June 17, 2017

Review: Sweetbriar Cottage

Sweetbriar Cottage Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was amazing! Honestly I knew it would be because all of her books are but I really, really, really loved this one.

I'll admit it ended about the way I expected it to. But I never would have guessed what she would put her characters through! I really loved Josie and Noah. I especially loved getting to know them at different times in their lives too. The flashbacks were so well done. I especially appreciate when an author truly spells out when the flashback is taking place. So I loved the time frame headers on the chapters. And the glimpses into their lives when they first met vs present day were wonderful. I love young love. Sometimes it makes me roll my eyes but I still love it. It is so fresh and full of promise. The views into Josie's childhood were not my favorite because of how awful her childhood was but I appreciate authors that take those awful memories and turn them into new chances in their books. I love that Josie got to learn about forgiveness and unconditional love. I also love that she turned to God.

Aside from amazing settings and characters I'd say that Hunter's biggest gift is truly passionate relationships. Sometimes the passion isn't love though and it is neat to see how other emotions can also illicit passion in a book! I loved all the different emotions and situations passion came out of in this book. If you enjoy a good romance that is clean I think you'll love this book!

But more than anything I truly love when a Christian author uses their faith when writing the book and in the character's lives in their book. I love how constantly Noah turned to God. To me that characteristic he had made him all that much more appealing as the hero in the book. I'm so thankful for authors that seek God's guidance as they write their books.

One final thing I really loved about this book was the element of suspense thrown in. Typically you don't find suspense in Hunter's books but this one did it so well. I was truly getting anxious and nervous and freaking out for awhile. And the dialogue and descriptions during those moments was spot on and truly made my emotions rise as I was reading about the dangers.

I truly cannot tell you a single thing I didn't like about this book. Except maybe that it ended! I could have read about Noah and Josie all night!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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June 12, 2017

Someplace Familiar blog tour + GIVEAWAY!!!

 Welcome to the Blog Tour for Someplace Familiar by Teresa Tysinger. I’m posting today about this debut novel, a contemporary southern romance with themes of faith, hope in new love, and grace. It’s the first in a series of books set in Laurel Cove, a fictional town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I’m joining other bloggers this week to tell you a little about the book and spread the news about the giveaway Teresa is hosting! Be sure to enter to win a signed book and more from Teresa at the end of this post. And leave your comments and questions below—Teresa will be stopping by to visit with us!

Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That's what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason. 

Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon's Supplies, and once again the town's most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance. 

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts to discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?

Find Someplace Familiar on

Amazon: http://a.co/iYoxB1U
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2mo0GAc

Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings. 
ENTER HERE (https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e36c22633/) to win a signed paperback copy of Someplace Familiar, a custom 8x8” canvas painting by artist Cyndi Browning (in honor of the book’s heroine, Livy, who is an artist), and $10 Amazon Gift Card. Winner will be announced on Teresa’s website on June 18 once the tour wraps up. (Open to continental US residents only; sorry international readers!)
My Review
 A fantastic debut novel! I am not usually that taken by a cover of a book. To me what is important is the story and the characters. But this cover caught my eye a long time ago. I can't even remember if I saw it on Facebook or Goodreads but I KNEW I HAD to read this book. And I am so glad that Teresa Tysinger sent me an advanced copy to read because it was AMAZING. And I'm not just saying that because I got a free early copy. It truly was a wonderful book for many reasons.

I loved the characters. Livy and Jack both have such depth to them. It was great to see them grow and develop throughout the book. And I also loved the small glimpses into their childhood too. I find there are too many novels out there where the characters fall in love for the first time or have never had a truly serious relationship before. And while those stories are good.... This book offers a view of a relationship where the previous relationships have to be overcome in order for the new one to take hold. It was a nice change of pace. I love how the characters grew and how they overcame their pasts.

I'm not going to lie. I loved the romance too. I love Christian Fiction that is clean but still shows what a dating relationship is really like. That things get heated up and passionate. That it shows on the pages of a book that two people can be in love, hot for each other and still make good decisions. I think it is important for young people to read Christian fiction that doesn't end with a peck and a friendly hug.

Another aspect of this book that was so very well done was Livy's past relationship. Too often we gloss over the bad things that happen in relationships and we don't talk about the hard things. I appreciate Tysinger tackling the hard conversation of verbally abusive relationships. I hope that if a woman reads this and realizes it is happening to her that she can find the help she needs.

I also really liked how Tysinger ended this book. I won't give it away but the reconciliation and forgiveness involved was truly inspiring. I was very encouraged by the ability Livy had to be such a wonderful example.

Jack and Livy feel like old friends now. I loved the setting of the book too. And I hope that Tysinger has a second novel up her sleeve before too long because I need to read more of her writing!
Q & A with Teresa:
  1. Where did you get the inspiration for Someplace Familiar?
    The inspiration for the book came from two places. First, my memories of my own great-grandmother’s charming home and gardens inspired Livy’s Gram’s cottage. It gave me the chance to catalog my memories into a living story. Also, I am completely enamored with the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Having grown up in Florida, when I attended college in the mountains, I fell in love with the area and knew writing a story with it as the setting was meant to be!
  2. What is it about the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina that made such an impression on you as the setting for this book?
Oh goodness, the list is so long! I love the four distinct seasons—each offering something uniquely beautiful and enchanting. The culture is rich, eclectic, and full of whimsy. And don’t forget the slow pace of easy rocking chairs, bubbling brooks, rustling trees, and the gentle roll of both the mountains and the southern drawls. I love it all!
  1. Christian romance is a popular genre. What defines the genre for you as a writer?
The story of Christ’s love for us is the truest, most pure romance. So, when a book of fiction can combine the love story between two humans with the transforming, powerful love of God it’s the best of both worlds. I personally enjoy romances that show readers that real life and relationships are messy and the “happily ever after” isn’t necessarily riding off into the sunset, but rather comes with sacrifice and compromise. So, that’s what I aim to write, too!
  1. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
    My favorite part of writing a book comes at the earliest stages. I love naming characters and being creative putting the plot together. At that stage, anything is possible and it’s okay to be a little messy with it!

June 6, 2017

Review: High As the Heavens

High As the Heavens High As the Heavens by Kate Breslin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book because it was so much more than just a historical romance. All I really expected was a mixture of history and romance and instead also got suspense and intrigue as well!

There are so many books based in WWII that it thrills me when an author picks a less written about time like WWI. I sadly haven't studies WWI as much as WWII but I love reading Breslin's books because they are so well researched and I actually learn a lot without feeling like I'm studying history. I love how she bases her story on real life events and also people or a combination thereof.

I was hooked from the very first page and loved the different facets of the story involving Eve and her family and also her work as a nurse. My mom is a nurse so I really liked reading about a historical nurse that helped so many people in so many ways.

In a historical romance based during wartime I am always impressed when an author finds the perfect balance between realistic details and too much gore. High as the Heavens does have a few scenes that are fairly gruesome but they are written very well with only enough detail to make a point without being over the top. She achieved her goal of making me feel the pain of the situation without making me wish I could go back in time and unread what I'd read. Plus the inclusion of difficult passages honestly made the book much more realistic since terrible things happen in wartime.

In the end I think the biggest reason I loved this book was because there were so many moments of suspense and I never once figured out who the bad guys were. Since the book also focused on different members of the world of espionage it was a constant concern of who was working for the good guys and definitely gave me moments of heart-stopping action.

Normally I don't care for books that are written in dual times. But Breslin did it so well that I found myself drawn into the story in both times. Usually I find myself skimming to get back to my favorite time period of the story and this time I found myself doing the opposite and savoring every page of the story.

I truly cannot recommend this book enough. It is the best book I've read by Breslin and I've read all of her works.People who loved Not by Sight are going to love this book because she really takes her writing up another level with this book.

The publisher through NetGalley provided me an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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