What can keep a dream alive?
Before the car accident that changed everything, Samantha Becker was a happy and loved little girl. Ten years later, Sam, now 18, lives under a dark cloud—largely ignored by an alcoholic mother who never recovered from her loss and ruled by an overbearing father who blames Samantha for the family tragedy. And yet, the troubled teenager has a dream that keeps her going, and an extraordinary musical talent that could take her all the way to Julliard…and far beyond.
Following her heart, however, means defying her father, who has his own plans for his daughter’s future. Then, in the wake of another devastating personal catastrophe, her dream is irreparably shattered, and in her pain and anger, Samantha acts out recklessly. But her salvation could come from a most unlikely trio: a handsome college student, a hopeful little boy…and an older neighbor woman whose caring and secrets will change Sam’s world forever.
My Review of Better Than This
Tia Souders gives us a new YA novel that is full of raw emotion and grit in Better Than This.
Samantha Becker lives day to day in a dysfunctional household with a demanding authoritative father and a distant alcoholic mother. The only thing that keeps Samantha sane is her guitar and her music. Sam is a talented rising star with dreams of attending the Juilliard School of Music. Even the members of her band, her closest friends, have no idea that this is the future she longs for and secretly plans. But in one swift moment her dreams are shattered when her father accidently severs her ring finger on her left hand. With her finger goes all of her hopes and dreams of Julliard and ever playing music again.
Unable to cope with the loss of her music and disillusioned with lack of empathy from her friends, Sam in one brief moment makes a bad decision and takes her frustration out on an elderly neighbor’s yard. In lieu of pressing charges for the destruction, June decides to take it out in trade. She is aging and sick and needs help organizing her house and ridding it of unnecessary junk. Sam aggress to the arrangement, if only to get her father off her back, but is angry she has to spend time with the elderly neighbor. June and Samantha were once close and her house a port in the storm when her mother began her drinking. Add to this little arrangement June’s grandson Tad who unbeknownst to Sam is a fan of her music. It’s this relationship between Sam and Tad and his belief in her abilities that gets Sam back to her guitar and music. Determined to play again and prepare for her audition for the biggest day of her life, Sam retrains her fingers and brain to compensate for her loss.
As Samantha gets stronger and begins to visit The Clover again, her band’s hotspot, it would appear that Sam has another fan in Laird Brian, a handsome college student who happens to love her music and believe in her natural talent. As the two become close and develop a relationship, Sam wrestles with her ability to accept unconditional love. As the weeks go by and her audition at Julliard closes in, Laird together with Tad assist Samantha in preparing for the biggest moment in her life. It’s at this juncture that Sam uncovers a secret that will forever change the rest of her life.
I really liked this book. It was packed with raw emotion and at times I felt so flustered for Samantha because she couldn't get a break. At the same time I was also frustrated with Sam because she was often her own worst enemy. She had such musical talent but tended to reject anything or anyone good that came her way. Her friends used her for her abilities, her dad totally ignored her, and her mother was an absentee parent spending most days in a drunken stupor. The only bright spot in her life were her relationships with Tad and Laird, but often kept them at a distance because she felt undeserving of their love. I was so happy when she finally decided that she was worthy of love and made the decision to trust with her heart that good things could happen for her.
I also loved Tad and Laird’s characters. Tad was so sweet and dorky and the way he looked up to Sam tugged at my heart. Laird was my hero as he was honorable, handsome and determined to win Sam’s love and trust. All of the characters in Better Than this were well written and I either liked them or loathed them. My only frustration was I wanted more. This book demands a sequel. I want to know about Sam’s future with Laird and Tad and if her parents ever make amends and show Sam the love she deserves. I also want to know what she does with her music. Is her future all about her career or does she make room for the two people that love her most. I hope to hear more about these characters in the future.
Better Than This by Tia Souders is a great read for those who love YA novels, but it’s also a great book for anyone who loves fiction with heart. It’s the perfect book to help you get through the rest of winter or take you into summer. You will love the characters as much as I did and find yourself cheering for Sam to follow her dreams as well as her heart.
Compassion was the center of Jesus’ ministry and his mission for his disciples—and for us. Bestselling and award-winning author and retreat leader Joyce Rupp gives you the words to develop compassion in yourself as never before and to reenergize your ability to offer loving kindness to those around you.
Compassion can change a heart, change a life, change a world. But we have to learn how to be compassionate and Joyce Rupp—codirector of the Servite Center of Compassionate Presence—can guide us.
Forty original prayers, blessings, and meditations by Rupp will help us practice themes of compassion: as a way of life, welcoming ourselves, the river of suffering, from hostility to hospitality, a thousand unbreakable links, and compassionate presence.
To be used alone or as a helpful companion to Rupp’s Boundless Compassion book and program, this collection of prayers will inspire anyone to change the world.
My Review of Prayers of Boundless Compassion
Prayers of Boundless Compassion by Joyce Rupp is a beautiful companion to her book Boundless Compassion. It can be used in conjunction with her book, as the prayers correspond to the subject material in her book, or they can be used alone to pray for the gift of compassion for ourselves and others. This book of prayers can be used everyday to lift our hearts and minds to God in regards to those who are suffering. There is no greater gift we can give each other than to offer intercessory prayers.
In addition to the beautiful prayers with insight to the suffering of others and sometimes ourselves, Prayers of Boundless Compassion is a wonderful way of praying, especially for those who have a difficult time putting their intentions into words. When you don’t know what to say, or are having a difficult time praying, this book can help you meditate individually or as a group. A wonderful aid for those on their journey of compassion for it offers insight to the suffering of others as well as those who are their caregivers or suffering themselves. There are so many prayers in this little book, it can offer something for everyone.
I want to thank Ave Maria Press via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Boundless Prayers of Compassion for a fair and honest review.
Living compassionately is rarely convenient and often downright challenging,” writes Joyce Rupp, bestselling and award-winning author and retreat leader. The definitive Christian guide to compassion, Boundless Compassion is the culmination of Rupp’s research and work as codirector of the Servite Center of Compassionate Presence. Through this six-week personal transformation process for developing and deepening compassion, Rupp nudges, encourages, and inspires you to grow in the kind of love that motivated Jesus’ life and mission for his disciples.
With master teacher Joyce Rupp, you will learn to develop compassion as never before. You will discover compassion from science, medicine, theology, spirituality, sociology, and psychology. You will be encouraged to explore personal and professional expressions of compassion, and to re-energize your ability to offer loving kindness to those around you.
Rupp has felt the call to walk with others in their suffering since she was a young member of the Servants of Mary, whose charism is compassion. She eventually cofounded the Boundless Compassion program with Sr. Margaret Stratman, O.S.M.
Based on the format and theme of Rupp’s bestselling books like Open the Door and her popular workshops conducted by the Center of Compassionate Presence, Boundless Compassion has the power to transform your life, giving you wisdom, confidence, understanding, and inspiration to be a more caring presence. It will help you build on relational skills, learn self-care, gain wisdom for incorporating loss and suffering into your active life, and find ways to show compassion at work.
By the book’s end, you will feel prepared to live with a renewed commitment to a compassionate presence for yourself and those who are in the midst of pain, struggle, and transition.
My Review of Boundless Compassion (Creating a Way of Life)
Boundless Compassion by Joyce Rupp is nothing short of phenomenal. It is a book that speaks to our heart about the human condition. If you think you are short on compassion for your fellow man you need to read this book. It you think you are a compassionate person, you need to read this book. Joyce Rupp not only speaks to us about the necessity for compassion for our fellow man, ourselves and the world at large, but explains in detail those things that may keep us from having a compassionate heart. Every session shares some significant insight that speaks to the core of what makes us human and the impact we can make in one another's life, if only empathy, understanding and tenderness can replace judgement, indifference and apathy.
The beauty of this book is its simplicity. It is a six week journey in which the author takes 20 minutes or so of your day to talk with you about the benefit of compassion for ourselves and our fellow human beings. Boundless Compassion can be used for group study or individual study. The words of this book enter your heart and allows you to contemplate where your heart stands in relationship to others. It helps you become aware of your attitude to those who are suffering physically, spiritually or emotionally and what we can do to alleviate or soften the suffering or burdens of others. Each week addresses a new topic in regards to compassion, what we can do to change our lives and the lives of others and how to be the softness in a world that can be hard and dark. Joyce Rupp provides a daily reading and finishes with a reflection and a short prayer that helps you digest what you have read and encourages you to put into practise what you have learned and contemplated. You cannot read this book without examining your own heart and where it stands on helping those who are suffering.
I loved the honestly of this book when it came to dealing with others and even ourselves. There was not one reading in this book that didn’t speak to me in some way. It caused me to examine my attitudes and action in regards to others in my life both past and present. If I am being honest and you are being honest we have to admit we all know someone who has suffered or is suffering in some way right now. It begs the question “Is there anything we can do?” It doesn't necessarily mean we are to control the situation or become an enabler to the suffering party, we just have to empathize with their situation and be a listening ear or the caring hands that help. Taking time our of our day to listen, to pray, provide a meal or be the strength for someone who has nothing left to give can be ways that help alleviate emotional or physical burdens for another. As St. Therese the Little Flower once explained it can be doing the littlest thing with the greatest of love.
Boundless Compassion is a book everyone should read. What a wonderful world we would live in if we could live by the principles in this book. Caring for another and wanting to ease their suffering is not just a physical act, it’s an emotional act, one that starts in the heart and moves outward towards the one who is suffering. It lets them know they are not alone in their pain. So often we start the year with self improvement books, well I say let’s start here with Boundless Compassion. Let's read something that will make a difference not only in our lives, but in the lives of others. It all starts with the man or woman in the mirror.
I want to thank Ava Maria Press via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Boundless Compassion by Joyce Rupp for a fair and honest review.
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.
In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.
As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.
My Review of As Bright as Heaven
As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner is the poignant story of the Bright Family during turbulent times in America amid the Great War and the Spanish Flu.
Wanting to give his wife and daughters a better life, Thomas Bright accepts an offer from his Uncle Fred to come to Philadelphia and become an apprentice in his mortician practise. Having recently recovered from the loss of their baby Henry, Thomas’s wife Pauline is more than ready to say goodbye to their home in Quakertown and start afresh in a new city. At first Thomas, Pauline and the girls have to become accustomed to their new home and life with Uncle Fred, but soon Pauline and the girls are settling in and enjoying their new surroundings, routine and making Philadelphia their home. Willa, the youngest is making friends, Maggie is infatuated with their new neighbor Jamie Sutcliff and Evie is submerged in her studies. Thomas is busy learning everything he can about the business from Uncle Fred and Pauline is now running the household, as well as assisting Thomas and Uncle Fred.
Life, however, is unpredictable as the Bright family well knows and rumors of war become the reality of the day. Jamie Sutcliff much to Maggie’s dismay is now leaving for the Army and Thomas has been called into service too leaving just Uncle Fred and Pauline to run the business. And if the war is not bad enough, a darker menace has come to the shores of America in the form of a plague called the Spanish Flu. There is no rhyme or reason as to whom the flu strikes and thousands become ill, many dying. The Bright family is not immune to this menace and soon members of the household are fighting for their very lives. It is at this time that Maggie makes a discovery and a decision that will forever alter the course of all their lives. The Great War and the Spanish Flu forever changes the lives and landscape of all that it touches. Only the love and courage of those left behind can help one another survive, carry on and begin again.
I really liked this book. I liked the way the story evolved and all the characters Susan Meissner created. It was a joy reading a novel with strong female leads. My favorite characters were Pauline and Evie. Pauline would do anything for her family, friends and those in need. She was not afraid to challenge death and her strength and resilience was a thing of beauty. Evie was so like her mother, strong, smart and willing to face fear head on. She was not afraid to do what was right, even when it drastically changed the lives of those she dearly loved. As Bright as Heaven also made me research the Spanish Flu. I am so glad that I live in an age where medical science knows a little more how to combat these viruses, as well as the medicines to fight them. It was a real eye opener for me.
As Bright as Heaven is a story about the bonds of family and friends and the courage to keep moving in the worst of times. It is the story about love, loss and what makes us family. It is a book that is a must read if you love historical fiction with strong female characters and a compelling story-line. A great book to help you get through the last of winter.
I want to thank Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner for a fair and honest review.
"A TOUR DE FORCE." --Kirkus (starred review)
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.
My Review of The Great Alone
I have read hundreds of books in my lifetime and have many favorite authors, but one of my all time favorite writers of fiction is Kristin Hannah. I can remember the very first book I read of hers, The Things We Do For Love, and I was hooked. Her way of portraying human feelings and emotions just tugged at my heart and left me wanting more. I have read many of her books over the years and I jumped at a chance for an advanced reader copy of her new book soon to be released, The Great Alone, and I was not disappointed. If you are a fan you will love it, or if you have never read any of her works before, do yourself a favor and purchase The Great Alone. The following is a summary of the plot and characters.
Leni Allbright just wants to fit in, feel safe and live like a normal teenager, but her life is far from conventional. Moving frequently from place to place leaves her with no roots or place to call home. Her mom Cora has always been her anchor in life, no more so than when her dad Ernt arrives home from the Vietnam War, a changed and broken man. His nightmares and frequent outbursts make life difficult at home and nearly impossible for him to hold a job. When Ernt is willed some property from a fellow friend and veteran in Kenaq, Alaska, he jumps at the chance for a fresh start. Cora and Leni are a little leery about the prospects of living in a harsh environment they know nothing about, but no one says no to Ernt.
Arriving in Alaska, Leni immediately loves the beauty of the landscape and the raw nature that surrounds them. Their hopes are a little dashed when they see the cabin that is now theirs and the work it will take to make it habitable, but they all dig in determined to make the best of their new life. Their neighbors are friendly and willing to help them settle into their new home. Skills and safety are taught, as well as gifts brought to help them get through their first winter. Things finally seem right for the Allbrights. Leni has never seen her dad so positive, the summer is delightful despite the work and Cora remains hopeful this new beginning will keep Ernt’s behavior and nightmares at bay.
When summer is over and Leni starts school she finally makes a friend in Matthew Walker. The two are drawn immediately to each other and a strong friendship is born. Things couldn't be more perfect for Leni until the winter sets in. As the days get colder and the nights even longer Ernt becomes restless and agitated and the the two become a lethal combination. As his nightmares and rantings begin again as winter wears on, the abuse starts and Cora is the target. For years Cora hid the bruises from Leni as being her own clumsy fault, but now Leni sees the truth. And to make matters worse, Ernt has taken a strong dislike to Matthew Walker's dad, making Leni and Matthew’s friendship difficult at best. As time goes by and Matthew and Leni’s friendship turns to love, the two find they must hide their relationship from her father. Now Leni and Cora must stick together if they are to survive the winters with a husband and father who’s become a ticking time bomb. When the neighbors try to interfere for the safety of the two, Ernt enters into a world of madness and decides to barricade his family in and the neighbors out. With no hope in sight, mother and daughter now prisoners, plan an escape with disastrous results. As Cora and Leni’s world changes forever, mother and daughter are now bound by a secret that will irreparably change the rest of their lives.
This book was remarkable not only for the strength of it’s characters, but the emotions that it elicited as I was reading it. I was so frustrated with Cora. One minute I was angry with her and the next heartbroken at her situation and her inability or desire to change it. Her need to explain away the bruises and abuse was so frustrating at times. I wanted to feel for Ernt, but I couldn't. Yes, I was saddened he was broken from the war, but he seemed to take pleasure in his self-righteousness and his crazy ideologies. At times he was penitent, but most of the time he was just ugly and abusive. His intimidation of Leni and brutal treatment of Cora was indefensible.
Leni was shy and sweet and my heart ached for her. She so desperately wanted to be like any other girl her age, but her life was anything, but ordinary. Witnessing her father’s treatment of her mother, their crazy relationship, along with the brutal rantings of her father left her exasperated or hiding in fear most of the time. Her relationship with Matthew was her only lifeline. Matthew was kind and gentle and thought the world revolved around Leni. It was as if the two were made for each other. The supporting characters in The Great Alone pulled everything together. I loved Paul and Geneva Walker and especially Large Marge and although they were not in the book for long, Cora’s mother and father despite their being estranged were there for them with open arms, particularly when they needed it most. I could go on and on about the book, but suffice to say it was an emotionally haunting read and the ending was beautiful, typical Kristin Hannah style.
If you want a great novel to get you through these cold winter nights, then The Great Alone is the one for you. If you are a fan of Kristin Hannah, then you know what to expect. If you have never read any of her novels and you are a fan of women’s fiction with strong characters and a story-line with plenty of emotion and heart, then this book is for you.
I want to thank St. Martins’s Press via NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah for a fair and honest review.
BOOK THREE IN THE SOUND OF SILENCE SERIES IS NOW AVAILABLE!!!
Did you miss Book One, STONE SILENCE?
No worries. It's FREE for five days, Jan. 1-5!!!
Grab it on AMAZON
TAYLOR DEANHothouse Flower by Taylor Dean I loved Jace Faraday with all my heart. I loved everything about him, from his huge smile to his fabulous laugh. Another man never caught my eye. It was always Jace and Shay, together forever. Until it wasn’t. He devastated me, he ruined me. I’ve never gotten over it. But, I’m a survivor. I’m not a precious flower that can only thrive if kept safe from the perils of the outside world. Except now Jace has returned home. He’s just across the street from me, so close I swear I can actually feel his presence. I can’t avoid him forever. At some point I have to face him. And when I do, I know sparks will fly. To redeem himself for his past actions, I need major remorse. I need a profuse apology and maybe even a little begging for forgiveness. I won’t settle for anything less. However, when the truth behind our break-up is revealed, I’m stunned. It leaves me reeling—and yearning for the six years that have been lost to us. The thing is, once the truth is known, there’s nothing to keep us apart. Absolutely nothing. Dear Reader: This book deals with a sensitive issue.
The Sound of Silence Series is a three book series.
Book One: Stone Silence, Spencer’s Story Book Two: Jailbird, Mia’s Story Book Three: Hothouse Flower, Shay’s Story
Each book has a happy ending and there are no cliffhangers. They are not standalones and should be read in order.Read an excerpt from HOTHOUSE FLOWER: Excerpt #1: I'LL BE RIGHT down to help with dinner, Mom,” I holler. It will just be a few minutes because I’m busy staring out the window at the man I’ve loved nearly all my life. He’s home. He’s actually home—just across the street from me, only yards away. I swear I can physically feel his presence and it’s killing me. Jace Faraday. The love of my youth. He just arrived at his mother’s house across the street. It’s early evening and I’m watching from my upstairs bedroom window just like I used to do as a teenager. All those old feelings I had for him are rushing over me just as strong as ever. Except now I’m a twenty-six year old woman and, sadly, I feel as though I’m too old to feel giddy over a man. He is the one man in my life that I have ever truly loved. I loved everything about him from his huge smile to his soft voice to his fabulous laugh. I loved his brawny physique, yet the fact that he had such a gentle touch. I loved his sense of humor the most of all. When we first started to say I love you to each other, they were serious moments and I knew he meant it as much as I did. As time went by, I would whisper I love you to him and he’d respond in a silly voice, “And I’ve grown fond of you.” It reduced me to a writhing mass of giggles every time. I was young when I first met him. His family moved in across the street when I was in kindergarten. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was sure he was the man I would marry. I was just a little girl with stars in her eyes, someone who was in love with love. By then Jace was in the eighth grade and seemed larger than life to me. That feeling of hero worship I felt as a little girl has never left me. Excerpt #2: “I apologize if that embarrassed you. That’s what creepy ex-boyfriends are for though. If you look it up in the dictionary, you’ll find that I’m right.” “That’s the exact definition?” I ask. “In a nutshell. I believe it reads: A hideous creature made to embarrass and humiliate his former girlfriend during every single moment of her life. Warning: They should all be hunted down and killed.” A half smile escapes. “That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?” “Maybe. I promise to try my best to not stand outside of your window in the middle of the night with a boom box over my head.” This time he makes me laugh aloud. “Just out of curiosity, what would the song be?” “Oh, you know, a rousing rendition of George Michael belting out Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. After all, I’d have to wake you up before getting all romantic with my song choice.” “So . . . what would the romantic song be?” I have to know. “Don’t make me say it.” “You brought it up. Don’t leave me hanging.” “It would have to be . . . I Think I Love You by The Partridge Family. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Not many know it, but it’s a gem of a song. It says everything that’s in my heart.” It’s his ability to say silly things with a deadpan voice that makes him so funny. To me, at least. No one else ever laughs at his jokes quite like I do. I slap his arm playfully and Brit burrows deeper into his shoulder. “I’d go back to bed.” “I’d resort to drastic measures then.” “What drastic measures?” “I’d have to pull out the Barry Manilow. He’s only to be used in rare moments and with extreme caution.” Stone Silence by Taylor Dean Great big beautiful love. Does it really exist? Everyone tells me it does. They say, “Spencer Elliott, don’t worry, you’ll find it one day. You just have to find the right man and when you do, it will surprise the heck out of you.” I’m still waiting for that heck of a surprise to hit. It has proven to be elusive thus far. I’m pretty sure the entire world is lying about love and the joke is on me. I know I want a man in my heart and in my life. Unfortunately, most men immediately push my OFF button and I lose interest quickly. Feeling pressure to prove I’m trying to find my soulmate, I finally give in and agree to a date. Huge mistake. Afterward I find myself abandoned in the middle of nowhere, in desperate need of help. That’s when I meet Stony by chance. He’s a silent and unsmiling man who intrigues me with his ability to keep going after life has knocked him down. Suddenly the abstract notion of love becomes tangible and within my reach. Once I experience it, I wonder how I ever lived without it. That’s when I stay with Stony by choice. But when Stony’s hidden past and present-day reality collide, his silence is broken. And the truth about his life nearly brings me to my knees. I can’t compete with ghosts from the past. I refuse to fight for a man’s love. He either loves me or he doesn’t. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. My only hope is . . . he does.
Catch Book Two, JAILBIRD.Jailbird by Taylor Dean My hometown decided to rename me Jailbird. Every day I silently scream out, “My name is Mia Faraday!” My time in jail does not define me. I am so much more than one heated mistake. And yet, my slip-up weighs on me. There’s so much more to the story than anyone realizes. I must face Stony, my ex, and confess everything. I don’t want to. I’d rather have five teeth pulled. While I’m awake. Without anesthesia. But this is something I have to do, something I need to do. Not just for Stony. I need to do it for me. Especially for me. I can’t move forward with my life until I gain closure from the past. When I meet Grayson Elliott, I am easily pulled into his orbit and it’s exactly where I’d love to stay. He makes me laugh and not take life so seriously. He makes me want to live again. But I don’t love me right now, and that healing needs to come first. I’m not relationship-ready or marriage material. My mind is focused on redemption. I want it. I need it. Besides, when Grayson hears about my colorful past, I’m sure he’ll be gone before I have time to utter the word goodbye. After all, who could ever love a jailbird? Praise for JAILBIRD: Mia's story about forgiveness and redemption is packed with emotion and will leave you wanting more! -Jana, Amazon Review An adventure from start to finish, a wonderful sequel to Stone Silence. -atvtnv, Amazon Review Once I started reading, I just couldn't stop! It has been a LONG time since a book has kept me up WAY past my bedtime! -KJ's Book Nook
Author Taylor Dean Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up.Blast Giveaway Details $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 1/21/18 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 Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Prepare to stay up all night with Colleen Coble. Coble's beautiful, emotional prose coupled with her keen sense of pacing, escalating danger, and very real characters place her firmly at the top of the suspense genre. I could not put this book down." --Allison Brennan, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered
“…The View From Rainshadow Bay, opens with a heart-pounding, run-for-your-life chase. This book will stay with you for a long time, long after you flip to the last page.” - 4 STARS, RT Book Reviews
After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.
When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.
Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.
In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.
My Review of The View from Rainshadow Bay
Best known for her books filled with intrigue, suspense and romance, Colleen Coble’s latest novel, The View from Rainshadow Bay, is a faced paced Christian read sure to please anyone who likes mysteries with plenty of heart.
Shauna McDade lives a relatively quiet life in the town of Lavender Tides. The majority of her time is spent raising her five year old son Alex when she is not flying customers in her chopper. Since the death of her husband, Shauna is both mom and dad and breadwinner for her little family. Always stressed and short of funds Shauna does her best with what little she has. Close friends and family have been a blessing for Shauna for their help with Alex and their emotional support. Clarence Glennon is one of those friends that has been like a father to Shauna. So when she is summoned to her dearest friend’s home and given a package to deliver to his estranged wife Lucy, Shauna is convinced something is terribly wrong. He is extremely agitated and confides in her his suspicions someone is watching him. Her fears are confirmed when he is killed in an explosion that is made to look like an accident.
One of the first firemen to arrive on the scene to assist is Zach Bannister, a former friend of Shauna’s and her late husband Jack. Shauna and Zack’s relationship is strained at best as she blames Zack for her late husband’s death. Although it was a climbing accident, she blames Zack for always competing with him, egging him on to go faster and higher. Guilt ridden, Zack is desperate to get back in Shauna’s good graces, so he jumps at the chance to accompany Shauna to deliver the mysterious package. After the two console Lucy, the contents of the package is uncovered. The box contains documents and pictures showing the surrounding area of Rainshadow Bay, but nothing suspicious immediately jumps out at any of them. However, Shauna becomes upset when a necklace is discovered in the box, one she believes may have been her late mother’s. But what was Clarence’s doing with her late mother’s necklace and what if anything could it have to do with his death? Wanting to uncover the mystery, Zach agrees to take the contents of the box to the sheriff, but when Lucy turns up murdered the next day and the house ransacked it becomes all too clear the contents of the box is far more valuable than any of them realize. When Shauna becomes the killers next target, Zach is determined to protect her and her son. But can Zach protect his heart from the feelings he’s developing for Shauna and can Shauna let go of the past to envision a future with Zach. You will have to read to find out!
I have read several of Colleen Coble’s books and have to admit that The View from Rainshadow Bay will go down as one of my favorites. The suspense Colleen Coble created throughout the book kept me turning the pages. Her characters were well developed and she kept me guessing as to who the killer was. The tension between Zack and Shauna was palpable. The affection that Alex and Zach had for one another was so sweet and tender it left me wanting the three to become a family. I cheered at the bravery of both Zach and Shauna in the face of danger and loved the ending (which I won’t give away). This is a fast read that is filled with suspense and enough romance to please every reader who loves Christian and/or Women’s fiction. The View From Rainshadow Bay is a great read to get you through the winter doldrums. It will lift your spirits and leave you wanting more.
I want to thank Thomas-Nelson Fiction via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of The View From Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble for a fair and honest review.
“This is a powerful story of grief, love, forgiveness, and holy mystery, and I loved it. Billy Coffey is a master storyteller.” —Lauren Denton, USA Today bestselling author of The Hideaway
Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of his loves ruined him. Now he’s counting on the other to save him.
Owen Cross’s father is a hard man, proud in his brokenness, who wants nothing more than for Owen to succeed where he failed. With his innate talents and his father’s firm hand guiding him, Owen goes to college with dreams of the major leagues—and an emptiness full of a girl named Micky Dullahan.
Owen loved Micky from the first time they met on the hill between their two worlds: his middle-class home and her troubled Shantytown. Years later he leaves her for the dugouts and the autographs, but their days together follow him. When he finally returns home, he discovers that even peace comes at a cost. And that the hardest things to say are to the ones we love the most.
From bestselling author Billy Coffey comes a haunting story of small-town love, blinding ambition, and the risk of giving it all for one last chance.
“In one evening, a single baseball game, Coffey invites us into a lifetime. With lyrical prose and aching description we join Owen Cross on a journey of love, loss, faith, the unexpected—and America’s favorite pastime.” —Katherine Reay, author of Dear Mr. Knightley and The Austen Escape
My Review of Steal Away Home
Billy Coffey gives us a profound story of love and loss in a town where discrimination and intolerance are as natural as breathing in Steal Away Home.
Owen Cross loves baseball. He has since he was a small boy, but then again he doesn’t have much choice. His father Paul, a real contender for professional ball, lost his chance when an injury cost him his pitching arm. Paul lives through his son Owen and is determined to have his son succeed where he has failed. Owen is happy enough to pursue his father’s passion and make professional baseball his dream until he meets Michaela (Micky) Dullahan. Owen has never met anyone quite like Micky. Micky is beautiful, independent and wise beyond her years and Owen is immediately smitten. When anxious to meet up with Micky again she explains to Owen their friendship must be kept a secret. Micky is from Shantytown and shanties don’t mix with the town people. Their relationship would be considered taboo from the people in Shantytown as well as the folks in town, so a secret they remain.
As time goes by, Micky and Owen grow closer and their relationship stronger. Owen and Micky count the moments when they can be together on the hill, their secret meeting place. As graduation closes in, it looks as if Owen will get a baseball scholarship to YSU. It’s everything he and his family have ever wanted. The only part that they are unaware of is Owen’s plan to whisk Micky away when he leaves for college. Everything seems to be going as devised until the night of their class graduation party. Held at an old farm on the edge of town everyone is there, even the shanties. As long as the shanties and town grads are divided by an invisible line that neither will cross a general peace is kept. When a dangerous challenge to play chicken involving a speeding train is thrown down Micky jumps at the bait. As the speeding train approaches Owen moves in to save her, but a spiritual phenomenon transpires changing both Micky and Owen’s lives forever. Owen refuses to acknowledge what has occurred, but Micky is so changed from the experience that her life will never be the same. Micky has a new found faith in God and wants to share that faith and love with the world. No longer afraid to invade the town territory Micky is on a mission to spread love and joy to anyone who will listen. But her faith alone will not allow her to be accepted. She is a shanty in their eyes and always will be. When Owen refuses to accept this new version of Micky their lives are forever changed. Improvising a plan, Owen takes matters into his own hands culminating in disastrous results. What really happened on the night of the graduation party Owen will continue to deny until his and Micky’s past and future collide.
Told from the bench of an Oriole’s game where Owen is given an opportunity to sub for one game, Steal Away Home is a story about the painful reality of love and the lengths some will go to find happiness. Steal Away Home is a book that shows the prejudices of a world where the poor and downtrodden are not accepted and only those who have a future made for the stars have a chance. It’s about using people for gain, without a shred of guilt and assuming knowledge of someone without walking a mile in their shoes. It’s about the courage to stand for someone and something without fear of the consequences. Steal Away Home will steal your heart and make you think about who you are and what you want to be. It’s the story about one boy and one girl, but so much more.
I want to thank Thomas Nelson – Fiction via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Steal Away Home for a fair and honest review.
Outstanding Debut Novel from an Author to Watch
Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.
A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives--including her own--are lost?
My Review of The House on Foster Hill
Full of twists and turns, the House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright is a suspenseful, knuckle biting read that will keep you turning the pages till the wee hours of the morning. In my opinion one of the best Christian Fiction books of the year.
Kaine Prescott is leaving California behind and all the nightmares that went with it. Since the death of her husband Danny two years ago, Kaine’s appeal to the police to investigate his death as a murder has fallen on deaf ears. She also believes that the man who took her husband’s life is now stalking and toying with her. Unable to convince the current authorities that her husband was murdered, Kaine decides to leave San Diego and move to Oakwood, WI to start a new life. That new life involves buying and renovating her great-great grandmother Ivy’s old house on Foster Hill. Unfortunately, upon her arrival in Oakwood and the house on Foster Hill, she realizes her mistake at buying the house sight unseen. Everything is in shambles and in desperate need of a major restoration. With no other options for her, Kaine is determined to succeed and regain a sense of independence and sets about the rehabilitation of her new home.
Once in town, the friendly residents of Oakwood are more than happy to greet Kaine and provide her with a none too appealing history of her great-great grandmother’s house. It would appear an unsolved murder of a young girl named Gabriella still haunts the property to date. The old house, the mystery of Gabriella’s murder and her great-great grandmother Ivy’s infamous preoccupation with death provides the background for the town’s rumors of the old home’s ghosts and hauntings. Determined to finish what she started despite all the rumors and hard work, Kaine is resolute on restoring the old house on Foster Hill. She returns each day adamant on getting the project done. It is during one of her visits to the old house that she uncovers what she believes are the writings of the young girl named Gabriella hidden under some floor boards on the second floor. But when she also discovers a picture of her late husband Danny in one of the upstairs bedrooms, Kaine is convinced her stalker has returned and followed her to her new home in Oakwood, WI. Kaine knows she will never be free unless she makes a stand once and for all and fights for her life. With her new friends from Oakwood in tow to protect her, Kaine is resolved to confront her stalker and solve the mysteries of Gabriella and her great-great grandmother’s past.
There was never a dull moment in The House on Foster Hill. A page turner from the very start, this suspenseful book was a roller-coaster ride and I didn’t want to get off. Cleverly written from the perspective of both Kaine in the present and Ivy from the past, I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter. Just when I thought I had it figured out, something new would happen to send me off in a new direction. Not only was the story-line full of mystery, but the tension between the characters was palpable. I loved Joel’s and Grant’s characters the best. They were strong, chivalrous and determined to help the women they loved. Kaine and her great-great grandmother Ivy were more alike than even Kaine knew. Fighting for the rights of women and the injustices they endured, Ivy was a woman before her time. I was also happy that Grant was able to help Kaine find the strength to live a full and faith filled life once again. And last but not least, I thank the author for resolving all the mysteries surrounding the old house and the women who lived there. Like all good reads, The House on Foster Hill will be a book that will stay with me for quite a while.
For those who like great fiction filled with suspense and a plot that keeps you guessing Jaime Jo Wright’s, The House on Foster Hill, is for you. A book with strong characters and a story-line that is a sure hit, this is one book you won’t put down once you pick it up. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to an early Christmas present with The House on Foster Hill.
I want to thank Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright for a fair and honest review.
BOOK TWO IN THE SOUND OF SILENCE SERIES IS NOW AVAILABLE!!!
TAYLOR DEANMy hometown decided to rename me Jailbird. Every day I silently scream out, “My name is Mia Faraday!” My time in jail does not define me. I am so much more than one heated mistake. And yet, my slip-up weighs on me. There’s so much more to the story than anyone realizes. I must face Stony, my ex, and confess everything. I don’t want to. I’d rather have five teeth pulled. While I’m awake. Without anesthesia. But this is something I have to do, something I need to do. Not just for Stony. I need to do it for me. Especially for me. I can’t move forward with my life until I gain closure from the past. When I meet Grayson Elliott, I am easily pulled into his orbit and it’s exactly where I’d love to stay. He makes me laugh and not take life so seriously. He makes me want to live again. But I don’t love me right now, and that healing needs to come first. I’m not relationship-ready or marriage material. My mind is focused on redemption. I want it. I need it. Besides, when Grayson hears about my colorful past, I’m sure he’ll be gone before I have time to utter the word goodbye. After all, who could ever love a jailbird?
The Sound of Silence Series is a three book series.
Book One: Stone Silence, Spencer’s Story
Book Two: Jailbird, Mia’s Story
Book Three: Hothouse Flower, Shay’s Story
Each book has a happy ending and there are no cliffhangers.
They are not standalones and should be read in order.
Did you miss Book One, STONE SILENCE?
Grab it on AMAZONGreat big beautiful love. Does it really exist? Everyone tells me it does. They say, “Spencer Elliott, don’t worry, you’ll find it one day. You just have to find the right man and when you do, it will surprise the heck out of you.” I’m still waiting for that heck of a surprise to hit. It has proven to be elusive thus far. I’m pretty sure the entire world is lying about love and the joke is on me. I know I want a man in my heart and in my life. Unfortunately, most men immediately push my OFF button and I lose interest quickly. Feeling pressure to prove I’m trying to find my soulmate, I finally give in and agree to a date. Huge mistake. Afterward I find myself abandoned in the middle of nowhere, in desperate need of help. That’s when I meet Stony by chance. He’s a silent and unsmiling man who intrigues me with his ability to keep going after life has knocked him down. Suddenly the abstract notion of love becomes tangible and within my reach. Once I experience it, I wonder how I ever lived without it. That’s when I stay with Stony by choice. But when Stony’s hidden past and present-day reality collide, his silence is broken. And the truth about his life nearly brings me to my knees. I can’t compete with ghosts from the past. I refuse to fight for a man’s love. He either loves me or he doesn’t. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. My only hope is . . . he does. Praise for STONE SILENCE: Oh. My. Gosh! I absolutely LOVE Stone Silence! Talk about swoony! This book is AMAZING! I was sucked in from the very beginning and found myself lost in the journey of Spencer and Stony. I laughed out loud, got teary eyed, let out little dreamy sighs and refused to put this book down until I finished it! I devoured it! -KJ's Book Nook Oh man. I will always read everything Taylor Dean writes with no hesitation. I LOVE Taylor Dean books. If you have never read anything by her, you really must. -Aimee, Getting Your Read On
Hothouse Flower, Book Three will be released on January 1st, 2018Read an excerpt from Jailbird: Excerpt #1:
Stony and Spencer’s Place.
Ugh. It’s magical inside the fenced-in property, as if I just walked into a secret garden. Stony always said he was going to build himself an oasis in the middle of the prairie land, and he did it. I didn’t expect it to be quite this beautiful. Green grass covers small rolling hills. Sidewalks meander the property. Flower beds bloom madly with all the colors of the rainbow. It’s almost like being inside of a Thomas Kinkade painting.
I want to run. I want to turn around and erase this serene picture from my mind. I’m not sure I want to witness Stony’s happily-ever-after. The consolation is that now I know I didn’t ruin his life. I should feel grateful for that knowledge. I kind of do and I kind of don’t. My emotions are a tangled mess when it comes to Stony. I’ve had two years in jail and a little over a year in Galveston to think about this moment, to anticipate exactly what I want to say to him. Now that it’s upon me, I can feel my mind going blank.
But I’m doing it anyway.
I march forward with determination in every step and I push on the doorbell before I can change my mind. I hear a Windsor chime echo through the house in a majestic sort of way. A little more cringing goes on inside of me at the perfection of it all.
The seconds before the door is answered seem interminable. I’m a hot mess.
Lock me in a tank with hungry—no—starving sharks. Put me in a lion’s den and let them have me for dinner. Make me appear on that dumb TV show, Naked and Afraid.
Anything but this. I don’t want to face Stony. I don’t, I don’t.
Excerpt #2:THE DOOR OPENS and there he is, looking just as handsome as I remembered. He’s wearing shorts and I can see his prosthetic leg. He’s wearing a short-sleeved shirt and I can see his mottled skin plain as day.
I did that to him. And I hate myself for it.
Hate. Hate. Hate.
I ignore my negative thoughts and concentrate on Stony. He looks confident and fit. His hair is longer, combed back on his head in a stylish sort of way. He’s sporting the unshaven look with a slight beard that only adds to his masculinity. His tanned skin proves he spends a lot of time outdoors. There’s still a deep line between his eyebrows that speaks to the intensity of his personality. In spite of everything, he’s the vision of health and vitality. I know how hard he’s worked to achieve it and I’m impressed with his tenacity. He’s the poster child of someone who refuses to give up no matter how many times life knocks him down. I wish I had his strength.
Standing this close, I want to fall into his arms and let him hold me. It seems the natural thing to do, but things have changed.
His eyebrows furrow even deeper—and the action is not lost on me—then he says, “Mia?”
I swallow. He doesn’t seem happy to see me, but then the constant lack of a smile makes him hard to read. “Hi, Stony.”
I’ve surprised him, that’s obvious. And not in a good way.
He doesn’t say anything, he just stares at me. So I say, “Can I talk to you?”
He hesitates and says, “Uh . . .”
I hate his hesitation, the way he looks so unsure.
“Please,” I say. I’m not above begging. I need to do this. “I’m not here to cause problems for you, I swear. I know you’re a married man now. I would never do anything to jeopardize your relationship. I’m not trying to come between you and your wife.”
“Stop it, I know that,” he says and he means it. At least he knows me well enough to know I would never do something like that. Now that he’s married, Stony is off-limits to me.
But we do have some unfinished business.
He seems to think things over for a moment, then he comes to a decision. He nods and says, “Sure. Come on in.”
Author Taylor Dean Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up.Blast Giveaway Details $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/22/17 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 Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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