Swimming in the Deep End by Christina Suzann Nelson Reviewed

Friday, December 14, 2018





About the book:

Title: Swimming in the Deep End
Author: Christina Suzann Nelson
Publisher: Kregel Publishers

A moving novel entwining the many faces of motherly love.
Jillian Cline has the perfect daughter: loving and smart, she's an Olympic hopeful with a bright future. But when Izzy becomes pregnant, Jillian fears that future is lost. Worse, she must confront her own secret past and hope the decisions she's made don't drown their whole family.
Izzy can't believe God let this happen to her. She knew the risks, but who thinks about that when they're in love? Now she has to face the consequences--and the disappointed stares from everyone who thought she was the perfect Christian girl. At least she has the baby's father, Travis. Nothing can tear them apart, right?
Margaret Owens had determined dreams for her son. She's furious that Izzy's pregnancy jeopardizes his college baseball scholarship and terrified that Travis will be trapped in a life of struggle and poverty--the life she's tried so hard to save him from. She'll do anything to protect him--even if it means forcing him to leave Izzy.
Stacey Frey is aching for a child of her own. But the son she was meant to adopt was taken before she could hold him in her arms. It feels like she'll never stop mourning; even the move to this new town hasn't distracted her from the pain. How can she and her husband find peace? Is there any hope of a family in their future?
And in the midst of all this . . . an unborn baby. Whose arms will hold him in the end?





About Christina Suzann Nelson:

Christina Suzann Nelson is a member of Oregon Christian Writers. Her essays have been published in the Cup of Comfort series. Nelson lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with her husband and four children.





My Thoughts:

From reading other reviews it seems as though I am in the minority when it comes to my thoughts about this book. First, this is the first book by this author that I've read. I was originally asked by Kregel publications to review this book and then signed up for the review tour with Just Reads because I already had a copy.

Overall this is a good read. Ms. Nelson pulls at the heart strings which keeps you reading. Hidden secrets create an intrigue to find out what drives the women in the book to make the decisions they have and do.

With that said. It is my opinion that Ms. Nelson’s use of words such as put up, and placed are an attempt to be politically correct. The usage of these terms are offensive to me as an adopted child.
I was not put anywhere, nor was I placed on a shelf and forgotten about. I wasn't given away either.

My birth mother gave me, a precious child to my parents as a gift because they could not have a baby on their own. She also gave my parents the gift of family. Using those words and phrases in my opinion takes away the beauty of adoption, and devalues the love the birth mother has for her child.

Close to the end of the book Ms. Nelson calls the pregnancy a mistake. God allowed the pregnancy which doesn't make the pregnancy a mistake. By calling the pregnancy a mistake you are then saying the baby is. My youngest daughter got pregnant in her final year of high school, she married the father and we have a beautiful eight year old granddaughter who is the apple of our eye. She was not a mistake. The timing of the pregnancy wasn't perfect but the she wasn’t a mistake because God ordained her life.

My review may sound as though I am being overly critical of this book, but being adopted, having found my birth mother, knowing the truth about my conception which mirrors one in the story, and how much my birth mother loved me gives me a completely different perspective than an average reader. I have also committed to being truthful with my reviews for both the reader and author without being mean or hurtful.

This is a good emotional women's fiction novel with the themes of hope, forgiveness of others and self, how the pain keeping secrets cause not only to the one keeping the secrets but those that love them run vividly throughout the book. Be aware that the subject matter includes pre-marital sex, abortion, adoption, child loss, and grief.





Searching for You (Orphan Train #3) by Jody Hedlund Reviewed

Monday, December 10, 2018







 About the book:

Title: Searching for You (Orphan Train, #3)
Author: Jody Hedlund
Series: Orphan Train
Publisher: Bethany House

Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won't abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.
Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.
Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he's in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?





About Jody Hedlund

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.





My Thoughts:

Series books and I have a love/hate relationship. I love series because the story continues from one book to the next, and we get a more intimate look at each character. However, like with Searching for You, the series must come to an end, which this reader is not a fan of. 

The more and more I review the harder and harder it is to put the emotions the story evokes into words.

I've been looking forward to Sophie's story since reading Together Forever, and Miss Hedlund does not disappoint with her final installment of this series. 

This quote "Sometimes God allows us to sink down in our own misery until we reach a low place where we're finally ready to look up and reach out for Him." is the theme of the story. 
Sophie struggles with her situation, lack of control, and her inability to fix the circumstances that both  Nicholas and Olivia are in. Through these struggles Ms. Hedlund places the reader smack in the middle of all that is going on which makes them feel like they are experiencing everything the characters are.

The research that Ms. Hedlund puts into this story is evident with her care to the true story of orphan trains. Reinhold is a swoony hero. Not only is he handsome, he is a man of integrity, and his care, devotion, and concern for Sophie and the children is just what you want a hero to be. Sophie is a spitfire which is one of the many qualities I enjoy in a heroine. 

Overall this is a great finale to a wonderful series. You can read this as a stand alone, however I recommend you read the entire series from beginning to end so you can enjoy the series more fully.

I highly recommend this book!


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via the publisher as a member of a street team. I was not required to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.





Reason to Breathe (Chandler Sisters #1) by Deborah Raney Review with Giveaway

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Reason to Breathe_Blog

We are excited to introduce Deborah Raney's new series with a blog tour and giveaway for book #1 - Reason to Breathe - hosted by JustRead Tours.

ABOUT THE BOOK

reason to breathe Title: Reason to Breathe  
Series: Chandler Sisters #1  
Author: Deborah Raney  
Publisher: Gilead Publishing  
Release Date: October 23, 2018  
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction/Romance  

Phylicia thought life was passing her by, but maybe this was love’s plan all along. . .

At twenty-nine, Phylicia Chandler put her life on hold to care for her dying mother with her sisters, Joanna and Britt. Now Mom is gone and their father stuns them all by running off with a woman young enough to be their sister. Life is moving forward all around her, but Phylicia feels stuck—until her father’s protégé, Quinn Mitchell, presents the sisters with an intriguing business opportunity to purchase a trio of cottages just outside of Langhorne, Missouri. Joanna and Britt are convinced the three of them should launch a vacation rental venture, but Phylicia remains skeptical.

 To complicate matters, Quinn soon finds himself falling hard for Phylicia. But how can he pursue this beautiful, talented woman twelve years his junior when she’s still reeling over her father’s hasty engagement to a younger woman? Quinn is determined to give Phylicia her happily-ever-after. But first, he must help her come to terms with her discovery of long-held family secrets and persuade her that true love can transcend their differences.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deb-Raney-HR-9-17

DEBORAH RANEY dreamed of writing a book since the summer she read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books and discovered that a Kansas farm girl could, indeed, grow up to be a writer. Her 30-plus books have garnered multiple industry awards including the RITA® Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, shed light on the ravages of Alzheimer's disease and inspired the highly acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title. A Vow to Cherish continues to be a tool for Alzheimer's families and caregivers. Deborah is on faculty for several national writers' conferences and serves on the executive board of the 2600-member American Christian Fiction Writers organization. She and her husband, Ken Raney, traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deb's novels—for life in the city of Wichita. They often travel to teach at writers conferences across the country and to visit their four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.

CONNECT WITH DEB: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram 




My Thoughts:

The moment I started reading this book I was pulled right into the story. The Chandler Sister's have just lost their mom, something I myself can envision since my parents are in their 80's. As they deal with their grief their dad makes things even more painful by telling them he's staying in Florida leaving them in a situation that they weren't prepared for but had to find their way out of, together.

Ms. Raney showed the sister's honestly, with all of their flaws, scars, and strengths. I found myself caring for each of the sisters, even praying for them as I read the book.

I had lots of different emotions as I read this book. Frustration at the father's abandonment of his daughter's during a very difficult time in their lives and confusion as to why he was doing what he was doing. Even with those feelings the thread of hope winds its way in, through, and around the story. We all need hope and Ms. Raney uses the worst emotion of grief along with horrible circumstances to show that hope is always there we just have to look a little harder during those times.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to more installments of the Chandler Sisters.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a blogger with Just Read Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.





 


reason to breathe giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY
(1) winner will receive (US only):
  • a print copy of Reason to Breathe
  • $15 Amazon gift card
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight December 3, 2018 and last through 11:59pm December 10, 2018. US only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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Curl Up Cozy Reads

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Don't you just want to transport yourself into this picture and relax in front of the fire with a book that's been on your TBR for awhile.

I don't know why or how but December seems to be the month where we take time for what's really important in life. If you are a bookworm that hopefully means more reading and by a fire and or a Christmas tree makes it all the more cozier.

Here are some curl up cozy reads.

Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham

The Bucket List Dare by Angela Breindenbach, Jessica Ferguson, Pamela S. Myers, and Linda W. Yezak

For Love of Liberty by Julie Lessman

At Your Request by Jen Turano

Mary, Chosen of God by Diana Wallis Taylor

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

Sleigh Bells Ring by Sandie D. Bricker, Lynette Sowell, Barbara J. Scott, Lenora Worth

Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Anna Schmidt

A Caffeine Conundrum by Angela Ruth Strong

A Dream Fulfilled by Julie Lessman

The Christmas Heirloom by Becky Wade, Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas is on sale for $2.99.


Are you planning to cozy up with books this month? I am, and a couple are on this list. I hope you found a new cozy read for December.


November Recap

Monday, December 3, 2018


I can't believe we're three days into the last month of the year. Every time December rolls around, the Christmas decorations make their way out of the attic, and we have our first snowfall which we did yesterday, Sunday, I feel like the year has just flown by.

This was a pretty busy reading month. I not only got all of my review books read, I read and reviewed one for Hope by the Book magazine, and two beta reads for an author. A total of eight books for the month of November.

We went out of town for Thanksgiving to Washington where our daughter and her family lives and I was able to meet Katie Breslin, and Rachel Fordham in person. They were apart of a literary artist expo at a local mall.


In case you missed my book reviews here are the books I reviewed in the month of November.

Literarily For Keeps by Sarah Monzon

Why Did You Choose Me by Katie Cruice Smith

Surrounded by Darkness by Rachel Dylan

Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma


My top ten Tuesday post from last week The Good, The Bad, It's All Relative was the most viewed post of the month.


I started but didn't finish National Novel Writing Month in November. My writing schedule kept getting interrupted so I just decided to toss in the towel this year. I have won . . . meaning I wrote 50,000 words in a month, so I know I can which for me is the best part.

I think my December reviews are pretty minimal which is nice given that Christmas is in twenty-two days. Coming up for December, I have . . .

Reason to Breathe by Deborah Raney

Searching for You by Jody Hedlund

Swimming in the Deep End by Christina Suzann

Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews

The Line Between by Tosca Lee



And somehow by January I will need to figure out my favorite books for 2018. I have no idea how I'm going to do that.

Until January, have a wonderful Christmas season. I hope you are surrounded by family and friends and you feel the presence of Christ as you prepare for His coming.





When the Heart Sings (Music of Hope #2) by Liz Tolsma Review and Giveaway

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Banner_WhenHeartSings_Blog

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

When the Heart Sings-FINAL-front_cover_020518a-HR Title: When the Heart Sings  
Series: Music of Hope #2  
Author: Liz Tolsma  
Publisher: Gilead Publishing  
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance  

Natia has a secret, and she’s hiding him right beneath her captor’s nose...

The Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their Polish farm to a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia is chosen to be the housekeeper for the camp’s overseer, and Teodor is sent to work in the factory. Despite the strict camp rules—and the consequences for disobeying them—Natia finds a way to communicate with Teodor by sending messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory.

The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer’s doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear— but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price.  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Christian Book | Book Depository

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


liz tolsmaPassionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She's married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.

CONNECT WITH LIZ: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest












My Thoughts:

This will probably be one of the hardest reviews I will ever write and not because of the writing, yet because of the writing if that makes any sense.

Liz Tolsma is one of my absolutely favorite historical authors, and just like her other historicals this book is impeccably written.

From the moment I opened the first page and began reading I was pulled into the world of Natia and Teodor. A Polish couple torn from their farm because of the Nazi occupation.

Ms. Tolsma brings to life the devastation the Polish people endured through vivid scenes and heartache.
The friendship she creates between Natia and a German woman, Elfriede Fromm becomes a bright spot for both women during the worst of times in their lives.

Her depiction of life inside a labor camp angered me to no end.Which brings me to one of the best villains I think I've read or maybe the first one that stands out as vividly as Erich Fromm. Erich Fromm was pure evil like the devil himself. I don't believe I can point out one thing that I liked about the guy a character you will love to hate.

My Bottom Line:

This book is an emotional story that will grab you from page one. The book is historically accurate and you can see that Ms. Tolsma did her research. While it is a book you feel as though you are watching a movie.  

Even with all of the misery placed perfectly within the book there is hope, forgiveness, and love. Love that pulls you through anything, and hope that encourages you to continue through the worst of times when your heart just wants to quit.

I highly recommend it!


I received a copy of this book from the publisher in association with Just Read Publicity Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.




                                                                                   TOUR GIVEAWAY
when the heart sings blog giveaway

(1) winner will receive (US only)
  • a print copy of When the Heart Sings
  • 'Just One More Chapter' throw pillow seen HERE
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight November 26, 2018 and last through 11:59pm December 3, 2018. US only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!










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The Good, and The Bad, It's All Relative

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Today's Top Ten Tuesday is platonic relationships in books. It seems appropriate that since we just finished our first family overload holiday of the season with another one right around the corner to share some books featuring family that won't argue or fight with you.


Most of these books feature sisters, and since I didn't grow up with one and always wanted one, stories featuring big families and sisters are some of my most favorite stories.


 Julie Lessman's Daughter's of Boston series introduced me to not only Julie but a large family with three sisters that will drive you crazy!


Laura Frantz's Ballantyne Legacy is such a fabulous sisterly saga.

Beth K. Vogt explores sister bonds in this drama filled book.

Joanne Bischof's book has brothers in it. Not that the others don't have brother siblings but this one is all about brothers and their bonds.

This is book one of Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train series.

Becky Wade writes wonderful family dramas. This is book two of her Bradford Sister's series. 

Debby Mayne has started quite the family drama saga in her new series The Bucklin Family Reunion series.

Lindsay Harrel creates a sister drama with travel in this book. If you're an armchair traveler like me don't miss this book.


















Kellie Coates Gilbert's website says it best . . . stories for mothers, sisters, and daughters.












What are some of your favorite family saga books? Have you read any of my favorites?



 
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