Wednesday, December 13, 2017

More Blog Tours, Anyone?

For all my fellow book bloggers out there, I'm gathering a list of people who might be interested in participating in future blog tours and cover reveals. :)

I recently shared about my return to freelance editing in this post, and it's my hope to return to more marketing as well. But I need your help!

No commitment is required; I simply need to know if you'd be interested in receiving emails from me when blog-event opportunities arise. :)

Here's a sampling of the type of books I've hosted blog tours for in the past:
If you like to review and/or feature books with heart on your blog, I would love to have you join the team by filling out the form below! And if you're an author looking for someone to help share your book with the blogging community, I'd be delighted to work with you.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Gorgeous Historical Fiction Cover Reveal | Amongst the Roses by Meghan M. Gorecki



Happy Tuesday, friends! Lots of exciting bookish things going on today. :) Earlier I shared my top 10 books of the year in this post. And now I get to tell you about a dear blogging friend's upcoming release—and share the pretty-as-a-peach cover that goes with it!

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Book 1 in The Keystone Legacy Series by Meghan M. Gorecki 

Releases April 12, 2018 

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.



My Cover Thoughts

Isn't this cover absolutely lovely?? I adore the color scheme and the whole layout. The writing across the backdrop, the font of the title, and the beautiful dress speak to the historical nature of the story. And the scenery is just gorgeous, with the trees and roses golden in the light. There's a sense of expectation and hope in the bright colors, although the woman's expression suggests sorrow and hardship along the way. It's a perfect cover for the genre, and definitely one that draws me in! :)


About the Author 

Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction about what God can make beautiful from the ashes of history, and hearts. A lover and avid studier of people, times gone by, and fiction, she has been writing since childhood and now houses her books under Northern Belle Publishing. Coffee and red lipstick color her days as a redhead from a box, alongside her treasured tribe of family and friends in her beloved hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Connect with her on social media and at her blog/website at: northernbellemeg.com

Northern Belle Publishing 

P.S. Too impatient to wait till April? Snag Meghan's Christmas novella, Wrapped in Red, today for just 99 cents!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017


There are still a few weeks left in 2017, and there's a good chance I could discover another favorite between now and then... But given today's topic from The Broke and the Bookish, and assuming many other bloggers will be sharing their favorites today too, I'm making a list that's worth checking twice. ;)

I confess I didn't read a ton of books this year; I believe it was only a little over 20 or so. But I experienced a lot of favorites in my own life, like getting married and moving to a beautiful new place. So, no regrets! But of the books I read, here are some I quite enjoyed...

Top Five Fiction

#5 Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

It was hard to narrow down the fiction list. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay and Yes, Carol...It's Christmas! by Cindy Vincent were worthy contenders (and ones I recommend!). But given my love for the historical romance genre (especially fun Westerns by Karen Witemeyer), I'm including this one. :) Whether it was my life at the time or the fact I was reading this on my Kindle, it was slow going at the beginning, but the ending sure had me hooked, and there were lots of things to love about this story. You can read my full review HERE.

#4 The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

I liked the style and structure of this story, with characters from past and present. It was a fun read, especially a few months before my own wedding. :) 

#3 Illusionary by Desiree Williams

This was an engaging contemporary/fantasy read, and I especially loved the ending! A strong finish has a big bearing on how you feel about a book, don't you think? You can read my full review HERE.

#2 Ten Thousand Thorns by Suzannah Rowntree

This retelling of Sleeping Beauty is SO good. The setting and style make it unique, and the characters and dialogue make it meaningful. You can read my full review HERE.

#1 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I suppose this an obvious choice. :) Pride and Prejudice just might be my favorite Jane Austen tale so far! It was great to read this book for the first time with a few friends for our read-along this October. The characters, their growth, and the plot all made this a delightful read. It's lighthearted, but also has a lovely depth. 

Top Five Nonfiction 

#5 Making Marriage Beautiful by Dorothy Littell Greco

I read several marriage books this year, and this one has some great points. I think a lot of what I've read tends to blend together...but from my review (which you can read HERE), I know I found some helpful thoughts in this book. :) 

#4 Wait and See by Wendy Pope

More than anything, I appreciated how this book provided a way to record my waiting journey. I liked the prompts and the journaling space, and the writing itself was simple but engaging. 

#3 Cherish by Gary Thomas

When I don't review a book (and sometimes even when I do!), it's a little tricky to remember months later what you specifically liked about it. I believe I found a lot of great food for thought in this one (I tend to use that phrase a lot... *self-conscious grin*), and I liked the theme of it. As with Making Marriage Beautiful, I gave this book 5 stars. :) 

#2 Letters to My Daughters by Barbara Rainey

Another marriage book! ;) What makes this one extra special (besides the fact that it was a sweet gift from a dear friend on my wedding day ♥) is the artistic angle. I like the letter format, and I love the creativity in comparing different aspects of marriage to different artistic pursuits. 

#1 Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson

Is it funny or fitting to give a book on humility the #1 spot? ;) I just finished this one, and I'm glad I read it in time to include it on this list! Humble Roots is a beautiful exploration of humility and how it can affect every area of your life. I highly recommend it! You can read my full review HERE.

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While I didn't read a lot this year, I did read some really great books. Of course, I have many more on my TBR, and who knows how many of those could have ended up on this year's favorites list? It's my hope to read a lot more of the books I already own next year! I have no doubt there are some true gems on my real and virtual shelves waiting to be discovered. :)

What have been your favorites of 2017? 
What books are you hoping to get to in the New Year? 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Poignant Perspective Drawn from the Land | Review of Humble Roots



About the Book

Feeling worn thin? Come find rest.

Nestled in the simple rhythms of rural life, taking cues from forsythia, milkweed, and wild blackberries, Hannah Anderson meditates on the pursuit of peace and its natural companion, humility.

Part theology of incarnation, part stroll through fields and forest, Humble Roots reveals how cultivating humility—not scheduling or increased productivity—leads to true peace. By remembering who you are and Who you aren't, you can discover afresh your need for God and the rest that comes from belonging to Him.

So come. Consider the lilies of the field, and learn humility from Christ Himself.

Available Now

My Rating

Summer

My Review

Humility is a theme that intrigues me, challenges me, and surprises me. Given that the word "humility" is even in my blog title, it's probably little wonder that I requested this book for review. And friends, I wasn't disappointed in the least.

Humble Roots covers a wide landscape of human experiences, everything from taking care of our bodies to tending our talents and facing the reality of death. I loved the imagery of this book and how it reminds the reader in a gentle but honest-to-goodness way that we were formed from dust, and it's only the gracious breath of God within us that gives us this amazing, beautiful gift called life.

Some chapters impacted me more than others, but throughout this book there is a whole garden full of food for thought. I loved that some of the topics and discussions fed into real-life conversations with my husband. I also loved that the writing style felt down to earth, broad and meaningful in scope but still authentic and personal. I think my favorite chapters are "Returning to Our Roots" and the four chapters in Part Three.

This book is one of my favorites of the year, and one I could see myself rereading or at least referring to again. It's poignant, and it offers perspective that can touch your soul and help you understand how Jesus embodied humility—and how He wants to lead you along the humble dirt path. As Hannah Anderson reminds us, there is rest and truth and hope to be found in seeing ourselves as we really are and trusting God for all He is.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: The Winter TBR


I love that some of my blogging friends participate in the weekly "Top Ten Tuesday" meme, which encourages me to participate. Once in a while I see others posting about a topic that catches my eye, and I have to share my own list. :) 

This week's theme is "Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR." (You can read the original post or link up your own post HERE.)

On My Shelf (or Desk, or Nightstand):

#1 The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I requested this one for review from Bethany House Publishers. The premise, the cover, and the mood of this story spoke to me, and I'm looking forward to reading it! It promises to be sweet and thoughtful. 

#2 Yes, Carol...It's Christmas! by Cindy Vincent

I greatly enjoy novellas and Cindy's work! I've had the pleasure of editing a few of her stories, but this one is brand new to me. It sounds like a really fun story to get me in the Christmas mood...even more so than I already am. ;)

#3 East by Edith Pattou

I'm quite ashamed I haven't read this one yet. I was given a copy by a dear friend, and I should have read it many months ago! So this is definitely high on my list to finally finish this winter, and judging by the premise and setting of the story, it's the perfect season to savor it. :) 

#4 What Light by Jay Asher

I believe I bought this one with a gift card last winter, and it's definitely the time of year to actually read it! The description, the cover, the recommendations from friends...yep, this promises to be a sweet treat for the holidays. :)

#5 The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

It's these wintery covers that beg me to read them now, haha. ;) Plus, in this case, I do love me an engaging Denise Hunter story! This one sounds like cheery chaos, and I'm hoping I'll get to it in the next couple of months.

On My Kindle:

#6 The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

Everyone seems really excited about this series, so of course I jumped on the bandwagon and requested a review copy from NetGalley. So, the plan is to read it before its February release. There are a lot of great authors contributing to the series, and I'm happy for the chance to read the first book. :) 

#7 Wrapped in Red by Meghan M. Gorecki

I recently joined dear friend Meghan's Belles & Roses Street Team, and I'm excited for all she has planned for 2018! In the meantime, this sweet little book has been sitting on my Kindle too long, and I ought to read it ASAP. Again, perfect time of year to do so!

#8 Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by Amanda Dykes

Yet another Christmas novella that's sitting on my Kindle, deserving to be read! Based on ratings and reviews, I have no doubt this will be a lovely tale, indeed.

#9 What Dreams May Come by Alana Terry

All these gorgeous wintery covers!! Seriously, so pretty. :) And this book, while fiction, is based off the author's own love story. It sounds meaningful and intriguing, and I hope I won't let it sit forever on my Kindle!

#10 A Twist of Faith by Pepper Basham

I recently won the second book in this series in a giveaway (woohoo!), and I know it is beyond time that I experience a Pepper Basham story. So I figure I should probably start with the first book before diving into the second. :) Bet it will be awesome!

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There are lots of other books on my shelves (physical and virtual), and I hope these aren't the only books I read during the winter season. But these are certainly ones I'd like to read sooner rather than later! So tell me, friends, what books are on your TBR list? Have you read any of the above?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Beautiful Fairy Tale with Unique Style | Review of Ten Thousand Thorns



About the Book

Princess Morning Light meditates in a hidden temple surrounded by ten thousand thorns. Guardian of a long-lost sword skill, the princess is destined to wake after a hundred years to return justice to All-Under-Heaven.

Or so legend says.

As the Vastly Martial Emperor extends his brutal domination across the world, rebel leader Clouded Sky flees the capital for the safety of his martial sect at Wudang Mountain. Meanwhile, the renegade martial artist Iron Maiden seeks a hero to awaken Morning Light. As bounty hunters and imperial guards close in, Clouded Sky must determine who he can trust - and who may be planning to betray him.

An action-packed retelling of Sleeping Beauty in the style of a Chinese martial arts epic! Novella, approximately 39,000 words.

Releasing November 30th!

My Rating

Summer

My Review

This story is beautiful... Epic, yet sweet. Profound, yet fun. Challenging, yet comforting. Ten Thousand Thorns is a version of Sleeping Beauty that has a life, message, and style all its own. I loved it!

I will say that the unique style of this book could possibly make it slightly difficult to follow at times. A lot of words are capitalized, and the names of techniques/stances/titles are often long and different (but also clever!). Please don't let that deter you, though, because this story has so much to offer—and once you get used to the wording and dialogue, it's engaging.

The main characters are so fascinating. Clouded Sky is relatable in his recognition of how little he knows and how incapable he feels in fighting evil and standing up for what is truly right. And Iron Maiden is the mysterious martial artist with a different approach to combat and thoughts that make both Clouded Sky and the reader ponder their own motivation, drive, and heart.

Ten Thousand Thorns is populated with other intriguing characters, littered with twists and challenges, and permeated with an underlying sense of honor and warmth. I love fairy tales, especially new retellings that leave me with something more. This story reminded me that we must make important choices in our life, and we need to make them with courage and a reliance on a strength beyond our own—the strength God offers us. As Iron Maiden says,

The martial skill is important, but so is the ocean-embracing vision and the reliance on Heaven.

I've read a couple other novellas by Suzannah Rowntree, but this is my favorite so far. I look forward to reading more of her work, and I definitely recommend this novella that packs a powerful punch!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-ARC of the book.*

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Fun and Reflective Journey | Review of The Austen Escape



About the Book

Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

This was one of those reads where I succumbed to "peer pressure"...in a good way. :) Online friends were planning a read-along, fellow bloggers seemed so excited about this release, and I wanted to join in the fun. Plus, I knew from reading more by this author that she is talented in creating characters with flaws, heart, and a need to dig deep within life's struggles.

The Austen Escape has such a great cast of characters. It's not that I always approved of their choices or behavior, but that I felt drawn into their world. I think Mary, the heroine, is quite fascinating with her career in a tech-heavy sphere but having buried passions for music and Jane Austen's books. And her relationships are quite complicated, as, like many of us, she doesn't always say what should be said or see what ought to be seen. Still, she cares and has the capacity to change, which makes her relatable all the same.

I loved the older couple who are part of the English "escape." Helene and her husband are dears, and I adore how their love for each other is so palpable. They each want the other to be happy and understood, and their interactions with the rest of the group are really sweet.

As for the main "escape," it's fun to get some Austenland vibes, but with a very different sort of tone. Things are a little more somber, a little more reflective, in Mary's experience at Braithwaite, although there are lighthearted moments. I enjoyed the descriptions of the place—inside the house and on the grounds—and I liked how things take a turn when more characters are added to the mix.

As for the Jane Austen references, I confess they're both familiar and yet have a different Reay-flair. There are some moments that made me happy with what they meant, and others where it felt like an inside joke I wouldn't understand. Perhaps that's more my problem, as I still have a lot of Austen lingo and depth to learn. :) But I think it does make the story a bit less accessible, feeling a little more like it's intended for others who know every line and every character of Austen's stories.

I also feel a bit torn about the ending...wanting more, and yet not. It's both neatly wrapped up, and yet a bit rushed, perhaps? Questions are answered, and yet I'd love just a bit more time and space for resolution regarding the relational side of things. (Not saying the book should be longer, necessarily, as the length is great!) Still, it's a satisfying and challenging ending, and I like that it brings the story full circle.

The Austen Escape provides what it's title offers, but like all escapes, there's a time when you should go home and face the choices that affect everyday life. This novel allows both the characters and the reader to enjoy the journey...and the return.

*With thanks to TNZ Fiction and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of the book.*

Other Katherine Reay Books I've Reviewed...
Lizzy & Jane