My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar

img_8527First of all, allow me to apologize for my tardiness this week in posting. Having a regular blogging and reviewing schedule is a very difficult commitment, but one that I think is important to make! As you know, I’m in the process of moving and working on getting all of the things that go along with moving (jobs, schooling, packing) in order. So this past week, it definitely threw my reading schedule off!

However, there’s nothing like a charming book to take your mind away from the stressors of life. My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma was just that for me!

Here’s the synopsis, so that you have a good idea as to the plot of this book:

Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright has purchased land in the Shenandoah Valley. However, the land belongs to Lillyanna Laughlin—or so she erroneously thinks. Mac sets her straight and despite a poor start, the two become friends. . .if only he were financially stable to offer her more.

When Lily’s life is threatened and his whole future goes up in flames, Mac truly becomes a man without means, and Lily is forced to make the impossible choice between a loveless marriage with a man twice her age or the man who has shown her what true love could be. How can she choose between love and economic security? Her family is depending on her. Is her heart destined to break?

Journey into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley of 1816 where a woman’s dreams and future happiness are on the line.

I loved the spiritual content in this book, first and foremost! Major themes in this book are faith, trust, and surrendering your life to God completely. That being said, another great part of this book was the love story. As the two main characters grew closer to God, they grew closer to each other, and that is always one of my favorite stories to read about! It’s timeless, in my opinion. Of course, for Lilyanna Laughlin and Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright, such a love story does not come without its fair share of ups, downs, sinister schemes, heartbreaks, and misunderstandings.

I daresay that this book had more twists and turns in it than the Shenandoah River itself, but I loved every bit of it!

I enjoyed the Captain’s character immensely. You all know that if a book has anything nautical in it whatsoever, especially if the male lead happens to have a sea-faring background, I will quickly fall in love with the story. Mac was mischievous, funny, witty, and charming. Lily was equally amusing, and I liked reading about her prim and proper antics, as well as her devotion to her family and her strong conviction when it came to her faith.

For me, this book did have a bit of a slow start, but when the action did start to progress it quickly became a serious page turner. Honestly, there really is nothing like a classic historical fiction novel to brighten your days, and this one definitely brightened mine!

If historical fiction, sailors, and the early 1800s are your thing, this is a book you’ll want to have on your shelf!

Until next time,

cropped-black-on-transparent2.png

Favorite Book Covers – Historical

Today on my YouTube channel I’m starting a new SERIES. Yes, that’s a series of videos that I’m absolutely positive you book lovers will adore! I was inspired by my friend Alysha from the blog For The Love of Christian Fiction, who has done a similar series over on her YouTube channel, to share my favorite book covers of all time.

HOWEVER, I quickly realized that there were way too many for just one video. Like her, I’m going to be publishing several, separated by genre. All of them will be going up in this coming week. There are three parts, and as you know, I post to YouTube on Wednesdays and Fridays. One video went up today, another will go up on Friday, and the final video will be going up next Wednesday!

I can’t wait for you all to see them, but for now, here’s the first video in the series featuring my favorite HISTORICAL FICTION book covers!

Up next, Biblical fiction, followed by contemporary! I hope you all enjoy watching this series as much as I enjoyed filming them. Don’t forget to hit the like button if you enjoyed the video, and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already. It really does help a creator out and enables them to bring you more of the content you love! #SupportGoodContent #SupportGoodBlogs

Until next time,

cropped-black-on-transparent2.png

 

18 Days of Christmas by Audrey Bodine

I know, I know. I’ve been featuring a lot of Christmas-themed books on my blog lately, and it’s January. Time to move onto the next thing, right? While the me from a few years ago would have agreed with you, no Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving, the current me just has to celebrate the successes of my friends.

18doc cover done copy

Audrey Bodine has quickly become one of my best friends. We met on Instagram, and I think it was clear that we were meant to be more than just “likes” and “followers.” I have had the privilege of reading her writing on a couple of occasions now, and let me just say, it NEVER disappoints me.

And so, it is with great excitement (and some pride) that I announce to you all, her debut novel 18 Days of Christmas will be available to each of you on January 18, 2019. Make sure you’re following her on her instagram so that you see all the details about the release. This is one you’re going to NEED to add to your virtual shelves!

Before I get into my official review, let me share with you the synopsis:

She was ready for another predictable holiday season.  He was praying for an actual merry Christmas for his daughter.

Beckett Caden has one wish this year: that his daughter’s Christmas would be as magical as children’s holidays were supposed to be.

After two bittersweet December twenty-fifths without his wife, Beckett knows he needs to do something different this year, for his daughter.  Listening to his parents’ advice, he takes a break from his executive position at their family-run bookstore chain and books a trip for Holly and himself.  Beckett hopes that a few weeks in a charming lodge, with a laundry list of fun activities, will help to restore the smile that used to light up his little girl’s eyes.

Through snowman building, city sightseeing, and a constant theme of Christ through the season, Beck begins to think this was the right decision.  The only downside?   The sarcastic and irritating elf of a woman with hair as boisterous as Santa Clause, himself.

When an unexpected snow storms traps them all inside, it’s either work alongside the Elf or watch chaos overtake the understaffed inn.  Surviving with the aid of caffeine and prayer, Beckett has a feeling this Christmas will turn out to be one of the most memorable he’s had.

Elise McKenzie needs a social life.  At least, that’s been the constant mantra from her family for the past, oh, all her adult years.

With her freelancing graphic design work and the volunteering she does at her grandparents’ lodge, Elise seems to be the only one happy with her life.  Even if the male she most frequently has deep conversations with *is* her cat.

For Elise, this holiday season brings a flurry of unsanctioned blind dates, questions about the future, and a snowfall that will keep her toe-to-toe with the single father whose dimples remind her of the infuriating enjoyment he receives from pushing her buttons.

Elise’s Christmas wish?  Survive this season and try not to bonk the obnoxious guest over the head with a gingerbread house.

There are some great things I could mention about this book. The family aspect, the unique and well-developed characterization of each of the characters, the tender and yet still comically endearing approach to romance, the vivid descriptions of the town, all of the Christmas festivities… But I think my favorite part of about this book was the way it made me smile and giggle like a little girl!

1547504855927Audrey Bodine writes with a kind of laugh-out-loud humor that sneaks up on you and surprises you every time. 18 Days of Christmas is full of relatable dialogue and witty one-liners that come off as so natural, you’ll have a hard time believing this is fiction and not an actual transcript of conversations you’ve had with your friends at the coffee shop. It’s a style that is no doubt going to define her career and quickly become her trademarked “thing.”

But I think that the best part of that humor, is that you feel good after you read it. 18 Days of Christmas, although full of punchlines and shenanigans, still points back to the most important things in life: faith, love, and the grace of God.

I highly recommend that you add this book to your wish list, and add Audrey to your watch list! Even though this book hasn’t even been officially released yet, I can honestly say I’m already waiting anxiously for more!

Happy reading everyone! Until next time,

cropped-black-on-transparent2.png

Christmas with Cocoa by Cleopatra Margot

 

Don’t even get me started on how cute this book was! Well, actually do – because that’s the point of my whole-book-reviewing-blog thing!

Alright, let’s get started. First, let me share with you the summary of this book:

Robin McKay is determined to save the struggling Animal Shelter and head her hometown’s local Christmas event. but when plans go awry and Nate Ashford, Robin’s former best friend, are factors at play, will her Christmas wish come true?

If that doesn’t sell you, let me tell you, this love story is as sweet and adorable, if not even more-so, as the dog on the front cover! Christmas with Cocoa is a charming tale of two driven people, who are equally as passionate about their jobs as they are their faith. Just because it’s a Christmas story, don’t let that stop you from picking it up! After all, shouldn’t we be celebrating Christmas all year round?

Reading about the small, fictional town of Believe, Nebraska made me reminisce about my own experiences growing up near such small towns. I often reminisce and look back fondly at my days spent “on the mountain” as we called it, or “out in the countryside” with family and friends (Yes, even in Northern California, there are rustic landscapes and small towns!).

Something I loved most about these characters and the story was how real it all seemed (maybe that’s because the author based Believe, Nebraska on her own Nebraskan town!). I enjoyed reading about their family game nights, their banter, and the things that made them seem like an actual family, and not just characters who only lived once on the page.  I related so well to the cold nights juxtaposed with warm hugs from loving family and friends, laughing and smiling until the day’s end. Even rushing about frantically to buy last minute Christmas gifts – we’ve all been there, and it was endearing to read about, to say the least!

img_0516

Piper and “Cocoa!”

Another fun aspect about this book was the animals! One of the focal points of the story is, of course, the animal shelter where the two main characters and love interests of each other work. I think we all know that I love animals (cue photographic spam of my baby Australian shepherd, Piper, who’s not such a baby anymore). They have such quirky and adorable personalities, and are just so easy to love. That love translated on the page, and I liked reading about all of the personalities of the animals, and the attachment they had with the “two-legged” characters. Again, the whole of this book was so relatable.

One of my favorite parts of this book, was the way the characters prayed. Like all of us, they often had their shortcomings and forgot to pray and go to God first when that was all they needed. But when they did pray, they prayed fervently. Like the saying goes, when two people grow closer to God, they will eventually grow closer to each other! I don’t think I’ve read any other book that does such a good job of portraying this as Christmas with Cocoa does. Like I’ve said before, relatable, and touching and poignant!

“However, when one is not in harmony with God, things get more complicated and hairier than they have to. I suggest you take some time to pray. Really pray. Ask God to give you the study materials for this particular test. Heck, ask Him to give you the answer sheet.” Cleopatra Margot, Christmas with Cocoa

screen shot 2019-01-06 at 10.41.19 pmIt may be a Christmas story as sweet as sugar candy left in Christmas stockings, but like those sweet treats left behind by Santa, I think it can be enjoyed at any time of year, and it’s message can most definitely be shared in any season of life!

I highly recommend that you go out, support an author, and pick up a copy of Cleopatra Margot‘s FIRST solo novel and FIRST contemporary project. I can’t wait to see how she grows in the genre and what other works she releases in the future! She also has a website, so if you’d like to head on over there, sign up for her e-mailing list, and receive any and all future updates about her writings, be sure to do that by clicking HERE. #SupportGoodBlogs #SupportGoodContent

 

That’s all for this week, everybody! Until next time,

cropped-black-on-transparent2.png

*Disclaimer – While I did receive a copy of this book as a gift from the author in exchange for an honest review, this in no way affected my opinions. All the thoughts shared on this novel are my own, and I do not receive any compensation for leaving a positive review.

“Jerusalem’s Queen” by Angela Hunt

IMG_7008Jerusalem’s Queen is the latest installment of Angela Hunt’s “The Silent Years” series, and what I believe is the series’ crowning glory.

From the back cover,

Born in the small village of Modein, a town made famous by the warrior Maccabees, Salome Alexandra knows better than to harbor grand dreams for her future. She pales in comparison to her beautiful older sister, and though she learns to read at an early age, girls are not valued for their intellectual ability. But when her father and sister are killed, John Hyrcanus, a distant relative, invites Salome and her mother to live with his family in Jerusalem, where her thirst for knowledge is noticed and indulged.

When her guardian betroths her to a pagan prince, she questions HaShem’s plan. When Hyrcanus finally marries her to a boy half her age, she questions her guardian’s sanity. But though Salome spends much of her life as a pawn ordered about by powerful men, she learns that a woman committed to HaShem can change the world.

Maybe I’m just the person who almost always likes the sequels and the remakes better than the originals, and maybe that’s an objectionable opinion, but you can’t deny that progress comes with the passage of time. I have enjoyed this book’s predecessors Egypt’s Sister and Judah’s Wife, but I must say this third book is by far my favorite.

I was able to listen to the audiobook version of this through Audible, and it was SO compelling. I felt just as unsure as Salome Alexandra did in the story with each turn of the page and closing of the chapters. This book definitely kept me guessing what was going to happen next, and, like all of the other books in the series, has motivated me to dig deeper into my own personal Bible study to find where the fiction meets fact.

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

Like. Literally.

I can NOT wait for more!!!

If you liked this book too and you want me to keep making more reviews, then be sure to share this one and invite others to follow my blog! Also, let me know what release your anticipating! If you’re like me, there’s a thousand books that you’re just waiting to be released in stores. Honestly, you’d better order the books in this series STAT because you won’t want to miss anymore of Angela Hunt’s books!

King’s Shadow by Angela Hunt, Book #4 in the Silent Years series, releases August 6, 2019.

Until next time,

Full Color Signature