Friday, April 13, 2018

Review of The Golden Vial by Thomas Locke



About the Book ~

When a hidden evil threatens to destroy the realm, a young orphan, untested and untrained, could mean the difference between victory and total defeat.

Vulnerable and weakened by grief after a terrible loss, Hyam has been struck by a mysterious illness that threatens to claim his life. Seeking to help Hyam and restore the realm, Queen Shona travels to Hyam's remote hometown to find answers and offer aid.

Dally has always had abilities far beyond those of a normal human--far-seeing and magic come naturally to her. Before the arrival of Shona and her army, Dally had always kept her abilities secret. But with an ancient evil bearing down on her village and the fate of the realm hanging in the balance, the orphaned servant girl steps forward to do what no one else can. Will the battle claim more than Dally is willing to give?

For more information about Thomas Locke and his books, check out his website here!

My Thoughts ~

The Golden Vial will devastate and enchant you, and this epic story of good versus evil is absolutely a book worth reading! Thomas Locke's lyrical prose will suck you into this world quicker than you can turn the first page. Trust me.

Something happened... We'll call it an event because I don't want to give away any spoilers. An event occurred in The Golden Vial that devastated me, and I will NEVER get over it!!! Why? I have my reasons. ;-) The story ends with one of the cunningly crafty endings that leaves you with more questions than answers, foaming at the mouth for another book. Alas, I think this is the end of the series... *whimpers*

While Dally's point of view came out of another dimension, I actually rather loved it! Despite the devastation of The Event, Dally proved to be such an awesome character. She suffered great loss and painful trials, and I loved seeing Dally discover her purpose in life as well as a new kind of family in some of our favorite characters from the previous books.

Four Stars ~ The Golden Vial proves once again that the world readers are immersed into in the Legends of the Realm Series is one every fantasy reader should discover. The Golden Vial is the third book in the Legends of the Realm Series, and I'd recommend reading the previous books, Emissary and Merchant of Alyss respectively. Fans of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Donita K. Paul, and Patrick W. Carr would enjoy this series.

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

Any questions? Check out my Disclaimers Page!

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. 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.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Review of Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber



About the Book ~

Known as a brilliant mind that could hack her world’s darkest secrets, seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is the most wanted teenager alive. She found her way to the icy, technologically brilliant planet of Delon to find Shilo, the brother everyone but Sofi believes is dead.

But as she and Ambassador Miguel partner to find her brother and warn those on Earth of Delon’s dark designs on humanity, Sofi’s memories threaten to overtake her, distorting everything she holds true. She knows the Delonese once kept her in a dark, deceptive place . . . and destroyed a portion of her life. Now, the more they discover of Sofi’s past, the more Sofi feels herself unraveling—as each new revelation has her questioning the very existence of reality.

In this harrowing sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Sofi and Miguel must trust each other and discover the secrets locked inside Sofi’s mind as the line between what’s real and what they imagine begins to slip away . . . threatening to take the human race with it

For more information about Mary Weber and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Do you hear that sound?

That's me. Still screaming due to the otherworldly awesomeness of this book!

RECLAIMING SHILO SNOW IS AMAZING!!!!

And yes, all caps were necessary. Reclaiming Shilo Snow is like the culmination of all my love for Stargate, Ender's Game, and The Hunger Games assembled into one epic novel!  How does one not scream about something like that??

After a cliffhanger that left my fingers bleeding from clutching the rocky edge for dear life, we are finally dropped right into the middle of the fast-paced action, discoveries, devastations, and a battle much larger than Sofi and Miguel realized. A war for humanity. But no spoilers. ;-)

Reclaiming Shilo Snow added Inola's perspective in addition to Sofi and Miguel's perspectives. While it threw me off at first, I quickly found it to be a genius addition to the story because it kept us connected to the events happening on Earth as well as giving us a peak into the villainous Inola, allowing us to see why she made such horrific choices and a flawed, yet true love for her children. It humanized her, an important theme in this novel.

Acting as a springboard, this dystopian duology raises awareness and opens discussion about human trafficking. While the story itself is utterly enthralling, this is one of those stories where you see the author's heart cut out of her chest and laid bare for all the word. You can feel Mary Weber's anguish over the actions of humanity and her belief in the power of love pulsing through the characters. <3 Truly, this is a story about the need for love and compassion for all.

Five Stars ~ A thrilling conclusion to a spellbinding duology! Reclaiming Shilo Snow is the second book, and I cannot stress this enough: read The Evaporation of Sofi Snow first!! I can't wait for Mary Weber's next book! *weeps and gnashes teeth* <3

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

Any questions? Check out my Disclaimers Page!

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. 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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Review of A Pocketful of Hope for Mothers by Robin Jones Gunn



About the Book ~

You love the sweetness in his little smile and the way she wiggles her tiny toes in delight. You love the beautiful chaos that your life has become. And then come the challenges of motherhood. The exhaustion. The frustration. In A Pocketful of Hope for Mothers, Robin Jones Gunn reminds us that as moms, the only thing we need to do each day is to live with a selfless spirit, a tender heart, and all the gusto our giddy souls can muster. She reminds us that no matter how fragmented our lives may feel right now, all that matters is that we love well. God is near, giving us encouragement and hope as we care for the little soul that has been entrusted to us. This collection of heartwarming vignettes, inspiring quotes, and simple prayers makes a perfect gift of inspiration for all mothers and moms-to-be.

My Thoughts ~

All the hearts! All the feels! All the hope!

I don't read a lot of nonfiction books, but Robin Jones Gunn is a favorite author of mine. I've read and loved several of her nonfiction books, and since my mommy heart needed a boost, I leapt at the chance to read A Pocketful of Hope for Mothers!

It's gorgeous!

First of all, look at that artwork! If I could, I'd frame each page. They are so beautiful! There's even a little Christy Miller artwork. <3 <3 <3

While I loved the Bible verses, prayers, and quotes, my favorite parts were the short accounts Robin Jones Gunn included from her journals as her children were growing up and started having children of their own. ("Fluffy Tea in the Tub" is my favorite.) You will feel so connected to this woman who has experienced some of the same struggles and triumphs in motherhood as you.

Which I suppose is kind of the point... ;-)

While you laugh and cry, you will feel a beautiful restoration of your spirit as God whispers His loving truths to you, dear mama. So get a cup of "fluffy tea" and start reading!

Five Stars ~ Simply beautiful! A lovely book that I'll read again and again whenever I need its loving truths, and one I think every mother would benefit from reading.

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

Any questions? Check out my Disclaimers Page!

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. 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, March 27, 2018

Review of No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert



About the Book ~

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray--the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser--faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones--the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge's top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she's stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as "this" or "that", when such complexity exists in each person?

For more information about Katie Ganshert and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

If I could describe No One Ever Asked in one word, that word would be "think." This is a novel designed to make you think and ask hard questions, including how you can, "be the change where you're at."

Written in the poignant style Katie Ganshert is known for, No One Ever Asked follows the shocking revelations, struggles, and heartaches of three woman, each so different and complex, yet they think they have each other pegged. And they couldn't be more wrong.

Inspired by a real events, the author's heart is clearly poured onto the pages of No One Ever Asked. Katie Ganshert tackles difficult topics like racism and adoption in a candid, open way. Despite the heavy topics, the novel moves faster than a raging river. Katie Ganshert even uses things like e-mails, text messages between secondary characters, and school flyers to help tell the story without bogging the reader down in the details, adding a level of reality to the story that I rarely see. At the core of this deep novel is another truth: that accepting and extending God's forgiveness is the only way to be completely, utterly free.

Four Stars ~ A deeply intense read sure to make her readers think! No One Ever Asked is a standalone novel, but Katie Ganshert has other excellent novels, ranging from romance, YA, contemporary, and novella!

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

Any questions? Check out my Disclaimers Page!

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

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer


V. Joy Palmer is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. 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, March 3, 2018

Review of A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith



About the Book ~

Can one woman's prayers change the world?

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love for each other, for their God, and for His tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband's new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah's cruelty count for nothing? Will God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

For more information about Jill Eileen Smith and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

A Passionate Hope proved to be the kind of story that will emotionally ravage you, but then builds you up stronger than before. Basically, it was exactly what I expected. ;-)

While there isn't a lot of detail to Hannah's story in the Bible, there also isn't a lot of wiggle room. We know that Hannah was barren, and that while her husband, Elkanah, loved her dearly, he had a second wife with whom he had children. We know that Hannah cried out to God when the taunts became too much to bear. I thought the author did a wonderful job bringing Hannah, Elkanah, and even Peninnah to life. While we won't know what their lives were really like on this earth, this portrayal felt so true to what we know about them and the culture at the time.

When you read A Passionate Hope, be prepared for a STRONG emotional response! One minute I felt like an enraged Hulk with a caffeine headache, and the next minute I cried more than I did while I was pregnant. While I knew what was going to happen and I understand the pressure Elkanah faced, I must admit that I wanted to kick him repeatedly in the shin for marrying Peninnah. However, the author also did a wonderful job reminding readers that the polygamy so many men succumbed to in the Bible was NEVER God's plan, but had somehow become the way of things, an area of sin that was often ignored. We also see glimpses of the increasing sin at the Tabernacle, the hopeless desperation of God's people, and a temporary deliverer in the form of Samuel.

Hannah's journey was a long, painful one that she handled with more grace than I think I could have. A Passionate Hope will challenge you to trust, hope, and obey God. No. Matter. What. Truly, Jill Eileen Smith has written a beautiful story of hope in a painful situation.

Four Stars ~ I thoroughly enjoyed A Passionate Hope! This is the latest installment in Jill Eileen Smith's Daughter's of the Promised Land Series. Biblical Fiction fans will not want to miss these beautiful books!

I received a copy of A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith 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 the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. 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.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review of The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel



About the Book ~

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

For more information about Lindsey Harrel and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

When it comes to The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel, all the happy heart feelings abound. <3

First off, I loved the traveling! Thanks to Megan and Crystal's adventure, I was able to vicariously travel the globe from the safety of my couch while wearing my cozy slippers. #win

The author wrote the story in such a fun, unique way with not only Megan and Crystal's perspectives, but also with journal entries, blog posts, and flashbacks. Swoony romance popped up in the most perfect way, and the pages flew by me as we jetted from one destination to the next, from one poignant juncture to the next soul-inspiring moment. It's one of those books that I am kicking myself for not having a notebook handy. Oh, well. I'll save that for the reread. ;-)

Megan and Crystal are the literary sisters of my heart. I love them. I hear them. I understand them. While the gorgeous cover and heartfelt premise of this story made me anxious to read it, at the same time I was hesitant because I knew I would relate to this story in a real and literal way. I am so thankful that I didn't let my fear and personal trauma stop me!! Reading this story made me feel like I had finally found that story that articulated the emotions from the hidden, dusty corner of my heart. However, you don't need to have a family rife with heart problems to relate. We all have trauma. We all have pain and fear and doubts. Between these pages, you will find a story filled with hope, love, and joy. Something we all need so very much. <3

Five Stars ~ A story I will forever cherish! I look forward to reading more books by Lindsay Harrel very soon!

I received a copy of The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel 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 the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. 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, February 24, 2018

Review of The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano



About the Book ~

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life―and love―outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

For more information about Carla Laureano and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Everyone has that favorite food or dish (and coffee counts) that makes their heart smile whenever they think of it. That's what it's like when you read The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano.

Don't believe me? Read it. I dare you. ;-)

This adorable foodie novel made me hungry the entire time I read it, and I still don't know if that's a pro or a con. ;-) The descriptions of the food are scrumptious and delectable, but you don't have to be into cooking to enjoy it - thank goodness! Haha! Sometimes foodie novels can feel a tad pretentious (but I may be inferring that thanks to my own inferior cooking skills), however, The Saturday Night Supper Club felt like one of those novels where you are catching up with a close friend. Carla Laureano did a marvelous job describing the Denver food scene, including using real restaurants to inspire the ones in the story!

I loved Alex and Rachel! Alex is a hunky writer (nonfiction, but I won't hold that against him). *swoon* His passion for serving God in such a pure way challenges you, and I loved his Russian heritage. My family has a special connection with Russia, so I loved gleaning those cultural titbits! Rachel is a talented, driven woman with a painful past and a timid love for God. You just want to hug her and be her friend.

And I got to say that I loved the angle social media played in this story. For me, it was refreshing to see how social media can be used for not only good, but also how people use it to harshly judge and do battle over skewed comments, something that's important to keep in mind. But ultimately, this is a story about savoring the joys God has given you, including your own uniqueness.

Five Stars ~ This fun and flirty foodie novel makes the perfect weekend read!! The Saturday Night Supper Club is the first book in Carla Laureano's delicious new Supper Club Series. I can't wait to devour the next book, Brunch at Bittersweet CafĂ©, available the spring of 2019! *drools with anticipation*

I received a copy of The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano 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 the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. 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.