Monday, July 24, 2017

Scripture Graphics #49

On days (and weeks) where things are crazy and busy, I need this reminder: I must go in God’s strength, not my own; I must seek Him for the way I am to take, the things He wants me to do.

This should never cease being our heart’s prayer and desire.

If we are starting to slide, maybe we need to examine: in whom or in what is our trust? Something other than the Lord?

This verse reveals three beautiful truths about God’s relation to us: He hears us (Psalm 6:9, 18:6, 34:4, 40:1, 116:1, 120:1), He is merciful (Psalm 31:7, 57:10, 62:12, 103:8, 116:5), and He helps us (Psalm 54:4, 33:20, 46:1, 94:17, 121:2, 124:8).

What is your favorite Psalm?

Friday, July 21, 2017

First Line Friday | Over Maya Dead Body

Today's read... if you're a mystery fan, you will want this book!! But, heads'-up, you'll want to get the first two books first. ;) At any rate, here's the first line (keep reading for my review too).

"I snatched my bag off the luggage carousel at Boston's Logan International Airport and plunked it next to my parents as a sticky-fingered urchin tried to liberate the brightly colored ribbons I'd tied to the handles."
(Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard)


Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read

If you're wondering if this book can be jumped into without the other two books having been the others first. I'm not going to give anything away, but a lot of things in this book would have a more powerful punch if you've gotten to know some of the characters in previous books.

That being said, yes, I read this book without having read the other two Serena Jones books. I picked up on the threads that I likely missed (so it CAN be read as a stand-alone, but references to past books make me want to read them) and enjoyed the book overall.

As a mystery... five stars hands down! My brain was swirling with the "whodunit" and I didn't piece together things as quickly as Serena did (which I liked; I like a good mystery that has me puzzling all of the way through).

As a Christian book... eh... it is very, very clean. There were no parts that made me cringe, no unacceptable language. God was mentioned, prayer was said. But overall as a Christian book, it wasn't a very strong one. What stood out to me far more was the romance.

As a romance... there was a love triangle (hides face). I don't like love triangles! But, this one ended happily for me, cause she ended up with the guy I shipped. That being said, there was a kiss, and almost-kiss. There were a LOT of feelings. I mean, Serena has two guys she likes and they both definitely like her, and she's confused as to which to choose. So yeah. If you don't like love triangles, you may not want to read this.

Overall though, I'd give this book 4.5 stars. I enjoyed the style (first-person contemporary is something I'm finding I enjoy), the mystery, and the cleanness of this book (I've read some more strictly "Christian" books that made me cringe more than this book).

*I received this book from Revell books and happily provided my honest review*


FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha's Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn't take a vacation, and she's soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.

When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications--and even a secret or two?

Award-winning author Sandra Orchard keeps readers guessing with this fast-paced mystery laced with romance.

You may buy the book here.

Find out more about Sandra Orchard here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Scripture Graphics #48

If our delight is in God's law, then we should not be in danger of close companionship with the ungodly, sinners, or scornful. Likewise, if we are in close company with those three, we will not find delight in God's law.

If we are so concerned about "my rights," does this indicate a lack of trust in our eternal judge?

How are we fighting against the enemy so that the foundations are not destroyed? How are we upholding the foundations in our era--around our family, friends, in our workplace, on social media? Or are we turning a blind eye as foundations crumble?

There is a combination here: God's Word keeps us from the paths of the destroyer (so we need to read and apply it), and God Himself holds us in His paths (so we need to follow, trust, and obey Him).

What are you meditating on today?

Friday, July 14, 2017

First Line Friday, Blog Tour, and Giveaway | Dreams and Devotion

Today I'm excited to feature another new-release! The Tales of Taelis series is a great children's series with solid, Christian principles.

Here is the first line:

Dara pushed a strand of hair, the color of a crow’s wing,
back into the cloth that kept it out of her face. She stared
off toward the snow-covered hills, glistening in morning light.
(Dreams and Devotion by Sarah Holman) 

Before I share my review and all the other fun stuff of a blog tour... hop over and see what the other FLF bloggers have to share! Also, comment and share a first line for today!

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read

This was a sobering story, filled with true-to-life heartache and choices amidst hardship. I appreciated the lessons that Dara and Dresden learned about forgiveness and trust.

I know it was true to the time, but some people may be hesitant to read this because Dresden was a priest. In ways it was true to the Catholic priests of that era in that he vowed to never marry and to hold the church's needs above his own, yet the message of salvation through grace alone and not works was clearly presented. It was definitely evangelical and not works-based-salvation. That would be one thing I'd like to address with younger readers as they read the book so they wouldn't be confused about the doctrines portrayed here vs. traditional doctrines of priests.

As with the other books in this series, it makes a great children's book with a simplistic style and easy to understand lessons.

*I received this book from the author and happily provided my honest review.*

Some dreams will be dashed, and their devotion will be tested.
Dara's life is full of farm work and worries, especially now that her older brother is a priest in a far off city. Yet she still has time to dream of the life she hopes will someday be. She dreams of marrying her dear friend and the worries of her family ending. Now, the selfishness of one person threatens her very way of life.

Dresden's initial excitement about living a life devoted to the service of God quickly is dashed on the rocks of reality. The life of a priest is nothing like what he imagined. To make matters worse, he finds out his family back in his home village is on the brink of disaster. Torn between his vows and his love for his family, what will he choose?

Buy the book for the special preorder price, here.


Enter HERE

About the Sarah

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.
Find her at

Stops on the blog tour:
July 8
July 9
His Princess Warrior ~ Katie Hamilton
July 10
In the Book Case ~ Tarissa Graves
Jessica Greyson ~ Jessica Greyson
July 11
Read Another Page ~Rebekah Morris
July 12
Shannon McDermott ~ Shannon McDermott
July 13
The Page Dreamer ~ Deborah O'Carroll
July 14
Knitted by God’s Plans ~ Kendra E. Ardnek
With a Joyful Noise ~ Amanda Tero
Once Upon an Ordinary ~ Kate Willis
July 15

Jaye L. Knight ~ Jaye L. Knight

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sale: Today and Tomorrow

I'm having a sale today and tomorrow only.

Get "Journey to Love" for $.99 today (tomorrow it will be $1.99) and "Letter of Love" for free!!

Also, I'm joining a group of other authors for a Summer Stock-Up Party where they have more sales and freebies and giveaways. :) Join us on Facebook! My time is 2:00 CST today.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trever Elkins Music

No, this isn't a repeat of last week. Last week I featured Carter Elkins. Yes, Trever is his brother. He does a little bit different style of music--they worked together for Trever's CD, Rest. As the title implies, it is a nice, relaxing CD (which you can get through Exalt With Songs ministries). Here's a sample.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Journey to Love | Book Trailer

Over a year ago, "Journey to Love" hit bookshelves and e-book shelves. ;) I am just now doing a book trailer for my first published novella. Have you read it yet?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Scripture Graphics #47

“And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.” (Acts 28:4-5)
I found this amazing, because Paul *was* a murderer. But he was also saved by the grace of God, and that made the difference.

"And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way." Judges 2:19
Following God is up to the individual, not just the leader. If we only do what's right when a leader is directing us to do right (whether parent, pastor, or even a peer leader in groups or situations), what will happen when we stand on our own?

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man." Mark 7:21-23
How well do we truly understand our heart? How often do we yield to the evil of our heart? God has saved our soul, but the struggle of our natural flesh is still there, and if we do not yield ourselves to God, our heart will try to take over. It is a dangerous thing to pretend that we are above yielding to the wickedness of our heart (after all, pride itself is in that list!).

She obeyed and gave her offering, but I doubt she truly realized how God was using her obedience -- as a death-anointing. Nor did she obey for millions to hear her story -- yet they have. We never know how God will use our obedience to His leading, our sacrifices yielded to Him.

Do you usually read your Bible in the morning or evening?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Books I Read - June 2017

This is a week late, I know. Our summer is a craze of busyness--great, wonderful busyness, but busyness nonetheless. 

June wasn't a huge reading month for me--and it was one in which my reading balance got shifted. Usually I try to balance non-fiction and inspirational books with fiction. Turns out for the summer I had agreed to review a list of books and didn't think about my schedule too much. So I had to "catch up" on fiction reading for June/July.

But backing up to June.
My most anticipated read...

*insert a huge row of grins and happy claps*
Since this is a Civil War fiction book, I was reading half for research and half for enjoyment. It met my expectations. This was my first Lynn Austin book to read, and I love her balance of Christianity with accurate history. I gave it five stars. ;) You may read my full review here.

Another anticipated read is actually an anticipated author-read. I've been wanting to try out Dee Henderson for a while and finally got my chance!

I've heard that Threads of Suspicion is one of Dee's calmer books. I enjoyed it all the same. You can see what I enjoyed most here.

And then two books I reviewed here on my blog (as well as Dee Henderson's book):

I've gotten some flack with my review of The Story Cure. There were good elements to it, but as a Christian, I have read other non-Christian books that were less offensive to me personally (particularly writing books) because of the content that Moore chose to display. As another review stated, "The author was OBSESSED with divorce and affairs." That assessment is kind of accurate, in my view.

But let's get on to another book that I did enjoy!

I was happy to be a part of Livy's debut novel and look forward to reading more of hers! If you don't remember my review of The Coronation you may look it up here.

So... there are my four wee books that I read in June. So far, it looks like July will pass up June's reading count. ;)
How many books did you read in June?
How many books are you hoping to read this summer?
What is your most-anticipated read coming up next?
(I'll give you my next most-anticipated read: A Name Unknown by Roseanna White!!!! Can't wait!!)

Friday, July 7, 2017

First Line Friday and Review | Heart on the Line

Happy Friday! I finally got around to reading my first Karen Witemeyer book--and I enjoyed it! How many of you have read Karen Witemeyer? What do you consider your favorite of hers?

The cheerful tinkle of the bell alerted Grace Mallory to the arrival of a guest.
(Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer)

Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!
Please note that I may not fully endorse all of the books that these bloggers read or the content in these blogs.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly
Trisha – Joy of Reading
Jeanette – CJane Read

This was my first Karen Witemeyer book to try (which, I discovered after finishing it that it's a book two--but it reads perfectly as a stand-alone). My first impression? I'll be looking forward to reading more by her!

Amos and Grace being telegraph operators was fascinating. Their use of Morse code was a priceless touch to the story.

I enjoyed the hint of mystery and suspense in this book. It wasn't overpowering, but enough to add a spice of intrigue. Who was after Grace and what measures were they willing to take to reach her? Who are the mysterious men who suddenly appear in a women's-only colony (okay, a "woman's colony" plus two men who made their way into the group)? At the same time, Grace was a little too smart for the book to hold much suspense. I figured out immediately who the two newcomers around town were, and not long after I did, Grace "sensed" the truth about the newcomer she met. So it spoiled the thrill that could have been there, in my opinion. I still enjoyed seeing how my surmisings were accurate and how the story would play out, though.

The Christian aspect was there. The characters quoted Bible verses and prayed, trying to seek God. It seemed to be a part of the characters' lives, not just "added into the story." It wasn't the strongest Christian-themed message but it *was* very visible, with messages on fully trusting God, accepting His wisdom in what He allows, and quoting Scripture for strength.

And of course, romance. This is a Christian Historical Romance book. From the beginning, both Amos and Grace yearned for a spouse and when God would send "the one." There was a whole-page description of a kiss (I kid you not, it took the entire page), and the other kisses were also fairly in-depth described. The romance didn't steal the whole show, but it was definitely one of the strongest threads in the story, and though the characters did pray about God during their interest in another person, it still had a lot about the feelings leading their decision. There were a couple of comments mentioned that led to more sensual thoughts of "more than a kiss." So yeah. A bit of romance, which is what I had expected. I was fearing that one of the women may be abused/forced but thankfully that didn't happen (for those who are curious about that aspect).

I really enjoyed the flow of the story. As a writer, I try to shut off my editor-brain and read as a reader; and when I find a book that I enjoy as a writer, I'm doubly happy. This was one of those books. It just seemed to have a good balance and was the type of book that lent to a much-needed "just relax and read" weekend.

*I received this book from Bethany House and happily provided my review*

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can't let the villain she believes responsible for her father's death release his wrath in Harper's Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she's ever known. 

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires. 


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Carter Elkins Music

Another friend of mine in the music field! Carter does an amazing job with orchestrations! He's kind of an extended-family-not-really... he's one of my sister-in-law's brother. ;) He has an orchestral CD which I'll include details of after "Field and Forest."

Here's one of my favorites of his! Writers, if you need inspirational background music... here you go! ;)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Glimpse of Today During the Civil War

July 4th. The celebration of Independence. Celebrated throughout all America since 1777. Not quite so...

In 1863, General Grant ordered his Union army to march south. Much of this year, General Sherman spent most of his time in Mississippi. On July 4, 1863, "Vicksburg surrendered, and orders were given for at once attacking General Johnston." (from Memoirs of General William T. Sherman)

That day marked a day not as celebration, but a day of mourning, which the citizens of Vicksburg, MS, recognized for over a hundred years.

Now that you've had your history lesson for the day (oh the fun things you learn while researching)... happy fourth! Does your family do anything special?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Scripture Graphics #46

We hear this passage often as an example to search the Scriptures. This time, when I read it, I noticed their “readiness of mind.” They were teachable but also wise in the Scriptures. Today, we have many unteachable hearers who don’t go to the Scriptures to define truth. May we never be guilty of this!

The power of God and His Word. Do we trust that power? Or, when ministering to others, do we take the place of God and His Word—others cannot grow in the Lord unless we’re there?

“Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God. And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.” (Joshua 22:3-4)
When I’m tempted to think, “My time is being used by someone else,” I should remember these tribes. They left their wives and children home while they went with Israel for years, fighting, and likely some of them getting killed. Yet, in due time, God rewarded their faithful service.

A beautiful reminder of what salvation is: turning from darkness to light, changing from the power of satan to the power of God, receiving forgiveness of sins, an inheritance, sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Share a verse from your Bible reading today!
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