Friday, September 30, 2016

First Line Fridays - 9/30/16 - The Cautious Maiden

Who is excited for Friday??? I sure am! This weekend we have have cousins coming from across the state to visit us! Yay!!! 

This week Dawn Crandall's fourth book in The Everstone Chronicles releases! I am so excited for this book! Now being that it is the fourth book and releases on October 4th...I am going to share the first 4 lines with you...Because they are short and I want to give you a taste of the wonderful words within this book!

"Hey Vi! You got a minute?"
My brother's voice came to me from the darkness, falling over the safest place I'd ever known--Everston, where I worked the front desk, and where, for the first time in my life, I had any sort of independence.
"Ezra, you shouldn't be here."

Yes, a book has my son's name in it! You will just have to read the books to see what kind of character Dawn's Ezra is though. 

What is your first line? Or four...
Don't miss out on more First Lines! Follow the links below to more Friday fun!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge - Keep Calm and Carry On...to 2017

While I started the year with good intentions, I am afraid that my obsession with a few new releases overruled this Reading Challenge. However, there are books on this list that I really want to read. So, I will be carrying over the unfinished slots into 2017. I have completed 25 out of 38 so I am at 66%, which I don't think is very bad. Considering my overall count for the year is 61 books right now. This does include a few coloring books and kids books...But I have reviewed all of them. 

2016 Reading Challenge:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

GIVEAWAY! Can't Help Falling - Kara Isaac

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book
A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter fa├žade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with a curious wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in this inspiring and romantic story about second chances. (Author's Website)

My Thoughts
There are a few books that I have read this year that are beyond outstanding. Can't Help Falling is one such book. I can not emphasize enough how unique and brilliant Kara Isaac's books are. I was thrilled to see some of my favorite (and not so favorite) characters from Close to You make a reappearance. I adore the people in Kara's books! So much so, that I am utterly convinced they are real. Don't bother trying to change my mind because it won't work. I also really want a Narnia themed party for Christmas now.

"The accent got her every time." 

I like to think that Peter sounds a little bit like Benedict Cumberbatch (Listen to Benedict read Jabberwocky HERE)...that voice! Peter is such a big teddy bear, but I would want him on my side in a fight. Despite his doubts, he is such a wonderful man. Someone who is fiercely loyal, a true man of faith, and kind. He is human though and has his shortcomings, just like the rest of us. I adore Emelia, between her personality, meticulous party planning abilities, and Narnia obsession I just want to track her down and be her best friend. The web of connections and past events kept me on my toes and guessing up until the final chapters. This book is also the cause of a few very late nights reading. I was so completely immersed into the story. Even now I find myself grinning at the beautiful flow of the story and romance. 

The Eagle and Child (The Bird and Baby) , Oxford.  The pub where J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis swapped ideas on their writings.:
The Eagle and Child
Where Tolkien and C.S.
Lewis would meet.
Picture from Pinterest.
Don't let the cute antics and adorable features of our characters fool you, they still have quite the journey of healing, forgiveness, and second chances. Emelia and Peter are both dragging around loads of guilt and fear of the past. While they continue to struggle for atonement. However, no matter how hard they strive, they cannot find freedom on their own. Despite their best efforts, Emelia and Peter can not find peace. She can not forgive herself, she can not let go of her past mistakes, and neither can he. Instead, Emelia works to make up for what she has done, hides in wardrobes looking for Narnia and tries to shield her heart from the Heavenly Father whom she cannot see as loving. Will she be able to finally find peace? Or will she continue to run? Something that really stood out to me in this book was the message of second chances. Not only for others, but for ourselves. When we do not see ourselves as God sees us, when we see ourselves as broken and soiled, we don't think we deserve a second chance. But He can make us whole and pure. Forgiven and radiant. Will we allow ourselves the freedom of forgiveness and a second chance? And will you choose to be a Susan...or a Lucy?

Picking my top favorite books for the year will be challenging, but both of Kara's books are definitely among my absolute favorites! While these books can stand alone, I recommend reading Close to You first (link below). Otherwise, there will be some confusion with the secondary storyline. Kara has graciously provided a copy of Can't Help Falling for a giveaway here on Bookworm Mama (scroll down to enter)! Kara is also hosting a giveaway on her webpage. If you pre-order Can't Help Falling, you can enter to win a fun prize pack! More details HERE. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a wardrobe to find.

The Eagle and Child Pub, Oxford. I sat at that table with the menu on it!!:
Inside The Eagle and Child
Picture from Pinterest.
I received a free copy of Can't Help Falling through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Purchase Options 
(Releases October 11, 2016 - Available for Pre-Order)

About the Author
Me and Kara!
Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two Hobbit-sized children.

Also by Kara Isaac

Read my review HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms & Conditions of Giveaway:
Open to US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand for PRINT copy. If the winner resides outside of the above mentioned countries, the winner will be awarded an eBook through Amazon. Giveaway begins 9/28/16 12:00AM Pacific Time and ends 10/5/16 12:00AM Pacific Time. Winner will be contacted within 24 hours of giveaway ending. Winner will be contacted via email address provided. Winner will have 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiting prize. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours of being contacted, I will choose a different winner.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review & GIVEAWAY - VeggieTales Every Day with God: 365 Daily Devos

My Rating
☆ - You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. (More Info)

About the Book
Every Day with God is the latest 365-day devotional (one for boys and another for girls) from VeggieTales. The updated content and art offer the perfect opportunity for parent and child to share time together each day. Each entry includes a Bible verse, short devotion, Thought of the Day, and prayer. The content will help children learn more about God and develop a daily practice to keep Him close in their lives. The book is perfect for bedtime reading, family devotion time, or as a fresh way to start each day!

Format: Trade paperback
Page Count: 384
Trim Size: 5 X 7.25
Retail Price: $9.99
Reading Age: 4-7

My Thoughts
Filled with colorful characters and excellent life lessons VeggieTales Every Day with God: 365 Daily Devos is a great addition to our daily routine. Since I have 2 boys (aged 2 and 4), I got the devotional book for boys...Shocker, I know. All the characters on the pages are the guys from VeggieTales, Bob, Larry, Junior, Larry Boy, Pa Grape, Mr. Lunt etc. Each page is labeled as Day 1, 2, 3...Instead of the dates. The devotion for the day is only one page, which is perfect for my active boys who don't like to sit still for very long. The devo starts with a title such as "It's Good to Have Good Friends" and "Jesus Loves You!" a coinciding scripture is next, the version varies depending on the verse. There are about 16 different versions of the bible used in this devotional. There is a 2-3 paragraph devo, followed by a "Thought of the Day" and "Pray Today" prayer. There are also several verses for memorization in the back of the book. The language is easy to understand and the lessons are great. From learning about spiritual gifts, God's love being real, and God's provision...to honesty, giving God your worries, being willing to forgive. There is something new every day for your kids to learn. The boys love this book and I even see my 4 year old "reading" it on his own. My 2 year old is a little young for it, but I believe this book is great for establishing the habit of daily devotions for both of the boys.  Enter below for your chance to win your choice of the boys or girls devotional! 

I received a free copy of VeggieTales Every Day with God: 365 Daily Devos for Boys through FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Purchase Options
Every Day with God Boys: link
Every Day with God Girls: link

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms & Conditions:
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Celebrate Lit - November Celebration Box ON SALE!!!

November Celebration Box Spotlight


Celebrate Lit November Celebration Box

The November Celebration Box is here! 
This celebration box is a unique, one of a kind box with goodies hand picked by the author just for you! These boxes are special because they are not sold anywhere else. There is a limited supply so be sure to get yours right away!
The November’s box features Carrie Fancett Pagel’s Tea Shop Folly. Sales for the November box will close on October 10 or while supplies last. The first 12 people to order will receive an ebook copy of the Maggie Award 2016 finalist, The Substitute Bride.

The basic box includes:

  • A minimum of 6 items handpicked by the author themed around the book.
  • A themed charm specifically chosen for this book.
  • One lucky box will contain a special teacup and saucer that no one else will receive.
  • The first 12 people to order will receive an ebook copy of the Maggie Award 2016 finalist, The Substitute Bride.
Along with the basic box, you can purchase the ebook, paperback or an autographed paperback book.
To purchase your box, click here.

First Line Fridays - 9/23/16 - Newton & Polly

I am happy to introduce a new co-conspirator in our First Line Friday fun! Please help me welcome Andi from Radiant Light! If you want to join in on spreading First Line cheer, let Carrie know from Reading is my SuperPower

I am so excited that it is OFFICIALLY Autumn!!! This is my favorite time of year! What is YOUR favorite season???

Today's first line comes from Jody Hedlund's new book Newton & Polly. At the moment, I don't have enough words to express the powerful impact that this book had on my heart. I need to remedy that so that I can write my review haha! Which is hopefully published by the time you read this. (Look I did it! You can read the review HERE.)

"I fear that our wassailing has become a nuisance."

I hope you can get your hands on this book. Order it, borrow it...request your public library purchase it, if they haven't already. If you don't read any other book this year...Read this one! 

Now tell me what YOUR first line is? And please join my lovely friends in spreading First Line fun.

And because I made far too many graphics for my review post...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Newton & Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace - Jody Hedlund

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info) Because I don't have a 10 star rating haha!

About the Book
Now remembered as the author of the world's most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father until the night he hears Polly Catlett s enchanting voice, caroling. He's immediately smitten and determined to win her affection. An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John's reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves? Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

My Thoughts
I am sitting here staring at my computer screen. Because I do not know where to begin this review.

Newton & Polly is such a powerful and beautiful story of love and redemption. Of God's forgiveness and his grace. No matter what we have done, no matter where we go, the decisions we make, God's grace is enough. His love is enough. His forgiveness is enough. All of us are sinners. All of us are in need of God's grace. All of us fall short of perfection. We can not earn his love or forgiveness. He gives it freely. All we have to do is open our heart to it and receive it. We are human though, and we will continue to make mistakes, but it is important that we keep our eyes focused on the Lord, on his goodness and grace.

Newton and Polly's story is one that I was unfamiliar with. I knew John had lived quite the life prior to converting, but I had no idea the impact that Polly had on him. True to Jody's fashion, most of the events in this novel are based on fact. Of course there is a bit of creative liberties, but it is fiction. Overall I feel that she portrayed their story of romance and redemption magnificently. She portrays John's deep adoration and love in a way that is breathtakingly beautiful and precious. Newton's story brings a whole new meaning to the words of his song...He was a wretch...BUT GOD...God's grace led him home.

I was moved to tears multiple times while reading this book, and again while creating the graphics, and again when I watched the video below, and again while writing this review. (The delivery guy for our roofing came half hour early and rang the doorbell in the middle of the video while I was bawling my eyes out...I just let him think I was crazy.) The presence of God is all over this book. I could go on for hours about the incredible story within the covers of this book...But I urge you to read it for yourself. If you can't purchase it, request it from your public library. Borrow it from a friend that owns it...Get this book in your hands! If you only read one book this year...Let it be Newton & Polly. You will not regret it. And I pray that as you read Newton and Polly's story you let God's love surround you and let his grace move through you and cleanse your soul.

I received a free copy of Newton & Polly from Waterbrook & Multnomah Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Purchase Options
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book
Google Books

About the Author
Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.
Jody is represented by Natasha Kern of Natasha Kern Literary Agency
More Books by Jody Hedlund