Friday, September 22, 2017

Review of The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix



About the Book ~

"There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned."

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered. “Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?

For more information about Michele Phoenix and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Read this enticing, eye-opening tale. Seriously. You won't regret it.

It took awhile for me to process The Space Between Words. Even now I'm not sure I will be able to do this book, this review due justice. Bear with me, my friends.

Jessica is a survivor of the Paris attacks. The author masterfully layers the character's remembrance of the attacks and the following trauma throughout the novel. And about a fourth of the way through the story there is a dramatic twist. A twist so dramatic that - to be honest - I'm not sure how I didn't spend the next week raging and mourning! The author pulled such an intense response out of me for these wounded, dear characters.

Most of the story is told through Jessica's perspective. However, we get to read the journal entries of Adeline Baillard and follow the harrowing journey of her family's faith during the Huguenot persecution. What about romance, you say? Yes, there is a faint, slow burning romance, but it is not the focus of the novel. However, it was enough to please this romantic girl's heart! This is a tale of survival and healing after experiencing the worst in mankind, and we see the struggle - and reward - to walking in faith, persevering, and believing in God's goodness.

Four Stars ~ This story is an intense kind of beautiful! The Space Between Words is a standalone novel. I think fans of Rachel Hauck's dual timeline stories, Katie Ganshert's Life After, Becky Wade's True to You, and Heidi Chiavaroli's Freedom's Ring will enjoy The Space Between Words.

I received a copy of The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix published by Thomas Nelson from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. Joy is a youth mentor because she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Author Interview and GIVEAWAY with Chenise A. Miller!!!

Hi, guys!

One of my favorite things to do is talk with my friends, family, the teens I mentor, and everyone else at coffee shops/bookstores. Books and yummy drinks are the perfect combination, after all. So, consider this our virtual coffee shop. I'll wait a second for you to get your warm drink and a fuzzy blanket before we chat with today's guest.

Today, I am very excited for you to meet Chenise A. Miller! I *met* Chenise on Instagram, and she's just such a nice person!


Chenise A. Miller grew up in Metro Detroit playing basketball throughout her adolescent years. After reading Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper, she began weaving her own stories together, while playing the sport she loved. It wasn't until years later—after wrapping up her professional career in Spain—that Chenise sat her basketball down and published her first novel. She plans to continue creating stories that are real, filled with friendship, and sprinkled with God's saving grace. When she's not writing and drinking coffee out of her favorite mug, she enjoys reading, traveling, and tasting new cuisine. She's a fan of classic romance comedies like Overboard, Pretty Woman, Baby Boom, and Sleepless in Seattle.

Connect with Chenise on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

INTERVIEW ~

First things first, would you order coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in our virtual coffee shop? Something else altogether? This is possibly the most important question…
 
Definitely coffee.

*nods approvingly* On to our second most important question, if you could order anything in the world to eat, what would it be?
 
This is so tough because I'm a foodie. If I could order anything, I guess it would be a quintessential Italian meal—in Italy, of course. I know that's kind of vague, but my mom lived in Como for almost a decade, and I've always loved hearing her amazing stories over the years. I guess, in my mind, food is always associated with a cool place.

I get that! An Itailan meal – with lots of cheese – sounds delicious! Where is your favorite place to write? And why is that your favorite place?

I'm pretty traditional when it comes to writing. All I need is a desk with lots of legroom because I'm tall. Most times I work in silence, but sometimes I can write with music playing softly. Usually, I play songs my current main character would like.

There’s something poetic about a writer at their desk. <3 Do you have an odd habit that is only explained by your bookish, writer tendencies?

Hmmm...I can't really think of an odd habit, outside of the crazy amount of coffee I consume when I'm writing. I think most writers eat or drink an unhealthy amount of something during the writing process. For me, it's coffee. So it's not extremely odd as an author, but outsiders would probably cringed at the amount of coffee I drink and reheat.

This completely supports what you said, but I tend to binge coffee and chocolate while I’m writing. Haha! What inspired you to write Where I Belong?

I can't really pinpoint a particular thing that led me to write Where I Belong—because that's how it usually happens for me—but I remember thinking how fun it would be to write a novel set in a small southern town with loveable characters and all things sweet! Along the way, I definitely found inspiration from a few books: Becky Wade's A Love Like Ours, and Secrets of the Heart by Lee Tobin McClain. Both novels were set in small towns. I also found myself binge watching Heartland on Netflix around the time I finished Where I Belong, so that show was inspiration also.

Small southern towns are so much fun, and those are great books! However, I have yet to watch Heartland. *hangs head* What led you to write in this genre?

Well, I have four novels that I classify as Christian Romance. I've always been into romance, because I'm a hopeless romantic. When I decided to take writing seriously, it was around the time that I truly decided to believe and live for God. Though things weren't always perfect, I found I knew first hand the highs and lows of someone striving to follow Christ. So I made a decision to write Christian Fiction. Now I have to be honest, it wasn't a decision I made right away. I toyed with writing contemporary romance because I didn't really think anyone would read a Christian Fiction novel, but that's when I discovered the talented authors that paved the way for newbies like me. I wanted to be the young author who wrote stories that other young adults could instantly relate to. And I always felt like not writing Christian Fiction, would be like running from something God told me to do. So here I am!

Wow, Chenise! I love your writing testimony. It’s so powerful! <3 What message do you hope to convey to your readers?

I hope to convey messages of forgiveness, hope, friendship, and, of course, love. Not just romance, but the love of God. I believe readers can relate with the authenticity of each character—because none of them are perfect. Just like you and I, they go through real problems, real pain, and real redemption.

Romance and the love of God equals the perfect combo. <3 Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I'm working on the second book in the Southern Belles series. This novel is making me a better storyteller and it's fun catching up with some of the characters from Where I Belong. Readers will be able to see the progress of some characters from book one.

Book two is about Parker and someone I think readers will least expect. It pushes the envelope for me, as readers learn that the main character has a wayward past that she's trying her best to outrun. Since it's set in Belle City, it's no surprise that everyone knows everything. I think readers will like this one.

As an avid reader, I love it when I get to catch up with old friends, err, characters. ; ) What is your favorite Bible verse or story that inspires you on a soul level?

My favorite scripture is Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to his purpose." 

When I think about my life, I think about the faithfulness of God and the perfect way He worked things out—the good and the bad.

 

Great verse!! He is so faithful, isn’t He? <3 What are you currently reading?

I usually read a few books at once, though I don't recommend it to anyone lol. Currently, I've been reading Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations, by V. Joy Palmer :), False Start by Christine Kersey, and Finding Love by Toni Shiloh. All are good so far! I'm sure I'll have a hard time choosing which to finish first.

Aww, shucks! *grins* I’ve read more than one book at a time before. It can be a lot of fun…and very confusing. ; )

Thank you so much for answering all my prying questions, Chenise! I had a lot of fun talking to you today! : )

GIVEAWAY ~
Chenise has generously offered to giveaway 1 copy of her newest novel, Where I belong, and a $25.00 gift card!



Nothing could be worse than moving home, the place Miranda Phillips rand from 10 years ago. She had good reason to leave, too—including her rocky relationship with her mother. But when her mother's bakery is in jeopardy of closing, Miranda reluctantly leaves New York to help her family. She puts her dreams on hold, because that's what her father would've wanted. However, since he's been gone things haven't been the same. Sure she grew up in Belle City, but she doesn't know what to expect after so many years away. It sure isn't rainbows and butterflies...and definitely not falling for Owen Bailey, a handsome contractor and new face in the small Georgia town.
 
As Miranda lets her guard down, she experiences an overwhelming comfort that she didn't expect to find in Belle City. Still, not void of hurt, apprehension, and loose ends, Miranda must figure out if happiness is worth risking something safe for the thrill of the unknown. She must decide if faith is enough to show her where she belongs.

Rules, Info, and Such ~

Chenise has generously offered to giveaway 1 signed copy of her newest novel, Where I Belong, and a $25.00 Amazon gift card! This giveaway is only open to US mailing address - so sorry for any chocolate binge eating this may cause! The giveaway will be open until 12 A.M. on September 20th, 2017. If the winner does not respond to our e-mails in one week (by September 27th), I will have to draw a new winner.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Enter using the handy Rafflecopter here ~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for stopping by my writerly, bookish friends! See you next time, and God bless you guys!

Hugs!

P.S. You may know that I contribute to several blogs, one of which is The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction - a lovely group blog where myself and several other awesome authors take turns every week interviewing other awesome authors. Hope to see you there, too!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. Joy is a youth leader because she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review of Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli



About the Book ~

Boston, 2015

Two years after nearly losing her life in the Boston Marathon bombing, Annie David is still far from “Boston strong.” Instead she remains isolated and defeated―plagued by guilt over her niece, crippled in the blast, and by an antique ring alongside a hazy hero’s face. But when she learns the identity of her rescuer, will he be the hero she’s imagined? And can the long-past history of the woman behind the ring set her free from the guilt and fears of the present?

Boston, 1770

As a woman alone in a rebellious town, Liberty Caldwell finds herself in a dangerous predicament. When a British lieutenant, Alexander Smythe, comes to her rescue and offers her employment, Liberty accepts. As months go by, Alexander not only begins to share his love of poetry with her, but protects Liberty from the advances of a lecherous captain living in the officers’ house where she works.

Mounting tensions explode in the Boston Massacre, and Liberty’s world is shattered as her brother, with whom she has just reunited, is killed in the fray. Desperate and alone, she returns home, only to be assaulted by the captain. Afraid and furious toward redcoats, Liberty leaves the officers’ home, taking with her a ring that belonged to Alexander.

Two women, separated by centuries, must learn to face their fears. And when they feel they must be strong, they learn that sometimes true strength is found in surrender.

For more information about Heidi Chiavaroli and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

If Freedom's Ring is not on your radar, buy a new radar, invest in binoculars, or just get thee to a bookstore! This is not a story to be missed!

In Freedom's Ring, half of the story is set after the Boston Bombing, while the other half is set spanning the American Revolutionary War. I really enjoyed all the history and research, and I felt like it wasn't overdone or drawn out. Heidi Chiavaroli intertwines these two unique stories so beautifully.

Liberty and Annie have both been traumatized by horrendous actions. Having seen the worse in mankind, they must choose to forgive and ask for forgiveness when their fear dictates their actions. The author gracefully shows readers how we must sometimes rely on a strength that is greater, more supernatural than we can comprehend - God's strength. The romantic threads were so sweet, and while the How I Met Your Mother twist made my heart ache, you can't help but feel overwhelmed by the way the author wove God's love and grace into the story of such dearly loved characters.

Four Stars ~ This story will capture your heart! Freedom's Ring is Heidi Chiavaroli's debut novel, and it is an extraordinary standalone story that you won't want to miss! Fans of Rachel Hauck's dual timeline stories, Katie Ganshert's Life After, and Becky Wade's True to You will especially enjoy Freedom's Ring, as will anyone who enjoys reading about the American Revolutionary War.

I received a copy of Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli published by Tyndale from the Tyndale Blog Network. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. Joy is a youth leader because she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review of The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin



About the Book ~

After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans.

Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding.

Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

For more information about Victoria Bylin and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

If you're looking for a sweet, faith filled romance, then check out The Two of Us!

The Two of Us provides the point of view for three characters. Jake is a disable, retired cop desperate to honor the memory of his fallen partner and reach troubled teens. Mia went through two broken engagements before deciding to dedicate her life to serving on the medical mission field. Then you have Lucy, Mia's younger sister, who is new to God, marriage, and is unexpectedly pregnant. On top of that, you follow present-day Frank and Claire, Jake's parents, and their journey through Alzheimer's Disease. Even though there is such a wide cast with such varied backgrounds and difficulties, the story did not feel cluttered. Rather, each subplot ebbed and flowed perfectly with the main story like they were one body of water.

While both Jake and Mia have big, noble, good dreams, sometimes God has different plans for our lives. I also loved how the author was able to show readers through several characters that trying to be perfect and do everything right wouldn't necessarily stop the bad times and how that attitude ultimately shows a lack of trust in God. I could wholeheartedly relate to that message! It touched my must-be-perfect heart.

Four Stars ~ A beautiful, classic romance! The Two of Us is a standalone story, but by the time you finish, the characters will feel like family. <3

I received a copy of The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. Joy is a youth leader because she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review of Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason





About the Book ~

Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her--and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.

In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories--and the depths of the heart--Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit.

For more information about Lynette Eason and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

A chilling cold case, a long lost family, the start of a swoony romance, and bad guys behind every page - this story is one wild ride!

Haley's story is finally told, and I have to you, it's staggering! I really want to say more, but I don't want to give anything away, so you'll just have to read the book. *winks and grins*  I have always loved the long lost family trope, and this story is no different. While Haley's story really thrilled me, Steven's spiritual story touched my heart. Through Steven's heartbreaking tragedy and some wonderfully veiled references, Lynette Eason shows readers how forgiveness can lead to a new heart.

I liked that Haley and Steven's romance was slow because otherwise it would have felt too fast for me. By the end of the overall story, they were just starting to date, and an epilogue gave me the Happily Ever After that I love so much.

Four Stars - An excellent conclusion to an exciting series! Chasing Secrets is the fourth and final book in Lynette Eason's Elite Guardians Series, and I think readers will be very pleased! Chasing Secrets is its own independent story, and very few references are made to the previous books, so readers will not be confused if they consume the stories out of order.

I received a copy of Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. Joy is a youth leader because she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible, Large Print



About this Bible ~

Easy to color and easy to read! Reflect on the precious truths of Scripture with the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible, Large Print, featuring beautiful line art for coloring and a large type size. Perfect for all ages, this Bible’s thick white paper with lightly ruled lines in the extra-wide margins provides ample space for your own artistic expressions and journaling.

My Thoughts ~

I have been seriously jonesing for a coloring Bible, so I was pretty excited when this Bible popped up for review!

I love the cloth-over-board style, and the floral with leaves pattern is beautiful! I just want to stare at it. And the pictures! I love them! Some are small and simple, while others are intricate designs that take up two pages! Most of them are popular verses with simple designs that are in the extra wide margins. However, everything from the lovely pictures to color to the font choice suit my personality quite nicely!

The text is large print, so no squinting! Unless you're like me, and you get really intense about your coloring! Haha! Pages without pictures are set up for journaling and notes in the margins. This Bible is a New International Translation (NIV).

I will note that this Bible is extra large. It surprised me when it arrived, but it shouldn't have. It's a coloring, journaling, large print Bible. Everything about that says, "I'm a big book!"

I received a copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible, Large Print, published by Zondervan from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. She is a youth leader at her church, and loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Review of Egypt's Sister by Angela Hunt



About the Book ~

You Don't Know Her Name. The World Remembers Only Her Greatest Friend: Cleopatra.

Raised together in the Alexandrian palace, Chava, the Hebrew daughter of the royal tutor, and Urbi, an Egyptian princess, become as close as sisters--and rivals with their dreams of greatness. When Urbi unexpectedly ascends the throne as Queen Cleopatra, Chava believes their bond is strong enough to survive. But absolute power has a way of changing everything.

The ultimate betrayal rips Chava from everything she's ever known and sends her to the lowest rung of Roman society where she must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God's will for her life, if she hopes to rise again.

For more information about Angela Hunt and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Angela Hunt has done it again! Wow! Wow! WOW!

Chava is a young woman who's grown up with a lot of privilege. Her family is not hurting for money, and they are in very good standing in the community. I mean, she's best friends with an Egyptian princess for crying out loud! Until standing up for what she believes results in her enslavement...

If you've been hanging around my accounts for awhile, you know that Biblical Fiction has become one of my favorite genres. Why? Because it makes you think about things in or surrounding Bible times to which we have become desensitized in our daily lives. While Egypt's Sister is set during The Silent Years (the time period between The Old Testament and The New Testament), it is still a very powerful story! And the rich history! I have never felt so woefully uninformed in all my life - with the exception of my freshman Algebra class. However, the history was not dry and boring, but naturally woven into the fast-moving plot.

I found it very moving to read about how God used Chava's sudden fall in society to not only humble her heart, but also to teach her about who she really was in Him. This is a girl power book at it's finest! Egypt's Sister also showcases the power behind God's words and how He can work even the worst situation for good.

Five Stars - An extraordinary look into life during The Silent Years. Egypt's Sister is a must read for fans of Biblical Fiction!

I received a copy of Egypt's Sister by Angela Hunt from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. She is a youth leader at her church, and loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.