Thursday, December 13, 2018

The First Love

GIVEAWAY
LEWIS, BEVERLY
THE FIRST LOVE

Jah, that was undeniably a difficult time, one that opened my eyes in countless ways. And my heart, most of all. It was a season of sorrow and searching, of questions and answers. It was the summer of my first love.

It's the summer of 1951, and Maggie Esh is in need of some hope. Sweet-spirited and uncommonly pretty despite struggling with illness, she is used to being treated kindly by the young men of her Old Order Amish church district. Yet Maggie wishes she were more like other courting-age girls so she could live a normal, healthy life. When tent revival meetings come to the area, the words of the preacher cause her to reconsider what she knows about faith. Can she learn to trust God even when hope seems a distant dream!

My Review:
"Remember to seek the Healer and not the healing. Whether you're ever healed or not, Christ Jesus is by far the most important gift." (p 147)

Definitely my favourite Beverly Lewis novel to date. Maggie's health issues mirror my own so I was quick to connect with her struggle to understand God's purpose in it all as well as her frustration at not being able to do the things she used to. A coming-of-age story that includes an incredible faith journey. I love how the revival meetings plays a role in her spiritual awakening and how she applies that new knowledge into her life, blessing those she loves in the process. So sweet and hope-filled.

Lewis also tells the story from Maggie's stepmother's point of view. Rachel struggles to fit into her new husband's family. It isn't easy since the children are still grieving over their mam's recent death. She faces everything from wary reserve to open hostility as she attempts to draw close to them.

This is Beverly Lewis at her best. There's such a gentle quality to her stories even though they deal with the grim realities we all have to face in this life. Opening one of her books is like listening to a traditional storyteller. The words just flow and soothe and I can actually hear the distinctive voice of each character as if I'm right there. A heartwarming, inspirational novel that gives voice to those of us who live with physical challenges.

"Honestly, I have to remind myself that physical limitations can actually be helpful -- even liberatin' -- when my deepest longing is to follow close after Christ. It sure teaches me to pray without ceasing." (p 273)

Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of The First Love, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add an email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easy to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 16  2018. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Valiant Defender

GIVEAWAY
MCCOY, SHIRLEE
VALIANT DEFENDER

His daughter's been taken...the last showdown in the Military K-9 Unit series.

After relentless searching, Captain Justin Blackwood's closing in on the Red Rose Killer. But when his daughter becomes a target, the hunt turns personal. With the help of his new partner, Captain Gretchen Hill, and his K-9, Quinn, Justin will race to save his daughter and bring down his nemesis once and for all...or die trying.

My Review:

This book has been languishing on my TBR pile, taunting me for a month now. I was desperate to read it but I pushed all the Christmas Love Inspired books ahead of it so that the giveaways would reach  winners before Christmas. Every time I drew close to that TBR pile I swear magnificent Quinn uttered a disapproving growl. He's the kind of dog ready to leap into action when a job needs doing. Waiting didn't sit well with him so he barked his discontent. I kept apologizing when I reached past him and selected a Christmas book instead. I felt soooooo guilty. Poor lad...but I think he's forgiven me now that I've shared his adventures. At least the growling has stopped. -)

Woohoo -- the grand finale of an epic continuity series! Valiant Defender is the eighth Military K-9 Unit novel and I was about ready to crawl out of my skin in anxious anticipation of the Red Rose Killer's capture. Kudos to all the authors for keeping the over-arcing suspense plot fresh and compelling over the course of the series. Loved the way clues were laid out and snippets of fresh information gleaned and, of course, missing dogs recovered in each book. And I appreciated that each story had it's own suspense plot too...and all that romance -- blissful sigh. That's a lot of happily-ever-afters!. Oh -- and K-9 heroes and heroines!!!! A howling success! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

So, while each book in the series could be read as a standalone, I think this one is better appreciated if you've read the others. It would totally make sense but I really think it makes more of an impact if you've been following along right from the start.

McCoy has done a fantastic job of tying all those lose ends together. And I was thrilled to discover that I actually figured out another piece of the puzzle before  Justin and Gretchen did. That didn't happen very often in this series so I'm pretty chuffed.

I fell hard for Justin. He's been intriguing me for months now so my expectations were really high -- both for his backstory and his love story and this author didn't disappoint. She delivered so much more than an outstanding suspense. As much as I'd anticipated bringing closure to this monster case, it was the romance that carried me away. Such depth and emotion amidst all the danger and intrigue. Stellar from start to finish!

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Valiant Defender, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add an email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easy to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 16  2018. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Solace of Water

GIVEAWAY
YOUNTS, ELIZABETH BYLER
THE SOLACE OF WATER

In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son's grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband's hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor. Emma Mullet -- yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah's eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother's pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother's death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma's house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own -- secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long buried hurst have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom -- and has the power to transform a broken heart.

My Review:

An evocative tale of loss and heartache. There aren't many lighthearted moments in The Solace of Water but Younts' writing style is fluid and achingly beautiful. My emotions are all in a jumble now that I've reached the end. Hope was a long time coming but it finally arrives with an outpouring of grace. Such a powerful story.

Three distinct voices in a first person narrative draws the reader into the hearts and minds of Delilah, Sparrow and Emma. An African-American woman, her daughter and their Amish neighbour brought together during the tumultuous times at the start of the Civil Rights Movement. An unlikely friendship sparks from the ashes of grief and despair.

Delilah wears her mantle of bitterness with a hard-headed pride that shreds her relationship with her daughter. Poor Sparrow, so lost and broken, trying to fix her hurt in devastating ways. And Emma, an Amish woman who has been living with so many secrets she's nearly paralyzed with fear. Each woman struggles with the aftermath of grief and the havoc it reigns on their lives and the lives of those they love.

This is a hard read. And a somber one. Sometimes I didn't want to venture into the dark places that plague these three women. It wasn't always comfortable. Sometimes awkward. Upsetting even. But so very true to life as Younts explores issues that are just as pertinent today as they were sixty years ago. And then she shines a light into that murky darkness and turns the ugliness into something beautiful and suddenly there's hope in an unfettered future that only forgiveness and grace can bring.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Solace of Water, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add an email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easy to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 16  2018. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Called to Protect

GIVEAWAY
EASON, LYNETTE
CALLED TO PROTECT

She'll have to draw on all of her resources to crack the case -- and guard her heart.

After being dumped by her fiance, Chloe St. John has decided that the only male she likes is her K-9 German shepherd partner, Hank. But being over the whole romance thing has perks -- like giving full attention to her job. Attention she's definitely going to need because a case of human trafficking with connections to her missing cousin just landed in her lap.

Deputy US Marshall Black MacCallum is in a race against the clock to rescue his kidnapped daughter when Chloe and Hank are asked to be a part of the task force assembled to bring down the traffickers. Chloe finds herself attracted to the silent, suffering man. But can she trust him? And can Blake trust himself around this firecracker of a woman?

Buckle in. This fast and furious ride will have your heart pumping from the very start.

My Review:

Eeeeepppp!!!! I adore the St. John family! And Hank, Chloe's K-9 partner! That dog is a superstar and it's worth reading the book just for Hank's scenes (says the crazy dog loving reader.) I do so love a great canine hero and Hank is the best!

Called to Protect is book two in Eason's Blue Justice series (plus one novella in The Cost of Betrayal collection) though it can easily be read as a standalone novel. What draws me to this series is the great family dynamics - close siblings all in law enforcement (except one.) and their mother is the police chief! Love the quirky dysfunction -- the way their teasing banter brings some much needed relief from the tough subject matter -- human trafficking. Though Eason handles it with care and compassion, it's still sobering and chilling -- especially when the story is told from Blake's daughter's point of view.

The suspense is layered with complications and a network of ruthless criminals which makes this the kind of hair-raising page-turner a reader won't want to put down. It's intense and dramatic and, yes, even romantic in all the right places. Brilliantly done and now I'm eagerly looking forward to reading Code of Valor (book three) only it doesn't release until the spring. Sob! 

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Called to Protect, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add an email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easy to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 16  2018. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

It's Okay Not to Be Okay

WALSH, SHEILA
IT'S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY

Not self-help, God help.

We've all experienced that moment when we wish we could start all over again. Failed marriages, lost friends, addictions, lost jobs. This is not the life we imagined. Yesterday can sometimes leave us stuck, sad, shamed, scared and searching. Sheila Walsh encourages readers to face the pain head on and then start again, right from where they are. She shares that when she discovered "I'm not good enough and I'm okay with that," everything started to change.

In It's Okay Not to be Okay, Walsh helps women overcome the same old rut of struggles and pain by changing the way they think about God , themselves, and their everyday lives. She shares practical, doable, daily strategies that will help you move forward one step at a time knowing God will never let you down.

It's never too late to start again...and there is healing and freedom in just taking the first step.

My Review:

We're not supposed   
to have enough.
We're supposed to bring
what we have,
our clearly not enough,
to Jesus and ask Him 
to meet us where we are.
(p 121)

I loved the easy, approachable style of this book! Walsh teaches through story -- both biblical and personal -- and that's the only way I seem to be able to learn from a non-fiction book so this was tailor-made for me! And I so appreciated how she stripped everything down to the basics. We humans tend to make things so much more complicated than they need to be. Add onto that the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves and then the inner turmoil that comes when we fail...phew it's enough to boggle the mind!

"It's okay not to be okay,
because Jesus has made us 
right with God."
(p 62)

Such a brilliantly simple concept so why is it so hard to remember? I have lived with this book for weeks now and I'm still not ready to let it go. I read and re-read snippets, applied myself to the One Step at a Time encouragements at the end of each chapter and have felt blessed every step of the way. My big takeaway is that there is freedom in knowing there is no end in sight to our ability to begin again...and again...and again...

"When our hearts are free 
to love with abandon, 
knowing that we're not being 
judged for every failure, 
our behavior changes." 
(p 193)

Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.

December Giveaway -- Week Two


WON BY WINNIE THOMAS

WON BY KAY GARRETT

WON BY SAMANTHA

WON BY SUSAN POLL

WON BY BETHANY

WON BY DIANA FLOWERS

You know the drill: winners will be contacted if they left their email address. Otherwise it's up to the winner to contact me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca with your mailing address. From time to time a winner and I do not connect so I have a one month time frame on giveaway wins. If I haven't been able to reach you within 30 days of your win, it will be forfeited. This has happened a few times now so, please, DON'T BE SHY -- CONTACT ME IF YOU DIDN'T LEAVE YOUR EMAIL OR IF I HAVEN'T BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN REACHING YOU. Books will be ordered within a week of receiving your mailing address and I'll email you to confirm your win is on its way. Give it a full month before inquiring about the status of an order to allow for processing and shipping time. Thank you!

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK'S GIVEAWAYS:

Image result for called to protect lynette easonImage result for the solace of water elizabeth byler younts

Image result for valiant defender mccoyImage result for the first love beverly lewis
Image result for caught by surprise jen turanoImage result for a groom for ruby the amish witness

Plus I'll be reviewing a fantastic non-fiction book -- It's Okay Not to be Okay by Sheila Walsh -- not doing a giveaway though. But I've been living with this book for over a month and have found it very encouraging.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Deadly Christmas Duty

GIVEAWAY
VAUGHAN, VIRGINIA
DEADLY CHRISTMAS DUTY

This Christmas could be her last...unless Covert Operatives shield her.

Prosecutor and single mom Melinda Steele thought her nightmare ended when her abusive husband died, but now someone wants her dead by Christmas. Navy SEAL turned security operative Noah Cason needs her to get justice in his sister's disappearance, but first he'll have to keep her alive. And his mission shifts from difficult to almost impossible when Melinda reveals who she suspects is really after her.

My Review:

Whoa! Intense, fast-paced, shoulder-checking suspense makes Deadly Christmas Duty a page-turner.

Melinda has already lived through one horrific nightmare when she's plunged into another one. And who wouldn't want a  former Navy SEAL on your side when your world implodes?! She quickly learns that Noah is someone she can count on -- just not with her heart.

Meanwhile, Noah doesn't want to be drawn into a relationship...he's mission minded -- find out what happened to his sister and make the perpetrator pay. But a simple visit to the prosecutor's office catapults him into a tangled web of danger and deceit. Phew! My brain is still zinging and my heart is still pounding...and a bit melty too. A satisfying thrill of a seasonal read!

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of  Deadly Christmas Duty, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add an email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easy to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 9 2018. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!