Quick Update!

Hey all you lovelies! 

I felt the need for an update ;) No, my blog hasn’t turned from a devotional type blog to a book review blog ;) However, I have done a LOT of changing since this blogs conception and after struggling with it for a while, I realize that letting the blog change with me is OKAY :D <3 After all, it is still my God-scripted story and my desire to share and encourage others walking their own…. That story just looks and feels a loooot different than it ever did or I ever expected it to lol ;) But (shocker!) that’s how God works ;)

I would like to change the theme/design of the blog for sure, to sort of ‘update’ it--to have it be more relevant to these changes (so if anyone is an expert at or enjoys doing blog art/design—or knows anyone who is— please feel free to contact me!!! :D )

I do have certain topics dear to my heart and current situations I would like to write about…. But A) they are still so raw and fresh that I don’t have the application or endings/answers yet… and B) are so deeply personal I wonder if it is “okay” to share, or if anyone will care (which I realize is not the point at all, but just being honest here ;) So if anyone has any ideas or topics they’d like to see discussed, feel free to share those in the comments below as well!! 

Book Summary: Befriended

Befriended was another short Tales of Taelis story that helped to tie up loose ends/answer questions left by the larger novels in the series. It was an adorable, swift read giving us a look at Eleanor’s life after Adventures and Adversities. The best thing about this story were Eleanor’s little charges, Nathaniel and John—very accurate portrayal of little boys LOL. The only thing I regret about this story was that I wish it had been longer and more fleshed out. I was definitely glad to get what we do in this short story though! Overall a sweet, short read that helped me feel a more satisfied with the main novels in the series :D

Order Link: https://www.amazon.com/Befriended-Tales-Taelis-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B01MF4YG1O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496540388&sr=8-1&keywords=befriended+by+sarah+holman 

Book Review: Adventures and Adversities

About the Book: 
"One day Alditha is content living with her family, the next she is taking her friend's place to serve at the king's castle. Her father's final instructions, to keep smiling and to do what is right, will be harder to live out than she ever imagined. She will face a royal nephew who delights in making people miserable, and angry servant girl who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and noblemen who plot murder. Will she be able to keep the promise she made to her father? will she find the faith she longs for during all her Adventures and Adversities"?
What I Liked: Adventures was a sweet story to allow myself to be swept away to. Reading it reminded me of watching a Narnia movie, as it is set in the medieval period and contains castle sieges and battles out at sea :D There were so many small-yet-profound lessons to be gleaned from Alditha and William's story- mainly around our perception of God vs how He really is, and also not allowing hardship to harden you, embitter you. I loved the main characters determination to do right, and to always endeavor to see the bright side of things (something I could learn a lesson or two from ;)

What I Didn't Like: At several parts throughout the story, I found myself, while always ennoying it and not getting bored, wondering exactly what the plot was, or what it was leading up to. I think I kept waiting for this big build up to a climax or big main problem Alditha would have to overcome....when in reality, instead of one big mountian, the obstacles came in little hills and valleys for our characters (yes the last one is a little bigger ;). They do however round off nicely at the end. This book would make a great tv mini-series lol. 

Favorite Quote: There were so many great lines, little nuggets of well-worded wisdom, burried throughout this entire story, that it is hard to pick just one; one that is repeated several times in the book that I enjoyed was, "Whatever you do...wherever you go, trust God, and never stop smiling. Your life will be hard, and bitterness will be the easiest thing for you to feel. Remember that you serve a God who knew that this would happen before you were born." 

Final Thoughts: Remember my review last week on Sarah's short story "Admirable"? Admirable was a prequel to Adventures & Adversities, and had me very eager to read it and the rest of the series...... It did NOT disappoint!!

Purchase Link: 

The Secret Slipper: Book Review

I have been looking forward to this book release for a looong time!! I was beyond blessed to be a part of the beta team for this and I am excited to finally get to share this incredible story with all of you!

About the Book
Being a cripple is the only the beginning of Lia's troubles. It seems as if Bioti's goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia's purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?
Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn't know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti's dangerous character?
As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn't even know is searching for her?

What I Liked
Oh my. Where do I begin?! When Amanda messaged me "So.... I may have another story for to beta read.... ;)" I may have very literally jumped up and down in glee lol!!! I unabashedly embraced every aspect of this book (except perhaps one hard-to-decipher character with whom I have unresolved feelings ;) )and have come to love these characters and their story!
I loved everything about this book, but I appreciate that Amanda wrote Lia in such a way that I could intimately empathize with her. As someone who already knows Christ, I knew the answers to her questions and doubts and "whys?!" all along. As Christians, we often know the right answers in our heads, but when bad things happen-- and then continue to get worse instead of getting better-- we often let feelings of anger, abandonment, bitterness, and fear well up in our hearts and overtake them. We have sooo many legitimate feelings/questions we want to ask of God and church leaders but "know better" than to ask. Throughout the course of the story, we experience these feelings with Lia (all the legitimate unfairness of her situation) and, in response, we receive one of the most exquisite explanations of salvation I have ever read. But I loved that we were allowed to experience those "forbidden" emotions with Lia-- and given such a beautifully crafted but accurate answer in response. 
What I Disliked
Again? Literally nothing. Well, maybe a few characters-- I completely loathed the 'bad guys' in this story with a black, burning passion-- but because they were so believably sly and evil! As the reader we are supposed to hate them lol So again! It was beautifully well done! 
No complaints from this reader! 
oh wait.... there was that character I am still very much at odds with..... ;) 

The Secret Slipper takes you on a crazy-amazing journey from the first few angst-filled lines (ohmysoul, guys! SO much angst!!) and does not let you go til the very end!

Purchas Link
Get "Befriending the Beast" 

So I'm attempting something new this book review (because I love this story soooo much!) and am hosting a giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a free set of the Tales of Faith series (paperback for US readers, eBooks for International readers)

U.S. Giveaway: Enter to win the set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper”

International Giveaway: Enter to win the eBook set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper”

Book Review: Admirable

William returns home to find his family threatened with attack from a neighboring Earl. Will he be able to protect his sister and the rest of his family from this threat? Will he be able to trust God no matter what?
A prequel story for Adventures and Adversities.
(description according to Amazon)

What I Liked:
This story was short and sweet--very simple but with a good message and endearing characters. It was short enough that I was able to enjoyable read all 5 chapters on my lunch break. It was well-written and crafted in such a way, however, that I was drawn I to William and his sister's plight and want them to succeed. This story can certainly stand alone, but having fallen for Will and his sister by learning their backstories, it may be time for me to begin their full-fledged series ;)

What I Didn't Like:
That it was so short and all I got was a little taste of their story.
But that is what a short story is by definition.
I also had to keep reminding myself that the characters were so young, even though they were having to deal with what we would consider adult activities. However, I have not done my medieval research, so it could be 100% accurate and just a matter of me being unfamiliar with the time period.

Favorite Quote:
"Then he did the hardest thing that he had every done in his life, he let go of his sisters hand and let her walk alone."

Final Thoughts:
Short, sweet story that whet my appetite for the full series!!

Purchase Here: 

Book Review: Emmeline

About the Book:
“What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?
The talk of the stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even as her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.
Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?”
(from books description on Amazon) 

What I Liked: There was sooo much I loved and appreciated about this book—or more specifically, the way the author breathed life into it—that I don’t know where to begin! Actually, I will start right there! Sarah did a fantastic job of learning her depression-era details and of knowing Jane Austen’s Emma. The setting felt very authentic, not as though we were inserted into a time period for just yet another JA spin-off. Detials were explained well without feeling as though they were. I loved the way the Ford/Chevrolet bit was brought into play and how dancing and the flapper era was touched on but not exploited. I loved Emma’s heart and her relationship with her father also <3.
The thing I reeeaaaalllyy loved and appreciated about this adaptation though was this: Sarah apparently knows her JA, and was able to craft a completely flawed but still loveable Emma. As I read through this story, I was amazed, time and time again, at how perfectly irrationally meddlesome, unintentionally thoughtless, genuinely friendly, and fiercely loyal Sarah crafted Emma to be. I often went from completely agreeing with the Mr. Knightly character (who was flawlessly chivalrous, sassy, grounded, and adorable) to completely siding with Emma in the space of two lines. Sarah was able to capture a hopelessly-flawed-but-still-lovable Emma in a way second only to Austen that left me genuinely geeked. The era (language, history, behavioral) updating and sub-plot revamping was all done so, so well. (I know I am gushing, but I do so unapologetically. I did so verbally to my sisters on more than one occasion while still reading the story—you can ask them ;) ). For a Jane Austen lover, I sincerely appreciated this retelling. It wasn’t thrown together—it was done. well.

What I Didn’t Like: The only critique I have for this fabulous retelling is that I wish the ending had been a little longer, given us as readers a little more time to enjoy what we spent several chapters building up to. It was still a good ending, but I wanted a little more time to revel in it ;)

Favorite Quote(S):
“She realized that when Catarina spoke about something she was passionate about, she looked like royalty.”

“Well, I agree with her, but one doesn’t need a man to have love.”

“You’ve so much imagination when it comes to parties and matchmaking. Put that same effort into your books and you’ll see them for what they were meant to be.”

“But I think that while some things might not turn out the way originally intended, they can still be admired and enjoyed.

“If you read your Bible perhaps you would have more true friends and realize that you don’t have to put people down to prove that you’re worth something!” Fredrick shouted…“You have so much to offer the world, but you are misapplying your wit and your charm. Instead of using it to build these people up, you are tearing them apart and making them feel as if they are beneath you. One day, I hope you see the damage you’re doing and bitterly regret the havoc you have caused in their lives.”

“Never stop talking to Him, even when your heart hurts, promise?

Final Thoughts:
Bottom line? This retelling of Emma was fantastically done and as a picky Jane-ite I absolutely loved it. I completely recommend it and cannot wait for the rest of the series!!!! 

Purchase Link: 

About the Author: Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined. You can find out more about her at her website www.thedestinyofone.com 

Book Review: Befriending the Beast

Hey all! Hope you are having a wonderful day! Because this is the third book review post in a row, I just thought I'd let you know that this is still a devotional blog as well :) I have had a post on my heart for months, but God's still teaching me that lesson! :) For now, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Amanda Tero who has just published another book. A Beauty & the Beast retelling with an intriguing twist: what if the Beast was Belle's father? I had the opportunity to beta-read this story and wanted to share!

About the Book

"Belle has returned unannounced to the castle to restore her relationship with the king, her father. Her hopes are dashed with the devastating message: "The king refuses to see you." Convinced that God has led her home, she is unwilling to return to Lord and Lady Kiralyn.

Time is running out for the decision that will change her life. When tragedy strikes, will she and her father be pulled further apart or knit together? Could she stay at the castle even if she will never see her father again?"

What I liked: 
To be fair, I came at this story completely biased—Beauty & the Beast is one of my all time favorites, and I am a complete sucker for a good retelling. However, we all know how a bad retelling can leave behind a hollow feeling, as though you had hunger pains that were left unmet by what promised to be a good meal. This retelling? Left you completely stuffed, yet begging for more!! One of the reasons I am such a sucker for this tale-as-old-as-time is because of the romance—and this story had none, so I wasn’t sure how I’d react to it. The suspense completely drew me in! Romance, classic B&B tale or not—I needed to know how this worked out! How the story resolved! Whether or not these characters I was beginning to love ever got their happy ending and were able to stop suffering! And the angst. Oh. My heart broke over and over again for these characters—even the mean ones! This story was incredibly well written to where I felt Belle’s pain, her hesitation, her hope.
In addition to being able to experience along with the characters, Amanda’s brilliant writing was captured in two other ways that I really liked about this book! The imagery—there were so many nods to the original story, flawless yet so subtle; I literally got excited when I found them. I’m not sure whether Amanda included them on purpose or not, but the references to the roses several times had me geeked out. Lastly, the realistic yet powerful way Amanda was able to tie in Biblical themes via Belle’s faith and her struggle to trust God greatly impressed me more than once. It’s always annoying to get to a place in a story where you feel as though the author just threw in a Biblical reference, or simply just worked too hard to get one in there. When discussed in Befriending the Beast, these things felt much more natural.  Also, more than impressing me, God used it to encourage and convict me, and I think that is one of the greatest things a story/author can do- and this story delivered, and delivered in the right way.
Another small, but legit thing I loved about this story was that Belle was strong in her faith, she had a mature walk with God… but she makes a totally “did I really just do that? I know better!!” mistake toward the end (that left me at the edge of my seat) but I appreciated that. Even the most mature of Christians make dumb mistakes once in a while, and I think we tend to forget that.

What I didn’t like:
……ummm...... nothing? lol No, but for real I loved this story. The only thing I wished was different was that I wish the ending was longer and gave more closure. I spent so much time wondering and stressing with the characters about whether or not things would be resolved that I wished the ending would just go on and on. What I didn't like was that the story had to end! ;) ;) 

Purchase Link
(order before October 8, 2016, to get it at the discounted price of $.99!)

About the Author
Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!
 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5

Connect with Amanda

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com