Small-Town Girl by Jessica Keller

Have you ever wanted to get away? Leave the past behind—your heartbreaks, your hurts, your mistakes—and start fresh? Find the person God meant you to become?

 

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Kendall Mayes has done just that. She’s settled in Goose Harbor, a small tourist town along the shore of Lake Michigan, to start her dream business. Instead of focusing on dating herself, she wants to help others plan the perfect dates. Tasked with finding a weekly excursion by her silent business partner, Kendall’s chance meeting with shipping-owner Brice Daniels seems timely. While she insists she’d not looking for love, and Brice has been burned too many times in the past, the attraction the two feel sparking between them is undeniable. But will past hurts and doubts of their worth derail the chance of these two finding a happily-ever-after?

 

Jessica Keller handles the topics of difficult upbringings, of how misconceptions can shadow a person for years, of letting go of the past and seeking your worth in light of God’s love with finesse. Both Kendall and Brice have lived through messy pasts that years later leave them believing they are not worth God’s best. Both need to come to terms with their pasts, forgive those who hurt them, and let go in order to love themselves—and others—fully. And, of course, there’s the underlying tension of attraction whenever these two get together.

Maybe, we’ll get to read more about the Daniels family (Brice’s brother and sister both piqued my interest). But for now, enjoy Kendall and Brice’s story in Small-Town Girl.

***The author provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

I’m not sure whether it was the plethora of romantic suspense novels I’ve read this month or the fact I was in the mood for something more light-hearted (mostly likely a combination of both of those), but I had a little bit of a difficult time getting into the book. First, let me point out that this is categorized as a mystery and suspense novel (not romantic suspense) and it is the third in the Gwen Marcey series by Carrie Stuart Parks.

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All that said, I’m glad I stuck it out because once all of the characters were introduced and I knew all the players in the game, when Gwen Marcey had something at stake, the story really kicked into high gear.

When Forensic Artist Gwen Marcey takes a job in Kentucky to identify some remains for the local Sheriff’s department, she’s immersed in a much deeper conspiracy. With an unsub dubbed as the Hillybilly Rapist’s pattern evolves, she’s not sure who she can trust—even the Sheriff and his son are suspect. Then she’s asked to investigate a religious group with some strange practices—snake handling and ingesting poison—and her confusion grows deeper. Through everything, her foremost concern is the safety of her daughter. But will she be able to uncover the truth before she becomes the next victim?

What I appreciate about Gwen Marcey is that she struggles with her faith. Her life has not been easy (if you’ve read the either or both of the previous books, you’re already aware of her fight with breast cancer and how her marriage fell apart) and there are times she gets angry and quits talking to God. But her sense of justice makes her keep pushing to bring the truth to light in her cases, even when everything in her screams to stop, ignore it, return home where life is predictable and safe.

Overall, a good read that has a slow build up that is worth the outcome in the end.

***Booklook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

Can I just say this is hands-down my favorite of Melissa Jagears books I’ve read? And I’ve read several. I’ll be honest, probably the thing I loved best about this book was the Pride and Prejudice vibe: Wealthy man who has his opinions about the others in the church and a tenacious woman who is on the brink of poverty herself but refuses to back down from her mission.

 

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In order to secure a future in spite of her mother’s failing healthy and father’s chronic gambling, Lydia King is set on winning the heart of a local politician. His mother, who makes no secret of her dislike for Lydia, gives her the task of securing a donation for the Teaville Moral Society from the town’s wealthiest man.  She’s not asking for much, surely Nicholas Lowe will help those less fortunate than himself.

 

But Nicholas prefers to help others in his own way, not through the condescending ladies at his church, but Lydia Kings proves to be a persistent little thing. When he gives her a means of compromise, both Nicholas and Lydia begin to realize their short-sightedness and prejudices. And as they spend time together, their friendship grows into more than either of them expected.

 

While they both have their flaws, Nicholas and Lydia are likable characters (because Jagears isn’t afraid to show their humanity to readers). As the two begin to let go of their own prejudices and see through the eyes of the other person, they both become even better people for it. A wonderful read that has me looking forward to the next in this series.

 

A Heart Most Certain is available in bookstores and online now.

 

***Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

An Hour at a Family Christian Store

I’m of the opinion that it’s never too early to begin shopping for Christmas gifts. And when I hear about a great sale opportunity, I’ll happily drive a little out of my way to mark a few people off that gift list.

Today, I want to tell you about the sale that’s going on at Family Christian Stores through August 25. All books, music, and DVDs are Buy One, Get One 50% off. Don’t have a store near you? Don’t worry, the sale is also happening online.

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When I was in my local Family Christian Store this past Saturday, I enjoyed the browsing experience. There is plenty of space in my store, a decent selection of gifts, music, and books (and again, if you don’t find what you want, you can always visit them online). There was also lots of clearance to look through (just a note here, the BOGO 50% in only on regular priced items so it doesn’t work with clearance). My cashier was friendly and he had a good chat about music and books as she was ringing up my purchases. I spent $60 while I was in the store, which is well-worth what I left with.

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inspire inside 2 The Inspire Journaling Bible ($24.99)
Bible journaling has gained popularity over the past year and while the concept sounds great, as a person with absolutely zero artistic ability, I always thought it sounded like more work than Biblical study. But when I came across this journaling Bible, with some of the content already filled in for me, I decided I’d like to give it a try. Some of the pages have just a faint outline, some are blank for your own journaling, and some have the actual verses for you to fill in as you spend time in God’s Word.

 

 

Third Day and Natalie Grant Cds ($13.99 ea regular price but with the BOGO sale, the second was only $7.00). FC music As music lovers, many of my family and friends are always happy with more.

And while I didn’t buy this one during my trip because I already have it, if you haven’t picked up Needtobreathe’s newest album, do it soon!! You won’t be disappointed.

Music: H A R D L O V E by NEEDTOBREATHE (available July 15)
Description: This sixth studio album from NEEDTOBREATE finds the group reflecting on the tumultuous seasons behind their recent albums, Rivers In the Wasteland and The Reckoning, and enjoying extraordinary success while experiencing personal conflict. “We were in a dark place when we made the last record, but to me this album is mostly a story of redemption,” Bear Rinehart said. H A R D L O V E delves into the world of electronic effects and instrumentation, resulting in a sublimely crafted and expansive sound that reflects the band’s unforgettable live show. Includes lead singles “Happiness” and “Money & Fame.”

 

 

 

FC wall art What better way to offer someone encouragement than a daily reminder of Scripture. Take the time to be still and know God and all of the promises that entails in our lives. (plaque $12.99)

 

 

 

 

 

There are so many great things at Family Christian Stores, I could go on and on but I don’t have time for that and I doubt you do either. So, I’ll leave you with a little information about the organization (followed by a giveaway so don’t give up on me yet)

 

 

Family Christian is a Christian retailer, operating in 250 stores across the country. They are committed to helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith through a wide selection of Christian books, music, Bibles, DVDs, gifts and more.

When you shop with Family Christian, your purchases support their efforts to unite with ministries that are helping children and families in need around the world.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

The Drawing Lesson (A Graphic Novel that Teaches You How to Draw) by Mark Crilley

My fourteen-year-old niece struggles with school. Spelling, math, and reading are challenging for her. Thankfully, over the years, a few of her teachers have clued into the fact that this girl has an artist’s heart.

She loves to draw (and, I may be biased here, she’s good at it). I’m sure she inherited her talent from my sister who ended up with all our family’s artistic genetics. I mean, I draw one thing semi-decently and it’s the one thing I return to whenever I’m doodling—a lone flower.

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It was with my niece in mind when I decided to review The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley. This unique graphic novel teaches young artist the basics of drawing—things such as light and shadow, proportions, and negative space.

What’s great about this approach to learning to draw is the simplicity. And, to be honest, the graphic novel approach is entertaining—I chuckled a few times at Becky’s reaction to the boy who is so eager to learn to draw. Young artists will be engaged as they learn and the book provides them with something they may not find otherwise, a sort of mentor.

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If you’ve noticed creative tendencies in the young ones in your life or if you’re interested in taking up a new hobby for yourself, this primer is the perfect place to begin.

***Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.