm’s novels include The List, The Light, Truck Stop Jesus, and The Miracle Man. The latest, The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez, launches his new series, Ballads of Paradise.

Storm and his wife, Michelle, make their home in North Idaho and have two married children.

Learn more about Buck Storm, as well as his writing and music, at buckstorm.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@buckstormauthor), Twitter (@buckstormauthor), and Instagram (@buckstorm).

Suggested Interview Questions

  • From the title alone, we can tell that The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez is going to be a unique tale. How would you describe your new release?
  • Without giving too much away, tell us a little bit about the story itself. Who is Gomez Gomez?
  • Readers find Gomez Gomez at the beginning of the story in a pretty sad condition. He’s drunk, soon to be evicted from a

    pitiful shack, and talking to snakes. Can you share more about the driving force behind his alcoholism?

  • As much of a lead player in the story as Gomez Gomez himself is Father Jake Morales. He doesn’t quite seem like your

    typical priest. Is he?

  • Did Father Jake join the priesthood for the wrong reasons? Was he struggling with grief in a different way?
  • At the risk of sharing a bit of a spoiler here, why did you put a priest in the middle of a love triangle?
  • The phrase “just an imperfect believer” keeps popping up. Is anyone not an imperfect believer?
  • Friendships play a big role amongst the somewhat large cast of characters in the book. What are some of the lessons in

    friendship readers will see through the story?

  • There is literally a story within a story in your book. Why did you have Father Enzo share outtakes from his own attempt at a

    novel within the main story?

  • Is Angel, or at least her memory, somehow a symbol pointing to a spiritual takeaway for readers?
  • What message do you hope readers will find in The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez?
  • Can you give a tease of what readers can expect from the rest of the series?

To request a review copy of The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomes, to schedule an interview with Buck Storm, or for more information, please contact Audra Jennings, ajenningspr@gmail.com.

Posted in Book Reviews, Celebrate Lit Reviews

Irish Encounter – A Review and Giveaway

Irish Enoucnter FB Banner

About the Book

Book:  Irish Encounter

Author: Hope Toler Dougherty

Genre:  Sweet, inspirational romance

Release Date: May 7, 2015

Irish Encounter - FCAfter almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her life, perhaps an adventure during a visit to Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and stirs up feelings she thought she’d buried with her husband.

 

After years of ignoring God, nursing anger, and stifling his grief, Payne Anderson isn’t ready for the feelings a chance encounter with an enchanting stranger evokes. Though avoiding women and small talk has been his pattern, something about Ellen makes him want to seek her—and God again.

 

Can Ellen accept a new life different than the one she planned? Can Payne release his guilt and accept the peace he’s longed for? Can they surrender their past pain and embrace healing together or will fear and doubt ruin this second chance at happiness?

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

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As I began reading this book, I was quickly caught up in the story. Ellen Shepherd, a widow of 3 years, has left North Carolina to come Ireland in order to see her daughter and also to acquire yarn for her shop.  While sitting in a coffee shop trying to write, an elderly gentleman approaches her because she reminds him of his deceased wife.  The interaction between Seamus and Ellen is touching.

But when Seamus leaves, a new man barges into Ellen’s life and it will never be the same.  Initially, he lives up to his name of Payne.  He proves to be a pain to Ellen.  But she recognizes that sometimes God plants people in our path so we can share His Truth with them.

Payne and Ellen begin a relationship that becomes characterized by misunderstanding both on her side and his side.  This book demonstrates how it is important to ask questions when we do not understand or like what we see.

It also shows how an appointment by God can change a person’s life forever.

Olivia, Ellen’s daughter studying in Ireland, daughter my attention.  She obviously loves her mom and loved her dad and initially proves to dislike Payne, seemingly because he is not her father.  But over time, he is able to win her approval.

Another part that really caught my attention was when Ellen’s other daughter and her son Scott called Ellen in Ireland and wound up talking to Payne as well.  The love of the family for each other and the amazing group of friends the are surrounded by make this a story worth reading.  So check it out for yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from CelebrateLit, this in no way influenced my review.  All opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

Hope DoughertyHope holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Forever Music is her fourth novel. Residing in North Carolina, she and her husband enjoy visits with their daughters and twin sons.

 

 

 

 

More from Hope

Inspiration Behind Irish Encounter

A few years ago, I was staring at the first day of the rest of my life. My oldest daughter was set to graduate high school in less than a month. Two years later, her sister would march right behind her, followed in two years by their twin brothers.

Life as I’d known it for the preceding eighteen years was about to change enormously.

Throughout my tenure as a stay-with-my-children mom, I’d written for publications—sporadically—but I had a portfolio of articles with my byline in print.

That May afternoon, I decided to write something for Guideposts, a magazine filled with inspirational, faith-filled stories. I’d just completed “The Life of Moses” with Bible Study Fellowship, and I envisioned sharing wisdom and insight gleaned from thirty two weeks of study.

I penned What I learned from Moses on the top line of a yellow legal pad. As soon as I wrote this fascinating title, I immediately began daydreaming—about Ireland, not Moses.

In my daydream, a woman in an Irish café scribbled in a journal. A little old man in a tweed vest approached her, introduced himself, and began talking about his late wife.  I saw the wooden buttons on his vest and the Irish cap clutched in his hands.  Suddenly another man, dressed in dusty safari clothes, appeared to the woman’s left, lounging at his table and eavesdropping on their conversation.

This scene interested me infinitely more than the Moses idea. I turned the page to a fresh sheet and wrote everything I saw and heard in that Irish coffee shop.

Irish Encounter began that day. I didn’t know it yet, but God did. I just hurried back every morning to my desk to see what happened next. Before writing, I’d recite Bible verses from the Moses study, like Exodus 3:12 “And God said, ‘I will be with you’” and Exodus 4:12 “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (NIV)

I’d pray for guidance and help, and then I’d travel to Galway.

God led me onto this writing journey with a lot of prodding and pulling and nudges toward those interesting characters. I’m thankful every day He did, and I hope readers will enjoy the trip to Ireland with Ellen and Payne, too!

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, July 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 28

Inklings and notions, July 29

deb’s Book Review, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 30

Genesis 5020, July 30

For Him and My Family, July 31

The Collaborative Press, July 31

Through the Fire Blogs, August 1

Godly Book Reviews, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 2

Older & Smarter?, August 3

Writing from the Heart Land, August 3

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 4

Jeanette’s Thoughts, August 4

Reflections From My Bookshelves, August 5

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 5

Betti Mace, August 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 6

Locks, Hooks And Books , August 7

Maureen’s Musings, August 7

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 8

Pause for Tales, August 8

Just the Write Escape, August 9

Read Review Rejoice, August 9

Emily Yager, August 10

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, August 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour Hope is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & 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/fe36/irish-encounter-celebration-tour-giveaway

Posted in Book Reviews, Celebrate Lit Reviews

Tempting Tait – A Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Tempting Tait

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release Date: July 30, 2020

He chose to be a dad before he realized he’d need a wife, too.

When Tait took in an abandoned girl, he had no idea it would change his life.

Tait Stedtmann–accountant, fledgling do-it-yourselfer, and all-around nice guy. He’d been more than a little interested in Bentley Girard and had finally worked up the courage to ask her out. That was before that fateful day at the rest stop when he saw a girl shoved from a car and abandoned there.

She’s not like any girl he’s ever met, and now she’s given him an ultimatum.  Adopt her baby, or she’ll abort it.

Eden doesn’t think he’ll do it. She can have the abortion and move on with her life–far away from these creepy Christians in Fairbury.  But when Tait agrees, she finds herself keeping her word… and the pregnancy.

Nine months later, Tait is wracked by guilt as relief sets in when Eden leaves and terrified as he decides he can’t do this daddy thing alone. Bentley figured out how to make marriage happen for her.

Would she help him, find someone, too?

Tempting Tait is the second in the Marriages of Conviction series.

 

Click here to purchase your copy of the book!

 

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Sometimes doing what Jesus actually would do means we do something different from what others would have us to do.  When Tait encounters a young woman shoved from a car and abandoned.  He does what Jesus would have done.  He takes the girl to the hospital, gets her the care she needs, buys her the things the needs, and allows her to stay with him once she is released.

If you were given the ultimatum to adopt someone’s baby or she will abort the baby, what would you do.  I would have done exactly what Tait did, which is say I’ll adopt the baby.  Two different times in our marriage, my husband and I were approached about letting someone come stay with us, and both times we said yes.  But God deemed we were not the right people at the right time for those individuals.  But we gladly would have given them a safe place to call home.

Having read Bentley’s story about her marriage of conviction, I was glad we get to see more of her and her husband in this story.  I think that is one of my favorite things about Chautona Havig’s writing.  She takes characters and tells their stories, but then if it is a series, those same individuals pop back up an grab your attention.  Or you meet someone who plays a minor role in a book, and they eventually get their own book that captures your imagination.

I love the interactions, Tait and Bentley have now that Bentley is married.  When Tait starts talking about finding someone to share his life and baby with him, Bentley knows just the person.  Sometimes marriages of conviction based on God’s Word can lead to the greatest blessing.

I absolutely adored how Tait has his own secret life and the way the family of his future bride is weaved into the story.  Someone she seems to be exactly who Tait needs. So I advise checking out this book for yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from CelebrateLit, this in no way influenced my review.  All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

 

 

More from Chautona

How One Man Turns A Mess into a Miracle

It’s been ten… maybe fifteen years since Eden Pohl waltzed into my brain and settled in. Despite my focused attention on other books, her taunts never strayed far from my hearing.

If you really believed what you say about abortion, you’d tell my story.

You just don’t want to have to write the messy stuff.

Ouch. Worst of all, she was wrong.  And she wasn’t.

I don’t mind attacking the hard things when it’s the right time, but I only had half a story. I knew what would not happen but not what would.

So, she languished there in what is probably the longest pregnancy in fiction.

After my friend, Sandy, killed my dreams of combining Tait and Bentley’s stories and added Tait’s (and therefore Eden’s) into a series, things clicked.  Duh. Tait would need a wife. Being a single parent is hard. It isn’t how God designed things, you know? We’re supposed to have help.  A spouse, extended family, the church.

But sometimes things don’t work in this fallen world.  Sometimes we find ourselves parents—even by choice—without the daily support of another parent. Not only that, sometimes our own parents aren’t in a position to be able to help. Age, illness, or distance can remove us from the God-given networks we should have and don’t.

Finally, our decisions sometimes cause us to isolate ourselves even from God’s family, and the result can mean we don’t have that help that we otherwise would.

One verse came to mind over and over when I planned out the rest of Tait’s story. 

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Sometimes the words tried to transform themselves into, “It is not good for a father to be alone, so God will find him a helper parent suitable…”

And I had to silence that voice.

First, because we don’t just change Scripture to suit our purpose. Or rather, we shouldn’t.

Second, because that’s even more out of order than having a baby before marriage.  It happens sometimes—sometimes by choice, as in Tait’s situation. However, the healthiest marriage will usually put a strong emphasis on the marriage relationship first (after the Lord, of course) and then focus on the children.  Why? Because it is best for the children if their parents are in unity. Children find security and strength in knowing their parents love and are committed to each other.

So many times, I started to put that emphasis in the wrong place struggled to get it right. Then one day I realized that this was the very thing I needed to do.  Show that struggle.  I needed to show that Tait’s focus was wrong—that he created problems he could have avoided simply by being a good daddy… but also by being an even better husband.

I hope you’ll enjoy Tait’s story, and I pray that his heart for the unborn will touch your life in a real and tangible way.

Blog Stops

Batya’s Bits, July 29

Godly Book Reviews, July 29

Among the Reads, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 30

Texas Book-aholic, July 31

Book of Ruth Ann, July 31

Inklings and notions, August 1

Cultivating Us, August 1

For Him and My Family, August 2

Read Review Rejoice, August 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 3

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 4

Aryn The Libraryan 📚, August 5

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Older & Smarter?, August 6

Back Porch Reads, August 6

Through the Fire blogs, August 7

Daysong Reflections, August 8

Pause for Tales, August 8

She Lives To Read, August 9

Spoken from the Heart, August 9

Artistic Nobody, August 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 10

Lots of Helpers, August 11

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 11

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of Tempting Tait and an original watercolor of “Tait’s Wedding”!!

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/fe37/tempting-tait-celebration-tour-giveaway

Posted in Book Reviews, Celebrate Lit Reviews, Uncategorized

Direct Threat – A Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Direct Threat

Author: Kimberly Rose Johnson

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: June 1 2020

One little girl.

Two bodyguards.

Only one chance to guard their hearts.

Protection Inc. co-owner, Carissa Jones, an ex-cop turned bodyguard, has one goal—keep her young client safe. When her business partner brings in a new guy to help, she discovers her heart desires more. Can she still do her job and follow her heart without compromising her client’s safety?

Marc Olsen, a former Military Police officer, struggles to find his way as a civilian. He agrees to help out an old friend for the summer. He gets more than he bargained for when he’s assigned to work with the feisty co-owner of Protection Inc.

When sparks fly faster than bullets, will the bodyguards be distracted from their task, or will they work together as an even stronger team?

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

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A child in danger, parents who want their child protected, a company that provided protection come together to make a spellbinding story.  Carissa Jones is a bodyguard and along with her partner Frank, she works to keep her client safe.  But Marc, Frank’s friend/brother enters the picture, and sparks begin to fly between Marc and Carissa.

A friend of Marc’s enters the picture and causes more questions than answers about why he is actually there.  Carissa’s childhood friend Julie keeps coming around, but does not set off red flags.  Yet the team knows someone is after Olivia.

Olivia demonstrates all the headstrong tendencies of a 9-year-old who is too smart for her own good.  Initially kept in the dark about what is going on and why Carissa is there because of Olivia’s parents, Carissa comes to the point where explaining to Olivia why she is really there is the only option.

Linda, the girl’s grandmother, resents the intrusion in her home, to begin with of the security team.  But based on certain things that happen, she recognizes the need for them to be there.  The love Linda and her husband have for their granddaughter shines through pages of the book.  I would love to read more books about this team of bodyguards.  I have a feeling there is a lot more stories to be told.

This book illustrates the power of faith and family.  So check it out for yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from CelebrateLit, this in no way influenced my review.  All opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

Award winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: https://kimberlyrjohnson.com/

 

 

More from Kimberly

Direct Threat is the first book in the Protection Inc. series. The series follows a group of bodyguards who are all either former cops or military police. They are on location in Lincoln City on the Oregon coast in book one, but their business is based out of Seattle.

 

I’ve been to Lincoln City more times than I can remember, but I took a research trip there with my husband, specifically for this book.

 

While in Lincoln City my husband and I walked the same beach my characters walk. I studied the access points to the cliffside homes from the vantage point of the beach, as this was an important aspect in the story. We also visited the ice cream shop mentioned in the book. You’ll understand significance of the shop when you read the story.

 

My writing career has taken some twists and turns. When I first began writing in 2006 I wrote romantic suspense. Then switched over to writing contemporary romance, which turned out to be the genre of my first contracted book and many more after that. After writing several romantic mystery novels for my publisher, I decided to dust off my romantic suspense manuscripts and publish them. Direct Threat is one of those manuscripts.

 

I absolutely love reading and writing suspense as well as romance, so joining the two together comes naturally for me. I hope you will read and enjoy this story.

 

You can learn more about Kimberly Rose Johnson and her books at https://kimberlyrjohnson.com/

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, July 25

deb’s Book Review, July 25

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 26

A Baker’s Perspective, July 27

Texas Book-aholic, July 28

reviewingbooksplusmore, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Because I said so – adventures in parenting, July 29

Quiet quilter, July 30

Inklings and notions, July 31

Maureen’s Musings, July 31

For Him and My Family, August 1

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 2

Read Review Rejoice, August 2

Daysong Reflections, August 3

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 4

Batya’s Bits, August 5

Mary Hake, August 5

Simple Harvest Reads, August 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Betti Mace, August 6

Just the Write Escape, August 7

Blossoms and Blessings, August 7

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kimberly is giving away the grand prize of a $25 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/fe34/direct-threat-celebration-tour-giveaway