Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Reviewer's bookshelf: "The Lost Castle" by Kristy Cambron

Book Summary (Goodreads): A thirteenth century castle, Chateau de Doux Reves, has been forgotten for generations, left to ruin in a storybook forest nestled deep in France's picturesque Loire Valley. It survived a sacking in the French Revolution, was brought back to life and fashioned into a storybook chateau in the Gilded Age, and was eventually felled and deserted after a disastrous fire in the 1930s.

As Ellie Carver sits by her grandmother's bedside, she hears stories of a castle . . . of lost love and a hidden chapel that played host to a secret fight in the World War II French resistance. But her grandmother is quickly slipping into the locked-down world of Alzheimer's, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family's history.

Sparked by the discovery of a long forgotten family heirloom, Ellie embarks on a journey to French wine country to uncover the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty--the castle so named for Charles Perrault's beloved fairy tale--and unearth its secrets before they're finally silenced by time.

Set in three different time periods--the French Revolution, World War II, and present day--The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged, and an enchanted castle that inspired the epic fairy tales time left behind.

My thoughts...I just finished this book last night and I just want to say...thank you Kristy Cambron! The Butterfly and the Violin is still one of my top favorite books of all time, but The Lost Castle is beautiful and moving in a way of its own. This novel sets itself apart from many others in that it connects the lives of three women across three time periods. I loved the way that each story wove itself into the other ones. The castle itself paralleled with the stories the main characters: each holding mysteries of who or what they were that gradually became revealed, representing courage, sacrifice, and love.

 While I enjoyed Aveline's story, I felt most connected to Ellie and her grandmother. The love Ellie had that prompted her to travel to another country so that she could discover a piece of her grandmother's history was touching. The romantic tension seemed stronger in the writing of these two characters, which I also liked. All of the heroes helped bring about beautiful character development in their leading ladies, without it seeming forced or rushed. I loved the strengths that each character brought to the story without the typical plot lines. I think that's what makes this piece of fiction seem almost real. 

I'm so excited to see how this series is going to continue. I would highly recommend this book!

Personal takeaway...Humbling yourself and sacrificing for others is the kind of love that Christ showed for us. It is the kind of love I want to give to those around me. 

**I was given a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my thoughts and opinions, which I did.**

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Whole Heart by Passion Music....and a giveaway!

Music is one of the primary ways my kids and I like to worship together. We have a 45+ minute commute every day to and from school, so that gives us lots of time for everyone to pick their favorite songs to play or just sing along with the radio. I was so EXCITED to be able listen to and review the new cd recorded live from Passion Conference 2018 held in Atlanta, GA!

I have never been able to attend a Passion Conference, but through this cd I feel like I'm right there, experiencing each powerful moment along with the audience. This cd features Passion artists: Kristian Stanfill, Melodie Malone, Sean Curran, Matt Redman, and Crowder. Rooted out of the Passion movement, Passion music is committed to leading people towards renewed intimacy with God and fresh encounters of worship. You can listen to Passion music at Go here to read more about Passion.

"Passion is more than music. More than events. Passion is a generation living for His name."

Back to this awesome cd : ). There is a total of 11 tracks, with a variety of artists. I think my favorite song so far is Ever Almighty feat. Melodie Malone, but there are SO many good ones. Another favorite is All My Hope feat. Tauren Wells and Crowder. It sounds a little different than the radio version, but the wonderful truth and melody is still there. God, You're So Good combines lyrics and music from a traditional hymn with new lyrics. I love this rendition. The planned release of Whole Heart is February 23rd...and I have an extra copy for a GIVEAWAY!! Woohoo! I'll be drawing a winner from the comments on this blog post. Comment with one of your favorite worship songs...I'd love to know if there are some new ones I haven't heard yet! I'll be drawing a winner on release day, February 23rd. Giveaway is for continental US only, please.

God bless!

“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 on the same blog, 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.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Reader's bookshelf: "Keturah" by Lisa Bergren

Book Summary (Goodreads): In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father's estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions for women of the time, they're determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, proper gender roles are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined--and that's just the start of 
what their eyes are opened to in this unfamiliar world. 

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives. 

Set on keeping her family together and saving her father's once-great plantation, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

My thoughts...There are a lot of books that mention trade and goods coming from the West Indies, but I haven't read a story in which the main characters actually go there to live. This piqued my interest in seeing how life on the islands would be described, what challenges the characters would face, and who they would meet along their journey. Another bonus was that the book was written by Lisa Bergren, who happens to be one of my favorite authors! I knew the detail would be rich and the characters well-developed.

Keturah was a character that had to grow on me a bit. Her stubbornness played a big part in her choices throughout the novel, and yet a flawless character is not an interesting one. So I enjoyed seeing how her stubbornness became part of her strength, even though I mentally shook my head at many of the choices she made : ). It's funny how a book can transport you into a fictional character's life...but that's how it happens for me. When I think back on a book I've read, it's not the text on a page that I remember, but the mental images that text conjures up. I can picture Keturah and her sisters, laboring in the sugar cane fields in the hot, island sun, as well as many other images. When I am able to form vivid mental pictures like this, I know it was a good book : ). 

Personal takeaway...Don't be afraid to take a leap of faith when you feel that is what God is leading you to do. You may be filled with uncertainty, but He will be with you every step of the way.

I'm looking forward to the next books in this series and would definitely recommend starting with Keturah. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley so that I could share my personal review, which I did.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Reviewer's bookshelf: "The Saturday Night Supper Club" by Carla Laureano

Book Summary (Amazon): Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life―and love―outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

My thoughts...This book jumped out at me for two reasons. First, I loved Laureano's first book Five Days in Skye, which had just the right mix of character development, romance, and a great setting. Second, I loved the idea of reading a story about the behind the scenes life of a chef. We're big Food Network fans at our house...even our kids love watching it. I was not disappointed as I was able to mentally experience all of the amazing dishes that Rachel created. The attention to detail and creativity made me feel like I was right there in the story. I'm a visual person, so if a book can create vivid mental images in my mind as I'm reading, that's a winner winner chicken dinner in my book! : ) I know...I couldn't resist!

There are so many layers to this story and Laureano, once again, does a great job of developing each character from start to finish, particularly Rachel and Alex. I really loved Rachel's story. The journey she goes on could've completely caused her to shut down and never continue being a chef, but she uses her trials to take her on a journey to self-discovery. The risks she takes to do what her heart knows is true is inspiring.

Personal takeaway...Don't be afraid to step out in faith, even when the world thinks you're crazy. As a Christian, there are things that God has called me (and my family) to that other people couldn't understand. But every time we've taken that leap, we've seen amazing things come from it. 

Loved this book and would definitely recommend it!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley to share my honest thoughts and opinions, which I did.**