The Lady and the Lionheart - Joanne Bischof

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Rating
★★★★★★ - Heaven help me, you taste like Christmas! (More Info)

About the Book
Two worlds collide when the circus comes to Victorian-era Virginia.

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, country nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this ill Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

My Thoughts
Is it too early to start compiling my favorite books of 2017? Because this book will definitely be on that list! I TRIED not to rush through it, I really did. I wanted to savor it. Let the story surround me and captivate me. Let it permeate my soul. Even now, hours after reading the final words, the message is reverberating through my heart.

Charlie officially one of my favorite heroes of all time(don't worry Dr. Ross, you are still a favorite too). His bravery, his sacrifice, his love for those he cares about is not just something to admire, but to learn from. Ella Beckley is a woman that I want to be best friends with! Her compassion and curious spirit makes her stand out. Yet, she has a past that haunts her. Will she learn that her freedom must come from God and not man? 

This is a story of healing, of salvation, of freedom...of pain. Being damaged, unclean, scarred, can be a heavy burden to carry. But the Lord says to come to Him and He will give us rest, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) In Him, is our freedom and in Him, we will find wholeness. The parallels of this story to Christ and His sacrifice for us is breathtakingly beautiful. You will find threads of The Beauty and the Beast within these pages as well. I believe THAT combination is one of the reasons this book is so unique. The setting and characters are vividly  painted for your imagination to explore, and makes it so very easy to fall in love with it all.

This is the first book of Joanne's that I have read. And I can't believe it took me SO long to get to it.  This is easily one of the BEST books I have ever read. Very rarely has a book pulled on my heart and soul so strongly. (The Thorn Keeper and Newton & Polly are the only others.) Be prepared for an exciting adventure filled with the wonders of the circus and the tender love that Christ bestows upon us. Love, true love, is a common thread throughout this book. The love of a father, the love between a man and woman, the love of friends and family. The pureness and wholeness of this love is beautiful to behold. 

Joanne Bischof captures the essence of the circus and the era in words that are so captivating you will struggle to put this book down. I was forewarned by the brilliant Rachel McMillan, "Warning: as soon as you finish, you'll want to go back to the beginning and start over again!" And she wasn't wrong. THIS, is one of those books that deserves multiple readings! Bottom line, if you haven't read it, read it! Beg, borrow, or steal ummm..,buy, I mean BUY...this book and get it into your hands. I pray that it touches your heart and that if you are seeking freedom and wholeness, that you will find it in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I received a copy of The Lady and the Lionheart as a gift from a dear friend. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.


About the Author
A Carol Award and two-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She was honored to receive the SDCWG Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon Writer’s conference. Her 2014 novella This Quiet Sky broke precedent as the first self-released title to final for the Christy Awards. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.

The Choosing - Seer Book 1 - Rachelle Dekker

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Rating
 - You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. (More Info)

From the Back of the Book
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

As Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.
2016 Christy Award Winner! (Young Adult category)
2016 Christy Award Finalist (First novel category)

My Thoughts
I am finding it difficult to write a review without giving too much of the story away!  This book is filled with so many aspects that left my mind reeling, my heart aching, and my stomach churning. But through it all, the message is clear. The Father has chosen us, chosen me. I am beautiful, I have worth. There is freedom in the truth.

With multiple viewpoints and storylines to follow, this book is intense and pretty heavy at times. But LIFE and TRUTH bleed through in even the most dreadful moments. Rachelle has created a brilliant dystopian world with intriguing characters. Reading this book kept me up late and had me biting my nails. I even had a dream or two about the story. It gets inside your head for sure! Watching Carrington develop and grow and become a seer of truth was beautiful. 

The Choosing is the first book of a series and definitely leaves you wanting more. However, it does end with a fairly satisfying conclusion...for now. I enjoyed Rachelle Dekker's debut novel and look forward to continuing this series. 

I received The Choosing as a gift. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Purchase Options

About the Author
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She writes full time from her home in Nashville, where she lives with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair.
Also by Rachelle Dekker

Matefinder - Book 1 - Leia Stone

Saturday, January 21, 2017

My Rating
 - You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. (More Info)

About the Book
Werewolves, facing the threat of extinction, desperately seek their mates to bear young. Aurora, a human far removed from the supernatural world, is nearing her own end after being fatally injured in a car accident. Kai, an alpha werewolf, lurks in the nearby trees watching her bleed out. He chooses to save her the only way he knows how, by changing her. Aurora struggles with her past as a domestic abuse survivor and the new dominating and violent lifestyle of a werewolf. No one is prepared for what happens next. The tides turn in favor of the werewolves. The Matefinder has been found, and she is more powerful than anybody ever imagined. But is she prepared to be the most hunted werewolf in history?

My Thoughts
I do not consider myself an expert on werewolf and vampire lore, but I do find them highly fascinating. Matefinder is a quick read, with an interesting story and unique characters. 

I have had this book sitting on my nightstand for almost a year, waiting for me to pick it up. I am so glad I finally did. Kai and Aurora's story kept my eyes glued to the page till I finished it well past my bedtime last night. 

Aurora is a strong female lead and she carries a powerful gift with her. She has overcome so much, survived so much. Discovering who she is and the strength and power she carries is an incredible thing to witness. Passionate (clean) kisses, intense fight scenes, tenderness, and a family/pack bond that is thicker than blood. If you enjoy books with vampires and werewolves, I recommend Matefinder to you. 

**Please note: This is a general market Fantasy Fiction book, while "clean" by my standards, this is not a Christian book. I would consider the rating to be for 16 years and older.**

I received a complimentary copy of Matefinder from the author as part of a giveaway that I won. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Purchase Options

About the Author

Leia Stone is a USA TODAY best-selling author and mother of twins. When she isn't writing or kiddo wrangling, her nose is shoved in a good book. She lives with her husband and family in Portland, Oregon. She loves Indian food and is a vegetarian. **The Matefinder series has been optioned for film.**

First Line Fridays - 1/20/17 - A Hope Undaunted

Friday, January 20, 2017

Happy Friday to you my friends! 

I am so excited to share my First Line with you today! It comes from a book that I have been longing to read and got as a Christmas present! Yay! Hopefully, I will be able to start it in the next few weeks. I have started The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker...It is SO good!  
But FIRST...In case you missed it, I had a very special post yesterday here on the blog. Tips for the Bookish World. Click on the link to find out more. I had so much fun writing it, I am thinking I will start writing bookish posts on a more regular basis!

Now, for my first line...I had the very great honour of meeting Julie Lessman in Nashville this summer. I will never forget her reaction when she heard my name, "Rachel Dixon? Oh! I pray for your mom every day! How is she doing?" THAT my friends, is Julie Lessman in a nutshell. She is such a caring person with a heart of gold. (My mom is doing great by the way, she had a couple surgeries over the summer and fall.) And my dear friend Abi knows how much I adore Julie and so she got me JULIE'S favorite book of hers. SO without further ado...I give you....

Boston, Massachusetts, May 1929
"Now this is how love should be - nice and neat."

I really DID meet Julie Lessman.
Post your first line below and head over to see what First Lines my lovely friends have today!

Beth Erin - Faithfully Bookish
Katie - Fiction Aficionado 
Andi - Radiant Light

If you would like to host First Line Fridays on your blog, contact Carrie on Reading is my SuperPower.

Tips for the Bookish World: For Bloggers, Readers, and Authors

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hello, and welcome to Bookworm Mama! Today I have something very special for you...Tips for navigating this wonderful, yet sometimes daunting, bookish world that I have somehow found myself a part of. I took up reading again, and began reviewing books, the summer of 2014. When I first began I had NO idea what I was doing! I started looking up "How-To Write a Book Review", "What Makes a Good Book Blog", and so many other attempts at educating myself before I dove head first into this unknown world. While I have found many posts and sites to help encourage and direct writing a book review that is worthy of the book I am reviewing...There were many questions that I needed to find the answers for myself. Over the past six months I have compiled a list of topics that I feel aren't discussed enough in the bookish world. Not only for bloggers, but for readers and authors as well. I do not pretend to be perfect, or have all the answers, these are just a few of the things that I have learned (some the hard way) in the past couple of years reading, blogging, and observing this beautiful world of books. 

Accompanying this list are some rather appropriate clips and memes of The Doctor (In no particular order). If you are unfamiliar with Doctor Who, I do apologize. This is me, letting my geek show.

1. When writing a review on a retail site....please do NOT copy and paste the description of the book. I will never read a review if it starts with the exact description that I just read at the top of the page. If you can't come up with a whole paragraph, a simple "I enjoyed this book.", "This book is incredible, read it in one sitting.", would be so much better than repeating the description.
2. Writing critical reviews. This one gets under my skin somethin' fierce. I respect the fact that not everyone enjoys the same books. Sometimes it is hard to connect with the characters. Sometimes the storyline does not flow smoothly. There have also been times that I simply did not enjoy a book. However, as reviewers and more importantly as Christians, our job should be to encourage and help the author grow and improve. Words are powerful. We have the power to build up or to tear down. I am not saying we can ONLY post positive reviews. I am simply asking you to be KIND when you write a critical review. And ask yourself, "Am I honouring God with my words?"  

3. Do not give away spoilers! I always strive to keep my reviews spoiler free. When I have time I will write my own synopsis. However, I never give away more than what is revealed on the back of the book. Do not, I repeat DO NOT! give an overview of the ENTIRE book...If I want to know how it ends, I want to read the book for myself.

4. Include if you got the book for free. It is a $250 fee per site if you forget to include this disclaimer. Please don't open with that though, the short blurb you see of the beginning of a review should not be "I received a complimentary copy of this book." Your first lines should be engaging and grip the reader to want to finish reading your review. HOWEVER, I do not place the disclaimer it at the VERY end of my blog post. Just at the end of "My Thoughts". You want to make sure that it is still easily seen. See example HERE. Just to make sure my bases are covered, I include this disclaimer for the books that I have won as well.

5. When writing a book review, don't give a rating based on your experience with the retail site. Instead, focus on the product. If you had a bad experience with the retailer write a review in the appropriate location. Do not punish the author for things that are not in their control.

6. Do send book recommendations to people who you KNOW are interested in the genre/style/content of the book. We want to promote these books in a positive way and sending recommendations to everyone just because we can, could have a negative impact if that person has ZERO interest. Look on Goodreads or social media...what genres are they interested in? Do they read strictly Christian, or do they appreciate clean reads as well? Do they even enjoy fiction or are they a nonfiction reader? (This goes for authors seeking reviews as well.)

7. Do not base review on tiny typos or formatting mistakes. We are human, and sometimes here or there something gets skipped. If the book is simply unreadable due to the amount of errors, that is different.

8.Please, let's only rate books that we have actually read. Goodreads allows reviews and ratings to be made months before a book is available even to reviewers to read. I find this incredibly unfair. These authors haven't even finished writing the story and they are getting one and two star ratings.

9. This is a personal one and I don't expect everyone else to follow it, but...I NEVER read reviews of a book that I want to read or am about to read. I want a completely unbiased view of the book. Now, I have read reviews of books that are not on my radar, and they make me want to read a book. In fact Annie's review on Just Commonly of Rachel McMillan's book, The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder made me order the book that same day! Best decision I ever made! Also, I NEVER read reviews on consumer websites. (When I do, I regret it.) I am fiercely loyal to "my authors" and it irritates me when people give 1 and 2 star ratings for technical errors on the retailer's part or completely tear down the author(see points 5 and 2 respectively).

10. At the end of the day, it is not about the number of page views, comments, shares, or likes (although those are good)... It's about the people... Authors and readers alike. Helping the public and our friends connect with authors they would like. Building up and encouraging the authors. Letting them know that what they do is important. And that we truly appreciate all the sweat, blood, tears, and love that they pour into each and every book.

When all is said and done I hope that we all remember to respect each others opinions. We all have different tastes, because God made each one of us unique. Each author has their own writing style and every reader interprets those words on the page through their own filter. Please, above all, let's remember to honor God through what we do.

Bonus for Authors: As a book reviewer, I receive a fair amount of requests from authors asking for reviews. I thought I would add a few tips from my perspective regarding these requests. Please ask first. Do not just send the book(s) and say, "Thank you for your review". I know that for myself, I am literally "booked" months in advance for reviews. I am not the fastest reader either, so it is really hard to just squeeze in one more review. 
Please be aware of the type of books the reviewer reads. Please refer to point 6 above. I can not tell you how many times I have been asked to read books that are polar opposite of the books that I read.
Please be professional. Too many times I have received requests that consist strictly of the book blurb and "I can send you the digital book." No introduction, no indication they even know what kind of books I like, nothing. I try to maintain a professional demeanor when first interacting with ANYONE. As the relationship builds things become more casual. But first impressions are EVERYTHING! 
Please remember how much we value what you do! Without authors, the world would be a very dismal place indeed. Thank you for providing us with such wonderful books! I am honoured to be a part of this magical world of literature.

Many thanks to Carrie from Reading is my SuperPower and my dear friend Abi for being my sounding board for this list. Couldn't have done it without you ladies! And special thanks to my husband for proofing this post.

Top Reads 2016 - NonFiction

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Believe it or not, I do read other books besides fiction. Not many, but they are there, Listed here are my favorite nonfiction categories. And yes, I DO know that Alice in WOnderland is fiction, I just didn't have anywhere else to put the coloring book! Hope you find these helpful! 

Coloring Book





Review & Giveaway! - An Uncommon Courtship - Hawthorne House Book 3 - Kristi Ann Hunter

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

When I first read A Noble Masquerade (book one), I knew that Kristi Ann Hunter was unique. Little did I know that her books would be able to twist and pull on my heart and emotions in such a strong way. Don't miss the giveaway for a copy of An Uncommon Courtship at the end of the post!  

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book
Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn't be happier he is not the duke in the family. Free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, he has grand plans of someday wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he barely knows, his dream of a loving marriage like his parents' seems lost forever.

Conductor of Light - Herringford & Watts Novella - FREE BOOK - Rachel McMillan

Friday, January 13, 2017

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book
It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Toronto, 1912

A seemingly forgettable evening of second-rate vaudeville entertainment proves lethal when Constable Jasper Forth and reporter Ray DeLuca witness the onstage death of the actor Stephano. Was this the performance of a lifetime or merely opening night of the next intriguing case for Jem DeLuca and Merinda Herringford?

Hiding from Toronto's dreaded Morality Squad in the back alleyway of the theater, Jem and Merinda encounter a mysterious musician who steps out of the shadows to tell them a murder has occurred inside.

First Line Fridays - 1/13/17 - An Uncommon Courtship

Good morning and welcome to another edition of First Line Fridays!

I do hope that you are keeping warm in your part of the country (world), it barely creeped into the double digits (Fahrenheit)  today and doesn't look like it will be getting warmer anytime soon.

I am SO excited about this book! I JUST started it...and it is very hard to not disregard housework and meals. I just want to read! Watch for my review early next week!

Hertfordshire, England - 1796
"Many a man has been inspired by a great father or a noble brother, and young six-year-old Lord Trent Hawthorne had been blessed with both."

Post your first line below and head over to see what First Lines my lovely friends have today!

Beth Erin - Faithfully Bookish
Katie - Fiction Aficionado 
Andi - Radiant Light

If you would like to host First Line Fridays on your blog, contact Carrie on Reading is my SuperPower.

In the Shadow of Denali - Heart of Alaska Book 1 - Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Rating
 - You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. (More Info)

About the Book
Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel outside Mt. McKinley. While John will be expedition and wilderness exploration guide for the wealthy tourists, Cassidy has signed on as a cook's assistant. Both are busy as the hotel prepares to welcome the president of the United States on his way to drive in the golden spike to officially complete the railroad.

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice of a seasoned Alaska mountain guide. Ever since his father's death climbing Mt. McKinley, he's worked to earn enough money to make the trek to the Alaska territory himself. His father's partner blames their guide for the death of his father, but Allan wants to find the truth for himself. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

My Thoughts
Excuse me while I find a train headed to Alaska...THIS book makes me want to visit Alaska even more than I did before.

Never Forget - Beacons of Hope Book 5 - Jody Hedlund - Celebrate Lit Blog Tour

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book
Book: Never Forget
Author: Jody Hedlund  
Genre: Historical Romance  
Release Date: January 4, 2017  

Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island  

June 1880  

Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves?

Abbie Wilson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves.

2017 Reading Challenge

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ok, so last year I had a HUGE list of points that I had to hit with my reading challenge. I am afraid that I only made it about 66% of the way through the list. However, I DID read a much wider variety of books last year than I ever have. Going by the numbers I read and reviewed 78 books in 2016. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. I had a blast diving into new genres, reading new authors, and experiencing new settings. So overall, the reading challenge was a success, it got me out of the box and into a much broader world of books. 

First Line Fridays - 1/6/17 - The Choosing

Friday, January 6, 2017

Welcome to a new year!!! I am so excited about the books I have on my list to read this year! If you are curious about which books those are, you can check out my list HERE. Some are new releases, and some are books that I have been longing to read for quite a while now. My reading challenge through Goodreads is set for 52 books this year. I made it to 78 in 2016. We shall see how far I get this year. I just posted my top Fiction reads of 2016. If you missed that, you can check those out HERE.

I was not expecting to get any books for Christmas this year...But I did! 

And I have CHOSEN one of these books for my First Line today!

"Carrington felt as though she'd collided with a moving train."

Post your first line below and head over to see what First Lines my lovely friends have today!

Today marks the official INTERNATIONAL status of First Line Fridays! Katie has decided to join this wonderful group of bookish, OCD (or CDO), reading fanatics!

Beth Erin - Faithfully Bookish
Katie - Fiction Aficionado 
Andi - Radiant Light

If you would like to host First Line Fridays on your blog, contact Carrie on Reading is my SuperPower.
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