Friday, July 10, 2020

Review of The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse


About the Book ~

Peyton Cabot's fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the heroic but reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon and distancing himself from his son. A tragic accident shows Peyton the depths of his parents' devotion to each other but interrupts his own budding romance with the girl of his dreams, Lisa Wallace.

Struggling to cope with a young life upended, Peyton makes a daring decision: He will retrace a journey his father took at fifteen, riding his bicycle all the way to Key West, Florida. Part declaration of independence, part search for self, Peyton's journey will bring him more than he ever could have imagined--namely, the key to his unknowable father, a reunion with Lisa, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

Through poignant prose and characters so real you'll be sure you know them, Valerie Fraser Luesse transports you to the storied Atlantic coast for a unique coming-of-age story you won't soon forget.

For more information about Valerie Fraser Luesse and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Despite whatever I subconsciously expected to find in The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse, I was not prepared for the way this story would WRECK me with its BEAUTIFULNESS!

You can't prepare for it, dear readers. But you can read it and experience it for yourself. Because it's a journey that should not be missed!

The author has a real talent for immersing readers in the era and the setting! In the span of a few words, I was transported into Peyton's world. I was surrounded by the stuffy, backstabbing Cabot family. I was biking down the A1A to the island world of Key West in 1947. I was transformed by the new experiences, people who loved their neighbor, and hardships that only offer two options: grow stronger or remain stuck.

Peyton's coming-of-age story truly moved me! The "keys" to where Peyton came from, the man he was growing into, and the opportunities to love had me crying every few pages! However, the aspect that undid me the most was the way Peyton's story intersected with Kate's (Peyton's mother) unconditional love and journey through grief. Marshall's (Peyton's father) heart-twisting story lays out the story of a man with more good in him than not, a man who made mistakes, a man Peyton could learn from even in the end. The truth that your bad choices -- even choices with devastating consequences -- don't have to define your life for eternity is a narrative that is so very needed in this world! The Key to Everything challenges her readers to learn and grow with a beauty that will wreck you!

Five Stars ~ I can't recommend The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse enough! The Key to Everything is a standalone, but the author has other titles in her backlist for readers to enjoy!

Possible Triggers ~ Grief, death of a loved one.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!


Monday, June 29, 2020

Review of At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer


About the Book ~

He's fought through ruthless outlaws and injury. But with her, he's tempted to surrender.

Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger's Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler's bullet leaves one of them at death's door, they're the ones in need of saving.

Dr. Josephine Burkett is used to men taking one look at her skirts and discounting her medical skills. What she's not used to is having a man change his mind in a heartbeat and offer to assist her in surgery. Matthew's dedication to his friend during recovery earns Josephine's respect, and when her brother is abducted, he becomes her only hope for rescue.

When plans go awry and Josephine is caught in the crossfire, Matthew may have to sacrifice everything--even his team--to save her.

For more information about Karen Witemeyer and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

If you're a fan of action-packed westerns, romance, and soul-stirring faith, then pick up a copy of At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer! From setting, pace, and character development, the author certainly delivered a commanding story that readers will love!

My favorite aspect of At Love's Command was definitely the characters! I really loved each of the men in Hanger's Horsemen! I loved their sense of loyalty, chivalry, and duty. Their brotherly bond brought a huge smile to my heart. While I adored Matthew Hanger -- leader of Hanger's Horsemen -- I'm really hoping for a story from each of the Horsemen's perspectives.

The book blurb wasn't kidding when it said Matthew Hanger was haunted by the horrors of war! From the heartbreaking start at the Wounded Knee Massacre to his devastating childhood, the death and devastation Matthew witnessed twisted my gut. However, the author did a superb job at not dwelling on graphic atrocities, instead using these to shape Matthew and his vow to remain unattached. Enter Josephine, the kind of strong heroine who makes me grin! With her "ten-dollar words," her spunky bucking of convention, and her steadfast faith as she forged her way in a profession largely dominated by men in that era, how could I not love her?

In the midst of a plethora of life-and-death situations raging around them, Josephine and Matthew's faith journeys were -- blessedly! -- gentler. The way their individual relationships with God were strengthened was like a gentle rain on a sun-scorched desert. From the way Josephine had to relinquish her control of painful, scary situations to the beautiful way the author used God's divine provision to help free Matthew from the fear of losing those he loved, readers will be convicted by the grace and love of God.

Four Stars ~ At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer is an action-packed western filled with romance and faith! At Love's Command is the first book in the author's new Hanger's Horsemen Series, and I am eager to see what's next for Hanger's Horsemen!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Book Three Cover Reveal!!!

That's right! It's time for the COVER REVEAL of Kaylee's story!!!

If you participated in the cover survey in my last newsletter, thank you again! I am so incredibly thankful for each vote and comment! You guys rock!

You'll remember from that newsletter that I was on the cusp of a Vizzini breakdown over this particular detail, so the awesome team at WhiteFire Publishing proposed the idea of a survey. You know, to put me out of my misery. LOL!

Based on the votes and comments, you guys were just as split as we were! However, a majority vote eventually took shape, and almost twice as many votes to this dramatic, gorgeous redirection.

To all my fellow OCD people, I know. Really. I know. But trust me when I say that this cover is perfect on every. single. level. for Kaylee's long-awaited story.

Are you ready?
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How about now?
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Am I annoying you yet?
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TA-DAH!!!


Kaylee McGrurd feels like life has left her behind. Her best friends have all moved out, married, or are in the process of matrimony. Meanwhile, she’s lost another job, and her daily diet consists of noodles that are better suited as packing material.

Then Kaylee’s ex, Gabe Sanders, enters the equation.

Gabe walked out on Kaylee without warning or explanation nine years earlier, but now he’s been brought back to the area for the unforeseen future. And he’s in need of new lead vocalist for his wedding band.

A dwindling account balance calls for desperate measures, and Kaylee reluctantly accepts Gabe’s offer. While the former couple works together in the midst of happy marriages and heartfelt melodies, secrets and the need for forgiveness highlight the strife between them…and the hope that maybe God’s rewriting the conclusion to their story.

Available November 2020!

As you can see, the cover to Kaylee's story is STUNNINNG!!! While I love every single detail, I think my favorite part is the microphone.

Because that microphone is a piece of my heart.

I sing. I sang for a long time, and I've started singing again. While I'm definitely an amateur, those of you who've been with me since the beginning may recall that I started writing songs before I dove into stories. I plotted Kaylee and Gabe's story at a time in my life when I had closed the door on singing. For good, I thought.

God knew differently.

You guys...the journey MY life took while writing Kaylee and Gabe's story is incredible, and the journey Kaylee and Gabe's story took is incredible! I can't wait to share it with you this coming November! For now, I hope you enjoy the fun snippet below!

Sneak Peak ~

“I need a singer. For my band.”
            I blink. I would have expected some vague encouragement or referring me to a friend of a friend. But asking me to sing in his band? I at least expected something legit.
            “I’m not in high school anymore, Gabe. I’ve got nine years of wrinkles around my eyes to prove it. I need a real, grown-up job that can pay the bills and ensure that I don’t have to sell vital organs to keep a leaky roof over my head.”
            “This would pay the bills.”
            “A band?” I raise my eyebrows. “Do you have a record deal or something?”
            “We’re a wedding band called All Yours. Trust me, it pays the bills and then some.”
            “A wedding band?” I scoff. “Do you not see the irony in that?”
            “I didn’t until you pointed it out right then, no.” Gabe at least has the decency to look sheepish.
            I hate that his sheepish expression is still cute. It’s infuriating!

            I stand up, scooping my shoes by the straps and dumping them into my purse. “I wish you a lifetime of Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler moments with your wedding band and some other gullible sap, someone who still believes in the power of love or recently had a head injury. But that person won’t be me. So goodbye, Gabe. I’m sure we’ll meet again at the next most inopportune moment of my life.”

Thank you for celebrating another cover reveal with me! What is YOUR favorite detail? I would love to know!

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Review of A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy


About the Book ~

Nora Shipley has one goal--to carry on the legacy of her late father by taking over the scientific journal he started. To that end, she's fought to be taken seriously among her male classmates and graduate as valedictorian of Cornell's entomology program. When pressures to settle down rise to a fever pitch, she impulsively joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field and win a scholarship.

But India holds several surprises--she is impressed not only by the beauty of its natural wonders, but also by the gentle nature she discovers in the rival classmate who accompanied her, Owen Epps. Instead of exploring, however, she is forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her. During the many quiet days, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.

In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices--between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she's always thought she wanted and the man she's come to love.

For more information about Kimberly Duffy and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy is an enchanting journey that's as lovely as the title suggests, but in the midst of that journey is a mosaic of beautiful truths and lessons that are just waiting for readers to notice their shimmering details.

A Mosaic of Wings is one of those stories where I didn't realize how invested I'd become in the characters and their stories until I reached the final page. And as I reflect on each colorful piece of this journey, I think the only words that truly exemplify how I feel are too simple. However, I'll say it anyways -- READ THIS!

The setting and the era are -- simply put -- stunning! From New York to India in 1885, from the halls of Cornell University to hidden waterfalls, to all the fascinating (and sometimes gross) parts of entomology, A Mosaic of Wings' fictional expedition will capture her readers from the start. Furthermore, the author crafted characters with such depth, successfully evoking feelings of empathy for even the dislikable, villainous characters. Wonderfully done!

The story is told from Nora's point of view, and I loved her character! Nora was everything I expected to find in a strong woman making a career in a field that was largely thought to belong to men in that era. Additionally, I loved that she had to confront some of her biases and soften the hard parts in her heart that had formed as a result of unfairly having to prove herself as a woman. However, the most profound part of Nora's journey was internal, a journey that took her into the heart of sacrificial love. As she explored each facet of sacrificial love, Nora came to see the little details she'd previously missed, the little yet powerful details that make up the great mosaic that is love.

Five Stars ~ A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy is a stunning debut! A Mosaic of Wings is a standalone, but I look forward to reading whatever the author pens next!

Possible Triggers ~ Death of a loved one, suicide, child prostitution.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Review of Hadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner



About the Book ~

Get ready for a heaping helping of humor, romance, and second chances.

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanagh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show, To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel's other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum and is sent packing, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public's good graces is to work alongside Hadley. As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness...and maybe even love.

In the meantime, hide the knives.

For more information about Bethany Turner and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

There are not enough foodie words to describe how delectable Hadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner is!

Whether you're a brilliant culinary genius or someone who's simply proud that you've never melted a ceramic mug while microwaving a mug cake (ahem, that would be me...), we've all seen those cooking shows that draw you in with an unimaginable pairing like dragon fruit and octopus tentacles -- gag! -- but by the time the contestants' journeys conclude, you are emotionally invested in their happiness.

That is Hadley Beckett's Next Dish!

Max and Hadley's humorous, hate-to-love, second-chance story is a "signature dish" in fiction! The celebrity chef angle of the story allows you to step into the world of culinary royalty while also giving you a healthy serving of Nashville and a pinch of New York. As fun as the setting and supporting characters were, Max and Hadley's character growth are my favorite parts of the story! I loved how Max and Hadley each had to confront their public personas! This message will resonate on a heart level with readers, challenging them to look at what persona they're putting forth and when. Additionally, Max and Hadley had to confront misconceptions and fears individually. Max took a journey from believing in nothing to believing in something. A journey filled with mistakes and redemption and many second chances. A realistic journey. And Hadley had to decide if taking a chance on love was worth going through the worse, poorer, and sickness to get to all the good, wonderful, and blessed parts of love. And based on that epilogue, I'm pretty satisfied with her decision!

Five Stars ~  Hadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner is filled with delicious fun and savory truths! Hadley Beckett's Next Dish is a standalone, but the author has other wonderful stories in her backlist for readers to enjoy!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!


Monday, April 20, 2020

Review of Silent Shadows by Natalie Walters


About the Book ~

They're running from their pasts into an unknown future.
But first, they'll have to survive the present.

Nurse Pecca Gallegos moved to the tiny town of Walton, Georgia, to protect her son and escape the dangerous lifestyle that once defined her. When a series of strange circumstances evolves into threats, Pecca finds herself confiding in an unlikely ally -- her stubborn patient.

Army veteran Colton Crawford is desperate to recover from the disorder that is ruining his life, and his instincts are on high alert when threats against his nurse and her son force him to take action. But Colton's involvement only ramps up the danger when he uncovers a family secret revealing that whoever is after Pecca is closer -- and more deadly -- than they realized.

Welcome back to Walton, Georgia, where everyone knows your name -- but no one knows your secret.

For more information about Natalie Walters and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Secrets are exposed in Silent Shadows by Natalie Walters! The residents of Walton, Georgia -- and her readers! -- are in for a lot of surprises!

The fictional town of Walton is so sweet and fun -- definitely one of my favorite fictional towns! Additionally, quirky characters and their camaraderie are some of my favorite parts of a story, and Silent Shadows has these elements in spades! I also love the author's writing style. The plot flows smoothly, the story reads quickly, and the clues and suspense were paced nicely. And I really LOVED that the suspense doesn't feel "too big" for the story! Even with the small town setting and the focus on Pecca and Colton's romance, the actual suspense felt like something that could happen to the average Joe.

The characters were my favorite part of this story! Through Pecca and Colton's romance, the author was able to weave many beautiful threads of truth into the story. Pecca was a woman who loves with the fierce love of God! I also love seeing Hispanic main characters! Through Colton, the author touches on difficult subjects like medication dependency, cognitive brain therapy, and movement disorders. I found these aspects of Colton's character development to not only be really enlightening but also powerfully written! The freedom Colton experiences when he finally embraces the truth that he has so much to offer the people around him is beautiful and desperately needed in this world!

Five Stars ~ Silent Shadows by Natalie Walters is a sweet conclusion to a stellar series! Silent Shadows is the third book in the author's Harbored Secrets Series; however, Silent Shadows can be read as a standalone.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!