Friday, July 25, 2014

Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble (Review)

Seagrass Pier
by Colleen Coble
The Hope Beach series, Book 3
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romantic Suspense
Available July 1, 2014
Thomas Nelson
336 pages



About the Book
Seagrass Pier is the perfect place for Elin to hide from a killer, but an old love's ability to see her true heart could be her undoing.

When Elin Summerall contracted a virus that damaged her heart, she was lucky to get a transplant. At first it was an overwhelmingly good gift. But then she began to remember a murder she never witnessed—the murder of her heart's donor.

When she reveals what she knows to a disbelieving police officer, she's exposed as a witness and must flee for her life to a remote cottage on Hope Beach.

Fearing what might happen to her daughter and mother, she asks Marc Everton for help, though she hasn't seen him since the night her father died. She remembers that night with shame, and she never told Marc about their daughter.

Marc is less than convinced that Elin's "memories" are real. He is blindsided by the news about his daughter, but for her sake, he agrees to help. Then he begins to notice the small ways Elin is different. She now likes coffee, her musical tastes have changed, and she's ditched her jeans and sneakers for dresses and high heels.

As Elin tries to stay alive and bring the killer to justice, she begins to doubt her own identity. Did her new heart save her life only to cause her to lose herself? And if she's really changed, why does her new heart love Marc just as much as her old one did?

Buy a copy  |  Read an excerpt  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
Every time I pick up a novel by Colleen Coble I know I'm going to read a great book! Seagrass Pier definitely met that definition and was a great addition to The Hope Beach series.

Okay. Let me just go ahead and say that I LOVED Elin and Marc. They were a great couple—with plenty of conflict and romantic tension and sweet moments. I definitely felt bad for Marc when he learns a life-changing truth. (Not cool, Elin!) And things seemed to pile on Elin at times. However, it was refreshing to see how she grew as she had to deal with so many challenges. I enjoyed reading all the ups and downs ... which made for an interesting story.

The suspense didn't seem quite as suspenseful as some of Coble's other novels, but there was still plenty going on that had me scratching my head and flipping the pages. Overall, I truly enjoyed this story and recommend it to anyone looking for a mental escape as the summer winds down. [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.
Colleen Coble Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A June Bride by Marybeth Whalen (Review)

A June Bride
by Marybeth Whalen
A Year of Weddings Novella, Book 7
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available June 2014
Zondervan
120 pages

About the Book
It takes a reality TV show for Wynne to realize love isn't just a game.

Wynne Hardy never thought she'd get engaged on a reality TV show, but when she met Andy on The Rejection Connection, the two of them hit it off. Now he's asked her to marry him, much to the public's delight and fascination. They're all set to wed on live TV in a seaside ceremony at the height of the wedding season.

But just as Wynne thinks all her dreams are coming true, her ex-boyfriend walks back into her life at the worst possible time. Steve broke her heart years ago, and she's still sorting through her feelings for him. Her heart isn't as clear as her head that it's past time to move on-even though she's engaged to Andy.

At a local TV talk show appearance, Wynne meets Meredith, who won another reality TV show-Marathon Mom-proving herself nothing short of a superhero. As Wynne's beach wedding plans spin out of control, Meredith offers to help, unknowingly stepping on Wynne's secret feelings . . . and exposing some secrets Meredith has been keeping to herself. Can these two reality stars get real about their feelings? Will Wynne go through with her televised wedding and be the perfect June bride the network is looking for?

Buy a copy  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
I've really enjoyed this series so far, but honestly, this wasn't my favorite in the series. Let's start with the good points first, though. The premise of the book was super intriguing to this reality show fan. (Anyone else want to admit they still watch The Bachelor?!) So of course, I was interested in a book that gives the story of what happens once the cameras are "off." The thought of planning a wedding to be on TV nearly caused me to break out in hives, so I definitely felt empathy for Wynne.

Unfortunately, though, I felt like something was missing. This novella seemed much shorter than the others (perhaps only my perception?), and I felt like it was more of a short story than a true novella. I even wondered if this was a follow-up to another book from the author. I felt like there was a lot of "telling" which isn't my favorite style of story-telling. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. I understood the conflict, but I didn't truly care about it because I didn't really care about the people involved. 

Personally, this seems like a great start of a novel but not really a complete novella. However, I am glad that I read it. It was a nice diversion on the way home from the beach. [3 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children. She is the cofounder of She Reads, an online book club focused on spotlighting the best in women's fiction. Marybeth is the author of The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, The Guest Book, and The Wishing Tree. Marybeth and her family live in North Carolina.

Marybeth Whalen Online

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway | The Husband Maker by Karey White


The Husband Maker
by Karey White
The Husband Maker series, Book 1
Available June 2014
256 pages

About the Book
Charlotte’s a girl with nicknames. She may not love being called Charles or Chuck, but the hardest nickname to take is the one she was given in college, the one that’s followed her now for too many years. They call her “the husband maker” and sadly, it fits. Every guy she’s dated since high school has become his next girlfriend’s husband. Not hers. Not three girlfriends down the road. The next. Is she doing something wrong or is she just cursed?

When Kyle Aldsworth enters the picture and sweeps her off her feet, Charlotte begins to hope that maybe she’s not destined to be single forever. A senator’s son with political aspirations of his own, Kyle’s wealthy, handsome, and in need of a wife. Will Charlotte be disappointed yet again, or will she finally be able to make a husband for herself?

Buy a copy for $3.99  |  Find out what others think


About the Author
Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.

She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

Karey White Online
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Giveaway
The author is giving away a $75 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash to one lucky winner. Giveaway ends August 8, 2014. Enter through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
*** Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Inspired Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  ***

Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Watch List | Jordan

Open Doors USA
[ World Watch List Challenge #26 Jordan ]
Pray for Jordan

Jordan

This year, Jordan ranks 26th on the World Watch List (WWL), versus 34th last year. It is the highest position Jordan has had in the history of the WWL. The rise is explained mainly by a further deterioration in the situation of religious freedom, especially for Muslim Background Believers (MBBs).

The main persecution engine in Jordan is Islamic extremism. Tribal antagonism also plays a role, as Christians are surrounded by the continuing influence of age-old norms and values that have been shaped in a tribal context. Tribal antagonism can come in the form of traditional religion, and in the case of Jordan, this is clearly mixed with Islam. Drivers of these persecution engines are government officials, ethnic group leaders, non-Christian religious leaders, fanatical movements, ordinary people and (extended) family.

Tensions between moderate and Islamic extremist in Jordanian society are on the rise, under influence of the Arab Uprisings. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, emboldened by their increased influence in the region, have hijacked the demands for more reforms to serve their agenda: to transform Jordan into an Islamic state. Jordan has been spared from major terrorist attacks, the latest dating back to 2005. However, there have been attempts to attack Western diplomats and shopping centers in the city of Amman in the recent past. Jihadists from abroad, who are heading for Syria, are crossing Jordan. Also, hundreds of Jordanian jihadists are reportedly fighting against Assad in Syria, together with other Islamic extremists from all parts of the world.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes

 
Share This Story Jordan
Map of Jordan

Quick Facts on Jordan

Rank: 26
Previous Rank: 34
Leader: King Abdullah II
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Religion: Islam
Population: 6.7 million (172,000 Christians)
Source of persecution: Islamic extremism
Pray for Jordan Share Jordan's Plight Give to Help Persecuted Christians

Pray

Christians in Jordan need your prayers. Post a prayer or word of encouragement.

Share

Be a voice for persecuted Christians in Jordan. Share their stories and make others aware of their plight

Give

Help us in assisting Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Donate to help the persecuted church

Donate to help the persecuted church

Your gift goes to Bible and gospel development, women and children advancement, and Christian community restoration.
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Monday, July 7, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?!


"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we share what we're reading and our goals for the week.

Whoops! You blink and three weeks fly by. I've been having a blast this summer and have not been as faithful with the blog. But I'll catch up with the last three week's worth of books here. :)

What I Read Last Week over the Last Three Weeks ...



What I'm Reading Now ...


What I Hope to Read Next ...


That's what I'm hoping to read this week. What are you reading?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

World Watch List | Columbia

Open Doors USA
[ World Watch List Challenge #25 Colombia ]
Pray for Colombia

Colombia

"When I was preparing my sermon for our service, the guerrillas came into the church and started to yell at me," said Pastor Roberto. "One of them told me that I must leave the region, or I would be killed. I knelt and took my Bible in my arms, and I started to pray while he continued insulting me. Suddenly, he began to destroy the chairs with a machete. When he got close to me, I kept in silence on my knees, praying. He tried to hit me, but thanks to the mercy of God, his attempt failed."

On several occasions, Pastor Roberto received threats from FARC militants who came to the church. "You are not allowed to continue teaching ideologies opposite to ours," they would say. They also accused him of being a paramilitary and an army informant.
They even threatened him when he was preaching the gospel inside the church. A month before the last attack, one militant came into the church and shouted at him saying, "You are not here for preaching. You are working with the army, and because of that you must leave or we will kill you."

In addition to this, the guerrillas went to his house two separate times, but his wife told them that Pastor Roberto was not there.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes

 
Share This Story Colombia
Map of Colombia

Quick Facts on Colombia

Rank: 25
Previous Rank: 46
Leader: President Juan Manuel Santos
Government: Republic
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholicism)
Population: 48.8 million (44.6 million Christians)
Source of persecution: Organized corruption/Tribal antagonism/Aggressive secularism
Pray for Colombia Share Colombia's Plight Give to Help Persecuted Christians

Pray

Christians in Colombia need your prayers. Post a prayer or word of encouragement.

Share

Be a voice for persecuted Christians in Colombia. Share their stories and make others aware of their plight

Give

Help us in assisting Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Donate to help the persecuted church

Donate to help the persecuted church

Your gift goes to Bible and gospel development, women and children advancement, and Christian community restoration.
Open Doors USA Logo

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guest Blog from Author DiAnn Mills

I'm thrilled to host DiAnn Mills today as a guest blogger! DiAnn is celebrating the release of her newest novel this week, so it's extra special for her to be here today!!!

In case you're unfamiliar with DiAnn and her writing, she is an incredibly gifted romantic suspense writer. The best things about her novels (in my opinion!) are that (1) her characters are realistic and tend to come to life through the pages of the story and (2) faith is always a central yet natural part of the story. In addition to writing her own novels, DiAnn spends a great deal of time mentoring other writers through conferences, critiques, editing, and writing courses.

Today, DiAnn is sharing with us how she writes "firecracker emotions" into her stories. As a reader, I always love getting the inside scoop on different writing techniques, so I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did. I'll let DiAnn take it from here ... (Be sure to read to the end for a special giveaway!)

Firecracker Emotions
by DiAnn Mills

We read novels because we become intimately involved in the characters’ lives. We plant our hearts into the characters and walk through the story with them. I loved every minute of writing Firewall. What a glorious adventure. My characters spent much of the novel involved in stress, tension, and conflict, which meant emotions were constantly in turmoil—raw and jagged. When the story was finished, I left a bit of myself with Taryn and Grayson, and I hope the reader will too. Ever wonder why the writer and reader get so involved in a story?

It’s all about developing firecracker emotions—the kind that pop, sizzle, and sparkle. According to Tonya Reiman in her book, The Power of Body Language, we have seven universal emotions: surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, and contempt. These emotions are culturally the same. We writers do our best to show our characters experiencing all of them—and often.


How do we show these emotions? Let me phrase this another way. How do you show your emotions? Ah, gotcha there. Here are a few examples.

Body language is a huge giveaway for emotions. A few years ago a TV show titled “Lie to Me” depicted a quirky character who professionally interpreted body language. He could tell if a person was telling the truth or hiding something. He could identify specific feelings by concentrating on body language. A little scary, but true. Many of our emotions cannot be disguised unless we’ve been trained to mask them. Watch those around you to see if you can guess what they are feeling.

Actions propel emotions. That’s simple, but think about how you react when someone shows consideration or exhibits rude or aggressive behavior.

Color is a dynamic method of showing emotions. We all react instinctively to color. Take a moment to focus on the feelings symbolized by red, blue, green, yellow, purple, brown, pink, orange, black, white, and gray. Now take another look at the seven universal emotions and note how you felt about each color.  In Firewall, I used ice blue to show the color of Grayson’s eyes at a time when Taryn didn’t trust him.

Sensory perception is a standard measure for emotion. What we see, smell, taste, hear, and touch often guide our feelings. Add a memory and your feelings can explode! Taryn loved the aroma and taste of rich coffee. Grayson understood Taryn had been hurt deeply by another man, and he refrained from touching her until she could see he was sincere.

Word choices can make us feel a variety of feelings. Hard consonants create harshness while words that end in “y,” or have long vowel sounds, or soft consonants bring on welcomed responses. The words spoken with the deepest intensity are the ones we remember. Metaphors, a phrase or word that means something other than the meaning, can influence how we view others, ourselves, and situations. How a character speaks and thinks not only show the reader who he/she is, but the word choices reveal the inner person. 

Taryn and Grayson live in my heart as two people who were passionate about life and their unique purpose in life. I want my readers to step into their lives and experience an adventure with them.

What kind of emotions in stories reach out and grab you? Leave a comment here for a random drawing of Firewall. Drawing will take place on July 8. Be sure to leave an email address so we can contact you if you win!

About Firewall
After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.

About DiAnn Mills
DiAnn Mills is a best-selling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and is the 2014 president of RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.
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