Blogiversary Extravaganza! Things I wish I Knew When I Started a Blog

One year, guys! Can you believe it? When I started this blog last year, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to one year posting consistently. It’s had it’s challenges, but it’s also had some amazing moments (uh, like when Jen Turano knew who I was. Fangirl moment). So, I’m celebrating in style with a whole week of posts and giveaways!!!! Check back each day.

Things I wish I Knew When

I Started a Blog

1. How many new friends I would make. This year has brought so many awesome new people into my life. That’s saying a lot because I’m an introvert who tends to not like people. I love, love, love the Christian Fiction (Romance) blogging community and have made some wonderful new friends. They’re joining me with some of their thoughts today!

2. I wish I’d known that I would need to turn my house into a library. Carrie @ Reading Is My Superpower

3. Be true to your personality. The only way a lot of people will ever know you is through your blog. Don’t be afraid to let your true self shine through on the page. Rachel @ Bookworm Mamma …and seconded by everyone else.

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4. I would broaden my horizons. This blog has made me stretch out of my comfort zone.

5. It can be demanding/time consuming; it’s not just about free books. Carrie + Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books + everyone else.

6. The need for consistency. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. But be consistently YOU & post consistently. Carrie @ Reading Is My Superpower

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Giveaway

Today’s giveaway will be a signed copy of A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal!  I will announce the winner next week on Tuesday. As always, please read my terms and conditions for giveaways and it’s open to US residents only. Click on the link here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaways all week!

Why I Read – With Carrie @ Reading Is My Superpower

Book Boyfriends 2017

Blogiversary Extravaganza! Things I wish I Knew When I Started a Blog

Throwback Thursday – Giveaway

First Line Fridays – Love In Three Quarter Time

 

Strains of Silence – Giveaway – Celebrate Lit

Strains of Silence FB Banner copy

About the Book

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Author: Bethany Kaczmarek

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.

Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancé, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.

Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

I feel very differently about the first half and the second half of this book. Bethany’s writing is solid, the characters well developed, but the beginning is very slow. The first half of the book takes places over several months, and while this is necessary for the story (I don’t think the reader would believe it if it went too fast) and you see a good amount of character development, I found myself skipping pages. A lot.

But, then I got around half way through and it took off like a shot. Without giving anything away, events escalated, the romance started to develop and the story pulled me in. The second half of the book takes place over maybe a monthish.

Overall, I think it’s a good story, and would recommend it to others, with letting them know that the beginning is slow; the second half is definitely worth the read, even if you find yourself skipping over part of the first. I think Bethany did a fantastic job handling a tough subject (domestic abuse) giving it the weight it needed while balancing it with faith aspects to keep it from getting overwhelming.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit tour. All opinions are honest and my own!

About the Author

bethany-kaczmarek-HR-2

Bethany loves a home filled with family and friends. Word gets around that—at the Kaczmarek house—food is abundant, conversations are real, and anything is up for discussion. She and her clan are fans of laughter, indie music, sonic screwdrivers, and superheroes. Home is wherever in the world they’re all together.

Guest Post from Bethany Kaczmarek

Strains of Silence: A Novel for Anyone Who Can Say #MeToo

We’re everywhere. After years of silence, many survivors of sexual assault are raising our voices. You’ve seen the hashtag. You know someone who suffered like this—a friend, a sister, a daughter.

Maybe you know personally what it’s like to be used.

I’m thankful for the conversations the #MeToo campaign has started, proud of the brave women who are speaking out. But I know some are still quiet, nursing wounds.

I could list loads of valid reasons a victim chooses to suffer in silence.

  • People won’t believe her.
  • If she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s easier to pretend it was a nightmare.
  • He’s got authority over her—at work, at church, in the family—and it’ll cost her too much. He’s done enough damage already.
  • He’s threatened to destroy her reputation, and she believes him. One, because he’ll do it without flinching. Two, because she’s already convinced that she’s living a lie.
  • Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.
  • The few times she’s tried to speak up, her used-to-be friend basically made her feel like it was her fault.

The list could go on, but it’s fair to say that being honest about what happened to us makes us vulnerable all over again. The idea is understandably stressful.

But you know what? Pretending we’re fine is exhausting too. We bear a great strain when we hide our hurts, for whatever reason.

Kasia Bernolak, the heroine of my novel Strains of Silence, gets it. She’s got reasons for keeping it quiet too. But when God brings some new people into her life, she realizes she doesn’t have to be alone.

And speaking up offers a freedom, a lightness, she wants.

It’s a freedom I want for my readers.

I know. Strains of Silence sounds like a heavy book right now. The themes are heavy, no doubt. There’s no glossing over and prettying up sexual assault or domestic violence. But—just like in real life—it’s how well we surround and support the suffering that can set the tone. Kasia’s friends are real, they’re funny, they’re quirky, and they believe in her.

Besides, it’s not all dark and brooding. There’s travel—an entire summer in the mountains of Peru. There’s a lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). There’s heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. There’s humor—enough to keep the story light when you need it to be.

And there’s hope. Kasia’s life is absolutely full of possibility.

So are the lives of everyone who can say #MeToo.

Sometimes, it just helps to see someone else fight the battle on our own horizon. And if you can do it with a fantastic new playlist and some laughs, why not?

My hope is that Strains of Silence will lead to real discussions with reader-friends, book-club gatherings that become turning points, and the true pursuit of freedom. It’s time to throw off the burdens we wear and stand up. Raise your voice, link arms with others, and fight for hope.

Healing is within our reach.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, January 6

proud to be an autism mom, January 6

Inklings and Notions, January 7

Bibliophile Reviews, January 7

Fiction Aficionado, January 8

Genesis 5020, January 8

The Fizzy Pop Collection, January 9

Bigreadersite, January 9

Red Headed Book Lady, January 10

Mommynificent, January 10

Texas Book-aholic, January 11

allofakindmom, January 11

Blogging With Carol, January 12 (Interview)

The Power of Words, January 12

Pursuing Stacie, January 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 13

A Greater Yes, January 13

Christian Author, J.E.Grace Blog, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

Mindy Houg Guest Review on Artistic Nobody, January 15

Janices book reviews, January 15

Faithfully Bookish, January 16

Kat’s Corner Books, January 16

Margaret Kazmierczak, January 17

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 17

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, January 18

Carpe Diem, January 18

Remebrancy, January 19

A Baker’s Perspective, January 19


Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand prize of a signed book, a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character’s favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer), a box of chocolate butter cookies, and a $50 Amazon gift card.!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c5dc

A Song Unheard – Celebrate Lit – Giveaway

a song unheard fb banner copy

About the Book

Title: A Song UnheardSongUnheard

Author: Roseanna M. White

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

First thinking about this review, I tried to summarize it in my head, because otherwise it was going to be endless rambling about awesomeness. But, I think you all already know this. Instead I remembered that I had highlighted several quotables that I think are apt and want to share.

“My mother always says that the one you’re meant to marry is simply the one you do marry-it’s not a matter of romance, it’s a matter of deciding to love and make it work.”

Yes, amen, thank you, Jesus. This from the girl who LOVES romance. But, at the end of the day Roseanna weaves a beautiful story to remind us that we can choose to open ourselves to love or close our hearts off. Love is hard work, it is a choice. Whether that’s describing a relationship with our husbands, friends, or family. We choose to love them and stand by them (and sometimes to let them go).

“Can a man compose a symphony without paying attention to each individual note…It’s ridiculous to posit a Creator who stands back, unconcerned. If we grant a God, we have to grant a complete God.”

I love this analogy. I’ve faced the same questions: does God really care about me? Specifically? Why? This is a beautiful answer.

“‘What would you have Him do, Lukas? He warns us of how not to act, but we disobey – like the time I climbed the tree when Papa had told me not to. But how is mankind railing at God any different than when I screamed at Papa for not catching me when I fell, even though I’d done it deliberately when he wasn’t nearby?'”

Sometimes we can’t control what comes to us, other times, we climbed that tree. A good reminder.

There are many other great nuggets in this (and Roseanna’s others) story. If you’re one who likes to mark books, read it with your highlighter. If you think that’s monstrous, pull out those sticky tabs! Either way, I guarantee you’re going to want to remember some of these later.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit tour. All opinions are honest and my own!

About the Author

Roseanna White 2017Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Guest post from Roseanna White

I started playing the piano when I was 7. I didn’t discover any long-dormant genius or anything, but I liked it. When my sister quit, I kept playing. In middle school, I switched teachers, and moving from the lady at my church that I knew so well to someone who was just my piano teacher made a difference in how I applied myself. It deepened my love of music.

We all know how some random moments stand out forever in our memory. One such for me happened on the school bus. I was sitting with my best friend, talking about the new piano piece I was learning. “Via Delorosa” means Road of Sorrow, and it’s a song that tells musically about Jesus’ journey to Golgotha—ending with the faint chime of the nails being driven into his palms. As my beloved Mrs. Peto went through this song with me the night before, I remember her circling a D♯ that I’d missed and saying how important that note was. That it made the whole line weep.

That it would make the hearers weep. An epiphany so huge I had to share it with my friend. A well placed sharp could make music weep! Who knew?

That was but one lesson Mrs. Peto taught me in how music could evoke things words never could. A woman of strong faith, she also taught me how a song could preach the Gospel. Music can be medicine. It can be hope. It can be tears. It can be truth. Music can be Jesus to a hurting heart that turns its back on words.

This is a lesson I never forgot, and I had it always in mind as I was writing A Song Unheard. In this story, both my hero and heroine are musicians—violinists. But Willa (who is SO STUBBORN) wouldn’t listen to words of faith from any of the people in her life “suddenly spouting such nonsense.”

But then, in her darkest hour, she hears a slip of melody. And she realizes it’s the Lord.

I pray as readers move through the story of Willa Forsythe—violin prodigy and top-notch thief—that their spirits’ ears hear more than words, more than just a story. I pray they hear the Lord whispering that ultimate song. The one that says, “I love you.”

Want to hear the song Willa eventually wrote in the book? You can! The violin music in this trailer is officially dubbed “Willa’s Song” and written specifically for this book. I hope you enjoy it! http://bit.ly/ASongUnheardTrailer

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, January 11

History, Mystery & Faith, January 11

Genesis 5020, January 11

Bookworm Mama, January 11

A Simply Enchanted Life, January 11

Avid Reader Book Reviews, January 12

Reflections From My Bookshelves, January 12

Blogging With Carol, January 12

Multifarious, January 12

proud to be an autism mom, January 12

Faithfully Bookish, January 13

Christian Bookaholic, January 13

Karen Sue Hadley, January 13

Mary Hake, January 13

A Greater Yes, January 13

Remembrancy, January 14

Blossoms and Blessings, January 14

Just the Write Escape, January 14

Connie’s History Classroom, January 14

Texas Book-aholic, January 14

A Reader’s Brain, January 15

Rachel’s Back Talk, January 15

Smiling Book Reviews, January 15

Cordially Barbara, January 15

Pursuing Stacie, January 15

The Fizzy Pop Collection, January 16

Kat’s Corner Books, January 16

The Artist Librarian, January 16

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 16

Bigreadersite, January 16

Mommynificent, January 17

Seasons of Opportunities, January 17

Moments Dipped in Ink, January 17

Baker Kella, January 17

Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot, January 17

God’s Little Bookworm, January 18

allofakindmom, January 18

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, January 18

Inklings and notions, January 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 18

Pause for Tales, January 19

Have A Wonderful Day, January 19

Just Commonly, January 19

Bibliophile Reviews , January 19

Janices book reviews, January 19

Radiant Light, January 20

The Power of Words , January 20

Book by Book, January 20

CAC Devourer, January 20

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 20

Splashes of Joy, January 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 21

Neverending Stories, January 21

Faery Tales Are Real, January 21

A Baker’s Perspective, January 21

margaret kazmierczak, January 22

The PhD Mamma, January 22

Cafinated Reads, January 22

Daysong Reflections, January 22

Romances of the Cross, January 23

Purposeful Learning, January 23

Rachel Scott McDaniel, January 23

Carpe Diem, January 23

Simple Harvest Reads, January 23

Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes, January 24

Henry Happens, January 24

Joy of Reading, January 24

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 24

Raining Butterfly Kisses, January 24


Giveaway


CL Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a Grand Prize Package of a signed copy of the book as well as a lovely album of soothing songs based on the Scriptures called Hidden in My Heart (winner’s choice of CD or digital download)!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c72a

 

A Love Inspired Christmas – 2017

I set out in late November to try to read as many of the Love Inspired Christmas stories for 2017 as possible. I didn’t succeed in reading them all, and in fact still have a stack that I checked out from the library still not read, but it was a valiant effort. Here’s a list of which ones I did read and putting them into three categories.

Must Read

My favorite of this set of Love Inspired is a series: Texas Ranger Holidays. I has three books, that while not quite standalone, wrap up enough of the threads in each. I actually started with book two, but didn’t feel like I missed out, and like it so much I went and got the first one, which is technically a Thanksgiving story.

Others I really liked:

Good Reads

Unfinished/Ok Reads

These few I just couldn’t get into for whatever reason. As I was reading fast trying to get through them all, if it didn’t really pull me in in the first couple chapters or I didn’t like the characters, I put it down. If it was another time of year, I probably would’ve stuck it out. Some I did finish, but still didn’t intrigue me like the others listed above.

 

Happy Harlequin Holidays!

First Line Fridays – Hearts Entwined

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays, hosted by Hoarding Books. This is a collection of novellas written by some favorite authors including Karen Witemeyer’s “The Love Knot,” Mary Connealy’s “The Tangled Ties That Bind.”  Regina Jennings offers “Bound and Determined,” and Melissa Jagears’ “Tied and True.” 

Hearts entwined

The Love Knot by Karen Witemeyer

“Claire Nevin frowned at the cheerful white clouds frolicking across the blue sky and tried to close her ears against the chipper melodies the birds insisted on singing in response to the deceptively fine morning. Ignorant creatures. Could they not sense that this day held no cause for celebration?”

So, grab the book nearest you and comment what your first line is (with title and author, of course!) and then head over to Hoarding Books to see all of the other books/blogs featured today.