A Children's Book Review of God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers by Hannah C. Hall, Illustrated by Steve Whitlow

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers book review program and Tommy Nelson, an imprint of Thomas Nelson (a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes links to purchase the book  but I do NOT receive a commission from any sales generated.


This adorable children's book is perfect for your little one's nightly routine and bedtime snuggles, helping them learn to seek God and His promises through prayer. 

Appropriate for any child aged 0-7, this precious book of sweet, little critters and soft, rhyming phrases will help your child learn to pray in a practical way about praising God, giving thanks, praying for loved ones and overcoming fears, trials and worries. Each page offers colorful illustrations and accompanying scripture featuring the promises God has made to His children. 


 God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers, a Tommy Nelson children's book written by Hannah C. Hall, illustrated by Steve Whitlow. 

God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers, a Tommy Nelson children's book written by Hannah C. Hall, illustrated by Steve Whitlow. 

★★★★★ || I truly adore the God Bless Our books and this new release is certainly no exception.  The practical way that the author teaches children to pray is both simple and sweet.  The ten little prayers can stand alone, with one read each evening or the entire book as a whole.  I loved that each prayer taught something different - praise, thanksgiving, casting your worries on Him, trusting in the midst of fear, praying for sick loved ones, repentance and even finding rest in God. This book would make a great reference point for parents to read with their children as individual circumstances arise in a child's daily life, helping them look to the Lord for comfort and peace. Throughout this book, children are encouraged to seek God with underlying messages of love, hope and trust. It is truly heartwarming and fulfilling. 

I enjoyed that each prayer had verses to support the sentiment and thought those would work well as memory verses for older children. 

The book is an excellent quality, with thick, board pages so children can enjoy the book from a young age on.  The soft, delightful illustrations are simply too precious! My daughter (aged two and a half months) loved looking at them as I read her this book!  I would highly recommend this book to other families and look forward to reading this multiple times with my little girl! 

Note: For families that do not have both parents involved in the child's life, please know this book does mention both a mother and a father.  For children raised in single parent households or for those who have another individual as a guardian, that may be a sensitive subject. 


I review for BookLook Bloggers

Lastly, pick up your own copy of God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers or borrow it from your local library.  You can also find the other God Bless Our... books available here.

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★★ Book Review of A Daring Venture (Empire State #2) by Elizabeth Camden - A Historical Fiction Romance

*I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Bethany House at Baker Publishing Group via NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


★★★★ Book Review of A Daring Venture (Empire State #2) by Elizabeth Camden - A Historical Fiction Romance

A fascinating, suspenseful romance between two dynamic characters...

Step back in time to early 20th century America when times were changing and evolving as new science and inventions began making history. Follow the budding romance between two compelling people and lose yourself in a mystery of sabotage and intrigue.

As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city-- but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team's techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist.

While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, these two rivals will face higher stakes than they ever could have known.. - Synopsis from A Daring Venture


 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★ Book Number 11/50  |  After reading the synopsis of this newly released book about a month ago, I was excited to begin reading it.  From the very first chapter, I was hooked! Dr. Rosalind Werner is a woman ahead of her time, making her mark in a world of scientific research that was primarily dominated by men.  Readers will love her fierce determination and bright mind.  

Nicholas Drake immediately identifies himself as a force to be reckoned with, yet readers catch a glimpse of his soft side where he adores his family and cares tenderly for his young daughter. When these two dynamic characters cross paths, the chemistry between them is quickly kindled.  As their magnetic relationship grows, so does the suspense. The characters begin making decisions that impact their relationship while colossal history is being made.  In the background, an evil force is at work, seeking to destroy this new love and the progress being made. 

This exciting story kept me interested and entertained from beginning to end.  Quite frankly, I was sad to have the book wrap up.  Author Elizabeth Camden does an excellent job of mingling history, romance and suspense all into one thrilling story!  This is the first book I've read by her and I am looking forward to reading her other titles now.  While this book is a second book in the Empire State series, it is designed to be a stand alone story and I did not feel like I'd missed anything by not reading the first book in this series.  

I enjoyed the flow of the story, the compelling way it was written, the historical significance and the empowering position Dr. Werner held as a forefront leader in her time.  The story was laden with accurate facts and included two real life characters who indeed made an incredible impact on our country at that time. I learned things I hadn't known before and truly loved that part of this book.  I appreciated the suspense and mystery that worked it's way into the story without overpowering the romance, making this a very entertaining read.

I chose four stars for this wonderful book because it is a great addition to any historical fiction lover's bookshelf. It is one I believe readers will enjoy and highly recommend to their friends! 

‘I care about you, Rosalind. We may be different on the outside, but beneath all the manners and accents and background, you and I are like a house on fire.’ ... He knew everything about her past yet still looked at her with a combination of hope, determination, and raw strength. It shot a bolt of confidence straight into her soul. They were united. They would venture forth into this uncertain and frightening future side by side, and face whatever challenges came their way together.
— Elizabeth Camden, A Daring Venture

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 Image courtesy of www.elizabethcamden.com

Image courtesy of www.elizabethcamden.com

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

Learn more about Elizabeth Camden at www.elizabethcamden.com.

You can also follow her on Facebook


Lastly, pick up your own copy of A Daring Venture or borrow it from your local library.  You can also find the other books by Elizabeth Camden available here.

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★ Book Review of A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot - A Historical Fiction Romance

*I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Revell at Baker Publishing Group via NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A sweet, historical fiction read for any age!

Cozy up with this easy read as you step into Cimarron Creek, TX and lose yourself in a story of secrets, faith, love, forgiveness and suspense. 

There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . . 

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor's treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek's dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He's managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality. - Synopsis from A Borrowed Dream


 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★ Book Number 7/50  |  A Borrowed Dream, book two in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy is a book that rather surprised me.  It is the first book I've read by author, Amanda Cabot. The story begins when Austin Goddard and his young daughter move to Cimarron Creek, harboring secrets that mean life or death.  As Austin ushers his young daughter to school, he meets the young and beautiful school teacher, Catherine, who he quickly begins falling for while he battles his need to keep his true identity secret and keep his daughter safe.  Catherine finds herself wrapped up in her own secrets and trials as she walks through life with a mistrust for the town's current doctor, meets and takes in a stranger, and cares for her schoolchildren.  The story is one of new love, secrets, forgiveness, tragedy and even mild suspense.  

In beginning this book, I immediately saw the connection to the first book in the series, which I have not yet read.  At times, I did feel like I had missed something, especially when it came to understanding some of the characters and their history, but this book does focus on a story that is completely separate from book one. Without giving too much away, the love story is sweet as we see a relationship form out of friendship and respect.  There are fairly exciting twists and turns that keep readers interested and turning the pages to find out what happens next. There's even an evil villain... The story moves quickly, is sweet, touching, predictable, clean and has the perfect happy ending, just as you'd expect. 

A Borrowed Dream has similarities to Janette Oke's "Love Comes" series so if you're a fan of hers, you will really enjoy Amanda Cabot as well.  Because the story does touch on subjects like murder and rape, I would ask parents of young adult readers (ages 11-13) to consider the reader's maturity level but I do feel the book was well suited for teenage girls 14+.  My reason for this rating is simply a matter of personal opinion.  The book was good and I liked it. You may like it much more than I did.  I desired a deeper storyline, while this one merely skimmed the surface. Several tragedies happen and I felt the author only lightly touched on what would have been a deep impact for such a small, close knit community.  The predictability was another factor that I wrestled with, unfortunately knowing exactly how the book would end. The outcome of too many events felt so convenient and obvious for the storyline. However, amidst my desires for something deeper, I still found myself turning the pages as the story moved along, held my interest and had various climactic elements. When all was said and done, I found myself wanting to read more by this author in this series and I think you will too!  Again, if you're looking for a cozy, historical fiction read with engaging elements, this is the book for you! 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at www.amandacabot.com. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter


Lastly, pick up your own copy of A Borrowed Dream or borrow it from your local library.  You can also find the other books by Amanda Cabot available here.

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★ Book Review of The Heart's Appeal by Jennifer Delamere - A Historical Fiction Novel

Spring blossoms are bursting forth around here and I have a brand new release from Bethany House Publishers to share with you today! The Heart's Appeal, by Jennifer Delamere was just released this month.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


An attractive tale of two purposeful young people who's lives become intertwined in love. 

Steal away to Victorian England with this romance novel that attributes to a time when the world was changing and new, exciting things were happening in the world for both women and men. 

London, 1881 | He Never Expected to See Her Again. Then She Appeared with a Most Unexpected Request. . . .

Strong-minded and independent, Julia Bernay has come to London to study medicine and become a doctor--a profession that has only just opened up to women. When she witnesses a serious accident, her quick action saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson. It's only later that she learns he could be instrumental in destroying her dreams for the future.

Coming from a family that long ago lost its status, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to regain the path to wealth and recognition. His latest case puts him in the middle of a debate over the future of a women's medical school. He's supposed to remain objective, but when the beguiling and determined Julia reappears with an unexpected entreaty, he begins to question what he's made most important in his life. But Julia may be hiding her own motivations. As the two are tangled into spending more time together, will their own goals be too much to overcome? - Synopsis from The Heart's Appeal


 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★ Book Number 6/50  | The late 1800's were an exciting time for our world with new innovations and breakout ideology.  Perhaps, more important though was the movement that was underway for women and their rights to pursue equality in a predominantly man's world.  This likable romance weaves the lives of Julia Bernay, a young nurse who intends on becoming a missionary doctor and Michael Stephenson, an established barrister in ways they never imagined.   

The Heart's Appeal is a moderate read with well researched medical and law terms that are easy to understand.  Readers will feel themselves step into Victorian England and get caught up with these two young people as they embark on a journey of love.  Readers will also enjoy learning bits and pieces about George Muller and Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, two real people who made a significant impact on society in their time. 

I loved Julia's tenacity and determination. Her faith was beautiful and was what made me, as a reader, feel an instant connection with her as a character. She has a beautiful conviction to make a difference in the world while making her own way, with God's help, of course.  I also enjoyed Edith Morton, who among others in the story, helps stand up for women's rights and strives for the equality of her profession among men.  If it wasn't for celebrated women like these, our society wouldn't be as advanced as it is today when it comes to women's right and a right to choose and excel in their own profession.  

Michael Stephenson is a charming character who at first, I believe, wasn't sure of his own convictions in life.  As the book moves along though, readers experience the softening of his heart and his desire to make a difference in the world as well, which is a direct result of his budding love for this beautiful young woman. Their romance, as it grows, is touching and quite tender. 

While this book is clearly a part of a series, it read well as a standalone. In fact, after finishing it, I'm looking forward to reading the first book, The Captain's Daughter, and the book that is to follow. 

In my opinion, this appealing book is a solid three stars and I believe that other historic fiction readers will like it as well.  My fondness for the story is because of it's historical aspect and the significance of the women's movement. The story flowed well, held my interest and had points of intrigue and excitement. In my opinion, I would have loved it more if the author had dealt less with the libel case and more with the struggles women faced entering the medical field. I would also have loved if Julia had been more actively involved in ministering right there in London, while I enjoyed the bit that she did.  However, this was the first book I've read by Jennifer Delamere and so, I am looking forward to seeing what else she has to offer, especially in this series. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Jennifer Delamere's debut Victorian romance, An Heiress at Heart, was a 2013 RITA Award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, A Lady Most Lovely, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She's been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.. Visit her at http://www.jenniferdelamere.com or follow her on FacebookPinterest and Twitter.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The Heart's Appeal or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★★★ Book Review of A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green -A Historical Fiction Novel

How fast this year is moving! In case you missed it, my husband and I had some really exciting news we shared earlier this month so my days have suddenly become busy and filled with lots of preparation and paperwork. Amidst the crazy excitement though, I have scheduled in some time during the wee hours of the morning to practice my current favorite method of self care: reading. I'm curious, what are some ways YOU practice self care?

I was recently given a wonderful opportunity by Bethany House Publishers to gain a copy of the newly released novel, A Refuge Assured, by Jocelyn Green. Friends, I couldn't put it down!

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


Captivating & Suspenseful... A detailed look at French émigré life in America after the Revolutionary War.

This beautiful story weaves the lives of strong, engaging characters in an exciting series of events while offering a storyline rich in historic details that is sure to delight any historical fiction enthusiast.

Fleeing One Revolution to the Aftermath of Another, She Seeks and Dreams of Peace

Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.  -  Synopsis from A Refuge Assured


 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★★ Book Number 3/50  | War, suspense, mystery, determination, faith and romance... From the gorgeous cover to the heartwarming ending, this story is sure to win the hearts of its readers. Early on in this captivating novel, the author, Jocelyn Green, introduces readers to French émigré, Vivienne Rivard,  who must flee her beloved home in France to save her own life. Vivienne faces the heartbreaking loss of her dear aunt and learns the details of her estranged mother's questionable past, while living life in a country ravaged by the horrors of the French Revolution.  We follow her journey overseas to America, where readers meet Liam Delaney, a former militiaman in the American Revolution just years prior.  Throughout the early storyline, additional, supportive characters enter and lay the foundation for exciting plot twists which add a sense of mystery to the novel. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this book as well as the suspense that builds from the events taking place throughout the story. The author depicts an accurate peek into the gut-wrenching perils of the French Revolution, portrays early American life beautifully and details major historical events such as the Whiskey Rebellion while bringing historical figures like Alexander Hamilton and Monsieur Omer Talon to life. In addition, the author sets forth the story in intricate details which delights reader's imaginations and brings vivid color to the sights and smells of the era.

When Vivienne finds herself as a sudden guardian of a young boy, mystery surrounds the lad who could possibly be Louis-Charles, the heir to the French throne. Readers will get a glimpse into this boy's life and his story as he and Vivienne must once again flee their home to protect their very lives.  Finding refuge in a place called French Azilum, a historically accurate place in Pennsylvania, they find their lives even more intertwined with Liam Delaney and other important characters.  

Vivienne, who never knew the love of her own mother, finds herself shepherding this young boy through life, providing for him, caring for him and nurturing him as she struggles to make her own way in life. She discovers the value of family and opens her heart to forgiveness along the way. It is her admirable determination and grit that I loved most about her. 

Liam, who's noble character has readers falling in love with him from the start, makes his way through the story fighting moral battles and upholding what he believes to be right. As he quickly falls for the beautiful Vivienne, readers find a hint of romance that later becomes a beautiful love between two strong and independent people. 

The end of the story wraps up with an exciting, climactic turn of events and a heartwarming ending.  I don't want to give too much away in the details but suffice it to say, the ending will not disappoint.  I truly believe historical fiction readers will love this book as much as I did. It is indeed a five star book, in my opinion. 

The birds were free to wing over land and sea, yet they came home to roost at the edge of the country she could no longer call home. Vivienne had come unmoored. Adrift, in more ways than one.
— Jocelyn Green, A Refuge Assured

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King; Wedded to War; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of A Refuge Assured or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★ Book Review of Out of the Ashes (Heart of Alaska #2) by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Hello sweet friends and readers! I know I've been MIA around here since last November... Unfortunately, my husband and I experienced a tragic event in our lives over the holiday season and as a result, I had to have an emergency life saving surgery. I am now six weeks post surgery and feeling mostly recovered as our lives begin to return to our new normal. For me, the new year snuck in quietly while I was focused on other things, but I do hope that you are having a wonderful, productive start to the new year!

Soon, I hope to be back here sharing about some of my goals (or dare I say, lack of goals) for 2018. In the meantime, however, I want to share some thoughts on a heartwarming, newly released book I received from Bethany House Publishers!  This touching story weaves the tale of two people battling different struggles and how God uses those struggles to bring their hearts to Him and then to each other.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.

" Can the Majesty of Alaska Foster Hope and Healing for Those Who Need it Most? After the death of their father, Collette and Jean-Michel Langelier are no longer tied to post-war France. While his sister dreams of adventure, Jean-Michel is hoping to finally escape reminders of the horrors he faced in the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925. When an unexpected invitation for them to visit Alaska and the Curry Hotel arrives, it seems the perfect opportunity.

Young widow Katherine Demarchis is also traveling to the foot of Mt. Denali with her grandmother--a last trip before she retreats into a quiet and solitary life, finally free of the dangerous husband she was forced to marry. Yet when she encounters there a Frenchman from her past, her plans for the future are thrown into question.

Both haunted by the violence of their pasts, can Katherine and Jean-Michel rediscover the bond they once had? Or, when Jean-Michel's nightmares return with terrifying consequences, will it be impossible to heal what's been broken for so long?   -  Synopsis from Out of the Ashes


 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★ Book Number 2/50  |  This tender story is sure to melt your heart!  When I first received this book, I was immediately drawn to the cover. It's visually appealing for anyone who loves historical fiction and makes you want to dive right in! As this story begins, you'll learn about the two main characters, Katherine and Jean-Michel - two people who loved each other but were torn apart. As their lives moved on without each other, their hearts are scarred by battles they each endured separately as the result of the paths their lives take.  When Katherine's grandmother becomes involved, the two former lovers are given the opportunity to reconnect and reunite their love from years ago.

I enjoyed the story line and felt both Jean-Michel and Katherine were genuine, endearing characters.  They were easy to relate to and their separate journeys in understanding themselves, finding their faith and rekindling a long lost love was so touching.  Throughout the book, the authors do a wonderful job of setting forth the plan of salvation as we get to watch the main characters discover their faith and turn to God to deliver them from their past. In addition, there's sustenance developed for their faith as they find mentors in their friends and loved ones who explain the Scriptures to them and help them grow in their new faith.  For that, I loved this book!

While Out of the Ashes is clearly the second book in the Heart of Alaska series, I didn't feel like I'd lost anything by not having read book one, In the Shadow of Denali, first or even at all.  Out of the Ashes continues the story of Cassidy, Allan, and the Curry Hotel staff from book one, but works well as a stand alone novel. Readers also get to learn about some minor characters such as Colette, Jean-Michel's sister, and Thomas and Mrs. Johnson, two of the hotel staff.  While I did find Colette a little too immature to be believable, I felt these characters added merit to the story.

The book opens with all the interesting details readers need to know about the main characters' backgrounds and lays the groundwork for the story. Roughly halfway through, readers might find themselves anxious to skip ahead as there's a bit of a lull in the drama. But keep reading because 3/4 of the way through the story, just as Katherine and Jean-Michel reconnect on a deeper level, an influenza epidemic becomes a very serious concern for the little town.  Then, as you would expect, this novel will wrap up quickly and neatly, with the warm-gooey ending you anticipated in the beginning.

I gave this book three stars because I enjoyed the history that I learned in the book and the journey of personal faith for Katherine and Jean-Michel.  The two things that kept me from giving Out of the Ashes a higher review was that, for me, the novel had too many perspectives on the story.  While I enjoyed learning about the other characters that made up the Curry Hotel staff, I found myself feeling like the novel jumped between different characters' points of view too often and left me wanting more from one character's point of view.  As a result of that rapid shift in perspective, I felt that things moved too quickly and that I missed out on the details and depth the story could have held.  I believe, however, that the reason for multiple perspectives is because this book IS a part of a series and the authors wish the readers to be able to connect with all the lovely staff of the Curry Hotel in order to enjoy the series as a whole. I am certain that we will find in the book to follow that the lives of these dear characters continue. Secondly, the novel uses the influenza epidemic as a crisis point in the story, but then downplays the reality of it later, with all the characters miraculously getting well but not attending the six funerals of those who passed. I found that hard to fathom in such a close knit little community. Also, little is mentioned of the outcome for the four people who contracted the disease while camped outside of town during the quarantine. At that point in the story, things move quickly and wrap up with a predictable ending.  Overall, though, this book is truly heartwarming if readers focus on the journey that Katherine and Jean-Michel embark on.  By the end of the story, readers have fallen in love with these characters, the Curry Hotel staff and will find themselves wanting to pick up other books in this series.

One beautiful thing came out of the torment of the last few years. She was redeemed. And that changed her life forever. No matter what, she couldn’t allow herself to listen to the lies of the enemy any longer.
— Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse, Out of the Ashes

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: 

If you would like to learn more about authors, Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, you visit Tracie's website here and find Kimberely's website here.  Also, be sure and check out the first book in the Heart of Alaska series, In the Shadow of Denali.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Out of the Ashes on Amazon or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★★  Book Review of The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I am so excited to share with you today about a brand new release from Bethany House Publishers!  This sweet novel shares a beautiful story of two young people who begin to seek God's will for their lives and futures, while falling in love and learning the value of family, friendships and faith. 

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.

Book Look(s) | A Book Review of The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

"In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water,  In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through. Judd Markley knows he can never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother's life means leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world is all he knows, he puts it behind him and heads for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward's life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more--maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there--until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd's and Larkin's dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together--or maybe, it will take a miracle."   -  Synopsis from the Sound of Rain


 Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★ Book Number 47/50  |  This lovely book is near and dear to my heart for many reasons.  First, I live in the Appalachian mountains and have vacationed in Myrtle Beach so I easily identified with the characters and the locations set in this story.  In addition, I have experienced several hurricanes and their aftermath firsthand during my years growing up.  The Sound of Rain beautifully ties tragedy, young love and personal growth together in a sweetly woven story that takes place between the mountains, the ocean and the hearts of two yearning people. 

I loved the easy flow of this story... It was soft and touching with many author-induced smiles along the way, especially when referencing the humidity of South Carolina versus the cooler air of the mountains.  I appreciated how Judd wanted to carry on his deceased younger brother's memory while courageously embarking on a new path and welcoming change.  The author created a character whom we can all fall in love with as a man of integrity, grit and perhaps even a quiet passion.  As for Larkin, I enjoyed seeing her pursue the repairing of a relationship between her family members. In her pursuit, she becomes the main tie in connecting her family and helping them grow back together.  The author beautifully portrayed Larkin as a delightful caring, willing spirit who should be an inspiration to us all.

Amidst all the glory of this tender story, a massive hurricane and quite possibly one of the largest of it's decade, makes landfall in the heart of this book.  While I do believe the author accurately described the historic details of the storm, I wondered where the fear of such an intense storm was. Oftentimes, witnessing howling winds shake the very walls of your home while weathering a category 4 storm is quite unbelievable. The aftermath of such is a state of disarray; so much so that life doesn't easily resume, especially without power, aid from neighbors and the accessibility to roads, food and stores.  I am certain, however, that the author merely included this historic storm as a way to draw her characters together and give them a deeper connection while using the event as a bridge for the rest of the book's plot, rather than as a show stopping experience like this hurricane most likely was for life at that time. 

As the story continues to unfold after the storm, readers begin to soul search along with the characters and learn that God has a way of honoring our dreams and changing our hearts to see His dream for our lives.  That was, perhaps, my favorite part of this book and a beautiful thought to absorb. 

For readers who enjoy historic fiction and the 1950's era particularly, I know you'll love this book! You'll not only fall in love the characters, but you'll find yourself enjoying a look back in time at coal mining, beach trips to the oceanfront and a well-researched peek into timbering the land and the U.S. Forestry division. 

I gave this story four stars because I eagerly looked forward to every moment I could spend in this book and it truly was a heartwarming story with a beautiful, underlying message. The book was so well written and it flowed naturally, and easily. In addition, I just have to add that the cover with it's gold foiled raindrops, is simply stunning! 

...as much as he wished he could go back and take Joe’s place, he couldn’t. But there was a sweet girl with laughter in her eyes who just might give him a good reason to go on living for as long as he could.
— Sarah Loudin Thomas, The Sound of Rain

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

If you would like to learn more about author, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and her wonderful books, visit her website at www.sarahloudinthomas.com or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The Sound of Rain on Amazon or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


Introducing Fall Magic by Paislee Press | 9x12 Digital Pocket Scrapbook Page

Hello my friends and Happy-Almost-Thanksgiving! I can't believe we are just a few days away from one of the biggest holidays of the year! I have desserts to bake for an evening at family's house and all the craziness of a short work week.  In the meantime, I'm here to share a beautiful new layout I've created using the incredible Fall Magic collection from Paislee Press.  This lovely collections features papers, elements and journal cards

Like the Autumn Vibes collection, this set has rich colors, more autumn themed elements and magnificent patterns.  

Introducing Fall Magic by Paislee Press | 9x12 Digital Pocket Scrapbook Page
 

A ★★★ Book Review of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

* Note: All thoughts below are my own. I was not compensated to write this review.  However, this blog post does include affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.

 Image via Goodreads.com

Image via Goodreads.com

★★★ Book Number 44/50  |  In keeping with my WWII themed books, I chose Love Finds You in Victory Heights via my online library. This story opens a look into the life of the women and men who made a difference here in the United States while many fought the war abroad.  The main character, Rosalie, a riveter at the Boeing plant in Seattle, WA struggles after the death of her fiancé and a family member as a result of the war.   In the midst of her struggles, she finds God's salvation, freedom from her the weight of guilt, and love, all while touted as Seattle's own "Rosie the Riveter". 

I gave this book three stars because it was cute and an easy read.  I loved that Rosalie found salvation early in the story.  I enjoyed the characters and learning about each one more as the story unwound.  At times, I felt much of the book was written after a major event had already happened in the characters' lives.  I would rather have read the story as they walked through those major events, but it was still a great book and yet another accurate look at life during World War II. 

My favorite part was perhaps the peek into the women who worked so hard to build the incredible machines that helped end the war and make America one of the leading Allied forces.  These women paved the way for women's rights, women's independence and equal rights in the workforce. 

Mama taught me that a girl’s good looks soon fade, while what’s in her heart just keeps getting more beautiful.
— Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss, Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington

Pick up your own copy of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington here or borrow it from your local library. Then, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments below!

Learn more about Tricia Goyer here and about Ocieanna Fleiss here.


 

 

Sharing Holiday Traditions, a FREE Holiday Bucket List Printable and 5 Sundays of FREE Christmas Movies via Pureflix.com!

Just 38 Days Until Christmas!

This time of year is my absolute favorite time of the year.  The holidays bring so much joy and so many opportunities to spend valuable time focusing on the things that really matter in life, like faith, family and gratitude.  

Note: Some of the following links are affiliate links, which means I receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.

Since November snuck up on me, I didn't get an opportunity to create a Gratitude Project again this year.  You can see the traveler's notebook style album I put together last year here.  Instead, I decided to focus my spare time on preparing to create a holiday album that encompasses our gratitude for the year, all three major holidays and all of our favorite holiday traditions, which I'm sharing more about below!  

I'll be using a 6x8 size binder with supplies I already have on hand and using some digital designs in hybrid format, so stay tuned because I'll be sharing more about that in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, you can click here to see my 2015 album and here to see my 2016 album

Holiday Traditions, FREE Holiday Bucket List Printables by Turquoise Avenue and 5 Sunday of FREE Christmas Movies from Pureflix.com
Holiday Traditions, FREE Holiday Bucket List Printables and 5 Sundays of FREE Christmas Movies via Pureflix.com!

Since this decision, I've put thought into the things I want to focus on.  Since this could very well be our last Christmas together as a couple without children (did you know we're adopting?!), I really want to document our favorite holiday traditions. While I know none of our traditions are unique, they are all traditions that bring the spirit of the holidays to our lives and our family time together. Here are a few I'm looking forward to:

PACKING OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD SHOEBOXES: This is my favorite tradition.  My husband and I usually pack 4 shoeboxes each year. We typically buy for the boxes all year long, but this year things were a little too busy so we instead spent one late evening after work collecting items and packing our shoeboxes to be delivered to church.  I slipped a little note for each child inside the boxes and they'll be collected this week to be shipped out all around the world.  What a wonderful way to spread holiday joy and Jesus's love around the world.  You can learn more about Operation Christmas Child via Samaritan's Purse.

DRIVING AROUND LOOKING AT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: One evening before Christmas, usually on a nice chilly evening, we jump in the car and take off for burgers and ice cream at Freddy's.  After our little stop for food, we drive around town and visit some different light shows while listening to Christmas music.  This was a tradition for each of us as children and we've continued it together as a married couple. We are so excited for the day when we will have a little one with us to enjoy the lights also! 

PROGRESSIVE DINNER ON CHRISTMAS EVE: This is a very new tradition for my husband's side of the family, one we started last year. However, after a HUGE success, we unanimously agreed to keep it.  With life being so busy throughout the year, family time with his side of the family is few and far between.  However, setting aside the entire day for a progressive dinner was really sweet. We spent a little time at each home and spent the entire day together.  Plus, it really broke up the amount of work and cooking each home had to do so it didn't fall all on one person or couple.  We are really looking forward to this tradition again. 

BAKING COOKIES: Each year this tradition looks a little different for me.  Throughout the year, I don't do much baking so I always eagerly anticipate putting on some Christmas music and baking for an entire day. Some years it has been with my mom, other years with my mother-in-law, and even still other years are with my sister. We never keep all the goodies to ourselves... We always share with our friends, family and neighbors.  Yet another way to spread holiday cheer! 

WATCHING CHRISTMAS MOVIES: This last tradition is probably one you all look forward to as well. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is nice to stay home, cuddle up under a warm blanket with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy a quiet evening together, as a family, near the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.  Ahhh, I can almost taste the hot chocolate already!  This year, I am SUPER EXCITED because beginning on Nov. 26th through Christmas Eve, Pure Flix is going to be sharing a FREE holiday movie every SundayEven better, because PureFlix.com is a faith and family based company, I know these movies are sure to be heartwarming and great for all ages.  

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Share them with me in a comment below!

 


DOWNLOAD YOUR OWN FREE HOLIDAY BUCKET LIST PRINTABLE!

Holiday Traditions, FREE Holiday Bucket List Printables by Turquoise Avenue and 5 Sunday of FREE Christmas Movies from Pureflix.com

To help YOU prepare for the holiday season, I've created a FREE Holiday Bucket List for all of my sweet friends who want to document the season.

There is both a 6x8 version in white and color as well as traveler's notebook 4x8 version.

When you click to download the file below, you'll receive the white and colored .jpg lists to use it digitally, plus a .pdf version for easy printing on your home printer.  

I hope you enjoy these and be sure to tag me (@TurquoiseAvenue) in your posts if you share your projects online! I can't wait to see what you create!

 

 PIN THIS IMAGE! Sharing Holiday Tradition Ideas, download a FREE Holiday Bucket List Printable and get 5 Sundays of FREE Christmas Movies via Pureflix.com!  

PIN THIS IMAGE! Sharing Holiday Tradition Ideas, download a FREE Holiday Bucket List Printable and get 5 Sundays of FREE Christmas Movies via Pureflix.com!