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the-colonels-ladyTitle: The Colonel’s Lady

Author: Laura Frantz

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Cover Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

You voted, and we had a winner! The last time we met, I asked you all which of the 16 challenges in the Bethany House book challenge I should tackle first, and you all chose for me to read “A book with a great cover.”

Considering I’ve had Laura Frantz’s book The Colonel’s Lady on my Kindle for what seems like forever now, it seemed like a good choice. And talk about a book with a beautiful cover! The blue of that gown, the natural light coming in, the silver locket she’s holding… I just loved it!

Unfortunately though, the book didn’t hold up as well as the cover did. There were aspects I appreciated and it was an all-around solid read, but it just felt like something I’d read many times before. But I’ll stop and warn you all that this may be more of a rant than a review, because I’m personally starting to tire of the romance genre, and that probably played a significant part in why I couldn’t really connect with this book.

There were redeeming factors, don’t get me wrong. A child of a prostitute shown mercy. A traitorous brother. An amazing act of God of Biblical proportions. But these things were just touched upon so that the main thing was still the romance. I guess I’m just starting to wonder, especially in the Christian genre… shouldn’t our relationship with God be the main thing? You still need a storyline, I get that. But can’t He be the focus with romance on the side, instead of romance the focus, with God on the side?

I guess that’s just where I’m at. Feeling like the Christian market is kind of missing it. And from a writer’s perspective, I get it. I know why, and it’s a hard line to walk. I could easily be accused of the same thing myself one day.

But… I just miss seeing Jesus in the books I read. And with the popularity of books like Fifty Shades of Gray right now, we need to be stepping it up. And I don’t mean in steamy scenes that try to tempt the general market over to our side, but by being the light and salt of the earth and leading others to the only kind of love that’s unfailing and true. That eternally saves.

It doesn’t mean we become prudes. It doesn’t mean we completely ignore the physical attraction side of romance. But does 2/3 of the storyline have to be purely based off of the character’s physical responses to one another and both pretending they don’t like each other until the very end of the book with nothing more but maybe a prayer or two thrown in?

To me, a good book–especially in the Christian market–should draw me closer to God or deepen my relationship with Him in some way. But lately the opposite has happened instead. I realize that could be my own fault, but it’s happened in too many books and stages of life now for me not to wonder if there isn’t some level of improvement that could be made in the genre itself.

We’ve forgotten our first love, and it’s about time we got back.

Let’s Talk Book: I’m really curious to know– what do you all think? Do you find reading romances hinder or help your relationship with God? Could romance writers improve on this a little bit? Are we missing the bigger picture, or doing the best we have in years?

Bethany House recently posted this really fun Reading Challenge that I am going to try this year. I’ll make sure and blog about each one as I cross them off the list, but everything’s better with friends, right? So I am calling out all of you subscribers, all of you blog stalkers, and definitely all my fellow book lovers to join with me in 2015! 🙂 If you decide to do it, let me know through commenting or #BHReadingChallenge, and maybe we can do some of the same categories together!

But to kick things off, I’m asking all of you: which of these 16 challenges should I tackle first?! Vote by leaving a comment with your pick, and I’ll… well, naturally, I’ll go with the one that has the most votes. To be fair and all. 😉

Happy New Year of Reading, everyone!

2015 Reading Challenge

The First Principle, ShrockTitle: The First Principle 

Author: Marissa Shrock

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cover rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Considering The First Principle is marketed for a YA audience, I was a little worried at first about whether or not I would like it. YA writing is often simplistic and condescending in a way that grates on my nerves like nothing else can. But the premise was intriguing, so I opened that first page hoping to find something different, and I am thrilled to say debut author Marissa Shrock did not disappoint.

The First Principle is set in a futuristic society where 15-year-old Vivica Wilkins finds herself in a dire predicament: abort the baby she suddenly finds herself pregnant with in obedience to the country’s underage Termination Law, or go against everything she’s ever been taught or believed as the governor’s daughter. Will she choose the way of her heart? The way of the underground Christian rebels? Or the way of her mother? Either way, the choice she makes will affect her for the rest of her life. The question is–is she ready to pay the price?

I appreciated this book on many levels. As a reader and as someone who has been disappointed in YA novels before, I found The First Principle to be refreshingly realistic and non-condescending. Never does Shrock take advantage of her reader’s intelligence. Vivica is a strong teenage character who cares about more than just what she’s going to wear and who’s-dating-who. The adults in her life are shown respect, but ultimately she’s the leader of her own life, and I applaud Shrock for respecting her audience and hopefully empowering young adults through this book.

As a writer, I found the book to be full of non-stop action and I finished it within two days. The futuristic world Vivica lived in was 100% believable, and all viewpoints were represented. The book doesn’t preach. Instead, it focuses on a question that brings a fresh perspective on the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate: not what if abortion was outlawed, but what if abortion was required by law? She lets Vivica face the question and then lets this play out naturally in a fictional setting that is at once intriguing and thought-provoking. For that reason, I’d recommend this book to people on both sides of the argument as a conversation starter.

And finally as an adoptee, I appreciated this book for another reason entirely. Suffice it to say that the story has impact and touched me enough to bring me to tears in a few places.

Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to both YA and adult readers alike. The First Principle has built-in appeal no matter the age. Shrock is a much-needed voice in today’s world and in this genre, and I cannot wait to see more from her in the future.

(I received this book for free from the author and Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.)

I Like GivingThe winner of one free copy of I Like Giving chosen by random selection is…

Tessa Ice!

Congratulations, Tessa! I’ll be in touch soon to get your prize to you.

Thank you to all who entered, and make sure to stop by often for more giveaway opportunities in the future! 🙂

 

Silenced, PettreyAnd the winner of Dani Pettrey’s book Silenced is…

KD Holmberg!

Congratulations! You will be contacted soon so that your prize can be delivered to you!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and please stop by again tomorrow when I do a review of Silenced!

Looking forward to seeing you then.

There’s a few things I love in life. One is books. Another is sharing about new books. And I’m a sucker for giveaways. Combine the three and what do you get? Author Dani Pettrey’s Rugged Romance Sweepstakes! Killer title, right? Wait until you check out the prizes!

Read on to find out how you can enter this super fun giveaway now through May 21st, and stay tuned for my review of Dani’s newest release, Silenced. I’m ridiculously excited about it, but you’ll have to stop by again to find out why. 😉 (And yes, mysterious foreshadow totally intended.)

Here’s the scoop:

Summary:

Silenced, Pettrey

In Silenced, Book 4 of author Dani Pettrey’s award-winning Alaskan Courage series, a relaxing day of rock climbing takes a dark turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Was the climber’s death a terrible accident or something more sinister?

When the case is handed to Yancey’s overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With the truth of Jake’s past now revealed, Jake agrees to use his investigation skills for this one case–but nothing could prepare him for where the case will take him.

As Kayden and Jake work together to uncover the truth, will they also find a refuge in each other? Or will the deadly plans of a killer destroy their chance at love?

To celebrate the novel, Dani and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the RUGGED ROMANCE SWEEPSTAKES, and your chance to win one of three marvelous prizes, all closely connected to the story.

Timeframe & Notifications:

This giveaway starts May 1, 2014 and ends May 21, 2014 @ 11:59 pm (PST).
Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, May 23, 2014, and announced at DaniPettrey.com.

About the Prizes:

GRAND PRIZE:

ALASKAN AIR ADVENTURE

Rugged Romance

In Silenced, Kayden’s adventurous nature and skills as a pilot come in handy as she and Jake race to uncover the truth. If you’ve always dreamed of hopping on a plane to chase your own adventures, but don’t have a well-trained pilot and a Cessna at your disposal, we’ve got the perfect prize for you.

Our Grand Prize winner will receive: a $250 gift certificate to Alaskan Airlines, good toward travel to multiple destinations across the Continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii

SECOND PRIZE:

DENALI DEVOTION WALL ART

Rugged Romance

As Jake and Kayden crisscross the Alaskan wilderness looking for answers, they also see some of the most glorious scenery on earth: soaring mountains, crystal clear lakes, and incomparable wildlife. Could there be any better setting for a glowing romance? Now you can share in the romantic scenery, even if you don’t live in Alaska.

Our Second Prize winner will receive: The Kiss at Wonder Lake 31″ x 23″ Framed Art Print

THIRD PRIZE:

RUGGED ROMANCE PICNIC PACK

Rugged Romance

Kayden has always been practical, no-nonsense, and slow to trust. She’s definitely not a romantic-at-heart who longs for a handsome man to whisk her away for a picnic in the mountains. Right? ; )

If you, like Kayden, have secretly dreamed of a romantic mountain-top picnic, this is the prize for you.

Our Third Prize winner will receive: The ultimate picnic pack for a romantic afternoon. This insulated backpack includes silverware, plates, napkins, plastic long-stemmed glasses and a wide selection of gourmet picnic snacks

HOW TO ENTER:

Go to http://www.danipettrey.com/rugged-romance-sweepstakes/ and complete the entry box, anytime between May 1 and May 21.

Books Button

There used to be a time when I could indulge my book addiction. One book became an entire series, an entire series became an entire shelf, and an entire shelf became an entire collection.

But then the economy took a dive, and with it, my bibliophile heart. I’m the type who doesn’t like library books for two reasons: one is that I really like to keep my books. Another is that I cannot hold a library book without imagining all the other potentially germ-y hands that have held it before me.

So how does one afford the books one loves without going to the library? Prayer, of course!

Mine went something like this: “Lord, please show me how to afford the books I love so much.”

It was a simple prayer, but it was answered in a mighty way!

In the past 3 months alone, I’ve won 1 e-book, 4 paperbacks, and downloaded or received 25 free books. That’s 3 months, 30 books, and about $300 saved.

It wasn’t long before I realized: hey, if this could help me, maybe it could help someone else, too!

So here are 5 tips I’ve compiled to help you afford the books you love:books[1]

1) Get an e-reader and follow websites that post Kindle deals.

The majority of book deals now come through e-readers and, specifically, Amazon.

If you’re one of those who prefers the real thing to a handheld device, I get you. I love the feel of a real book in my hand as well and didn’t want to get a Kindle just because it was the popular thing to do.

However, after seeing how many free books were offered for Kindle and comparing the price of e-books to regular books (at least a $5.00 difference), I was a convert.

Remember those 25 free books I mentioned? Nearly all of them came through my Kindle.

After owning my Kindle for over a year now, I can tell you that it’s 100% worth the money you might spend on it. Within a few months, you can easily get back what you spent in the amount of free and discounted books you can buy.

If you’re looking for some high-quality bargain books, a Kindle is the way to go.

Here are just two of the websites I’ve found that regularly post e-book deals: http://www.vesselproject.com
http://www.bookwi.se.com

2) “Like” author or publisher pages on Facebook.

Giveaways are a huge deal right now on the internet and in the publishing world.

In any given month, there’s usually three or more giveaways going on at once. A great way to find out about these giveaways would be through “liking” your favorite author pages on Facebook.

Not only will authors let you know when their book is being offered in a giveaway, they’ll often let you know of other giveaways going on as well. If their book is being offered for free or at a discount price on Kindle, they’ll let you know about that, too.

Because publishers represent a lot of authors, publisher pages (such as Bethany House or Tyndale) can be an even greater resource.

In most cases, entering these types of giveaways are pretty simple. They might want you to leave a comment on their blog, “like” their page, or just share about the giveaway on Facebook.

Many people don’t consider entering giveaways simply because they don’t think they have any chance of winning. I’d caution you against that, however. Remember: in the last three months, I’ve won 1 e-book, 4 paperbacks, and 1 ten-dollar Amazon gift card. All through giveaways!

Many blogs regularly host giveaways. Here are a few I follow:
http://www.christianfictionsite.com
http://www.rittywrites.blogspot.com

3) Sign up for a “Blogging for Books” program.

Many publishers have a bloggers reward system, meaning they’ll give you a free book from one of their authors if you give an honest review of the book in return. Although every publisher has different rules, most of them require you to have a blog and that you post a review of the book on both your blog and favorite retailer’s website (such as Amazon, CBD, etc.)

I personally use WaterBrook Multnomah’s blogging program (check it out here: http://www.waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks) because it’s one of the easiest, but I know Tyndale and many other publishers have blogging programs as well.

I don’t know about you, but a free book (from e-books to paperbacks) in exchange for a short review and an honest opinion? Sounds good to me!

4) Attend a library book sale.

Okay, so usually I’m not a fan of these, what with the germs and all. However, you can usually get a lot of really great books for not a lot of money.

At the library book sale I went to, it was all by donation. So I could have easily walked out with dozens of free books, and essentially did.

For instance: I got the entire Left Behind series in hardcover (about 11 books valued at around $140), a 1916 copy of Treasure Island, a 1940’s copy of The Pickwick Papers, and seven other books.

I’d never attended a library book sale before because I was certain all the books would be old and of poor quality. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find many current authors and a ton of amazing deals.

So if you like owning books and aren’t as ridiculously concerned about germs as me, definitely check into that!

5) Follow my “Christian Deals and Giveaways” board on Pinterest.

If all of that sounds like a lot of work to you, you can also follow my “Christian Deals & Giveaways” board where I do the leg work for you. I post weekly and include all the giveaways as well as any free or discounted books I come across. You can find it here: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzieveldboom/christian-deals-giveaways

So there you have it! 5 ways to get free books. If this has been helpful for you, please consider sharing. Until next time, happy reading!

(My thanks to Jeanette Neels at “Creating a Life” {www.creatingalifenow.blogspot.com} for helping me create the fantastic button for this blog post!)

Hello, everyone! Author Kathryn Cushman is hosting a massive giveaway (we’re talking over $600 in prizes), but it ends on October 3rd! Because I’m nice, I’m letting you know about it before it does.

You’re welcome. 😉

Here’s the skinny:

Chasing HopeIn author Kathryn Cushman’s newest novel, Chasing Hope, Sabrina Rice is a gifted runner and Olympic hopeful who’s had her dreams shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she’s focused on building new dreams. Dreams that have nothing to do with running.

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it’s all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist.

When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina gets the uncomfortable feeling her life plans are about to be toppled…again. And that God may be asking her to help this troubled but talented girl see her dreams past the starting block.

To celebrate the story, author Katie Cushman and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the CHASING HOPE Giveaway, and your chance to win one of three fabulous prizes connected with the story!

Timeframe & Notifications:

This giveaway starts September 16, 2013 and ends October 3, 2013 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, October 4, 2013, and announced at KatieCushman.com.

Chasing Hope GRAND PRIZE:
CHAMPION’S CHOICE PACKAGE

Nike, Grand PrizeNike’s motto is: Just Do It, and Sabrina Rice of Chasing Hope lives out this attitude despite tremendous obstacles. But chasing dreams is hard work, and every champion needs fuel for their journey.

To celebrate everyday champions like Sabrina, we’re offering our Grand Prize winner the chance to fuel up, and have some fun as they chase their dreams.

The winner of this package will receive a $200 shopping spree to the Nike Online Store, and a 1-Year subscription to Runner’s World Magazine.

Chasing Hope SECOND PRIZE:
NEW STRIDE PACKAGE

2nd PrizeIn Chasing Hope, Brandy Philip has world-class talent, but she needs a fresh start, and a little extra help to get her on the right path. Just like Brandy, we all need a boost now and then, especially when it comes to our health and fitness goals!

While we can’t all have a personal trainer like Sabrina to help us meet those goals, our Second Prize winner will receive the next best thing: This prize includes a $175 value Nike + FuelBand accelerometer, which tracks each step taken and calories burned (and tells the time of day), and The Courage To Start running book, written by popular life coach and former self-proclaimed “couch potato”, John Bingham.

Chasing Hope THIRD PRIZE:
REST & RECHARGE PACKAGE

3rd PrizeIn Chasing Hope, Sabrina and Brandy find that even the strongest runners also need time to rest.

Whether you run marathons, a carpool, or just weekly trips to the grocery store, you can always use a little you-time, and a chance to recharge!

Our third prize winner will get that chance with a $50 gift card to Spafinder.com, plus an inside look at the life of Eric Liddell, (Sabrina’s hero and inspiration), through the ‘Complete Surrender’ biography book, and the Chariots of Fire DVD, featuring Ben Cross.

How to Enter:

Go to http://www.katiecushman.com/chasing-hope-giveaway/ and complete the entry box, anytime between September 16 and October 3.