Monday, December 30, 2019

Monday Motivation

"For last year's words belong to last year's language, and next year's words await another voice."
— T.S. Eliot

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

"She Laughs: Choosing Faith Over Fear" by Carolanne Miljavac

My review...

I have never read anything by this author, but that will certainly change in the future! This book is so relatable (and funny!) that I had a hard time setting it aside.

The author is very open in sharing her personal stories and experiences, from serious to cringe-inducing. It almost felt like sitting at lunch with a close friend. Miljavac is upfront about her struggles. She’s honest and raw, which is why I’ll recommend this book to many of my friends, particularly those who are looking for some encouragement and struggling with fear. This is one book I’m likely to read again.

There were so many quotes that struck a chord with me. Here are just a few:

  • “Once a stronghold of insecurity gets into your head, it is really tough to overcome.”
  • “The hardest times in your life set you up for the deepest impact.”
  • “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
  • “Fear isn’t going anywhere. But whether it controls you is up to you.”
  • “Your ability to laugh is precious. Fight for it.”
  • “Living according to other people’s expectations will weaken the purpose for which you’ve been created.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing, but I wasn’t required to leave a review.

Friday, December 27, 2019

First Line Friday

Happy Friday! It's time for First Line Friday, hosted by Hoarding Books.

It's time to grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. Today on First Line Friday, I'm featuring a book from one of my many TBR piles, A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a conference a few months ago. This book is about the Dust Bowl. I've only read one other book about this topic, so I'm looking forward to reading this book.

And the first line is ...

As soon as I was off the porch and out of Mama's sight, I pushed the scuffed-up, hole-in-the-soles Mary Janes off my feet.

About the book...

Ten-year-old Pearl doesn't understand a lot of things--why her sister's brain doesn't work right, why the preacher yells so much, why Jesus and the president seem to have forgotten all about Oklahoma. But she does know who she is: Pearl Spence, daughter of the esteemed town sheriff. Generous and always ready to help in a crisis, the Spences bring hope to this desolate town, and Pearl is proud of her family. She knows who she is, she knows she is loved, and even in unrelenting hardship, life feels secure. Not even the dust that sweeps incessantly across Red River can quench her hopes and dreams.

But someone else seems to know who she is, too, and he makes Pearl uneasy. From the moment the mysterious hobo steps off the train and stares at her with his cold blue eyes, Pearl's secure world begins to unravel. How does Eddie know her name? Why does he seem to hover everywhere she turns? And why does he act like he knows something about her family that she doesn't? Pearl is determined to avoid him, but Eddie is bent on forcing his way into her life and disrupting her family's shaky tranquility. The more he badgers Pearl, the greater her confusion, until the storm within her rivals the swirling of dust and dirt without.

Let me know the first line of the book closest to you and then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating.

Friday, December 20, 2019

My Top 19 Books of 2019 ... and a GIVEAWAY!

I read a LOT of books in 2019 (around 300, according to Goodreads). It was hard to narrow down my list of favorites for the year, but here goes. My list includes inspirational and mainstream releases. If you've read any of them, leave me a comment and let me know which book and what you thought of it.

Then, after you've looked over my list, enter to win a mystery prize pack! It will contain four (4) 2019 inspirational fiction books. It's a mix of genres, including YA (young adult), historical fiction, and mystery/suspense. There will be one winner of all four books. (Print copies - US ONLY)You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends December 27, 2019. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.) 

So, in no particular order, here are my Top 19 books of 2019:

Link to my review.

Bonus book...

This was one of my favorite books of 2019, but I won't be featuring it until January 7th as a "Takeover Tuesday." I hope you stop by on that date to check out my review of this wonderful 2019 release:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Thankful Thursday: His Encouragement #4

Welcome to Thankful Thursday: His Encouragement. I am blessed to be part of a group of bloggers who'll be sharing a bit of encouragement through Scripture verses. I hope this post blesses you as you finish the week and that you find peace, strength, and comfort in the Lord.

This verse pretty much says it all, doesn't it? And it's perfect for the upcoming holiday season. God gave us the best gift possible: His Son, Jesus ... the reason for the season. 

It states in Luke 2:11, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." With Christmas next week, it's a good time to reflect on the meaning behind the day: a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. He died for our sins. He loved us that much! 

The true meaning of Christmas often gets lost in the shuffle of holiday busyness, with all the shopping, parties, and plans. Stress tends to beat out the joy of the season for many people. 

While I love the Christmas lights and decorations, one of my favorite parts of Christmas is the Christmas Eve service at church. Specifically, I love the candlelight service during "Silent Night," where the sanctuary is dark aside from the tiny candle glowing in each person's hands ... a beautiful reminder that Jesus is the light of the world. 

This year, take a few moments to pause and appreciate what Christmas is really about. Through His birth, He's given us an eternal gift, one much larger than will fit under any Christmas tree. 

Dear readers, I pray that you have a blessed Christmas.

What Scripture is encouraging you today? Share it in the comments.

You can check out more of His Encouragement from my fellow bloggers:

Trisha @ Joy of Reading
Jacquelyn @ A Heavenly Home
Andi @ Radiant Light
Becca @ The Becca Files

If you'd like to join us, please contact Trisha or Nicole

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year because...

Happy writing!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

"Penguin & Moose" by Hannah C. Hall

My review...

This is an adorable story about an unusual pair of friends who much work together to reach a goal: teach Penguin to fly.

Penguin is determined to fly, but he needs the help of his good friend Moose, who also provides kindness and support through the trials. Along the way, Penguin learns important lessons about friendship.

This story is likely to be of interest to children of all ages (and even adults). The images, by Anna Chernyshova, are colorful and engaging. The words are simple, making it perfect for young readers. A key Bible verse about friendship is included (Proverbs 17:17, A friend loves at all times.).

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Monday Motivation

"The dearest ones of time, the strongest friends of the soul--BOOKS."
— Emily Dickinson

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Harlequin Christmas Round-Up 2019


Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas...

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn't quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids ... until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie's left, the baby powder spell of Bridger, and the feel of her husband's hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they moved on without her. That she missed too much. That perhaps she wasn't right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the heart of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?

My review...

This is part of a series, but it can be read as a standalone. I haven't read the prior books, and I had no problem following this. I've never read anything by Thayne, but she's obviously a gifted storyteller. I'm likely to pick up her future books.

The author handled depression in a sensitive manner. This emotional tale is a great read for the holiday season, as themes of love and hope are key. I loved the characters, particularly Luke's son. They're so well drawn and realistic. It's a sweet, quick read that would make a wonderful Hallmark Channel movie.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn't required to leave a review.

Author: RaeAnne Thayne
ISBN: 9781335504999
Publication Date: 9/24/2019
Publisher: HQN Books

Buy Links: 

Author Bio:   New York Times  bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website:


USA TODAY Bestselling author Sheila Roberts takes readers to a small, snowbound town, where a young woman fights to save her family's charity that brings Christmas to families in need, and a stranded millionaire loses his heart and finds the true meaning of Christmas.

Sometimes you need to look beyond the big picture to see what really matters.

Olivia Berg's charity, Christmas from the Heart, has helped generations of families need in Pine River, Washington, but this year might be the end of the road. Hightower Enterprises, one of the biggest donors since way back when Olivia's grandmother ran the charity, has been taken over by Ebenezer Scrooge the Second, aka CFO Guy Hightower, and he's declared there will be no more money coming to Christmas from the Heart.

Guy is simply being practical. Hightower Enterprises needs to tighten its belt, and when you don't have money to spare, you don't have money to share. You'd think even the pushy Olivia Berg could understand that.

With charitable donations dwindling, Olivia's Christmas budget depends on Hightower's contribution. She's focused her whole life on helping this small town, even putting her love life on hold to support her mission.

When Guy's Maserati breaks down at the edge of the Cascade foothills, he's relieved to be rescued by a pretty young woman who drives him to the nearby town of Pine River. Until he realizes his rescuer is none other than Olivia Berg. What's a Scrooge to do? Plug his nose and eat fruitcake and hope she doesn't learn his true identity before he can get out of town. What could go wrong?

My review...

This is a charming holiday story, also perfect for the Hallmark Channel movies. The setting is perfect and so well-described that I felt a part of the town. I will admit that the lead characters did make me scratch my head at times. Olivia came across as a bit pushy and rude at times, which isn’t the best way to approach things when dealing with charities. Themes such as miscommunication, rash judgments, second chances, and, of course, love are key. The ending wasn’t quite what I expected, but it’s a quick read that’s a great match for a cold winter day and a warm drink.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn't required to leave a review.

Christmas from the Heart  
Sheila Roberts
On Sale Date: September 24, 2019
9780778309611, 0778309614
Trade Paperback
$16.99 USD, $21.99 CAD
Fiction / Romance / Contemporary 
304 pages

Author Bio:

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have been published in several languages. Her book, Angel Lane, was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her novel, The Nine Lives of Christmas, was made into a movie for Hallmark. You can visit Sheila on Twitter and Facebook or at her website (

Social Links:
Facebook: @funwithsheila
Instagram: @funwithsheila

Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again...together.

So much for forever. When Elle Devlin's rockstar husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister's place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected packages when she crosses paths with Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Elle, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Elle is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction, and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn't divulge his ex-con status, let alone the shameful details. So when Elle's ex shows up in Silver Springs and reveals the truth in a bid to win her back, Tobias is sure he's lost her for good. But, just maybe, this Christmas he'll receive the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves.

My review...

Themes of healing, second chances, and redemption make this book a charming holiday story. It's part of a series, but it can be enjoyed as a standalone. The tale unfolds through multiple POVs, which gives the reader a full look into their lives. When the book started, I expected the heroine to end up being quite superficial, but, thankfully, that wasn't the case. I really liked the character development and growth in Tobias. Novak creates characters that are easy to root for, and she makes Silver Springs a place readers will want to visit.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn't required to leave a review.

Author: Brenda Novak
ISBN: 9780778308256
Publication Date: October 29, 2019

Publisher: MIRA BOOKS


Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a six-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader's Choice, the Bookseller's Best, the Bookbuyer's Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she's raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit

TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak